And Black One is for Sorrow: Illustrations by Liza Yablonska-Mykhailus
Illustrator. Born in Dnipro, lives in Kyiv. As a child, she studied painting, paper cutouts and calligraphy. Studied ecology and urban planning. Her works were exhibited in Portugal, Germany, Norway, and Australia.
— On graduating from university, I tried to find a job as a designer without a professional education. This led me to a children’s clothing factory, where I worked for ten hours a day, created drafts for printing on fabrics and cried during the breaks. Then I moved to Kyiv with my boyfriend, where I created collages for an online magazine. Four years ago, I gave birth to my daughter Zoya and started to look for what interests me anew. I took up an illustration course, then got back to graphics in digital format. Since then, my main work themes have been childhood, women, and pregnancy.
On February 24, my daughter and were at my parents’ in Dnipro. Right from the start, I couldn’t do anything but read the news and ask everyone I knew if they were safe. We taped up the windows, packed our grab bags, stocked up on food and water, and slept in the hallway. A week had passed just like that. Then I was overcome by this blind fear that something might happen to my daughter. On March 1, I made the most difficult decision in my life — to leave Ukraine.
The air-raid sirens, night, snow, and hundreds of red lights stretching for kilometres ahead — I had never felt so vulnerable as I did that night. In the morning, my daughter and my sister crossed the border with Moldova, and two days later we got to my friend in Kraków. We lived there for four months. In mid-July, my daughter and I returned to Kyiv.
For quite a while, it was hard to draw some other topics. I could think, talk, watch and read only about the war. Once abroad, you enter a parallel reality, where people live their usual lives and walk around in serenity. It is difficult to get used to it. But it was there when I realized that there had always been and still are many human sacrifices and sorrows in the world that previously went unnoticed.
Once abroad, you enter a parallel reality, where people live their usual lives and walk around in serenity.
I started painting again after some time in Kraków. So I could tell the world about what is happening in Ukraine, what my people feel and what I feel.
Three colours are predominant in my works: black, blue and yellow. Black is almost always perceived as something bad, unknown and scary. And blue and yellow is life. High clear sky, hot July sun over the fields, breathtaking sea.
Now I draw only in Procreate on my tablet, ideas arise from what I have read and seen. I actually witnessed the war only through my phone – every day, right from the screen, an immeasurable amount of pain and grief pours down on me. And I understand that this is far from ending.
In general, drawing helps to relieve pain without suppressing it inside. One art piece usually takes a day: an idea pops up in my head, I draw up a sketch as soon as possible, and the compleion is only a matter of my free time from motherhood.
I actually witnessed the war only through the phone.