My piece in Unwritten: Why I Am Hopeful About Addressing Climate Change

By Deepti Kannapan

Jun 22, 2023

As people who care about the Earth, it’s understandable to be impatient for action on climate change. For most of our lives, we’ve been hearing ever-stronger warnings about the danger. And yet somehow, we encounter people who oppose taking action to protect society and ecosystems. Progress, when it happens, seems too slow to meet the urgency of the situation.

I’m an engineer who uses math every day. And math is what helps me feel hopeful about addressing climate change — even when the outlook seems bleak.

I remember the first time I was able to model reality with laws of physics. It was a very simple “reality,” made of a block and gravity, but I still felt as if I was being let in on a secret, and could see a little clearer. Now, I see math everywhere. I see it in the rocking of a leaf on its stalk, in the rolling wheels of a passing car. And in the way a door sticks and suddenly breaks free when you push a little harder.

Sometimes our action on climate change feels stuck. But it’s a mistake to look at how slow progress has been in the past and assume it always will be. Read the rest in Unwritten.

Illustration Series: Recovering Magically

I just finished a seven-day drawing challenge! I am gearing up for a longer challenge along the lines of my InkPrep-whatever, but in the meanwhile, I did a shorter one to warm up.

Here are the Tumblr posts I made along the way, as I drew 8 illustrations in 7 days: Day 1, Day2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 6.5, Day 7, and the wrapup post.

[Oh yeah, I have a Tumblr for my art now. So far, the only social media(ish) platform I don’t hate.]

I always enjoy my self-imposed art challenges, and this was no exception! Here are some of my thoughts about the experience:

The art skill I was focusing on was posing characters and rendering magical effects (as well as rendering in general: you know, shading, highlights, and all that).

  • I could definitely feel myself getting better and more practiced at anatomy and perspective, so I started trying more challenging poses by the end. The perspective on the soaring girl (bottom right) nearly defeated me.
  • For the magical effects, I learned that less is more. Especially in terms of colors, weight, and blending. On the first few days, I slathered color onto overlay layers and then overworked them with the smudge tool. Then I ended up erasing a lot of it when it didn’t look right. On the later days, I chose my colors and brushes carefully and blended just enough to retain interesting patterns in the brush strokes.

I chose a theme of recovery and replenishing oneself, probably because that’s what I needed. All my characters were fantasy girls/women, inspired by YouTuber LavenderTowne’s penchant for personifying concepts (and foods, planets, devices, cryptids, etc.) as cute girls.

And lastly, the illustrations form a bit of a story when put together, as in the gallery above! I drew them out of order, because I was deciding the parameters of the challenge on the fly. As is my wont with projects like this. I drew the first illustration, then chose the theme, then decided on the number of days of the challenge, and only came up with the title on the last day.

It’s fun letting a project evolve on its own!

Portrait of Garlic Greens

An odd project sprouts

Line art by the author. The flat ends of leaves are where I snipped off a taste.

One afternoon, I reached into my spice cupboard to find that one clove in the bulb of garlic I’d forgotten had grown a bright green sprout.

I planted it to grow as microgreens. According to a friend who knows these things, the correct way to plant it is actually to separate all the cloves and put them in a dish of water. Even with my inexpert planting in soil, each clove shot up a shoot, just like the first. I nibbled off the flavorful tips.

For several days, I had been prowling the house, ambushing each houseplant for a portrait. As well as the occasional outdoor plant or vegetable. It was an art challenge I’d set myself.

I call them ‘portraits’ because I was determined that the plants be represented in detail, as a subject. They would not be simplified into an artful tangle of foliage, as one does in landscape painting. I would draw every leaf and branch.

The garlic plant featured late in the challenge because it had more leaves than some others. I waited for a day when I had time to do them all justice.

At first, capturing all the detail seemed insurmountable. The leaves passed behind each other, casting sharp shadows from the afternoon glare from the window.

From doing these drawings a few days in a row, I knew that sense of impossible complexity would pass. I just had to pick a leaf and go from there, and remind myself that this had worked last time.

Even shapes that look too difficult to draw can be tackled, one nibble at a time.

Here’s my worksheet resource for having a deeply creative work session!

Originally appeared in Weeds & Wildflowers