10 February 2023

2023 January Roundup

I can't believe January passed so quickly! And we're already entering the second week of February! It even seems like spring is stepping in early. It's getting much warmer during the day, lots of (dratted) sunshine between rainy spells (all of which seem to happen when I'm not available to enjoy them!), and no fresh snow for weeks. I'm not sure I'm ready for winter to be over. I would have liked more snow! But next month I'll be at sea for a couple weeks, cruising around Japan, so warmer weather would be welcome then ๐Ÿ˜Š

This will be my second month composing a roundup post using my new guidelines (one image and paragraph per section, condensing my recommendations into a short bullet list, etc.). I received positive feedback on last month's entry, so I hope you will enjoy this one, too!

Patreon Rewards

Chibi Tanuki rewards were mailed in January! These were the final rewards to be printed by a third-party print shop. The costs were spiraling out of control, so I decided to start printing in-house! I have recently settled on and ordered the paper, Red River Paper's Aurora Art Natural 300, which is the thicker version of the paper I already use for my giclรฉe print reproductions. I'll also be using the same archival inks, as well, which means both my postcard and print rewards will be museum-quality reproductions! Please sign up here to become a patron and support my work ๐Ÿฅฐ

deviantART: Spring Gryphon

I'm still playing catch-up with deviantART, so I've uploaded several older pieces recently, all from 2022. It's exciting because this is the closest to caught-up I've been since I resumed posting there! The image I'd like to feature this time is my Spring Gryphon, which was completed last summer (I tried for spring but took too long ๐Ÿ˜…) as a seasonal greeting card. It's the first of four images I'm making that represent the seasons with a plant and a naturalistically appropriate gryphon. For spring I chose sakura, and the gryphon is a combination of a mejiro bird and momonga flying squirrel ๐ŸŒธ You can purchase print-on-demand products featuring this Spring Gryphon on my Fine Art America shop.

Gryphia Progress

Progress on my first draft continues at an even keel. I finished up chapter seven and started brainstorming for chapter eight (and beyond) in January. Since I'm now close to entering the final stages of the story, I decided to reread all my notes up until now, to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything that I wanted to include, and to create new ideas by combining my old thoughts with what has actually been written, which is often quite different! It's an exciting stage!

Art Livestreaming

My Twitch streams have gone great so far this year, including the addition of a Monday stream during which I tackle the Inktober52 weekly prompt. One of my favorite projects in January was a chibi caricature of my pet pigeon, Sora. She's already cute enough in real life, but I think I managed to make her even cuter in chibi form ๐Ÿฅฐ Click here to check out my livestreaming schedule, sign up for go-live notifications, and join me for a chat while I work!

Charity Fundraising

My charity for January was Veganuary, an organization which helps people try a compassionate, vegan lifestyle by running a challenge every January. They send out recipes, transition tips, data about the positive impact veganism has, and plain ol' encouragement, every day of the challenge. It's a very fun and inspiring event!

In January, I had 13 unique viewers during my Twitch streams, which translates into a $10 donation to Veganuary! Happily, it turned out that there was a 2x donation match in place, so this donation was essentially doubled to $20!

Usually this is all I have to say about charity donations in a month, but there was another exciting moment in January! The Twitch fundraising goal I had going for The Protego Foundation was completely met by a single viewer, SarahQuilt (my best friend for over two decades ❤️), so even more funds are going toward helping animals! Thank you, Sarah~!!!

For February, I have chosen The Rat Retreat as my featured charity. They help find good homes for and educate the public about these misunderstood, oft-ill-treated, but lovable beings. I have a special place in my heart for rats; in my 20s, I cared for three sisters, whom I adopted from my local shelter, for their entire lives. Minerva, Bathilda, and Nymphadora~ They were so sweet and fun and smart ❤️ I'm looking forward to making a donation that will help more rats have long, healthy, happy lives!

Mika's Monthly...

Here are my monthly recommendations! I hope you'll give some of them a try ๐Ÿ˜Š As usual, I am not being compensated for these promotions, they're all things I legit want to share because I love them!

...Workout ๐Ÿง˜‍♀️ Yoga Master is the fitness game I use the most. Every workday morning, I wake up and stretch out with one of my custom programs. The nice thing about the game is that you don't have to actually play it like a game. For me that made it stressful, rather than relaxing, so I turned off the scoring system and began using it more like a video yoga program, but one I can always customize to my liking!

...Vegan Victuals ๐Ÿฝ️ Nuggs are one of the very first vegan chicken nugget alternatives I ever ate. They are SO GOOD. My favorite is the spicy version, dipped in homemade vegan ranch ๐Ÿคค OMG I am seriously salivating now, just thinking about their crispy breading and tender insides~ They are pictured below alongside Wholly Veggie Mozzarella Style Sticks, which are also incredibly delicious!

...Book ๐Ÿ“– Letters to a Young Writer: Some Practical and Philosophical Advice by Colum McCann was the first book I finished reading this year. It was my writing-time companion for several months, and although it didn't always quite reach me, it still said the right things so often that I'm keeping it in my writing-time rotation (I usually warm up for writing by reading about writing!). You can read my brief review here.

...Show ๐Ÿ“บ In January I rewatched all of the My Hero Academia movies. I found the first one just as awesome as I remembered, the second one both awesome and silly (a little overwrought, lol), but the third one struck me so much more powerfully! I had seen it a couple times before, but until now, I always felt it was on even footing with its siblings. This time, World Heroes' Mission took an indisputable first place (see what I did there? No? Bakugo quote ๐Ÿ˜‰) in my personal ranking. My experience with anime movies generally has been so mixed; too often they just get worse the more that are made; not so with My Hero Academia ๐Ÿ’– (Also, I am again obsessed with Rody Soul ๐Ÿ˜)

...Game ๐ŸŽฎ I made it my goal for 2023 to spend at least one hour every day playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and I don't regret it one bit! It's the type of game you can play for a just short while, or easily sink several hours into without getting bored, which makes it both a good workday stress-buster and weekend chillout. By playing every day this year, I hope to enjoy all the seasonal events, collect all the items (like art for the museum!), and finally feel like I did all the things ๐Ÿ˜Š✨ This goal is helping very much with growing my self-compassion and stabilizing my mental health. I have historically been a perfectionist and workaholic. Making it a goal to play video games every day challenges my inner critic, who tries to tell me I'm just being lazy, and gives me time to recharge properly so that I can go to work the next day feeling my best!

...Music ๐ŸŽง I've been following Wagakki Band since their first album in 2014, which was comprised of Vocaloid covers using a combination of traditional Japanese instruments (wagakki) and those you'd find in a typical rock band. It was the perfect mashup for me, since I loved that sound ever since Naruto (and its background music) first came out ๐Ÿ˜ They're one of the few bands from whom I actually buy all the main albums, and I finally opened my copy their most recent release in January, which is excitingly their second Vocaloid cover album! It's streaming on Spotify so you may not have to go so far as to import the physical album to enjoy these fresh tracks~

Other News: Focus Retreat Center Story

The news story for which I was interviewed back in October, during the Inktober retreat in Malone, New York has been released at last, and some of my interview made the cut! Half of my bit is just me being cheeky, but you can also hear my excitement about how the retreat helped me complete all 31 drawings for Inktober for the first time ever! Click here to listen to the story online. It's the entire news program, so to get to the segment about the Focus Retreat Center, skip forward to 19:29 (min:sec) or if you just want to get to my soundbite, skip to 23:02 ๐Ÿ˜Ž

That's all I have for you this month. 2023 has gotten off to a great start for me, and I hope it is the same for you! Even if not, I hope the year continues to get better and better for all of us~ I'll be back next month with February's roundup. Until then, may you be happy, healthy, and safe ❤️