Creative Process: Mindfulness Calendar Illustrations

I showed you a sneak preview of my 2017 Mindfulness & Gratitude wall calendar a couple of weeks ago in this post.

Let me take you on a behind-the-scenes tour and show you my creative process today.

I started creating illustrations about mindfulness and gratitude after I came back from the 10-day silent meditation retreat earlier this summer. It was deeply healing and I wanted to make art about it as a reminder of that experience. (You can read about my reflections here.)

All-beings-be-happy-sketchbook_1000px
May all beings be happy, peaceful, and liberated.
live like you have everything you need meditation watercolor drawing
Live like you have everything you need.

Once I started to make a few of these drawings, I thought, why not create more and make a calendar that encourages people to live mindfully every day? 

What does “living mindfully” mean to me? It means that I can hit a pause button in my mind when I’m in a stressful situation and think “oh, this situation is stressful.” I remind myself that whatever is going on is only temporary, and I bring my focus back on my breathing. It helps me stay calm and respond to a situation more thoughtfully rather than reacting.

Of course, I’m a regular human being and not a Tibetan monk :D, so I still react to situations.

I get mad when someone cuts me off in the traffic (without the turning signal on even!!). I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night worrying about how my business isn’t where it should be and can’t get back to sleep. I get so jealous when my husband devours slices of super cheesy, gluten-and-carb-filled pizza or a big piece of custardy Bosc pear tart with a scoop (or two) vanilla ice cream and does not gain an ounce.

Believe me, I’m not above it all!

But I try. Every day is a new beginning and you can only try, right?

For the calendar, I created 12 new drawings with watercolor, gouache, and pen on paper.

Many of the drawings are inspired by nature and seasons. I also incorporated some everyday objects like these tea cups and pots:

 

I also hand-wrote positive messages for each calendar page to encourage mindful living.

I gathered these simple quotes and sayings from the instructions of the meditation practice or advices my wise friends gave me in the past. I also included some of the things I tell myself when I’m feeling off-centered.

its-ok-if-only-thing-you-did-was-breathe-wip_lores
It’s OK if the only thing you did today was breathe.
there-is-enough-for-everyone-wip_lores
There is enough for everyone. I worked on this illustration on my parents’ dining table while I was in Hokkaido, Japan.
you-can-always-start-again-wip_1000px
You can always start again.
you-can-always-start-again-wip-cu_1000px
Close-up.

Then I scan my hand drawn art in to Photoshop to edit and design the layout for the calendar pages.

Working away on a tiny table at an airbnb we stayed at :D
Working away on a tiny dining table at an airbnb we stayed at 😀

Here is a couple more sample pages for you 🙂

It's OK if the only thing you did today was breathe.
It’s OK if the only thing you did today was breathe.
You can always start again.
You can always start again.
Be gentle with yourself.
Be gentle with yourself.

Do you know someone who can use a little positivity boost? This calendar makes a great gift for the holidays, and it will be available on my Etsy shop early November!

Be happy,

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

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