Category Archives: Pen & Ink

Feeling floral

We’ve been having many beautiful sunny days in Seattle lately, and it’s getting me in the mood for drawing colorful poppies in my sketchbook!

Flower is one of my favorite things to draw, and even though it’s not summer yet, I’m inspired by the beautiful poppies in my imagination 🙂

Here are some of my recent poppy drawings. I used Sakura Koi Brush pens and Micron pen (size 01).

Red & Purple Poppies
Pink & Purple Poppies
Orange & Pink Poppies


Pink & Red Poppies
Orange and Pink Poppy Illustration
Orange & Pink Poppies

I’m going to be working on a drawing tutorial video for Sakura of America in the near future and think it might be fun to show you how to draw these? 🙂 I’ll keep you posted!

Oh, and speaking of floral drawings, I just added a new Pink Blossoms Mother’s Day greeting card to my Etsy shop! You can get yours here 🙂

Pink Blossoms Mother's Day Card Honeyberry Studios
Pink Blossoms Mother’s Day Card ❤

Have a wonderful day, friends!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

Illustrated Recipe: Simple Buckwheat Porridge (gluten & grain-free!)

I’ve been little obsessed with buckwheat breakfast porridge lately.

Buckwheat is awesome. It’s super nutritious (very rich in fiber and protein as well as Vitamin B-6, Iron, and Magnesium among other things), and is a good option for breakfast hot cereal if you’re on a gluten or grain-free diet. Despite its name, buckwheat is not a wheat or grain. It’s actually a seed!

Illustrated buckwheat recipe with Sakura Koi Pen & Pigma Micron Pen.

I get toasted buckwheat groats in a bulk section of our natural grocery store. I love the nutty, earthy flavor so much ❤

I use unsweetened soy milk for extra protein, and you could substitute it with other non-dairy or dairy milk, of course.

Some chopped walnuts and cinnamon are also good for this recipe! Or add some nut butter…mmmm. I just enjoy the natural sweetness of the fruits in this recipe, but you can definitely add sweetener of your choice if you’d like. Possibilities are endless!

I make my hot cereal/porridge pretty mushy to make it more digestible, so if you want it less mushy, you probably want to adjust the cooking time. Also, pre-soaked groats will cook quicker, so be sure to check after a few minutes if you don’t want yours too soft.

I hope you enjoy this simple and hearty breakfast!

xo Yuko


From the Sketchbook

I was on a black and white line drawing kick for the past couple of months. I just love the simplicity of line drawing very much.

But it’s been feeling more and more like spring here, and I want COLOR! I can’t lie – colorful drawings make me happy 🙂 Do they make you happy, too?

Here are some drawings I’ve made in my sketchbook lately. With some colors 🙂


Peppers in watercolor and pen. Some of the bell peppers look kinda like pumpkins… Oh well. I like them all!


Summer squash in watercolor and pen. I draw the shapes with watercolor and brush and add lines with my Micron pen when the paint dries.


Tomatoes in watercolor and pen.


Rainbow Swiss Chards in watercolor and pen.


Daffodils in markers and pen. I saw beautiful daffodils on my walk around the neighborhood one afternoon. I love their cheerful colors.


Purple crocuses in markers and pen. It made me happy to see many crocuses on the sidewalk during my walk.

Napping is full time job

Napping is My Full-Time Job in pen and marker. I love how cozy he looks when he’s taking a nap…makes me want to curl up next to him in a giant cat bed!

OK, I hope you enjoyed these drawings and have a wonderful Tuesday!

xo Yuko


Illustrated Recipe: Easy & Delicious Marinated Tofu

The other day, I had a craving for delicious marinated tofu. So I went online and searched for a good, simple recipe. I think this recipe came up at the top – I had all the ingredients at hand and was craving for some Japanese-y, Asian flavor, so this was perfect!

It was super easy to prepare (which is very important to me… I’m a lazy cook by nature.) and delicious! I served it with some rice and veggies, and Dave and I just devoured it like there was no tomorrow.


Definitely making this again! Hope you’ll enjoy it, too!

Eat well my friend 🙂

xo Yuko


An advice for a 13-year-old aspiring artist


The other day, I was at a craft show with my booth selling my paper and hand block printed goodies.

It was going pretty slow for me. But I always enjoy getting to know my fellow vendors and chatting with the people who stopped by my booth.

In the afternoon towards the end of the day, this mother and daughter stopped by to look at my products. They were saying to each other how cute they thought my stuff was, so I thanked them and let them know they can pick up/touch anything and ask me any questions.

The mom started chatting with me about what I do and asked me how I became an artist. So I gave her a short version of my background and told her how I started making art for fun as an adult and gradually became serious about pursuing it as a career and eventually quit my day job at a non-profit social service organization last summer.

She seemed delighted to hear my story and proceeded to tell me her daughter is an aspiring artist. Her daughter was standing next to her looking a little uncomfortable now the focus was on her. She was about 13-year-old and wasn’t saying very much at this point.

Her mom started showing me the pictures of her drawings on her phone and was so proud of all of her daughter’s work.

I told them I liked her drawings – they were Manga drawings she’d made on her mom’s phone, and it reminded me of my Manga-drawing days of my pre-teen years, too. She smiled a little shy smile. She started scrolling the photos and showed me more work and told me a little bit about each – about the outfit her character was wearing, what the scene was about etc.

Her mom then asked me if I had any advice for her daughter for becoming a working artist some day. I thought for a second and shared my thoughts with them.

You’ve gotta work hard.

Practice drawing every day. Don’t try to make your work look like someone else’s. Your skills are important, and having your own style is even more important. Find something that’s uniquely you and let it shine through all of your drawings. Enjoy the process. And put your work out there! Let people find your gift.

I get pretty fired up about people pursuing their passion, so I may have been a little intense. But that’s the best advice I’ve gotten and wanted to pass on to anyone who is wanting to choose a creative path.

She nodded as she listened to what I had to say. After our little chat, they thanked me for my time and advice and left my booth to get on with their afternoon.

As they walked away, I felt a huge sense of fulfillment and truly wished her dream would come true some day. And I was once again reminded of how privileged I was to be able to pursue my creative passion so wholeheartedly in my current life.

And also, how cool is it that her mom is super supportive of her daughter’s creative passion? It’s so important for creative people, especially young people her age, to know that what they create is valuable and internalize that message. Having a parent who is so excited and encouraging of her creative path would help her future endeavors tremendously!

Try to encourage young people in your life to stay creative. And you can be a role model by staying creative yourself 🙂

xo Yuko



January #MakeWithMe Drawing Challenge Highlights

Hi friends!

I participated in the #MakeWithMe daily drawing challenge hosted by Janine Crum in January. This was my third time to join in the fun.

When I received the email about it in December, I thought about not participating because I felt my plate was already full. But then I remembered how fun and challenging it was last time I did it and thought what could be better than to start a new year with a consistent drawing practice?? So I told her I was in. And, of course I had a lot of fun again! 🙂

For those of you who are not familiar with how the challenge works – you receive a daily email with a prompt for drawing for a certain period of time (in this case, from January 1 to 31). You draw your interpretation of the prompt and post it on Instagram with the hashtag (#MakeWithMe for this one). It’s a great way to keep your motivation up and challenge yourself creatively in a fun, community environment.

To make it a little more challenging for myself, I decided to use just a black Micron pen (size 1) for the entire month. I did use color for a couple of them because they were just begging for it!

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites from the challenge here!


An Iceberg – I was really tempted to draw more details in but loved how it turned out.


A Kangaroo


A Matchbook – found a random matchbox from Peru


A Praying Mantis – I love their dramatic poses!


A Rooster – they’re so fancy-looking!


Sea Otters – what can I say? They’re SO adorable. I have this drawing as art prints in case you want to enjoy the sweetness of these cuddly creatures in your home!


Fury – the prompt was meant for an emotion, but Nick Fury from the Avengers movie popped in my head first… so here he is!


Sunflowers – It made me miss the sunshine in the summer 🙂


Things in My Pocket – gotta have something with cat eye laser on!


A Toucan – I had to add Dave in – this is from a snapshot at Kobe Flower and Bird Park when we visited Japan several years ago.

If you want to join in the fun in the future, be sure to subscribe to Janine’s list on her website!

You can also see more drawings from my sketchbook on my Instagram @honeyberrystudios if you’d like.

Have a wonderful day, friends!

xo Yuko

7 Tools to Find and Keep Your Motivation

motivation_loresI’m often asked where my motivation comes from.

My short answer: it comes from my deep desire to make my art business successful. I daydreamed about becoming a full-time artist for so long, and once I had the opportunity I wanted it to work out so badly. I hate letting myself down. And since I’m just a one-woman show right now, if I don’t hustle, it won’t happen. And I’d be a very sad person if I failed!motivation

Even though I had a great job, it’s no surprise my heart wasn’t in it 100%. I was sad that I wasn’t following my creative passion all the time. I was frustrated that I couldn’t devote more time and energy into my art business. I had this yearning to have my life centered around creativity, and my reality wasn’t matching my vision.

When I quit my day job last summer, my reality finally matched my vision. And the scary thing was, I didn’t have any more excuse for how slow my business was growing. There was no “oh, well I have a day job and don’t have time to do my art and make my business happen!” It was time to hustle. It was time to do what I said I wanted to do for a long time. People around me seemed to think I could do it, and I had to prove to myself I could do it, too.

It’ll have been 6 months since I quit my day job when this post comes out, and the best thing about running my own show is actually not the fact I have more time to make art (because actually, I do a lot of other stuff to run the business than making art…), but it’s the fact I get to make decisions about my work and do what I love on my own terms. It also means if I slack off, it’ll take me longer to achieve my goals or not at all.

Sure it can be hard and stressful, and there are many annoying things about being your own boss. But it’s also extremely fulfilling. I just love it and want to protect it as much as I can!

With that said, I have other tools to keep me motivated and disciplined for the long run. Hope you’ll find them helpful!

1. Find your “why”

When I work for a goal, like working out regularly and sticking to a healthy eating habit, I need to have a very clear purpose. If I don’t understand why I’m doing something, I tend to be less engaged with the process, and it usually won’t last.

So when I quit my day job last summer, I spent half a day creating my artist manifesto. I went through a whole process to clarify why it’s important for me to have art and creativity as a center piece of my life. It’s a declaration of how I want to be in the world. You can peek into my process here.

My artist manifesto is put up on the wall by my desk, and every time I look at it, I feel encouraged and centered.

My artist manifesto

2. Seanwes podcast

I get SO much motivation about creativity and business from a handlettering artist/entrepreneur, Sean McCabe’s contents (especially his podcasts and YouTube channel). When I feel like slacking off, I listen to his podcast and get fired up immediately. You must check out his work if you’re a creative entrepreneur!

This 2-minute video always gives me the motivation boost! Show up every day for two years.


3. Public Commitment

When I’m working on something big or new, I like to let the public (i.e. social media & blog) know that I’m doing it and when. It worked really well when I worked on my 365 Day Happiness Project from 2014-2015. Even though my audience probably isn’t tracking what I’m doing as closely as I am, it gives me the extra motivation to say it out loud to the people who support my work.

4. Track your progress 

I like to write down what I’ve accomplished every day. For most days, it’s small things like, writing a blog, sketching ideas for new work, or shipping my Etsy orders etc. But I’m no longer saying “What did I do today?” and actually see how productive I’ve been. And if I hadn’t been productive, I could review the day to see where I got stuck.

What’s great about tracking your progress, ideally every day, is that you can see how your everyday small accomplishments are helping you achieve your big goals. What you do every day, though it might seem unimportant, counts.

I hate doing finances. I just find no joy in the bookkeeping activity! But I make myself do my finances at the beginning of each month. I usually have a pretty good idea about how much revenue I had the previous month, but it’s nice to see the actual numbers especially if it’s more than what you thought! And it makes the year-end tax preparation a lot easier…

I also started tracking my social media following monthly a few months ago. I don’t want to put too much weight on how many people follow me on social media, but it’s good to know that my audience is growing 🙂

5. Accountability Partner

I have a few accountability partners I meet on a monthly basis. Having a one-on-one accountability and a dedicated time and space to talk about your goals and challenges is very helpful. It’s like when I know we have a visitor, we do a better job of cleaning our house. When I know I’m going to have my accountability meetings, I’ll be extra motivated to get stuff done. I wrote my experience with my accountability partners here and here if you’re interested!

6. Set a deadline for a project (even if it’s fake!)

I’m not gonna lie – If I don’t have a deadline for a project, it will NOT get done. It’s a fact. When someone (usually a personal friend) wants me to do something for them and tell me “whenever you have time, no rush!” It just won’t happen. I need a hard deadline to get motivated!!

So when I don’t have an external deadline assigned to me, I usually set one for myself and pretend it’s the hard and fast timeline to get something done by. I often combine this with the public commitment piece for extra motivation!

For example, when I had offered to teach my block printing class and group coaching sessions this spring at a local art school, I set the dates and time for the classes first and started promoting them before I had the contents. This way I have to make it happen, and it helps me backwards plan all the steps to execute it.

7. Develop habits that set you up for a long-term success

Of course, I’m human, and if I’m on all the time, I’ll eventually burn out. I believe firmly that avoiding burn-out is one of my top priorities for my long-term success and well-being. If I lose joy in what I do or get sick because I neglect to take care of myself, all bets are off, right?

Some of the habits I’ve developed for self-care are: getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night, getting up early and do something productive first thing in the morning, workout regularly, eating a healthy diet, no social media during meals, making sure I have plenty of alone/quiet time, and taking every 7th week off to recharge.

As you can imagine, maintaining these habits are not always easy! It means you have to say no to many things you enjoy doing. But that’s the thing about habits – once you get used to doing something over and over, you’ll start to feel off-balance if you don’t do it! And even if you slip every once in a while, it’ll be a lot easier to get back into it. If you’re trying to replace some of your unhelpful habits with more helpful ones, I say go slow, focus on one thing at a time! Be patient and kind to yourself if it doesn’t happen as quickly as you want. Developing new habits takes time.

Finding your motivation isn’t easy – especially if you’ve been trying hard for a long time and haven’t seen any significant results. These tools have helped me find a motivation when I felt like crawling into a hole and forget about everything. I hope it’ll inspire you to come up with strategies that work for you!

Take care, my friend 🙂

xoxo Yuko

p.s. My Creative Coaching service is officially open! Let me know if you’re a creative person needing help getting stuff done. Learn more here.






14 Reasons to Celebrate 2015

hooray_loresI’m in awe as I write this blog post. How can it be the last post of 2015??

Today I wanted to take a minute to look back and reflect on my accomplishments this year! If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you know a lot have happened. And let me thank you first of all for supporting me and encouraging me along the way!! It really means a lot.

I’m not very good at talking about my successes, so here I am, doing something a little scary!

1) I completed the 365 Day Happiness Project in April.

In April of 2014, I started a daily drawing project about happiness. I didn’t know if I was able to commit to it for a year but just had to do something that puts myself out of my comfort zone every day. I successfully completed in in April of 2015! As a result, I’ve grown my audience, have gotten multiple opportunities, and have deepen my art style and practice tremendously. I wrote a 9-part blog series reflecting on the project here.

If you’re in or near Seattle, I’m having another show in January at a non-profit coffee house Luther’s Table in Renton, Washington. Come on down and enjoy my original drawings 🙂 Part of the sales is donated to the organization.gratitude_web

Now that I’ve had a break from doing a daily project, I’m planning on starting another one in 2016! I’ll let you know what and when it’s going to be, but I plan on starting it in the Spring of  2016 🙂 Woo hoo!

2) I quit my day job.

Now this is huge. I left my day job of 14+ years at the end of July to pursue art full-time. It was one of the biggest life changes I’ve ever experienced besides coming to U.S. at age 18 and getting married 2 years ago. It was a scary and difficult decision, but I knew it was the right thing for me. I haven’t regretted that decision once! I share my process of quitting my day job cold-turkey here.


3) I had 4 art exhibits and 8 arts/crafts shows.

When I completed my 365 Day Happiness project, I ended up with a bunch of new works with the theme of happiness. I’ve developed more confidence as an artist through the project, too, and it gave me a push to put myself out there even more. I had 3 shows from the art work I made for the Happiness project, and one show for my new watercolor abstract work.

watercolor photo

I’ve also been doing a lot of local arts/crafts shows beginning this summer. l love interacting with my audience in-person and am learning a ton about doing shows!

craft show pic
My adorable customer at one of the holiday shows ❤

4) My revenue grew 6x compared to 2014!

I’ve seen significant growth in my revenue after I quit my day job in July. It really goes to show that when you work hard and put yourself out there consistently, opportunity will come. And I have more flexibility to say yes to these opportunities without a regular day job. Granted it’s still not a very big amount, I still want to celebrate it!! Here is to more revenue growth in 2016! (<– insert sounds of glasses clinking here.)

5) I started a weekly blog and continue posting every week.


I knew my goal for 2015, if I didn’t do anything else, was to practice writing more consistently. I was feeling pretty good about where my art practice was going, but writing always took a backseat. I just didn’t enjoy it as much and didn’t know who I was when it comes to writing. But I knew in order for me to push my art career to the next level, I needed to add writing to my tool box.

So I made a public commitment (this works for me very well) to start publishing a weekly blog every Sunday beginning in June. I mostly write about what I’ve learned about creativity and motivation. It doesn’t always come naturally but I carve out time to write first thing in the morning every day.

Just like working out, writing is a muscle. You practice it consistently even when you don’t feel like it, and you’ll be stronger and more comfortable. I’ve found my writing “voice” through my consistent practice and have noticed it’s not as much of a pain to write any more – in fact, I enjoy it now! I love hearing how my blog is helping people, too 🙂

A quick advice to people who want to blog more consistently: 1) Write and have multiple posts in a queue before start publishing it. I try to have 4 posts in a queue regularly, so when I’m swamped or take a time off, I’m still on schedule. 2) Write like you speak. This is another great advice that helps me with writing. As a non-native English speaker, I’ve been conditioned to follow grammatical rules to a T especially when writing. But I watched a webinar of Laura Belgray, who is a super funny and talented copy writer, and it changed my belief about writing “correctly.” I highly recommend you download her 5 Secrets to Non-Sucky Copy on her homepage. When I try to write like I speak, my writing is more engaging and personable. And I have more fun writing that way!

6) I started a monthly newsletter in August.

This also adds to my writing goal for this year. I wanted to reach my audience who may or may not be following me on other social media platforms and give people a convenient way to get updates about what I’m working on. Though it’s still fairly new, I’ve been getting pretty positive responses from my readers so far. If you enjoy reading my blog and want to get more of that good stuff, sign up for my newsletter here! 🙂


7) I offered a monthly art subscription service.

At the end of last year, I thought about what I can do to challenge myself on the product end and offer my audience a convenient way to get their hands on the new products I was making. Are you familiar with the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) concept? You’d typically pay a subscription to a farm and receive a box of their seasonal harvest weekly or so. It’s a way to support the farmers directly, and you get fresh, local produce regularly!

Anyway, my concept for art subscription, 2015 Gift of Happiness, was very similar to that. Customers will buy an annual or 6-month subscription and get a product from me every month. I also send my subscribers a special newsletter every month talking about the story behind each product.


I think the concept itself was great. But my timing and marketing were not very well planned. As a result, I had a very small number of subscribers, so financially it was not very successful. BUT I was able to put more care and attention into each subscriber and was able to connect with them at a deeper level. That’s an opportunity only possible when you have a small number of people to interact with.

Let me share what my happy customer said about the monthly subscription!

“I have really enjoyed my subscription to Honeyberry Studios recent product series. Yuko’s joyous attitude really shines through in the delightfully colorful designs and products she sends out, and always with great packaging. I especially like to gauge the progression in her practice as an artist and illustrator via the series. I highly recommend her products and services!” – Jafon Hakkinen, Receiver Design, SF

Yay! I ❤ my customers. They’re just the coolest!

Through the process I learned much about putting out products, so that was a big plus! Whenever I have a less-than-successful launch or project, I just consider that I’m paying to learn, just like going to school! I’m paying for my future more successful self 🙂

With that said I’m going to put a hold on the subscription service in 2016. I might do it again later on as I grew my audience and interests. Stay tuned!

8) I completed two monthly art challenges.

After I finished my year-long daily art project in April, I was a little lost. It was such a huge part of my creative life, and suddenly my routine had to change. I was still making art every day, but it was just not the same.

So I was delighted to join a couple of art challenges on Instagram in June and August with an illustrator Janine Crum. Janine would send out a prompt every day throughout the month, and we draw and post what we made on the internet. It gave me the sense of direction and a new challenge as I had never done prompted drawing like this before.

The prompt for this one was “breakfast.” I do enjoy drawing food a lot!

If you’re interested in what I and other artists made during those two challenges, go to Instagram and search #MakeWithMe

9) I learned how to block print on fabric.

Learning how to block print on fabric was another game changer for me!! I took an online course, Design, Carve, Print (new class coming up in February of 2016!) with Jen Hewett in February, and it totally changed my creative practice in a big way.

I immediately fell in love with the process of block printing on fabric and have been incorporating the technique in many of my works ever since. It’s so meditative, and I love that I can make art that people can use every day! I wrote about my experience in the class here, and you can check out some of my block printed goodies on my Etsy shop 🙂

holiday-tea-towels_6_flat_loresI just signed up for a screen printing class at a local arts organization in February, am super excited about that too!

And, I’m teaching my very first block printing class in Seattle this spring!! If you’re local, I’d love to have you in the class! Registration opens on February 1, 2016 🙂

Yay! It’s happening!

10) I started working out.

This may seem unrelated to my art practice, but I’m proud to have overcome my fear of gym and have been working out consistently for about 9 months now. OK, “fear of gym” may be an exaggeration, but I was intimidated by it and had been avoiding it for most of my life. I thought gym was a place where young, good-looking, and athletic people went to do their perfect routines, and people like me, who were uncoordinated and not athletic at all, didn’t belong in there. I had also injured myself running in the past and was not sure of my ability to do it right.

But I took out the courage to check out the gym in my neighborhood and started working out with the owner/personal trainer. If you had not worked out before or just want to push yourself more, I highly recommend working out with a trainer! Yes it’s more $$ but it was totally worth it. He encouraged me and pushed me enough so it was challenging, and I learned the right way to work out and became more confident in my physical ability, which is a big deal! It also changed my belief that the gym was full of young, good-looking, skinny people – all kinds of people work out there – lots of people of color, older people, families, people with different abilities and shapes etc, so I feel very comfortable.

Our personal training sessions ended a long time ago, but I still go about 4 times a week and sometimes join their group exercise classes. I feel more energetic and strong when I work out. It gives me the mental discipline so I’m able to stick to things that are challenging outside of the gym, too!


11) I started taking mini-sabbaticals every 7 weeks.

I shared the concept of Small Scale Sabbaticals a few times, but I started taking every 7th week off in October to recharge. Since I quit my day job, I was just going and going. I felt like I couldn’t stop working because there are so much to do, and I was inpatient to get where I wanted to be. Inevitably, I started feeling burnt out. I decided to implement regular breaks and have taken two sabbatical weeks since. It’s been AMAZING! Though stopping everything for a week feels a little scary, it makes me work harder and more productive when I’m “on” and helps me to focus on self-care when I’m “off.” Read more about my experience and thoughts here.


12) I started meeting with accountability partners.

Accountability partners are someone you check in with regularly for support and accountability around specific goals. I have two awesome accountability partners I’ve been meeting with monthly, and I look forward to our meetings every month! It’s so nice to be able to talk freely about how things are going and share the struggles s as well as successes. I interviewed my accountability partners in these posts. If you’re curious about having an accountability partner, I say do it! It has given me and my partners so much.


13) I’m a Creative Coach!

Since I quit my day job, I’ve been thinking of ways to combine my two passions: art and helping other people, and came up with this brilliant idea of becoming a Creative Coach. I have the experience and skill set of helping others in a non-judgemental and strength-based environment, and what better way to help other artists and makers achieve their creative goals than to coach them?? I’ve been running a pilot program and working with a couple of clients one-on-one for several months. And I’m loving it!! You can learn more about my thoughts and meet my fabulous clients in these posts here.

I’m opening up my Creative Coaching practice officially in February 2016 and can’t wait to help more artists! For more information, visit my Creative Coaching page! I’m also kicking off the new year with a free 4-week challenge starting Monday January 4, 2016! If you’d like to receive a weekly email with prompts, tips and helpful tools from me to set and work on your creative goals during the month of January, sign up here.

I’m also planning an in-person Creative Coaching workshop series in Seattle this spring. Ah, so many possibilities!

14) I created a drawing tutorial.

It’s been on my to-do list to create a drawing tutorial for quite some time. So I was delighted when I was asked to create one for Wing, Worms, and Wonder blog hop in October!

I created a nature drawing tutorial using markers for the blog and had a lot of fun doing it 🙂 If you’ve missed it, you can check it out here.


As a result of this collaboration, I got invited to be a Guest Teacher for Kiala Givehand‘s  The Journey Within: A Year of Handmade Art Journals! I’ll be working on another goal of mine: producing a video tutorial, for this project 🙂 My video tutorial is scheduled to appear in the e-course in March of 2016, and I’m SO excited for this opportunity! You can learn more and enroll here. I’d LOVE to have you in the class and learn with you 🙂

TJW 2016 Teacher Image Yuko flat

And this wraps up the recap of my successful moments in 2015! Tell me what you’re proud of this year! Pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you’ve put in to achieve your creative goals. The seeds you sowed this year will grow next year and beyond 🙂

Have a peaceful New Year’s and see you in 2016!!

xoxo Yuko




The Journey Within Blog Hop: Holiday Food Drawings + A Giveaway!


Hey there!

Welcome to my bonus blog post this week! If this is your first time visiting, I’m happy you’re here 🙂 I’m Yuko Miki, an artist, blogger, and a Creative Coach in Seattle Washington. I normally post blog article about motivation and creativity every Sunday.

If you haven’t’ heard yet, I’m going to be guest teaching in Kiala Givehand’s The Journey Within: A Year of Handmade Art Journals in 2016! I’m super pumped for this opportunity and can’t wait to put an awesome teaching material together for you all 🙂

TJW 2016 Teacher Image Yuko flat

To kick it off, Kiala has asked each of the 16 teaching artists to give her a drawing challenge for the month of December. Kiala has been posting her December challenge on her blog here, and you can view each teaching artists’ blog hop on there too.

For today’s blog hop, I gave her this prompt: “Draw your favorite holiday or winter foods!” You know how much I love eating and drawing food… 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, I grew up in Japan, and the biggest holiday of the year is New Year’s Day. We typically eat mochi (rice cake) and all kinds of good foods (“osechi”) our moms have prepared from January 1st through 3rd and visit with the relatives and go to the shrines etc. I haven’t been able to go back home for the New Year’s for many years and miss it every year.

Photo of Osechi from Looks so delicious!

To prepare Osechi is quite involved. It consists of many vegetable, fish, and meat dishes that each signifies good luck, happiness, and prosperity. I remember my mom and grandma working on it throughout the week before the New Year’s. Our house would be filled with the aroma of black beans being cooked in the crockpot and other sweet-soy sauce-y smells.

And I couldn’t wait to eat mochi in so many different ways! We eat them in soups, dip them in sweet soy sauce, soybean flour, or sweet bean paste… Ohhh…. I’m drooling just thinking about it!!!

Mochi sketch from my 365 Day Happiness Project.
Here is another sketch from the New Year’s Day 2015! Obviously, I was very excited about mochi 🙂

I’m fortunate to be living in Seattle, where we have easy access to Japanese food. But it’s still not easy to put together your New Year’s Osechi here. It can get pricy, and I just don’t have the patience to cook hundreds of different little things!

So I normally settle for eating mochi dishes on the New Year’s Day and a few days after that. It does a pretty good job of making me feel like I’m celebrating the holiday Japanese-style 🙂

Another culinary tradition I’ve kept up for the New Year’s is to eat soba (buckwheat) noodle soup on the New Year’s Eve. I don’t know any historical background of this tradition, but I’m wondering if people were gearing up for all the rich foods to come for the next 3 days? Anyway, my family would sit down for a bowl of soba noodle soup every New Year’s Eve. It’s an easy dish to prepare, so I’m able to do it almost every year!


This year, I was feeling a bit concerned about my holiday food tradition, though, as I’ve been on a special diet of low-sugar and low-carb for the month of December. Yes, I know if I cheat a little bit, it won’t kill me, but I’d like to stay on top of it as much as possible.

Most of the soba noodles you can find nowadays have wheat in it (note: buckwheat is actually not wheat/grain, so it’s OK to eat on my diet.), so I’ve almost given up having the soba soup for the New Year’s Eve.

But I found out our local natural food grocery store carries soba noodles made with 100% buckwheat! Granted it’s more expensive, I was very happy to find an option 🙂

Behold 100% buckwheat noodle from Eden Foods.

What is your winter holiday food tradition?? What makes it special? If you decide to try the challenge I gave to Kiala, be sure to leave a comment with a link to your blog or a webpage so I can look at your beautiful work! AND, if you post your comment by Tuesday 12/29, I’ll choose one commenter to win a free quarterly enrollment! Woo Hoo!

Thank you for joining me on the Journey Within Blog Hop today! Be sure to check in with Kiala tomorrow to follow along!

And I look forward to seeing you in the class! If you haven’t signed up yet, follow this link to enroll 🙂 Give yourself a gift of art and creativity this coming year ❤

Talk to you soon!

xoxo Yuko


What’s the value of your creativity?

creativity_loresWhen I used to work for a non-profit social service organization, about half of the funding came from government and municipal entities. The contract renewal and budget approval time of the year was always stressful. I wasn’t the financial decision maker so I only knew the financial state of the organization on the surface level. But after the recession, we were under a constant threat of losing governmental funding. It was really sucky. It was terrible to work your butt off to help people in a bad situation and to be told (indirectly, in their action) that your work was not important enough to continue funding for.

Luckily, domestic violence victim advocacy community had a really strong presence in the region, so with the strong public pressure to the government, we were able to continue receiving their funding every year. But other social service agencies were not that lucky. Many of them had to reduce program offerings or forced to do more with less. And at the end of the day, the point is that we had to fight for it. We had to prove our worth to the funders to continue providing services. Which is pretty crappy.

On a similar note, I’d hear from time to time that public schools were cutting music and arts programs for financial reasons. I would have the same yucky feeling whenever I hear the arts are the first ones to be cut. What kind of a message does that send?

It says that arts are not as important as other subjects like math and science. It says that arts do not bring as much value as other things people are willing to fund.

As artists and makers, we need to pay attention so we don’t internalize these negative messages ourselves. I’m not saying that arts should be prioritized over other things. I’m saying that the unique value arts and creativity bring need to be recognized, and people, young and old, need to be encouraged more to nurture their creative side.

I saw a statistics once that people “lose” their creativity at a significantly high rate after age 8. And it spikes again after retirement. Interesting, isn’t it?? The presenter explained that it’s not that our creativity naturally declines, but rather we’re just not encouraged enough to be creative as we get older. And many of us when we retire and get out of the expectations of the workplace find the space to be creative again.

In this video, Brené Brown (my hero!) talks about creativity and vulnerability so eloquently and describes how kids get discouraged and shy away from engaging in creative activities after getting bad marks in art classes or teased because their creation doesn’t look a certain way. Early experience of shame around creativity really sticks with you. It’s so powerful that some people avoid any creative activity like a plague!

Have you been to a non-arty conference or workshop where the facilitator asks you to draw how you feel or what your ideal self looks like or whatever? I never really understood why people were so embarrassed to share their drawings with the group. It struck me after watching that video that I was naturally a pretty good artist as a child and never really experienced negative interaction around creativity growing up. So even though I’m not a master artist and get insecure around my art sometimes, I never feel ashamed of my creation. On the other hand, I was not very athletic and was often ridiculed in P.E. class, so I dreaded and avoided (and still do!) any sports activities. It totally makes sense! The shame I felt growing up left such a bad taste in my mouth about any physical activity. I’m slowly recovering from that now as an adult… Yikes.

Let’s go back to the conversation of values that your art and creativity bring, shall we? When I hear value, naturally, I think of money. Social media is flooded with the v-word. I’m sure you’ve read a blog article or two talking about how to bring the most value to your clients etc. While the money-making aspect of business is very important, I sometimes feel lost when I think of what “value” my art is bringing to my audience.

People can buy my art prints, but it doesn’t make them more money. Well, at least not until I get super famous and people start fighting over my work 😉 But you know what I mean. So what is the value of my work?

I bring this up because I provide “nice-to-haves” for a living. You know, I’m not fixing someone’s car or rescuing people out of a burning building or anything. And it makes me doubt my work’s value sometimes. People don’t “need” my art to survive, right?

It’s true if you want to think of it as an absolute necessity for survival, like if you’re stranded in the middle of the desert, you’d probably choose a drink of water over a cute drawing of a cat. But we don’t get stranded in the middle of the desert very often. At least many of us don’t… So why do we measure value of our work against something super tangible or basic human needs?

Think about what values you’re getting out of the things that are not directly helping you make money or do specific things. I know you have them! Like your favorite shows on Netflix. Art on the wall. How about your cat that’s snoozing on the couch for 12+ hours every day?? You have them because they’re clearly filling some needs you have that are not tangible.

We have a Netflix subscription so we can watch shows that entertain us. I have many art on the wall made by artists you’ve probably never heard of because they make our home beautiful and inspire me to create more. I have a cat because he gives me the unconditional love and the comic relief. Oh, and apparently petting your kitty lowers your blood pressure! I guess that’s a tangible benefit they have 🙂

Do you see? Just because they don’t directly help me make money, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a value. And you might have noticed that they’re all helping me to stay well and happy – which is super important if I’m going to keep working hard and thrive as an artist.

If you’re able to read this blog that means you have access to internet. That means you can afford “nice-to-haves” in one shape or another. Think of why you chose to have those things in your life. It doesn’t have to be a physical “thing”, either. Maybe you’re subscribed to an online artists’ community. Maybe you work out with a personal trainer. Are they less important than having a cold, hard cash in your hands right now? Not necessarily, I bet.

How are those things making your life better? Imagine if you don’t have them, how would your everyday life be different? And how do you think your creativity is making other people’s life better? I know many of you have taken the time to tell me how my blog and art work have inspired you. You have no idea how much your words of encouragement mean to me! Yes, money can certainly motivate you to do things, but that’s certainly not the only thing or even the top 5 motivating factors for many of us.

And on the flip side, if you didn’t have these “nice-to-haves” for whatever reasons, you’d definitely need to use your creativity to make your life more interesting or convenient, wouldn’t you? After all, that’s what we did as kids. We made up stories and characters to entertain ourselves. We could get lost in the world we created for hours and didn’t think it was waste of our time. There were no boundaries or limitations of what we could do with our creativity and imagination. And it can still do that if we let our creativity run free. It’s just that we picked up some baggage along the way and learned to hold on to certain things as our security blanket. Being creative has become riskier as we got older.

Creativity is a gift that keeps on giving. Everyone has it. But many of us were told it’s not that important or you were not that good so we stopped nurturing them. When your creativity is not nurtured, it becomes more work to access it so you don’t even bother trying.

Being creative is empowering. It lets you see things in different ways. You realize you can do things you never thought were possible. You learn to adapt to difficult situations with grace.

Whether you’re a writer, a singer, a dancer, a painter, a poet, an actor, a comic etc. etc. etc., you’d be doing a disservice if you were holding yourself back because you don’t feel like you’re providing any values. Don’t believe it if someone treats your work as “less than” because it’s not perceived to have values in a conventional or super tangible way.

What you do is important. Without art, this world would be so boring and not really worth living for. So don’t wait till you retire to find your creative sparks again!! Now is always a good time to start.

xoxo Yuko

p.s. I’m participating in the Journey Within blog hop by Kiala Givehand this coming Tuesday, December 22! Come on by and join me in a couple of days 🙂 I’ll be sharing my holiday food tradition with my drawings!