Drawing Plants for 10 Days in a Row!

…and dipping my toe into making videos.

And now, for something completely different! I recorded myself making vector drawings of plants and sharing some thoughts. I plan to do this for 10 days in a row, and I’m currently five days in.

It’s working as a crash course in basic video editing and a fun source of routine. I enjoy setting up these little projects for myself, especially if they have a clear endpoint. (But I can only keep those up for a short time, hence the 10 days).

And watching the timelapse of a drawing, even when I just drew it, is strangely satisfying, like a recap – “Yep, that’s what just happened!” I wish I had a similar recap for all my projects, but I’m actually terrible about remembering to take photos…

Anyway, here’s my tentative foray into video (part 1):

Day 1 – Onion and explaining the 10-day challenge.

Day 2 – Succulent and thoughts on having multiple interests.

Day 3 – Spiky Succulent and thoughts about working styles.

Day 4 – Pomegranates, and project updates.

Day 5 – Citrus, and thoughts about the benefits of reusing art.

So that’s the halfway mark! Five more plants to go. I’m having to venture outside the kitchen and patio for subjects now, so the quest escalates.

A Multi-Project Update for Q2 2022

I last made a multi-project update post here, and I’d like to start doing one every quarter. They help me stay focused(ish) and might help you make sense of my scattered updates.

Here are my projects this quarter.

• Research quest: I have a new lineup to read, as well as a couple of posts to write from last time around. I’ve defined the project here.
I’ve made a little progress, and yet I’m feeling strangely confident about getting through it. Expect some more updates on my reading soon!

• YA fantasy novel: I’ve been sharing updates here. My goal for this quarter is to finish the ‘long draft’, which is what I call the draft that has everything I want to put in, and can then start cutting down.

Currently, I have all the scenes I want, though a few are in outline form.

So my next task is to flesh out the newest scenes and paste the material hanging out in various note-taking apps and my (transcribed) voice memos into the main draft.

My second goal is to finish sharing my novel’s (real-world) backstory, which I started here.

• Art & Painting
I don’t usually have any goals to speak of related to art, since I prefer to just draw or paint when I feel like it. But this time, I have two goals:

1. To upload my recent watercolors and vector art into galleries in my Painting category.
2. To make vector drawings of all the plants (and fruit and vegetables) in my house.
I’ve also been using my art in blog posts and other media. So I want to continue to do that.

Okay! There’s a lot going on. Let’s see how I do!

More Leaves and Foliage in Botanical Ink

…and painting on location for the first time!

Dipping back into the archives for these.

I last shared some of my botanical ink paintings here. As I wrote there, I’ve been enjoying drawing from my old vacation photos, looking deeply at the zoomed-in pixels of dappled green leaves and foliage.

Here are the last few I managed to do before running out of ink, some time in 2021. I was already well and truly out of blue. (Yes, I do need to buy some more. I keep forgetting, and now I’m on a watercolor and digital art kick. I’ll circle back to ink eventually!)

A bit of background on each, going clockwise from the top left:

  1. I painted this on location, and not from a photo! One of the first times I did that. It was while camping in the Angeles forest. Since then, I make a point of packing art supplies and painting on every trip.
  2. From a photo I took in Madrona Marsh in Torrance, California.
  3. From a vacation photo from Flagstaff, Arizona. I had to mix in some regular fountain pen ink for the dark branches.
  4. From another Flagstaff photo taken at high speed in the passenger seat, probably.

Expect a few more art updates, woven in among all the other activity, as I catch up on sharing my recent work!

Watercolors of Campsites and Mountains

…and experimenting with eco-friendly art supplies!

Here are some watercolors I did last year! As I mentioned in my botanical ink post, I’ve been experimenting with eco-friendly art supplies. These were done with Natural Earth Paint*, which come as bags of powdered pigment that you have to mix with a binding agent yourself, and spoon into the little watercolor pans. So that was fun!

Here is a bit of backstory for each picture:

The four pictures that make up the top and left borders were painted on location (or plein air if we’re being fancy and French) while camping on Santa Cruz Island. I did some outlining with a fountain pen when I got back.

It took me a while to get the hang of watercolor again, after doing so much monochrome, which is why the first two have a subtle rainbow effect going on. I like it, though it’s not quite intentional.

The other three that make up the right and bottom borders are painted from photos of the Himalayas that my sister took. I took two scans of the first one with slightly different settings, and I can’t decide which I like better.

More pictures to come as I get them scanned and uploaded!

*Not a sponsored post, by the way.

A Belated Multi-Project Update – Fantastical Research Quest

What projects am I working on in February 2022?

Sustainability Research

I’ve been learning about sustainability since about 2018, and gradually picking up speed. In the term ‘sustainability’ I include related topics like climate change, environmentalism, and green technology.

Combined, they are a vast web of topics and it’s been difficult to know where to start. Last year, I took a bunch of climate-related online courses (the first three were free or take optional donations):

… and that gave me a much better overall grasp of what I needed to learn in the first place. I’d recommend them all, but the first one especially, if you’re new to the subject. (I have no affiliation to any company or brand linked in this post.)

This quarter (January-March 2022) is the first time I’ve set myself a clearly-defined research project in this area, with a reading list and a deadline. I’m hoping that will help me make more regular progress.

I haven’t been doing a great job of documenting my progress thus far, and I want that to change. I’ve been collecting all my research updates here.  I’m also doing a revamp on this website – I want to turn it into more of a comprehensive resource wiki, where you can look up any topic or question about sustainability that I’ve ever researched.

My YA Fantasy Novel

I started the novel back in 2020, when an idea for a protagonist, setting, and magic system hit me all at once out of nowhere. I picked it up again in December 2021 after a lull where I was still figuring out my writing process. I post novel updates here.

I haven’t shared any details about the novel yet, and I’d like to start breaking the cone of silence this quarter.


Lastly, my painting isn’t quite a project the way I define it (something with goals and parameters, and occasionally a deadline). Painting is more of a practice I do to restore myself and enjoy my surroundings. However, I am listing my painting portfolio as a project that I update here.

* * *

So those are my projects for the quarter, and it’s a far more structured list than usual. I intend to document the journey here on the blog.

Below, I’ll comment on some questions you may have (or rather, that I ask myself constantly).

Why am I doing so many different things at once?

While working on fiction, nonfiction, and art at once goes against the conventional wisdom that you must pick ONE project for a period of your life, after a bit of experimentation, I’ve found that this is what works for me. I’ve done the thing where I’d be ‘just’ one thing for three months or a year or a season. It turns out to make me miserable, sort of like if you decided to only eat one food group for a whole year.

I’m not suggesting that this is ‘the’ correct way to do it, but it is ‘a’ correct way for me. I’m what they call a ‘multipotentialite’ – also referred to by various terms: Renaissance (wo)man, polymath, Scanner. They have different connotations some times (the first two especially are commonly applied to famous dead people) but I use them to mean ‘someone seriously pursuing multiple interests’.

Any notion of ‘ONE project at a time’ does NOT help me, but rather, one project per area of life.

What novel draft am I on?

Knowing how I like to work has been a huge improvement and an ever-evolving process of discovery. On the fiction front, an insight that changed how I approach writing (and all projects) was Ellen Brock’s categorization of writer styles.

You may have heard of ‘plotters’ and ‘pantsers’ – Ellen expands this categorization to better capture the variety and specificity of writing styles. Per her system, I identify most as a ‘methodological pantser’ – one of the most chaotic styles. We use a lot of systems and methodology, but we jump around from one to another as inspiration dictates.

Learning this has shown me that rather than try to pre-decide what aspect of a novel (or other project) I’ll work on, I need to instead capture ideas as they come, in the order they come in, and then organize them into a useful form. Imposing a small amount of structure on what I pursue is beneficial, but just enough. 

All this to say, I’m not sure what draft I’m on because there isn’t a clear demarcation between drafts. I spent most of December 2021 on worldbuilding. Now, in February, I’m drafting in earnest. If pressed, I’d tentatively say I’m on the 2nd draft.

How do I keep track of and break down these projects?

I’m essentially following Sarra Cannon’s HB90 method, with a few tweaks. I use Notion to track most of my project tasks in Kanban boards. I also have a ton of notebooks. I like to use notebooks for coming up with ideas and writing stories. I prefer to do most of my project planning and tracking in digital form.

I’ll expand on my process of planning and tracking for the research and novel projects by and by. I don’t intend that to be a teaching resource or tutorial – I’ll link the ones I’m learning from, but I’m not an expert at it – but rather just another aspect of the research quest to document.