Friday, 5 July 2013

Cafe mini-portrait series

 

    Those little drawings are my 'dessert', I draw sipping green tea after lunch. My task is to make it fast, very general and easy, showing the colour and some character.


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Starlings, 'Grabli' bar and the mysterious dovecot


    'Grabli' is the local net of low-cost cafes with self-service. Grabli means 'Rake', it influenced the place's decor quite a lot. Cleaners wear straw hats, fake plants all over. A bar is also a bit rural with a pale green tiles and a cute red-cheek barman :) 

A hard, hard morning


    Elsie the Cat having napping after a hard morning full of snacks, toy mouses and irritating furless two-legged animals.

Monday, 1 July 2013

GUM's 120th anniversary, resting retiree and some new obesity victims


    People after retirement receive 300Eu from the government and stay at home for the rest of the life. Lucky elders get some money from successful kids, the rest balance on an edge of poverty. No trips are available for their modest income. Not being able to travel at all, they count rubles to buy milk. 
    
    Weekends are the quiet time for them. They take stools and sit on narrow balconies for hours, watching passers by. 

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A lil spruce, 'Slava' watches, a 'Kopeika' car and summer book sale

    A historical bookstore in Moscow city center continues a summer book sale. Less than a dollar for one book! They place used items on a marble window sill and 'lie in ambush' inside a store. They got one! At the same time it was a double hunt, I've got a sketch too :>)

Four tigers and a jolly loader



    I drew four little tigers from our common backyard four years ago. The grew so big, made a lot of new tigers and even one black jaguar! Our tiger population is very stable now.



    Did you know what loaders do when there's no one around? I peeped at a secret life of a covered market. Saturday evening loaders enjoy driving cargo carts and smile a lot!

Monday, 24 June 2013


    This lady in a drawing studio reminded famous works by Russian artist Boris Kustodiev

Friday, 21 June 2013

Fairy tale summer


    An enormous tree cut happened under the Kremlin walls in winter. It looks like linden trees are all back, but far younger :) Baby trees are blooming already!

Yoga instructor


    This is our Elsie the cat, a gorgeous 5y.o. Siberian lady who is kindly supervising my yoga practice. This is my 10th anniversary of practicing yoga. I spent four years studying with my teacher Vladimir Kovalevsky and six at home. Yoga is a part of my life and I can't find a better way to keep my body well. Elsie always helps, checking the correct asanas order, postures and the spirit condition. Sometimes she gracefully raises her paw or shows how it must be done. I drew this lying on my mat to show you her never-sleeping instructor's eye.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Lucky apricots



This is the luckiest drawing in many days! I drew on a bank entrance steps under the sun, enjoying every bit of it. Probably I was so noticeable, that the a girl from my high school detected me and came to chat! A school, 1200km away from Moscow! A school from our dear home city Izhevsk. I was so happy to see her.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Cafe people






Fast sketches made in a nearby cafe. I had extra 40min and a new sketchbook, so took time to make some drawings experiencing a friable quality of a new sketchbook paper :)

Anna, ballerina, part 2


 Some more drawings of glorious Anna, a professional ballerina from Moscow City Ballet.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Morozov garden

    A historical garden in the city center, that all our famous people enjoyed - Tchaikovsky, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and etc. It was a private garden open to public before the Soviet period, city garden during the Soviet era. Unfortunately this historical place was sold and closed for 11 years. An active group of citizens made impossible, they obtained it's public access. We are now allowed to walk only in one part of it now, no benches or dustbins to keep people away... :( I sat on the ground to paint it. 
   The spot was perfect - great composition, colours, depth. My lack of watercolour landscape skills made me darkening it, adding too loud colours and repeating uninteresting strokes. I worked more to understand the landscape better. 


    I was not satisfied with a watercolour from the same spot and decided to make a drawing. My problem with tone and understanding of depth became even worse in charcoal. It made me make a one more study of a place in graphite... And one more in gouaches! :>) 
The final painting of Morozov garden I made at home. 

A beggar

    Beggar is a highly paid job in Moscow. Beggars have their own mafia, pay officials and stay on their highly-effective spots for years. Homeless and beggars are two completely different categories. Homeless have no home, freeze to death in winter and are always hungry. Beggars have a place to live, eat well and do it as a full-time job. This woman works in the mornings, another one cames to change her at 1 p.m. She seats comfortably, eats ice-cream while working and gets money from church members coming leaving a morning service.  

women from metro

Beautiful women I met in metro, wearing colourful dresses and head shawls. The contrast between even dark skin tone and gay ethnic textile is so festive. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The White City, walking street and summer renovations


    Moscow's city plan could be best described as a system of circles with the very first ring Kremlin in the middle. The next one also very old is called the White City, some of it's walls still exist (you can see it on a drawing). Very beautiful and authentic streets with narrow paths and little treasures such a monasteries and Orthodox churches are located there. It the middle of a drawing is a Zaikonospassky monastery, founded in 1600. I'm not an Orthodox, but enjoy a little monastery food shop with the best ever fast cranberry patty! :>) 



    I sat at the foot of Anton Chekhov's monument under the lilac bushes. This corner of the most popular walking street is always empty, no tea or coffee served on granite pedestal. Seen by no one I observed a city diversity. 

    A luxurious cafe at the left with it's relaxed middle-aged eaters adjoins old labouring men renewing stones of paving. Men are red, sweating and tired. Hard work at their age is not merciful. Students prepare for an entrance exam to Music and Theater academies, singing and checking instruments before the go at the background. Young people with saxes are not poor nor rich. Who knows what the talent, fate and hard work will bring, which side will they take in a future?


    We live in a modest city district, where most of inhabitants own or rent apartments in low-cost Soviet blocks. Most of them (as well as we are) prefer to make renovations by themselves, saving funds and working at nights. Men send kids and wives to summer houses or granmas, paint frames, put wallpapers after a work day and during the weekend. Neighbours make noises at night and heavily smoke on an open balcony in breaks. 

    Early in the morning I've seen a man with a porcelain lavatory pan heading to the common dustbin. All sorts of furniture – solid wood, 60-s stylish lamps, old doors are there, thrown and broken. Our African neighbour who lives in an opposite building with his Russian wife and cute toddler do the kitchen renovation all by himself too! :) 

Monday, 10 June 2013

Anna, ballerina, part 1




She stand like this for all 15 minutes! No movements! Just imagine hor hard this is... I've seen a little trembling, but kept her gorgeous smile. What a beautiful and cruel profession!

Our administration invited a young and awesome ballerina Anna to pose for us. I've seen ballerina fro the first time (except of stage of course, but it's very different). She was radiant and I've had almost three hours to draw her. There were several 15-minuts, 10-minutes, 5-minutes and one 3-minute poses. 

This is a pose from a real 'Swan Lake'! She was so gorgeous... O_o

I used a charcoal for the very first time in my life. It's such a spectacular medium! The only problem was with an all-black make up after the session :)




Anna is a professional ballerina, who dances in a theater, that travel a lot. Who knows, maybe you'll meet her in London, Paris or even Singapore! :>) 


This was the last pose before our little ballerina left. 
I made 13 sketches of Anna, hope to upload the rest soon! Please, stay tuned!


Peony bouguet

    
    A crazy drawing of peonies, watercolour pencils and white gouache, plus shoes box and a black marker. It does not even need water and will stay forever blooming! :) 

It was a rainy day

I had to stay at home today instead of going to draw in the city. Bright yellow-green leaves of acer look wonderful with silvery blue of willow. Kitchen open air is such a nice alternative to painting outside – frige is behind your back! :)


Thursday, 6 June 2013

Silent fight under the ground

    Pedestrian subways in Moscow, especially in the city center, are fully filled with all sorts of little shops. Late lover could buy a bunch of flowers, tired worker eat a pie and a young girl will find her brand new handbag all in one pedestrian subway. Some people find it ugly, some enjoy a quick&easy way to find a necklace. 

    Moscow government decided to put an end to such a business, they force tradesmen to leave. Rent payments raised up to the sky, but still some shops continue to work. For most of them an underground business is the only way to support families and they won't give up easily. The second move was to switch off the light. Flash-lights and cashier machine free operations with money followed. Citizens do enjoy buying stuff downstairs and move from one counter to another lighting goods with cellphones. No one knows what will be the end.  

An old lady and her little garden

    
    Moscow was half-wooden back in 50s. Most of a low-cost concrete Khrushchyovka buildings we live in now were buit on their place. Those who lived in wooden country-style houses with apple gardens were moved to small flats with improvements. Many old ladies, who always had a ground to plant were left with tiny pots and balconies. They all are very old now and still wear a country-style gowns with head shawls. They keep an eye on palisades near front doors and grow an outstanding variety of flowers. Day after day, very weak, hardly standing, they come downstairs to seed and weed. Passers by comment our little gardens as a true masterpieces! 

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

A smart tit, leek lunch and a gallant security guard

A weak sound came from a lamppost and I came closer to check what was it. Couple of great tits made their nest inside. Both parents came to feed nestlings every 15-20 minutes. 

Some great news - our country joint an anti-smoking coalition. Our citizens have to stop smoking around metro, universities, in cafes, transport and so on. I witnessed the first case of polite demand to threw out a cigarette. This man on a picture asked a beautiful lady not to smoke in our park... Well, I think this pleasant cause could become a fruitful background not only for a better health, but new loves as well!



I was brave enough to buy my first ever leek. My Mom cooks it a lot, but I never tried one. So, I went to prepare my vegetable lunch, cut this alien specimen and... It was so beautiful! I left lunch undone and rushed for gouache :)

Sunday, 2 June 2013

An artist

    Lonely woman sat on a cafe terracce with a drawing board in her hands, no glasses or plates around. The day was hot, but she was wearing a down shawl with several layers of clothes. She drew young visitors of vegetarian cafe, finishing one sheet of printing paper after another. Sometimes she fell asleep, wrapping her jacket closely about herself. Cheap faux leather girt her thin waist adding a bit of a drama to the whole look. The woman was very weak, it was hard for her to get up and she preferred quiet nap under the parasol. 
    She was a theater artist back in 80s, forced to become a street caricature drawer in 90s to earn her living and buy materials for the theater. Those times 360 days a year under the Russian snow, heat and rains really affected her health, she lost almost all her teeth and hairs turned white. Teenage son oh hers needs trainers and she struggles to buy even a 7 dollar pair. She writes poems, illustrating them with her own little pencil pictures, but the latest book does not seem to be covering a cost of printing. This last desperate move made her a debtor. 
    Woman ate someone's mushroom soup with her fingers too ashamed to enter cafe for a spoon. Is she homeless? Is her son only a fiction of a poor mentally ill mind? 

Friday, 31 May 2013

Petrovka street

    Last spring days are the time of pure school kid's joy. The last lessons and complete freedom make their smiles totally careless. They eat ice-cream, play outside and wait for the trips parents organized for them. Most of them leave for dachas* ( * summer house in Russian) to stay all three months of vacations with grandmas. Sky is blue, grass not yet yellowish, nothing could be better!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Beauty salon


    There was a time when all beauty shops in USSR were national with universal haircuts and standart service. Some of those salons survived hectic 90-s and still remain as an oasis of Soviet  times. Most of the hairdressers there have a municipal barbers school degree and a set of type haircuts they offer. Those salons often practice in a basement for 20+ years without  any renovation. Workers are normally very fast and hard working, love their job, prices are at least two times lower than in commercial parlors.

    Nevertheless most Russian ladies experienced a haircut in such a place. Old-style salons still offer chemical hair wave techniques, decolouration and permanent brows colouring. I myself made my high-school graduation set there and sometimes come to clip my hair. 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Storm warning


    The first heavy showers and storms smashed blooming lilacs and chestnuts. Pink, white and light green petals dance in puddles, curl near street gutters. Umbrellas became almost useless.
    Two little kids a girl and a boy were playing with pigeons near Alexander Garden, very close to Kremlin. They flapped, birds soared up many-many times. That is the place with hundreds of pigeons, anyone can feed them from hands. Kids made dozens of circles enjoying themselves not leaving birds a chance to rest.

    Metal Dostoevsky, a statue in front of Russian State Library, enjoyed the weekend sun. Tourists make pictures of a gigantic Soviet period building of the Library. Moscow experience the first bicycle improvements – we've got free bike parkings and a city bike rent! Bike communities organize group tours, using light-traffic weekends to show the city in the most friendly way. The capital inhabitants are luxuriating, moving from one park to another, eating package-free old-fashioned ice-cream.


Men's choir in Hermitage

    5 men were singing Russian folk songs in one of the best halls of the State Hermitage Museum. The music was flying to the high ceiling of a hall painted with white and gold. The sound brought listeners to the fields and meadows, endless country roads and horse carts. The contrast between strict black&whites, shining gold and a bright country feeling was so strong.
Here is the song!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Saint-Petersburg, the Hero City


    This tall cactus is not an ordinary plant. It grows in a greenhouse of Saint-Petersburg Botanical Garden and survived the terrible years of the Siege of Leningrad. That time the botanists dying from hunger and cold without any facilities like heating system, water or electricity were able to save 250 sorts of plants. Workers put on a Ribbon of Saint George to celebrate the strength of both people&plants.
    More about what was the Siege of Leningrad here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Leningrad
    We met this beaver near the cemetery where thousands of Lenigrade Siege victims lie in mass graves. It's a peaceful place now, but long ryes of hillocks reminds people how many lives that war took. There are also a professor's grave of the Art Academy (Ivan Bilibin died from hunger too en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Bilibin) and a kid's grave without names.
    Mothers with kids, older people and workers from neighborhood enjoy themselves on the riverbank between two parts of a cemetery. Kids observe the beaver, peacefully crossing the river, young couples feed ducks. It's a place where terrible past and peaceful present meet.