22 December 2022

2022 November Roundup

I've got my curtains half open, so I can see if it starts to snow, while still preventing the morning sun from blinding me when it peeks out through a crack in the clouds. This is the second day in a row the weather forecast said it would snow in the morning, but instead I sit here disappointed, looking at the pale blue sky behind the icy grey clouds 😑 Come, Mother Nature, let it snow! 😆

Still, it's pretty cozy in my studio this morning. I've got a mug of lemon tea at my elbow, my two dogs sleeping peacefully in their beds, and a playlist of my favorite Christmas music filling the air. My tootsies are cold, but I've got a fluffy robe keeping the rest of me nice and warm~ With all the holiday busyness ever since Thanksgiving, I haven't been able to sit down and work on this roundup post until now, the third week of December. To make sure I can actually get it done in a timely manner, this will be a condensed roundup, a few sections removed, and others combined. If I can finish writing this today, that would be ideal~ Let's get started!

Patreon Rewards

In November, seven different Patreon rewards were ordered all at once! It was the first time I've created so many different designs at one time. Included were the six Inktober drawings that Studio Mikarts members voted for, plus the chibi tanuki illustration that was finished at the beginning of the month.

All seven Patreon rewards: six Inktober plus one chibi tanuki.

Two of these seven rewards were sent out in November. I wanted to space them out weekly so that everyone would get a nice, steady stream of happiness in their mailboxes, instead of one big art dump 😅 Plus it saved my hand, since I am still handwriting my messages of greeting and gratitude.

Inktober reward #1: Flame

After these seven rewards have all gone out, I am going to begin printing all rewards in-house and handwriting only the first message, which will then be replicated on or with all the rewards. This saves me a lot of money in production costs (while still delivering museum-quality art reproductions 😎) as well as time and physical strain.

It was a big concern as I thought of the future and the growth of Studio Mikarts. I put it to the vote on Patreon, and was so relieved that all of my patrons voted for the printed message option. So kind and considerate, I have the best patrons 🥰 And their comments about still loving the heartfelt nature of the handwritten message is what led to my hybrid solution of handwriting once and replicating, rather than simply typing the message.

Inktober reward #2: Bouquet

So what's next? I have two illustrations in the works. My main project is my winter gryphon, which in November I got halfway through the final sketch. The snowy evergreen environment is all worked out, I just need to add the gryphon itself now.

The full-size sketch for my winter gryphon illustration.

The other illustration I'm working on is my chibi orca. More about that in the Livestreaming section below 😉 To sign up and become a Studio Mikarts member on Patreon, click here! You can choose from five tiers, receiving postcards, prints, both, or neither (the latter is actually the most supportive option ❤️) and all members get access to exclusive updates and limited time rewards. I'm looking forward to seeing you there~!

Gryphia Progress

Just a small update here. I'm proud to say I've continued working on my novel, but it's been very slow going, so there's not much to report. Still, something is better than nothing and in November I exceeded 3,000 words written for chapter six!


An interesting thing happened as I was preparing material for this section of my post: I noticed that deviantART got rid of their physical prints shop 😲 Fortunately, I already have an alternate on-demand prints account through Fine Art America but it was still a disappointing surprise. dA is turning heavily toward digital offerings, including subscriptions much like Patreon and even A.I. generated artwork (hotly contested by the community there; I'm still not sure how I feel about it...), which unfortunately makes it far less in line with my creative journey than ever before.

Still, after some consideration, I decided to continue using the site. For one, it remains an online repository of my artwork, including all my major work going back to my high school days! For two, they still have the commissions feature, which allows me to offer chibi caricature commissions online. It's a nice feature! There are some other fun things that make the site worth using too, like silly badges and cool profile customization, so although I'm still disappointed that they're pushing so hard toward digital stuff, I feel fairly at peace with the recent changes 😅

Click here to view and add to your collections on deviantART!

Anyway, this is the piece I am featuring today: my Nyan Meow Mice. I recently uploaded the rest of my 2021 artwork, which is to say, all the work from my capstone illustration project 😄 I'm really proud of this project and I intend to expand upon it next year. I love all the pieces I created so far, but the mice one just feels extra good for some reason, which is why I chose it for this post. If you'd like to see all six illustrations and the endpaper and cover designs, click here to visit my gallery on deviantART!

Art Excursions: Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve

It's gotten really cold here since late October, so this excursion was a bit tough! In November, I went with my sister, who is also a professional creative, to Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve, a hidden gem right in my backyard. It's a small nature reserve with unpaved trails and excellent viewpoints where you can relax in the stillness, or be enchanted by the cacophony of bird voices, all while gazing at the wildlife (I've seen countless bird species, bats, deer, and even stray domestic rabbits here!) and taking in the scenic wetland environment.

As I mentioned, it was very cold that day, but gloves weren't an option for me while sketching, since I needed precision for my chosen media: watercolor! The golden rays of the sun camouflage how red my frozen hands are in these photos 😅

I used nothing but watercolor for my sketches, no pencil or pen. It's an exercise I really enjoy, because it forces me to be creative with my brush strokes. How can I depict this, knowing the colors will blend when they touch? Knowing this brushstroke might dry before I can get the color ready for the next one? How can I make this shape recognizable in the least amount of time and strokes? These are the types of questions I'm answering when I sketch with watercolor. And the answers show up later in my more detailed and complete watercolor illustrations 😁


I had a great time with my viewers on Twitch in November; I am so grateful to my regular chatters who make each art stream such a pleasure! Here are the results of my Lucky Dip and Chibi Friday streams:

Lucky Dip XIX
Chibi Friday 35: Tanuki Part 7 (final)
Lucky Dip XX
 Chibi Friday 36: Orca Part 1
Lucky Dip XXI
Chibi Friday 37: Orca Part 2
Lucky Dip XXII

For Lucky Dips, which are on Wednesdays, I randomly choose four art tools and then make an image with them. For the past few months, I've been working through a manga pose reference book so that I don't have to worry about what to draw, just how to draw it using the tools I have. Plus, I think my manga/anime-style drawing is getting better thanks to this!

For Chibi Fridays, starting in August this year, I have been asking my patrons to vote on which animal they'd like me to draw as a chibi. Then I generate two random words and use them to construct a scene with the animal at its center. I keep working on that illustration for as many Chibi Friday livestreams as it takes to complete it. Here's the recording of the last one from November:

Be sure to follow me on Twitch to be notified every time I go live! Let's chat soon~!

Charity Fundraising

In November, I chose Farm Sanctuary as my charity of the month. They do amazing work helping end the suffering of farm animals, both for individuals and for the billions trapped in the misery of the farming industry. They run a turkey adoption program around Thanksgiving, which is how I found them last year. Thanksgiving is often referred to as Turkey Day. For me, that now has a different and more positive meaning, as I enjoy symbolically adopting a turkey from them, rather than killing and eating one 🦃🤎

I had 19 unique viewers on Twitch in November. I donate $0.10 per viewer to my selected charity, with a minimum of $10 and and max of $100, which means a $10 donation to help take care of the animals at Farm Sanctuary this time 🥰

December's charity is The Protego Foundation! They use the Harry Potter fandom as a base for building a kinder world through veganism and other animal activism. I hope you'll join me on Twitch this week for my final December stream and have fun hanging out while helping improve the lives of magical (that is to say, all!) animals 💖

Monthly Recommendations

This will be a condensed version of the funnest part of my monthly roundups. I hope you'll enjoy reading about these recommendations and perhaps giving them a try yourself! (As usual, I am not being paid to advertise these things; they're just positive elements of my November that I am excited to share with you~)

🍽️ Vegan Victuals & Book of the Month 📕
The Unofficial Harry Potter Vegan Cookbook by Imana Grashuis & Tylor Starr

My review from The StoryGraph says it all, so I will let it do the talking, spiced up with some photos of my cooking!

adventurous funny hopeful informative inspiring fast-paced

5.0 ⭐

Absolutely five-star cookbook! For TL;DR: the recipes are delicious, the book beautiful, and the information about veganism and vegan cooking both helpful and inspiring!

If you're a Harry Potter fan, get this cookbook! It doesn't matter if you're not vegan, forget about the stereotypes, this food is indulgent and beautiful and absolutely satisfying. The good you'll be doing for animals, the environment, and your own health can just be considered bonuses! It's easy to forget, but the book itself is a beautiful showpiece as well, with a silky, embossed cover; patterned endpapers; well-organized, easy-to-read text; and full-page, color photographs included with every recipe.

Before I describe my experience with the half-dozen recipes I've already tried, here are some highlights from the other sections of the book:
  • Enthralling foreword by Evanna Lynch. If you're already vegan, your passion for the cause will be set ablaze ❤️‍🔥 For those who are veg-curious, you may be moved to finally take the next step!
  • Listing the reasons to go vegan and tying them to the Wizarding World we all know and love~
  • Vegan alternatives section that can help veganize any recipe or allow you to throw together a quick vegan meal without instructions.
  • Fun and helpful Kitchen Witch Tips. A bit too new age witch (spiritual/religious) and not enough fantasy witch (my view of the Wizarding World) for me, so I came up with my own versions because I did like the core ideas being presented (such as clean the kitchen before cooking, get as much light into the kitchen as possible when working, be mindful and grateful as you cook, etc.).
  • The appendix section that lists all recipes, including by which Harry Potter book they're from (such a good idea!), and the metric conversion page (I grew up with Imperial but I prefer metric for its precision!).
I made several recipes from this book for Thanksgiving this year and I was able to provide my family with a complete and magical vegan feast! In fact, I had to make some recipes the weekend after the holiday because I chose way more things than I could make 😅 Here's what I made and how it was:
  • Rabbit Food Grazing Board: So delicious, so filling, perfect for a big gathering or party! The grilled olives were an awesome, unusual addition that I loved, and it was treat to have pomegranate seeds for the first time since childhood (they went well with everything), but the star was the tzatziki sauce. I will make this sauce any time I want tzatziki from now on!
  • Dragon Roasted Nuts: These were a big hit with my entire family, one of the things people called out as particularly delicious. The best thing is, they have a flavor that is both seductively familiar and yet wholly unique. It's hard to stop eating them because you just want more and more of that enchanting taste!
  • Fang's Boarhound Treats: I made these as my pups' Thanksgiving treat and they LOVED them. Absolutely no hesitation or polite curiosity, just munch, munch, down the hatch! Being vegan, these treats are made with stuff humans wouldn't mind eating, like applesauce, peanut butter, and vegan yogurt. I might have to reserve one for myself next time...
  • Butterbeer Three Ways: For Thanksgiving, I chose to make the hot butterbeer and kept it warm in a small slow cooker. The only downside is the calculation necessary to quadruple the recipe, as it only serves two normally. This was another item that was particularly praised by everyone in my family!
  • Pumpkin Patch Brownies: SO INDULGENT. So rich and delicious~ To simplify the recipe, I replaced the cubed pumpkin, coconut oil, and gingerbread spices with canned pumpkin pie filling. It worked great (the pumpkin pie flavor sat evenly with the rich chocolate) and cut off at least a good half hour of cooking/prep work!
To make cooking easier for Christmas this year, we've ordered catering for the main meal, and I'm just going to make some desserts and drinks, several of them from this book, including the Apple Pie and Arthur's Eggnog 🤤 And there are so many holiday appropriate recipes still remaining, not just for the end-of-year holidays. How about Liquid Luck for New Year's? Amortentia for Valentine's Day? The Great Feast for Independence Day? Full Moon Cookies for Halloween? Not to mention Happee Birthdae Cake for all those special days! And there are plenty recipes more for whatever you're in the mood for, such as Cheery Owl Breakfast Donuts, Buckbeak's Stuffed Pumpkins, Coconut Snow Cones, Caramelized Devil's Snare, Ernie's Sandwich, Slithering Snake Ravioli, Polyjuice Potion, and Treacle Tart (Harry's favorite!).

I hope everyone will try this cookbook and enjoy all its magical offerings~!

🎧 Music of the Month 🎧
Mika's Celtic Christmas 🎄 on Spotify

Christmastime is my favorite time of year, so although you might think this more appropriate for December, I was already listening to my Celtic Christmas playlist the month before X3 I especially like to listen to it at the end of the day as I'm winding down for bed~

I recommend listening to this playlist on shuffle, though it's not a problem to listen straight through. I just added whole Christmas albums until I was satisfied, no rhyme or reason to the order other than the playlist's theme and my memory of artists that fit it 😅

Other News: Gratitude Postcard Project

In November, the month of Thanksgiving in my country, I have for years now tried to practice active gratitude through a daily project. Usually, I pick something I'm grateful for each day and consider it through a social media post, journal entry, sketch, etc. This year I thought to do something a bit different: sending gratitude postcards!

So many postcards to choose from🤩

I'm sure I was inspired by the fact that I send so many postcards all year round, not just to my patrons, but to friends and family as a way to stay in touch. Still, I find it interesting that only this year did I think of doing such a thing. Maybe it's because this was the first November in four years where I wasn't overburdened by end-of-semester projects and looming finals. Being a degree-holding college graduate is something I'm very grateful for 😆

First batch included the hand-painted postcard I made at the Grand Canyon!

So, for this project, I posted online everywhere I could think, inviting folks to send me their addresses if they would like a postcard. Considering that's very personal information, I was pleased to have sent out a total of twelve gratitude postcards throughout the month!

Second batch~

I'm not sure if I'll do this project again next year, but I think I'd like to. Perhaps more people will trust me with their addresses if it becomes a yearly event 🫡

Final and largest batch~!

And here we are, at the end of November's roundup. It's the day after I started writing and the clouds are thinner than ever, and it's even colder! I still have hope, though: the forecast says it will snow tonight! 🙏❄️🌨️ It also says it will rain on Christmas Eve and Christmas, but let's just ignore that for now...

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and perhaps got inspired to try something new 😀 This is my last blog entry for 2022, so I would like to wish you a very happy holiday season and a magical new year~! 🎉💖✨ As always, may you be safe, happy, and healthy!