Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Рисунки с летнего луга :) - Sketches from sunny meadow

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Немного эскизов из скетчбука - Some sketches from my sketchbook

На первом эскизе здание в уникальном стиле - стиле украинское барокко, в настоящее время отель.

Building in the first sketch, now a hotel, represents a unique architectural style - Ukrainian baroque.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Trip to Klevan

On June 7, 2014 I went to the Western part of Ukraine to see the famous Love tunnel - an old railroad about 7 kilometers away from the village of Klevan, surrounded by trees so that it looks like it's a tunnel magically made by nature.

Klevan is a small village 30-something kilometers from the city of Rivne, and is only about 10.000 people. The landmarks of Klevan include the ruins of Klevan Castle, whose construction began in 1475 and was eventually completed in 1561. The town also houses the Church of the Annunciation with a bell tower dating back to 1630, as well as the Church of the Nativity, which was built in 1777. There is also Klevan Railway station, which connects the town with the oblast's administrative center Rivne and Kivertsi, as well as a woodworking plant and food-processing facilities.

This tunnel is an industrial track for wooden work, employed three times a day. A tourist legend says that couples who ride together through the green tunnel and make a wish will get what they want.

A bus ride from Kyiv to Rivne is about 4 hours, so it's enough time to nap, listen to music, and sketch.

Bust sketch when getting to Rivne, Ukraine

Ride sketching appeared to be easier than I thought. Even though the lines are not perfectly straight, there's even a certain charm to kind of a sloppy sketch.

After Rivne we went to Klevan. And even though many people from around the world visit this tunnel, local villagers were still surprised to see strangers trudging through numerous holes in the road. There's no signs pointing to the tunnel, neither there's any fees to see it. This place is (thanks God!) not yet commercialized, and you won't see annoying vendors trying to stuff you with souvenirs. What's even better is that there's no people. Tourists do come to this place but not in swarms.

Natural tunnel in Klevan, Ukraine

The part about the tunnel that you can't grasp from photos or sketches is that this place is swarming with mosquitoes! They were really feasting on us. Man, was I happy to be back in the sun and admire the tunnel from a distance where tiny blood suckers wouldn't get me.

Love tunnel in Klevan, Ukraine

Roman-Catholic church of the Annunciation in the village was also quite impressive. Built in 17th century, the church needs renovation badly, and with only a dozen people attending its services, the money that they donate is far from enough. Therefore, the renovation is a very slow process here. A quick sketch below was what I could do in 10 minutes. I would have loved to make a more deliberate sketch of the church interior, but the church keeper said we could climb up to the roof of the church, and it sounded really cool! :-)

A quick 10 minute sketch inside the church

In general, the trip was really nice, and the places we've seen were beautiful gems hidden in the middle of nowhere. Here are some poppies that were all around during our trip. The flowers were such an eye candy that I couldn't stop taking pictures of them!

Happy poppies
More happy poppies

Monday, June 2, 2014

February events in Ukraine

On February 20, Ukraine lived one of its most tragic days in recent times when dozens of antigovernment protesters were killed by security forces close to Kyiv’s central square, known as the Maidan. As many as one hundred people were reported dead. In this first post, I described my experience that day and shared sketches I made on and around the square after the massacre.

Feb. 22, 2014. Marks from burned tires were still fresh on the pavement as a passerby paused to reflect on the scene. The sight of sharp anti-tanks hedgehogs contrasted with the gentle shape of a Ukrainian flag waving from a leafless tree.

Feb. 22, 2014. Orange helmets worn by protesters lied over a wall of cobblestones. Another sign of the violence could be seen in the background: The burned walls and windows of the Trade Union building.
Feb. 22, 2014. The remnants of canisters from Molotov cocktails and piles of cobblestones that were used as weapons became the subject of an impromptu still life.
Feb. 22, 2014. People brought flowers to remember the victims.

The subway system was shut down, few buses ran and it was impossible to hail or phone a cab. Many people don’t own cars here, so they had to hitchhike to get transportation. My friend had to walk five kilometers in the snow to get home. My office email was filled with messages from people offering rides to those who needed them.

Then the offices were shut down and we were told to work from home "until the situation stabilizes," as it was very unsafe to go outside. Thugs hired by the government were roaming around, ransacking the city and beating people up. Some guys would patrol the neighborhoods to protect people from those thugs, some would go to Maidan and help with what they could. They brought food, warm clothes, and dug up cobblestones to be used as weapons. They also brought helmets and bottles for making Molotov cocktails. They also burned tires hoping the smoke would protect them from pro-government snipers firing at them.

On February 22, 2014, two days after the sad events, I went to Maidan to see the scene for myself. Black dirt and ashes from burned tires covered the bare ground. In some places, you could still see stains of blood. Thousands of people brought flowers and candles to remember the victims. The smell of burned wood that protesters used to keep warm was still in the air.

Now the situation is much safer and stable. We hope for a better future as our country comes together again. But there are still barricades in the center of Kyiv and people still remember the "Heavenly Hundred," as the fallen protesters were called.

On April 6, I did another sketch (below). Two dummies dressed like protesters and a pile of tires are now a so-called monument to remember why people rose and what they fought for. The writing on the container says "Share warmth [with others]." The other one says "Heroes are not dying."

April 6, 2014. A makeshift monument honors the lives lost during the February protests.