16 September 2022

2022 August Roundup

It's another bright, sunny day. The vines growing up my garden floor window are protecting me from the harshest rays. The sky is cloudless and yet not clear; the normal blue is a hazy grey, probably smoky from the wildfires. Despite the summer heat this week, I'm wearing a hoodie. It's cold in the air conditioned basement.

August was a wild, eventful month. In rounding up everything for this post, I was surprised time and again, "Wow, that was in August? It feels like ages ago, now." I hope you'll enjoy examining this final full month of summer with me!

Patreon Rewards

This was the first thing that surprised me, when I realized it was indeed part of August. Patreon rewards for the month went out on the 8th. They featured my Spring Gryphon greeting card illustration, which was started back in June. It was my hope to get my Summer Gryphon completed in August as well, but with Sun's unexpected passing at the end of July, I couldn't muster the focus to meet such a deadline.

Copying the final sketch lines onto a sheet of tracing paper.
Physical media work complete.
The final piece, with digital adjustment and additions.
Not only postcards, but a full-size print went out into the world this time!

The very limited handwritten-note tiers of my Patreon are still open 😊 Your support helps me keep making art and telling stories, both from a practical, financial perspective, and also in an emotionally encouraging way, by showing me there are people who truly believe in my work. Sign up here to get a monthly postcard, print, or both 💖

Gryphia Progress

At the end of August, I had reached 3,600+ words written for my first draft of chapter five. Just today, September 2nd, I finished the chapter! I'm honestly getting a little worried that my 12-chapter format won't be long enough to contain the story I intend to write, but I continually remind myself that this is only the first draft. There will be plenty of time for revision, where I can edit to fit the original format, or decide to lengthen it. Right now, all that matters is writing the very first, and very rough, version of this story.

I'm aiming for 3,000-5,000 words per chapter.


This blog post prompted me to finally get some more art uploaded to dA so I would have something to write about in this section! dA is the place I've posted my art online the longest, nearly twenty years. Keeping that going, so I can see how far I've come, is the reason I continue to use the platform. It's a fun impetus but never a priority. Hence why I am still a year behind in posting, lol.

"海鮮鍋 (Kaisen'nabe)" Click here to view on deviantART.

The piece I'm featuring here is my favorite project from my final undergraduate painting class, finished spring semester of 2021. The details are all on dA (so click the link 😉) but in brief, this is both a wolfy representation of the characters in one of my favorite otome visual novels, 百花百狼 aka Nightshade, and a depiction of the primary emotions using color and flowers. I'm so fond of this piece, I considered getting it as a tattoo!

The only art I have left to post from 2021 is my senior project, which includes six pieces. Then I have all the art I've made so far this year 😅 It would be nice if I could be caught up before 2023 arrives, lol.

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Summer Conference

Now this was an exciting and exhausting weekend! I attended my first "work conference" at the beginning of the month. It wouldn't have happened if SCBWI wasn't holding it 100% virtually. Ongoing pandemic aside, I simply can't afford the cost of attending a conference in New York City ☹️

The conference had a huge range of speakers and topics, delivered in keynote speeches, moderated panels, and breakout presentations. I learned so much about the publishing industry and how to improve my storytelling! It felt like I finally walked up to the distant, looming gatekeepers and found them not hard, sneering power mongers, but normal people just trying to help others find the correct door to pass through.

My studio viewing setup.
Sketches from the live, guided drawing session.
I love the sweet little story that I ended up creating!
I took SO MANY NOTES. It was like a semester in three days!

You might have noticed my awesome, crayon red hair in those photos 😊 My sister both reminded me of my childhood plan to dye my hair bright, flashy colors once it naturally lightened enough, and she actually helped me dye it! I found the Arctic Fox brand when I was googling around for long-lasting color, but I chose them because they're vegan! It goes without saying I'm chuffed with the results ❤️

Art Excursions

A huge, immediate impact the SCBWI conference had on me was inspiring some changes to my monthly routine. I am now adding an art excursion to my schedule every couple weeks, to get some live drawing practice. In August, I visited Zoo Boise two times (I always loved drawing the animals there, so of course it was my first choice) and nearly filled this sketchbook (which I bought at the zoo itself; it's made of fiber reclaimed from elephant poop 🤯).

From my August 13th visit.
From my August 18th visit.

I haven't decided where I'll go for my next excursions, but the World Center for Birds of Prey is top of my list. I'll also be visiting the Grand Canyon later this month, so I'll definitely be sketching the sights there! Please look forward to my plein air sketches in every roundup post from now on 📝✨


It's the 7th of September now (yes, this blog post has taken me a while to compose!) and starting today, my livestream windows will be shortened to one hour. To be honest, it's been lonely the past few months, with hardly any viewership. On top of that, even when I have a live audience to keep me company, it remains physically taxing and mentally exhausting to make art while sitting still and talking for two hours straight.

I started using a new formula for Chibi Friday, to start telling stories with each piece.

Last week, I felt like giving up livestreaming altogether 😔 But I would like to continue fundraising for charity through my streams, and to keep open the opportunity to share my work with new people. Plus, it's Inktober next month, an event I almost always participate in. The popularity of Inktober may increase viewership, which will increase both the funds I donate to my October charity and the chance of having my work seen!

The ink wasn't Copic-proof, so I mapped colors with the markers before going digital.

So my plan is to continue livestreaming at least through the end of October. If by then I still feel like my time could be better spent on something else, I'll quit livestreaming and think of a new way to have fun raising money for charity together. For now, here is my updated schedule:

  • Wednesdays 15:30 - 16:30 MDT (GMT-6) Lucky Dip
    (making a single piece of art using four randomly selected art supplies)
  • Fridays 15:30 - 16:30 MDT (GMT-6) Chibi Friday
    (drawing one of my adorable, signature chibi caricatures)

Be sure to subscribe to my channel on Twitch (it's free!) to get notifications whenever I go live, and to see my most up-to-date schedule, including which days I won't be streaming due to vacation.

To honor Sun's memory, my Lucky Dip sessions featured 15 random items!
15 items for Sun's 15 years of life. His portrait turned out great 😊🤍

In happier news, I'm getting somewhat caught up on posting recordings to YouTube! 😅 Here's one of my recent uploads:

Staying caught up on YouTube posting is another benefit of the shorter stream window. One hour is half the time I was streaming previously, which means half the file size for the recording, and half the time required to upload and share it! This is another area where I'd really like to be completely caught up before the end of the year 🤞

Charity Fundraising

My charity for August was Best Friends Animal Society, whose mission is to eliminate the practice of killing homeless animals in the United States of America. Frankly, it's appalling that in our modern age of advanced technology, global communication, and unprecedented overall prosperity, this is still an issue. I remember that harrowing scene in Lady and the Tramp, with the happy-go-lucky, innocent dog being led off to the gas chamber, and it's shocking to realize this still occurs today.

In August I had 15 unique Twitch viewers, which equals a $10 USD donation to the organization! This is on top of a donation I made shortly after Sun's passing, at the beginning of August, in sponsorship of their long-term resident Shiba Inu, Hazel. I wanted to put August's Twitch-generated donation directly toward her care once again, so I actually increased the amount to $25, which is the minimum for a sponsorship 🐶💖

If you'd like to make your own donation to Best Friends Animal Society, or sponsor a specific animal in their care, click here ❤️ And to participate in my Twitch fundraising for September, join me when I go live and bring your friends! This month, I am raising money for Zoo Boise, whose activities support conservation of endangered species and the protection of wild animals around the world.

Monthly Recommendations

Now we come to the most fun part of my monthly roundups: recommendations! These are all things that brought goodness into my life in August and I'm excited to share them with you. Anything that requires a purchase is not being sponsored by the producer, nor am I being compensated in any way. I just really love this stuff for real 😄

👟 Workout of the Month 👟

It being the dead of summer, with record-breaking temperatures, I had a great time swimming in August! The nice thing about it for me is that I don't swim as a sport, I just mess around in the water, come up with games, try some acrobatics, and just become a kid again. I always have a crazy fun time, and because these activities aren't part of my everyday life, I always end up sore as if I had done a full-body strength training session. It's the no-workout workout!

Although I'm desperately looking forward to cooler temps and autumn weather, I'm making the best of the remainder of summer with more swimming! Why not jump in yourself? I hope you can find a gym, public rec center, a friend with a pool, or even a lake or river to enjoy before summer is over!

🍽️ Vegan Victuals of the Month 🍽️
Red Curry with Tofu by Veestro

We started ordering Veestro meals last year and we enjoyed them so much (both the deliciousness and the convenience) that they've become a freezer staple ever since. They are the perfect weeknight dinner because they're tasty, healthy, vegan, quick & easy to prepare, and come in a variety of cuisines!

Although there are several Veestros (our term at home for "Veestro meals" lol) that I'm always happy to eat, there is just one stand-out favorite: the Red Curry with Tofu! This meal is SO DELICIOUS. Just writing about it this moment, even though it's breakfast time (this blog really is taking me forever: it's now the 16th!) and I just ate, my mouth is salivating in hopes of enjoying the brown rice smothered in mellow red curry filled with broccoli, cauliflower, and tofu 🤤✨

Unfortunately, Veestro recently announced a completely revamped delivery style and menu, which doesn't include my beloved Red Curry 😭 Please, Veestro, bring it back! I could eat this meal every day without tiring. It's not just my favorite Veestro meal, it's one of my favorite dinners, period!

📕 Book of the Month 📕
The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo

This month's recommended book is one that I purposefully took months to read. If you're a writer, or have dreams of becoming one, this is a must-read book! Check out my StoryGraph review for more details:

hopeful informative inspiring reflective slow-paced
5.0 ⭐
It's hard to decide where to begin or what to include in my review. I have so many glowing remarks swirling inside me, I think I may end up saying less than I could, just because remarking upon all the individual points that make this book so informative and valuable would take too long! I think every writer should read this book, and just as is recommended in the book itself, they should read it slowly, while engaging in their writing practice. When I read that part, it convinced me to finally settle into a purposeful writing routine, with this book as my daily warmup. It is no exaggeration to say that the thousands of words I've added to my manuscript this year are hugely due to the constant, gentle encouragement this book provided. It didn't matter if the advice was relevant to what I was writing at the time. I absolutely filled the book with written sticky notes, marking things I want to remember later, things that I'll need when I finally get to that point in the process, things to be reminded of when I'm starting my next project, and things that are just good advice for any creative professional engaging in long-term projects.
I just happened to come across this book when shopping at Barnes & Noble one day, looking to use a coupon. The title caught my eye because it had already been years since I started my current novel and I still hadn't finished chapter one of my first draft. Who knew it would become my favorite book on writing, a paper teacher, encouraging and informing, and a magic talisman, spurring me on through darkness and doubt? It may sound overdramatic, but that's really the feeling I have toward this book. You can bet I will be reading it again and again throughout my writing career.

📺 Show of the Month 📺
X-Men on Disney+

For the past couple months, my husband and I have been watching the 90s X-Men cartoon on Disney+ (to avoid spoilers, I'll just say that the final episode of a certain new show inspired us!). I had seen a random episode here and there when the show was still airing for the first time, but never before now have I sat down and watched it all, start to finish. We're in the middle of season three, so we're only about halfway done with the series, but I already want to feature it here because it's surprisingly good!

While giving it concessions for the period it was made in (early 1990s) and its intended viewing platform (standard definition television) the show's pacing and storytelling still holds up today. I even found myself emotionally moved during several climactic moments! The show has also reaffirmed my love for Wolverine. I always liked him on those rare occasions I saw this cartoon as a kid, and of course Hugh Jackman's performance in 2000's X-Men made me fall totally in love. Seeing cartoon Wolverine again now, even though I've grown up and changed in so many ways, I'm very happy to confirm that he's exactly how I remembered 🥰

🎮 Game of the Month 🎮

August's recommended game is a bit different from usual. Duolingo is primarily a learning tool, but they've gamified it such that you can consider it just as much a game as anything else, it's just one where your real life skills level up as you progress!

Plush Duo: Specially released for Duolingo's 10th anniversary this year!

The reason I chose Duolingo for my roundup this time is because the annual Duocon took place in August. I attended virtually last year, and I couldn't help getting excited to do it again this year! I got all dressed up in my Duolingo shirt with matching makeup, and even Sora joined me in its green-accented flyper!

A bird on each shoulder. Which one is real? (The pigeon is real.)

Duocon isn't the only reason I'm shining my spotlight on Duolingo. Unlike any other game, Duolingo is something I do EVERY day. I practice my Japanese with at least one lesson per day, often doing two or three when Duolingo's game elements and encouragement from mascot Duo prompt me to keep going. I have an 827-day streak (about to become 828 once I finish up this blog post!) and I can't credit the platform enough with helping me advance and hone my Japanese language skills. I truly love Duolingo and recommended it to everyone wanting to learn a language!

🎧 Music of the Month 🎧
To The Opera! by Hans Zimmer

I've been listening to the Stephen Fry-narrated Sherlock Holmes audiobook for the past couple months, often while eating lunch and when working on illustration. It is phenomenal and it will certainly make an appearance in a future blog post after I finish it. That audiobook inspired me to feature here one of my favorite songs from the soundtrack of one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes adaptations:

Oooo, this part just gives me such chills, it's so powerfully moving, so exciting, so much darkness. The web of Moriarty is fully deployed, and our heroes are absolutely confounded by it. How can they possibly rise triumphant?! Goodness, I have riled myself up so much, I may have to rewatch these Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law movies again during my vacation next week 🤩

And, at last, that is all for my August roundup! The sun is shining terribly brightly this morning. I'm keeping my curtains closed against it. You wouldn't know that autumn weather has been sneaking its way in, blessing us with cloudy days and thunderstorms and cool mornings. I love it. I love the time of year that's on the way ❤️ Thank you for joining me again this month. I hope you enjoyed the ride! See you again in a couple weeks!