03 July 2024

2024 May & June Roundup

Happy summer, everyone! 🎐🌞⛱️ I'm technically supposed to be enjoying my week of summer vacation at this very moment, but I really wanted to get caught up on my blog, so here I am, typing away in my cool, garden floor studio, while the sun bakes everything outside. I had a busy June and couldn't get around to writing my May roundup post, so I'm doing double duty with this entry 😎 Here's what I got up to over the past couple months.

Patreon Rewards

At the end of May, I finished my 2024 Birthday Gryphon illustration and was very pleased to send it to patrons who are signed up for physical rewards. This was the third iteration of the piece that they received, the previous two being WIPs, so I hope they enjoyed watching it reach completion over the course of three months!

Click here to read more about this piece on Patreon.

In June, I started a new black & white illustration series: The Maginaturalist's Sketchbook. The story is that of a maginaturalist wandering the world, capturing all the magical beings she encounters in her sketchbook. I'm using my encyclopedia of magical creatures, drawing the first entry for each letter A-Z, with the intent of cycling back around to A and repeating the process until I've drawn the entire encyclopedia! The first entry in this series was June's reward, the Á Bao A Qu.

Click here to read more about this piece on Patreon.

If you're not already a member of the Studio Mikarts Patreon, please consider joining! It's the best way you can support my work; the funds help pay for things like my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription (industry standard for illustration), my cloud backup service (keeping my art files safe in case of disaster), and my Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators membership (my main connection to the storytelling industry). You can support for as little as $5 a month, and can choose to receive only digital rewards, or get both digital rewards AND postcards, prints, or both! Thank you for helping make my dream career possible 🥰


I've uploaded several pieces to dA in the past couple months but the two I'm featuring here are extra special. First, a chibi caricature I finished in May, featuring me with Sean Astin! You may remember the story from April's roundup (^^)

Click here to fave and comment on deviantART!

Next, for June's piece, another chibi caricature! This time it's the dog of the daughter of the winner of the Palomacy auction item for one of my caricatures (I hope that makes sense) 😆 Her name is Moo Latte~ This piece is extra special since it helped Palomacy help more pigeons!

Click here to fave and comment on deviantART!

deviantART is another place you can support my creative career. You can commission me for one of these chibi caricatures or you can sign up for a subscription, which is somewhat like Patreon, but instead of postcards or prints, you can get chibi caricatures! And the tiers also start at just $5 a month ❤️ I don't have any members there yet, so this is your chance to be number one!


I have so much news to share here! First off, at the beginning of May I received the wireless keyboard and mouse that I purchased with my birthday money. These peripherals have been gamechangers! Worth every penny 💖 Now, for example, I can type in the chat with ease, look up reference images on my secondary monitor instead of my phone, and raid another channel smoothly at the end of each stream.

They fit perfectly on my Sympathy Kiss mat 😍

At the end of May, I decided to increase the length of my streams to three hours. There were many reasons for this, two major ones being my desire to get more illustration work done in a month and feeling good about streaming three hours a day, three days a week, three weeks a month 😁 Here's the recording of that first three-hour stream:

As June progressed, I got two more Twitch subscriber rewards finished. A chibi broccoli subscriber badge and a "cute" Ranger emote. The emote is also available on the Studio Mikarts Discord, which is exclusive to Twitch, dA, and Patreon members. Twitch is another place you can financially support my work and get cool rewards like these, so please consider joining us there!

A WIP image showing the finished icon and started emote.

The last stream I did in June was actually my 100th Chibi Friday!!! ✨🎊🥳🎉✨ Not only that, it was extra super duper special because it was the Palomacy Moo Latte piece!! Best of all, the auction winner was able to join the stream live and made it fantastic by chatting with me almost the entire time 🥰 Here's the recording:

Charity Fundraising

May's charity of the month was The Vegan Society. Once again, my awesome supporter, Wolfaxe2, donated the entire amount of £10 to our Twitch fundraiser! 🥰

💖 Thank you, Wolf~!!! You're the best!!! 💜

On top of that, perhaps due to streaming for an extra hour each day, we beat our unique viewers record for the third time this year!!!

Of course, 34 is still well away from the minimum of 101 that we need to make my donation greater than $10, so I hope more and more folks will watch my channel and bring their friends! My donation formula is $0.10 USD per viewer, min $10, max $100. To make it simple, I let that translate directly into a £10 donation to The Vegan Society.

And June's charity was Animal Alliance Asia. We didn't break the viewers record this time, but it wasn't far off!

That meant a $10 donation to them, as well!

If you'd like to make your own donation to either of these organizations, please use the links above! I, the animals, and everyone working to change the world for the better will thank you 💖✨

Gryphia Progress

In the past two months, I purposefully abstained from working on my Gryphia novel. I finished the first draft in April and have been letting the project cool so I can come back to it with more objectivity and freshened creativity. This is that time! I'm super stoked; I've had so many ideas for my fantasy world over the past eight weeks and I'm raring to put them into action! 🤓📑🖋️✨

Other News: SCBWI Summer Conference

My longtime readers will know I've attended the SCBWI Virtual Summer Conference since 2022. I've signed up again this year, which will be my third time. I've entered the illustrators portfolio showcase again, hoping that the third time is the charm 🤞 Here are the pieces I entered into the showcase!

"Autumn Gryphon" mixed media, 2024

"2024 Birthday Gryphon" mixed media, 2024

"モー Moo" mixed media, 2023

I haven't garnered any interest in previous years, but if the same people are looking, perhaps they will notice that I am continually producing new work of high caliber, year after year. I hope the editors, agents, and art directors will find my work compelling and reach out to me this time!

Wish me luck! 🙏🙏🙏


That's it for my roundup of May and June! Thank you for reading until the end 🥰 I'll be back again soon, perhaps with the next entry in my Japan Adventure series? Until then, may you stay happy, healthy, and safe~!

17 May 2024

2023 Japan Adventure - Part 12: Exploring Kanazawa

Welcome to the next installment of my Japan Adventure series! Last time, I shared our experience on the ship-sponsored shore excursion. This time, I'll share our experience exploring a Japanese city on our own for the first time! We only had a few hours before all-aboard, but we visited two great locations and once we were back home on the Silver Muse, we enjoyed an epic Kanazawa farewell before settling into some shipboard activities to round out the night as we sailed to the next port 🛳️

Tuesday 21 March 2023 - Exploring Kanazawa

We had dinner at Fumuroya Café (カフェ加賀麩不室屋) which is a chain of cafés and shops that specialize in traditional fu (麩) dishes and products. There was a thirty minute wait but it was worth it!

It's been so long now, I don't remember exactly what I ordered, but from the photo it's clearly curry rice with fu, miso soup with fu, and a veggie side salad 😆 All, to the best of my knowledge, vegan!

Our next stop was just a short walk away...

...Pokémon Center Kanazawa! It was my first time at a real life Pokémon Center 🤩

My husband and I, on the shuttle home, joyful after a successful unguided outing!

The dreamy view of our ship as we approached the port.

Our Pokémon Center haul! Plushies--including regional exclusives--postcards, a hand towel, a water bottle, and promo card packs ✨

We were treated to a farewell yosakoi performance just before departure 🤩

I'd never seen yosakoi before; there were dancers and flag wavers, sometimes at the same time, all timed to music. They performed several different routines for an epic farewell!

The game room was an excellent place to wind down with some correspondence and crosswords 🖋️

As always, I loved coming home to the ship's newspaper--which included information about our next port, the weather forecast, and upcoming shipboard activities--and some chocolates!

That's all for our adventures in Kanazawa. Next stop, Niigata, for some of our most epic moments yet! Thank you for reading to the end. I hope you'll look forward to the next installment. Until then, please stay happy, healthy, and safe ❤️

02 May 2024

2023 Japan Adventure - Part 11: Kanazawa Shore Excursion

Hello, everyone! It's been so long since my last entry in this series but I never forgot about chronicling my 2023 Japan adventure 🎌 I'm going to continue sharing my travels with you; I've dedicated my writing time for the next six weeks to this endeavor! I hope you'll enjoy reading until the end of the journey.

Click here to read the previous entry in this series.

So, on the eighth day of our adventure (I think? It's hard to figure with crossing the dateline and being awake when we'd normally sleep and such 🤔) we visited Kanazawa, and with our newfound courage, we not only participated in the ship-sponsored shore excursion, but did some exploring on our own! Today's post will focus on the excursion, which included a samurai house, geisha district, and modern art museum.

Tuesday 21 March 2023 - Kanazawa Shore Excursion

The beautiful sunrise as our ship neared the shores of Kanazawa.

The cruise terminal in Kanazawa.

They actually had a sign with our ship's name on and everything!
A little touch like that made me feel especially welcome 🥰

The first place on our guided tour was the Nomura Samurai residence.

This awesome suit of armor was just inside the house, as if to greet you!

A big feature of the house was its small but splendid garden.

Always lovely to spot a koi 🐟

Extra exciting for me was a collaboration with the new anime adaptation of My Happy Marriage!

This standee features the character Tatsuishi Kouji, the main character's childhood friend ❤️

After the samurai neighborhood, we visited Higashi Chaya, an old geisha district, and did some shopping! This is one of the gold leaf shops we visited: HAKUZA hikari-gura. There were many such shops because Kanazawa is famous for its gold leaf. The "kana" part of Kanazawa even means "gold"!

We bought some tasty treats and souvenirs for people back home at this matcha shop, Sawawa.

I was excited to come across this Shinto shrine, Higashiyama Sugawara Shrine, as it was the first one I got to visit during this trip! I offered my prayers to the resident god (kamisama) and received a good fortune in return 😊

The top of the fortune has a waka poem, followed by a general fortune, and your luck type (I believe mine is the lowest possible good, which is literally not bad!). The final sections address specific areas, such as desires, lost items, studies, illness, etc. The back also has a longer message of wisdom from the kamisama.

Our next stop on the guided tour was the Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Art. As you might imagine, this sculpture caught everyone's attention as the tour bus got parked!

This clever piece changes every moment, as the large square hole makes the entire room a frame for the sky! It's titled Blue Planet Sky, designed by James Turrell. There's seating all around the room, so you can sit and really enjoy the dreamy effect.

This is my favorite piece from the museum, The Man who Measures the Clouds, by Jan Fabre.

So nice to get to see this whimsical sculpture on a cloudy day!

It seemed our cruise was perfectly timed to enjoy the sakura in most of the places we visited!
This is me and my husband, Sean, posing with one of the museum's trees.

I wanted to enter this installation, but, as you can see, it was very popular, especially with energetic kids! It's called Colour Activity House and was made by Olafur ELIASSON.

This is another piece I would have liked to try, but it's specifically designed for kids, so I left it to them 😉 It's titled Wrapping and was made by Fernando Romero.

One thing I DID do was get a selfie in this awesome sculpture! It took some digging but I discovered it is a commemorative piece made for the museum's 10th anniversary in 2016. It's called Spherical Pavilion “MARU” and was designed by Sejima Kazuyo and Nishizawa Ryue.

After this, we returned to our ship and prepared to explore the city on our own. I must say, I expected to share our Kanazawa adventures in a single post, but the research necessary to write knowledgeably about our excursion was a huge undertaking! I hope you'll check out some of these places if you get the chance to visit Kanazawa yourself 😊 I'll be back soon with the next entry in this series. Until then, please stay happy, healthy, and safe!

30 April 2024

2024 April Roundup

Spring has truly arrived here in Boise! It's bright, colorful, and fragrant, but also windy and full of pollen 🥲🌸 My eyes are dry and grainy, but it's worth it in exchange for gorgeous patio weather every weekend ⛱️🌳🍃 Today is the last day of April, my birth month! Allow me to share with you all the cool and fun things I got up to in the first month of my 39th year!

Patreon Rewards

April's rewards went out last week. They featured an updated WIP (work in progress) scan of my 2024 Birthday Gryphon greeting card illustration. I sent these rewards with hopes that their recipients would enjoy comparing the first WIP (from March) to the second! Next month the final piece will go out, completing the trio 💌

Supporting my work through Patreon helps me both financially and mentally, giving me the funds necessary to run Studio Mikarts and the emotional boost that comes from knowing you really believe in what I'm doing 🥰 If you're already a member, thank you so much! If you'd like to become a member, just click here.


I only finished one piece in April, one piece, from One Piece! It was another chibi caricature, this time of live-action Usopp, in celebration of our shared birthdate, April First 🥳

Click here to view, fave, and comment on dA!

Unexpectedly, this chibi helped me realize that a setting had mysteriously been turned off in Photoshop, so that all of my .PNG images were saving with sad, dull colors. Looking back, the issue had been happening since the end of last year 😱 I've resaved most of the affected images, including this chibi Usopp, and now I know to make sure the "ICC Profile" box remains checked when saving!!


I made a slight change to my Twitch schedule in April: still live on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday for two hours, but starting and ending 30 minutes earlier. See the new schedule in your time zone here. I made this change to accommodate the amount of time it has been taking to do my followup work, including raiding a fellow art streamer, publishing the stream recording on YouTube, and making a YouTube Short from a previous recording.

Here's the last livestream from April, part two of my Mika & Sean Astin chibi caricature, which also features another change I made this month: the addition of a second, alternate camera view!

I was glad last week, for making the schedule change, because I realized I had another item to add to my followup checklist! I had never touched Twitch Clips before (I now know they're basically like YouTube Shorts) and the person I raided played my channel's featured clip, which was at least a year old and a complete surprise to me because apparently viewers can clip stuff but you don't get informed of it 😅 Now I've been making a new Clip after I'm done streaming, so that my current streams will get featured when I raid!

Charity Fundraising

Our charity of the month for April was Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.). Among the many things they do to help make the world a better place for animals (including us humans!) my favorite is their amazing offering of free vegan recipes for well-known foods from around the world, including Mexican, Chinese, Filipino, and Lao, with a Soul Food project underway! It turned out they are currently fundraising specifically for their recipes, making this the perfect time to feature them for a donation 💸

Before I talk about my donation, though, I MUST thank my Twitch subscriber, Wolfaxe2, for blowing our humble $10 Twitch viewer goal out of the water! He contributed 1.5 times the entire goal, $15 to F.E.P.! 👏👏👏 Thank you so much, Wolf!! 💖✨

So what about my donation? While we didn't break the unique viewers record a third month in a row, we still had 22! My formula is $0.10 USD per viewer, minimum $10, max $100. That equals another $10 to support F.E.P., for a total of $25! As always, I opted to cover the processing charge 😉

If you'd like to make your own donation to F.E.P. please click here! Our next charity, for May, will be The Vegan Society, the OG vegan charity that started it all, including inventing the word vegan, and is still going strong today! Please join me on Twitch throughout May, and bring your friends, to support The Vegan Society's efforts to make the world a better place for all animals! We just need 30 unique viewers to break the record set last month 😎

Gryphia Progress

Here's some exciting news hot off the press! Just this morning, I finished the first draft of the epilogue, which means the entire first draft of my first ever novel is complete!!! 🥳🎉🎊✨

There's still plenty of work to be done before it's in a readable state (including rewriting the bits of chapter one that were lost to the aether after a freak glitch deleted the entire file 😱) but, like I said last month, I'm going to follow Stephen King's advice and let it rest for six weeks first. In the meantime, I hope to complete my Japan Adventure series here, so you'll be seeing a lot more posts throughout May! I hope you'll look forward to it 😊

Other News: 38th Birthday Vacation Awesomeness

I took the last week of March and the first week of April off for my birthday. Here is a little photo log of some of the highlights!

I held a three-day Lord of the Rings 4K Extended Edition marathon and cooked vegan British Isles food each day! Here's my full English breakfast with a non-alcoholic snakebite and creamy Earl Grey tea, and Aoife in the background 🐶

One of the birthday gifts I received was this epic portrait of Samwise Gamgee, drawn by my sister, Aryssa, and commissioned by my husband, Sean 💖

A gift from me to my pet pigeons was this new aviary! My husband helped me build it, and I've been filling it with more and more lovely things for Sora and Kumo to enjoy, including a bale of hay to make nests with, and soon a whole wall of potted, bird-safe plants 🪴

The most exciting birthday gift I received was a fan package to meet Sean Astin at Gem State Comic Con! The package included an autograph, which went on the epic portrait, and this "selfie" which was generously taken by one of the con staff and is now my current Chibi Friday project 🥰


That's it for April's roundup! Thank you for reading until the end! I'll be back again soon with another Japan Adventure post. Until then, may you stay happy, healthy, and safe ❤️