31 May 2022

2022 May Roundup

It's been over a year since my last blog post 😱 I was extremely busy with school all that time (I received my BFA in Illustration with a minor in Japanese Studies last December 🎉) and this year it took me a while to decide what purpose to put my blog to, now that I am working full-time on my creative storytelling career. At last, I realized I could use this space to round up all my doings from each month, with a few bonuses for fun 😉 Please enjoy the first of my monthly roundup posts! 

Social Media Highlights

I've been active on Twitter and Facebook, sharing illustration and writing updates nearly every day. Twitter is also the place to follow me for more personal updates on topics like gaming and reading. Here are a couple posts from May.

I'm hilariously behind on uploading my art to deviantART (even though I have a subscription 😱) so this piece, although my most recent upload, is actually two years old! It was a Mother's Day gift 💐

Click here to view and comment on deviantART.

Here also are some WIP photos of the painting being made.




I'm currently playing catch-up with my YouTube uploads, as well. I'm only four videos behind as of today 😂 Here's my most recent upload, a Chibi Friday livestream recording from July 2021, which I finally resumed working on last week!

Speaking of livestreaming, I'm finally back to streaming regularly on Twitch! You can catch the replays of recent streams at this link and you can check out my most up-to-date schedule here. As of today, my general schedule is as follows:

  • Wednesdays 15:00 - 17:00 MDT (GMT-6) Lucky Dip
    (making a single piece of art using four randomly selected art supplies)
  • Fridays 15:00 - 17:00 MDT (GMT-6) Chibi Friday
    (drawing one of my adorable, signature chibi caricatures)

I love chatting with folks while having fun making art, so, if you don't already, I hope you'll join me on Twitch soon 😄 

Patreon Updates

Now that I'm done with school, I've been able to focus more fully on Patreon. We've had six rewards go out so far this year, and a seventh is in the works now! The following images feature all 2022's rewards thus far. Click here to sign up and start receiving yours 💌 You can also check out the public posts there, no subscription required, which include lots of information about my creative process and insights about my creative life that aren't shared elsewhere.






Monthly Recommendations

I'd like to have some fun in each of these roundup posts by offering you my recommendations for the month 😄 These are all things that have inspired, fueled, and otherwise impacted me during the month of May 2022. May they do the same for you!

📕 Book of the Month: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins 📕

I came across this book in a Little Free Library and, recognizing the author from a documentary I saw and loved years back, took it home immediately. I have been an atheist since childhood (I am sincerely grateful to my parents for raising me in an environment that didn't force any doctrine on me ❤️) but I've always been afraid to share that fact, because, frankly, atheists are treated poorly by many people, especially here in America. This book gave me the courage to be myself and the reasoning to back up my beliefs! Here's my review from Goodreads:

The God DelusionThe God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There's so much I could say about The God Delusion that it feels overwhelming trying to think of how to fit it in without my review becoming a book in itself. I'll let my star rating (and my reading status updates) do most of the talking. I LOVED this book. I'm so grateful someone put it in the Little Free Library where I found it! If you're already an atheist, this book can still be an eye-opener, as it was for me. If you're a secret atheist, it could give you the courage you need to stand tall and face the far horizon (paraphrased from one of the most powerful passages in the book). If you're unsure about your beliefs, I also recommend this book to you, as it could give you knowledge and direction that will help you make an intelligent decision. As for religious believers, while I personally don't expect those possessed of blind faith to be persuaded by this book (or any other argument born of reason), why not give it a try anyway? You might be surprised at what you learn, or how you feel after you're done!

View all my reviews

🎧 Music of the Month: Mika's Fantasy Favorites on Spotify 🎧

I created this playlist recently because I wanted a collection of all my favorite fantasy soundtracks to listen to while I work on my writing and illustration projects, which are currently both soundly in the realm of fantasy! This music is especially good for writing, because the instrumental nature of most soundtracks ensures there are no lyrics to confuse with the words being taken from one's mind and written on the page. That said, I have included a couple favorites with lyrics, but they're so few and far between that they serve as a nice break rather than a distraction 🎵😌🎶

📺 Show of the Month: Moon Knight on Disney+ 📺

I didn't have any idea what to expect from this show going in, but I've since been completely taken by Disney+'s Moon Knight! I've watched it six times now, twice in English, twice in the Japanese dub, once in English with closed captioning, and once in the Japanese dub with Japanese subtitles 😍 I could write a whole blog post, even a book, on all the reasons why I love the show so much, what's so interesting about it, why I keep watching it again and again, but I want to keep my fandom under control 😅 so I'll just say that I relate VERY much to the main character and his struggles with childhood abuse and overcoming the repercussions as an adult; I LOVE the exciting Indiana Jones-inspired plot (some of my favorite movies as a kid; Last Crusade is the best one 💖); and the way the show isn't perfectly clear about everything, nor does it tie up every loose end, has absolutely sparked my imagination. I spend hours thinking about this show and analyzing it. It's extremely fun to deep dive and come up with personal theories about it. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend it, not just because it's a great show, but because you don't have to watch any of the other MCU material to enjoy it. It's completely independent in that way! Now, I only hope there will be another series in the works soon 🙏 

🎮 Game of the Month: Touken Ranbu Warriors for Nintendo Switch 🎮

I only just started this game last weekend but it's already everything I hoped for and more! The original Touken Ranbu game has been available on mobile platforms for a while now, and I've loved the concept for years, but I just don't like playing games on my phone (I do play Pokémon GO and Pikmin Bloom but both games are constantly frustrating me, lol). Having a console-based Touken Ranbu game, and in the Warriors family (which I have loved since Dynasty Warriors way back on the Playstation 2 ❤️), has allowed the concept of 'famous historical swords brought to life as beautiful men who defend the true flow of history' to enter the realm of game genres that I enjoy playing! I've been very impressed by how they managed to combine many of the main gameplay elements of the original mobile game with the general hack & slash concept that is the foundation of any Warriors game. It's the perfect way to relax on the weekend 😎

👟 Workout of the Month: Yoga Master on Nintendo Switch 👟

I wasn't sure what I was going to write here until, just today, there was an update to one of my favorite fitness games, Yoga Master! They have released version 2.0 for Nintendo Switch, which cleans up some minor quality issues (like typos) and almost completely overhauls the visuals! The game was already nice-looking before but now it's GORGEOUS 🤩 I play Yoga Master every weekday morning before starting work, usually doing the custom program I created. It's an essential part of my routine that helps me wake up, mind and body, and stretch out any soreness (especially my chronic low back pain). This game also has some DLC that adds a meditation feature! I use this at lunchtime three days a week for mental and emotional health 🧘‍♀️ Ironically, although this is technically a game, I don't use the gamified features. I just use it like a personal yoga and meditation coach!

💸 Charity of the Month: Idaho Humane Society 💸

Finally, I'd like to wrap up this and every roundup blog with my featured charity of the month. Idaho Humane Society is an organization so important to me that I have a monthly recurring donation set up. We adopted our lovely Kiki-cat from them, through a local PetCo adoption center, as well as my three pet rats who have since passed away. Idaho Humane Society helps make my community a better place not just for the humans, but for the animals who live here, too! If you have the ability to lend your support as well, visit this link to make a donation! There are other ways to help, such as volunteering and buying wishlist items, too 😸 The animals and those who love them will thank you!

Me, Bathilda, Minerva, and Nymphadora 🤍 July 2011

That's it for this month's roundup post, the first of its kind. I hope you enjoyed it! I'll be back next month with another roundup of writing, illustration, and everything else 😄✨

11 September 2020

みかのノート:秋のくれ

Mika's Notes: The Autumn Sunset

This is the first post in a vein I've long thought about entering, but until now I never felt like it could fit into my main blog. Many of you already know, but in addition to writing and illustration, my passion lies in learning the Japanese language and everything else about Japan. Today, these three passions came together as I completed a part of my current Drawing II assignment.

I created a matte medium transfer print using a magazine image and a piece of sample Yupo paper. Looking at the list of prompts I was given (we have to use one per drawing in this assignment) I chose "text & image" and then looked up a Japanese haiku in a little book I love called Classic Haiku: A Master's Selection. The poem had an English translation, but, as an upper-intermediate student of the language, I wanted a more literal equivalent and, as an artist, I wanted one that still fit the original 5-7-5 syllable pattern. I wanted to write the original plus my own translation on my print, so my drawing homework turned into a Japanese lesson!

Of course, I am no expert and still have a long way to go in my understanding of the Japanese language and the history and culture of haiku, but I did my best based on my current knowledge and I will now share with you what I learned and the decisions I made as I penned my final translation of this poem.

かぎり有
命のひまや
秋のくれ

The above is the original Japanese as written in my source book. Breaking it down, here are what all the words mean in English:

かぎり limit, [archaic] death

有「ある」 to exist (inanimate things)

命「いのち」 life

の (possession indicator)

ひま free time, leisure time

や and

秋「あき」 autumn

くれ sunset, end

Now, there are many more meanings to these words, but using the English translation in my source book as a guide, these seem to be the poet's intended meanings. So the most extreme literal translation of this haiku might be something like this:

there is a limit
to life's leisure and
the autumn sunset

The way I translated it for my assignment is this:

there is a limit
the leisure time of life and
an autumn sunset

But after I finished the little sketch (one of 55 I have to complete for the assignment!) I showed it to my Japanese tutor who reacted in a surprising way. She said the original poem is really dark, like someone writing about dying. She studied haiku in school, growing up in Japan, so I took her words to heart and began musing about a better way to achieve my translation goals while still invoking the true mood of the original Japanese. This is where I ended up:

there is a limit
to life's little leisure and
the autumn sunset

My source book used the phrase "fleeting life" to get the point across, but "fleeting" is only an implication in the original, rather than a word literally used in the Japanese version. Inspired by that choice, I decided to add one word in my translation which isn't in the original: little. Its addition not only helps meet the seven-syllable requirement of that line, it makes it smoother ("life's little leisure" just rolls off the tongue!), and gives a stronger suggestion of death, by pointing out that life is short, and leisure time even shorter.

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I may have mistakes or misinterpretations in my translations, but based on my current knowledge, I'm very happy with my first attempt at translating a classic Japanese haiku! I hope you found my notes interesting, if not informative, and I hope you'll look forward to more Mika's Notes entries here on the Studio Mikarts blog!

23 July 2020

Pets Out of Context - Part 2

My project for this month is coming along, although I'm struggling a little to balance it with my school responsibilities. Summer classes are hard! Figuring out how to cope with multiple responsibilities is never bad practice, though. Not to mention having something creative to do outside of school is refreshing (I'm taking art history and Japanese culture classes, so not much art creation going on right now). Here are the drawings I completed since my last update!

Click here to visit the Patreon-exclusive post revealing the photo behind this drawing.

In case you missed my last post, what I'm doing here is going through my pet photos, choosing ones that seem like my pets will look interesting or funny without the support of their context (i.e. their environment), and then drawing just my pet and seeing how it ends up looking! So, with the drawing above, removing Kenshi's context made him look like a round head with a couple of paws underneath 😆 Kenshi was my dog all the way from high school until just a few years ago, when he passed away. This sweet-faced pose reminds me of all the good times I had with him 🧡

Click here to visit the Patreon-exclusive post revealing the photo behind this drawing.

My next drawing features my handsome prince, Bear, who recently passed 🤍 This is one of the most successful pieces from this experiment, because it ended up looking like he's breathing fire! I decided at the beginning to make the photos a Patreon-exclusive reveal, as a digital reward for Studio Mikarts members, so if you would like to see the secret behind this or any of the other images, just click through one of the links below the drawings, and you'll be able to sign up!

Click here to visit the Patreon-exclusive post revealing the photo behind this drawing.

Next is another drawing of Sun! This one didn't turn out as engaging as I expected, even though something very specific and cute is happening in the original photo! The thing I'm learning the most while doing these drawings is that I'm not really able to predict, just from viewing the photo, how successful the final drawing will be. Maybe I'll get better by the time I finish all eighteen drawings for this month 🤔

Click here to visit the Patreon-exclusive post revealing the photo behind this drawing.

The tenth drawing in this series features Kiki, our only female cat, who is very spunky. But this drawing doesn't show that side of her! With this one, I was hoping to capitalize on the perspective to get an interesting result, but in the end, what I found most compelling about it was the way her fur pattern came out. I must admit, I'm pretty proud of being able to capture it using nothing but black lines on a white background!

Click here to visit the Patreon-exclusive post revealing the photo behind this drawing.

Here is the third appearance of our recently-departed prince, Bear. The photo behind this drawing was taken when he was in his prime, the pinnacle of big and fluffy! It's been so long that I completely forgot that he used to look like this 😮 So far, folks have had some guesses as to what's got Bear in this position, but no one's gotten it right, hee hee...

Click here to visit the Patreon-exclusive post revealing the photo behind this drawing.

The final drawing in this post was completed just yesterday. It's Kiba, the black Manx's second appearance! This is based on another older photo but Kiba's looks haven't changed as drastically as Bear's did. He's a naturally small, short-haired cat, so the changes he's undergone as he's aged aren't as obvious 😅 I love how the final drawing makes his body look smaller than his head! Or maybe like he has the body of a perching bird XD

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I realized I'll have the perfect number of drawings at the end of this project to spread them out evenly across three blog posts, so that means there's just one more Pets Out of Context post on the horizon. I'll be moving onto another project next month, but there's always the possibility of more drawings in this style later on. Please look forward to the final six drawings in a couple weeks!

10 July 2020

Pets Out of Context - Part 1

I thought up a new project! You see, we have a Google Nest Hub in our kitchen that displays randomly selected photos we've taken, and one day a couple weeks ago, it showed a very silly looking photo of our dog, Sun. In the photo, he was sleeping on the couch with his snout tucked into the arm cushion. The result was a very odd position that almost looked painful or physically impossible, but which must have been comfy since he was sleeping like a log 😆 As we were walking Sun a while later, it came to me that it could be fun and amusing to draw Sun as he appears in the photo, without drawing anything else, so that the oddness of his position could be fully appreciated. I realized this could be quickly done, which meant I could do it without compromising schoolwork, and finally decided to make it my visual art project for July!

Click here to visit the Patreon-exclusive post revealing the photo behind this drawing.

For my first entry into this series of drawings, I decided to choose a photo of Sun, our Shiba Inu. He was the one who inspired me in the first place, after all! I didn't use the photo that originally inspired me, though. I didn't take that particular photo myself, so it was faster and easier to look through my own library.

Click here to visit the Patreon-exclusive post revealing the photo behind this drawing.

The next pet I chose to draw was our Ragdoll/Norwegian Forest Cat, Bear. He was the oldest of all our pets, and very sadly, passed away only days after I drew him. It was a long time coming, so it wasn't exactly unexpected, but I was still happy to have drawn one more picture of him while he was still with us 🤍

Click here to visit the Patreon-exclusive post revealing the photo behind this drawing.

The next pet I drew was our Manx, Kiba! He's a funny kitty who has undergone an extreme personality change over the past few years, all for the better. We rescued him as a stray (he had been living under our house for about a year ever since the neighbors moved away and abandoned him; we finally took him in when we noticed he had lost a worrisome amount of weight) so he was understandably skittish when he first joined us. These days though, he is more silly than scared, so we have a lot of good photos to use for this project!

Click here to visit the Patreon-exclusive post revealing the photo behind this drawing.

After drawing three of our pets, I couldn't not finish off my first four drawings with our last pet, Kiki! She's an American Shorthair (or thereabouts), and a super playful, mischievous, athletic girl. She's the only fellow girl I have here at home and I like to think we have a lot in common 😊

Click here to visit the Patreon-exclusive post revealing the photo behind this drawing.

For my fifth drawing, I came back around to Sun again. This was the piece where I had to make some decisions about things like collars. If the pet was actually wearing it, should I draw it? In the end, I naturally ended up not drawing them. I think it makes the final image even more interesting 😁

Click here to visit the Patreon-exclusive post revealing the photo behind this drawing.

The last drawing I'm including in this post was finished just yesterday. For this one, I reached way back into the past and chose a photo of our family cat, Gaki, who has long since passed on 🤍 Kiki has been reminding me of Gaki a lot recently, so I think that combined with the inherent qualities of the photo itself is what lead me to choose the photo reference for this drawing.

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That's all for this post! I intend to keep drawing these throughout the month, so be on the lookout for future digest posts like this one! Stay safe and healthy everyone ❤