I started blogging back in January 2014. I’ve posted pretty regularly ever since – at least weekly (except for sabbatical weeks), but from April 2014 to April 2015 daily for my 365 day happiness is project.
I like sharing my thoughts in writing.
I’m not a super verbal person, and writing allows me to examine and express myself more intentionally.
Writing has become a part of my everyday routine. In fact it’s the first thing I do in the morning after my short meditation practice.
When I don’t do it, I feel a little disoriented 😀
Anyway, I’ve never paid close attention to my blog stats before – but I got curious, so I checked which posts were most popular.
Here are the all time 5 posts that got the most views this year:
I see that you enjoy my tutorials and tool reviews a lot! That makes me happy because I enjoy teaching and sharing what I know 🙂
I used to do a lot of “self reflection-y” posts, too, and I’m glad you found some of those helpful.
I forgot how much work I used to put into my blog posts! There were lots of long-form articles and custom images.
It used to take me hours (like at least 4 hours) to complete a blog post. I’ve since been re-focusing my priorities and goals for my business, so you may have noticed my articles have become more short and sweet in the recent year.
I sometimes wonder if anybody’s reading my blog 😀 so it was nice to see that people in fact read them! He he.
Thanks for following along my journey! I’m always grateful for your support and encouragement.
I like the look of crisp white lines and details on watercolor paintings, and even though regular white gouache from the tube works just fine, I became curious and decided to give it a try.
It comes in a small 1fl. oz jar. I typically just dip the clean, wet brush directly into the jar to use it.
The paint is quite thick so you could mix it with a little bit of water.
I typically wet the brush first and then dip it in the jar. If it seems too wet (like you can see the water dripping from the brush), I’d just wipe it lightly on a paper towel. Start with a tiny bit of water first, or it’ll be thinned down too much and lose the opacity. Do experiment!
Per the manufacturer, Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleedproof White™ isn’t meant for mixing with other colors, so I use regular white gouache for blending.
Unlike regular watercolor, which would allow the white color of the paper to show through, gouache is opaque, so adding white paint helps to create lighter colors.
I also use it to cover up or clean up any mistakes! It’s essentially a white-out paint 🙂
And it’s useful as a base layer as well when you’re layering colors and you don’t want them to blend.
For example, in the painting below, I painted the chicken with grey/black, and then once it’s dry, I covered up the parts where her beak and wattles would go with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleedproof White™ before I painted them with red and yellow.
You can see the little bit of grey showing through her comb where I didn’t lay the white first, and the yellow and red of beak and wattles show up brighter because I covered it up with white first.
I really enjoy adding extra details and texture to my work with Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleedproof White™, and if you like the look of it on my paintings, give it a try 🙂
It comes in several pre-set colors (between 12 and 48), and the colors are so fun and vibrant!
I use the 24-color set, by the way.
Since I’ve been painting with the blues a lot lately, my blues are almost gone!
But since I have the exact colors in the Sakura Koi watercolor paint tubes, I could just refill the slots and keep working with the same set.
Needless to say, this Field Sketch Box is super handy to take with you when you’re out and about, but I use it even when I’m painting at home.
With this box set, your set-up is so easy. You just open up the box, and you’re ready to paint.
I usually paint on my crowded desk or a small dining table and don’t have a lot of room to spread out, so its compact size is ideal.
I also mix Sakura Koi watercolor with other watercolor or gouache (an opaque watercolor) paints.
I just squeeze a little bit of a paint on the palette and use it as is or create different hues by mixing them up with the existing colors.
The set comes with a refillable water brush.
(By the way, don’t throw away the black plug that’s attached to the barrel handle – that’s what keeps the water vessel filled while transporting it in the box. You can still transport the brush filled with the water with the brush tip and the cap on, but it won’t fit in the box. Just FYI! I totally threw it away when I first opened my box and deeply regret it :D)
When I paint at home, I typically use regular watercolor brushes with a jar of water, but the water brush is convenient when you’re traveling and don’t have access to water.
It’s got small sponges on both sides of the paint cakes to clean your brush with. I just use paper towel to clean my brushes, though. Just a habit, I guess.
My palette tends to get messy – I’m ok with that unless I need a clean surface to blend my paints on.
I just take a wet paper towel (or you can spray some water with a spray bottle) and wipe the area clean. That’s it! So easy.
If you’re looking for a fun and economical way to play with watercolor painting, you should give it a try! You can locate a store near you here 🙂
It’s my absolute favorite carving blocks to use for my block printing practice both professionally and for fun!
Let me back up a little and tell you how I got started with block printing first.
I took an amazing e-course, Design, Carve, Print, by Jen Hewett in the winter of 2015 and got immediately hooked.
I love the process of block printing. It engages your creativity in many different ways through the entire course of production, from drawing on paper to carving the block to designing and printing on fabric.
Before I learned how to block print on fabric, I tried linocut once after buying a beautiful linocut piece at a farmer’s market and loved how it looked.
But the linocut block was very difficult for me to carve as a beginner, and I got really discouraged…
After taking Jen’s course, I learned about MOO Carve, and it totally changed my block printing world!
It’s a little thicker than the block printing blocks you get from other companies (about 1/2 inch thick). Their material is very similar to rubber eraser, and it cuts like butter! I like how easy it is on my hands and how quickly I can carve my designs.
One drawback of using a softer material is, if you’re not paying attention, it is pretty easy to cut through parts you aren’t supposed to. I’ve also broken off parts of my block (especially smaller details) while washing… Oops.
(If this happens, you can try to fix it with the super glue or “modify” your design a bit around your mistakes… It’s an opportunity for creative problem solving! :))
Other than a few mishaps here and there, all of my blocks have fared pretty well after making hundreds (yes, hundreds…) of prints!!
It’s been almost a year and a half since I took my bock printing class. I was making block printed products to sell for a while but decided to cut back on that this year as I was afraid my passion was dying…
For now, I mainly block print for fun. You can see my most recent printing and sewing project in this post.
I’ve also been enjoying teaching others how to create their own beautiful block printed fabrics since this spring!
I use MOO Carve blocks for the classes I teach as well, and many of my students are surprised to learn how easy it is to work with the material!
It’s a little pricier than some other brands,’ but it’s well worth it to me. I usually buy them from Blick online store or Amazon depending on what else I’m buying.
If you’re a print maker, give it a try and let me know how you like it!
I shared my tips on how to blog consistently in my last post. Today I want to show you the app I use to organize my editorial calendar and workflow.
Until recently, I’d never really used a formal organization system for my blog. When I was publishing a weekly blog, I’d just jot down my ideas on a notebook and moved things around on a paper to sort of organize them. It worked out fine, but since I increased it to 3 times a week, it became a little harder to manage, and I needed a better organization system.
So I did a little research and found Trello. Trello is a free project management app (you could also pay for added services) to help organize all types of projects. All the reviews I read said how easy it is to learn and use, and they also showed an example of people using it as their editorial calendar, so I decided to give it a try!
I’ve only been using Trello for about a month, but I really like it! They have tutorials and blog posts on tips and tools, and their product is pretty easy to use. I like the simple user interface and drag/drop function to move my items along the workflow.
I pretty much copied their example for setting up my editorial calendar and created my workflow like this:
Article Ideas –> To Write Next –> Writing –> Editing & Graphics –> Post & Promotion Scheduled –> Published
To come up with blog article ideas, I do a brainstorming occasionally and jot down ideas whenever I think of potential topics. I make a new card (which is like a sticky note you can write things and move around) in Trello under the list “Article Ideas” to keep them in one place.
You can add categories to each card (i.e. your virtual sticky note) if you want to. My general categories include themes like Products & Services, Tools & Product Review, Processes, Lifestyle, DIY, Art & Illustration, and Self-Care. You can see the list of categories (it’s called Labels here.)
I try to mix variety of topics to inspire and encourage people to live a fulfilling creative life.
To Write Next:
When I add potential blog topics to my list, I also assess if any of them are time sensitive or relevant to publish during a certain time period to promote an event or products.
For instance, when I was a guest Instagrammer for Sakura of America last month, I wanted to let my readers know about it right before it started so I wrote a blog post about it and published it the day before it started. Or I try to share behind the scenes look and work-in-progress of my new products and services as well so my audience learn the story behind my creations in a timely manner.
Other topics can be more free floating and flexible. I try to share recent works from my sketchbook regularly and write a review on tools and resources I love.
I try to rotate topic categories regularly so my readers can enjoy learning different types of things from my blog. So I might write an article about my favorite tools one day, and the next one might be about my recent drawings, and the next one can be more focused on self-help for artists.
Once I determined the timeliness of the articles, I move the cards with the most urgent due dates to “To Write Next” tab.
Then I start writing my first draft in WordPress.com. My first draft is very very informal.
I start with some kind of a working title. Sometimes it’s the final title, and often I change it depending on what my final article is like. This is also when I schedule the date and time for my blog to start saving. I just don’t want to publish my draft accidentally.
Anyway, I just start typing whatever comes to mind about a topic in no particular order.
I might just put down some words and phrases and keep going.
This short video where Seanwes shares his writing process was super inspiring and helpful. He says when you’re writing your draft, pretend you don’t have a back button on your keyboard and just keep typing.
I used to get stuck on small details and was trying to edit as I went when I first start writing. And since I switched to this method, I just get more contents down on my page a lot quicker.
Even though I’m not as hard core as he is about not deleting or correcting something as I go (I still fix typos as I see it), it helps to get ideas out of my head and keep going. And as I get my thoughts out of my head on to the page, I think of more things to say and it makes my contents richer.
Some articles that are more contents-focused are naturally longer-form, and others like my sketchbook round-ups are more visual focused and usually short form.
Editing & Graphics:
Once I’m done with my draft, I normally come back to it a day later or so. It helps me to see my writing with fresh eyes and mind and helps with the editing process.
In this phase, I correct mistakes, typos, add or delete things, insert links where necessary, change orders, explain things differently, and try to make it flow better in general.
This is where I usually create or find images to use for the blog as well.
If it’s more content-heavy post, I normally create a new title image. I come up with a concept that represents the message of the article or create a handlettering piece that matches the title. I try to spend no more than 2 hours for creating the title image from start to finish.
If I’m writing a tutorial or tools review, I take screenshots or photos of the tool after writing the draft. Oftentimes, I realize I need more images for the article as I edit, so might do more photoshoots later.
Once I have the images, I edit them on Photoshop and upload them on to the WordPress media library to use in my posts.
And then, I go to the preview mode and read the article on the webpage. I often notice new mistakes when I’m reading it in the Preview mode. So I go back and forth between the preview mode and the draft page to fix mistakes and anything that doesn’t flow very well.
I repeat this process a few times.
I also test all the links in the preview mode to make sure they work. Nothing more frustrating than a broken link!
Post & Promotion Scheduled:
Once everything looks good, I create and schedule a post about the blog article on my social media, namely Facebook and Twitter.
I set the schedule for the blog post on WordPress when I start writing so I don’t accidentally publish it immediately as I write. But if I change my mind about the publishing date and time, I could change it here or later.
I copy the blog shortlink, which WordPress creates for you or you can use services like Bitly to shorten it. Otherwise, the link to your blog article can be super long and cumbersome.
I come up with a little blurb about the blog article to post on each social media platform so my audience has some ideas about what the blog is about. I also use one of the images (usually the title image) from the post and manually upload them on to each social media post. I’d like for my audience to see different images for each post rather than seeing the same old blog banner all the time as it’s kind of boring 😀
I’ve tried to use WordPress’ publicize feature, which automatically shares the post on connected social media accounts, but it was a little glitchy for me, mainly with the images not showing correctly or at all. I got tired of it not working as expected and that’s why I started scheduling the social media post separately manually. It was a long time ago, so maybe now it works fine. I just haven’t tried it for a while.
For my Facebook page (not my personal page), I just use their built-in schedule function.
For Twitter, I use Tweetdeck to schedule my posts. It was recommended by a friend, and I like it. It’s simple and easy to use. My only pet peeves would be that once I schedule a post, I can’t edit it? Maybe I’m missing something here, but only option I see is “delete.” So I end up deleting a post and re-creating another one if I needed to edit it. Which is not super awesome.
For Instagram, since I can’t schedule the actual post beforehand, I save the featured image on to my Photo app on my iPhone so it’s easily accessible when it’s ready to be posted.
And when the time comes, WordPress will publish your post at a scheduled time! Hooray!!
It’s satisfying to move my card to the Published column on my editorial calendar 🙂 I should probably empty them regularly as it’s piling up pretty quickly.
I’m still new at using this tool and having an editorial calendar and am happy to share more as I learn the tool better!
You might have noticed I use Koi Pens a lot in my drawings. These are just a few examples:
I started using them after seeing my favorite artist Lisa Congdon use them. Many of her drawings are so colorful and lovely and made me want to try them, too!
Here are 6 reasons why I love drawing with Sakura Koi Brush Pens!
1. Beautiful Colors
Koi Pens come in 48 brilliant colors! I first started with their 12 color set and gradually added more colors I wanted to try. My local art stores carry the sets but not individual pens, so I just bought additional individual colors online on Sakura’s website, which was sort of a pain, but not terrible.
And then when Sakura approached me to be their guest Instagrammer last year, they sent me a very nice care package of awesome art supplies, which expanded my collection.
They’ve sent me the 48 color set recently (Merry Christmas to me!!) and I love trying them all.
When you get their 48 color set, it comes with the card stock insert you can see in the picture above. The back of the insert doubles as a handy color chart!
One morning, I had a lot of fun filling in the chart with all their pretty colors 🙂 You can also create your own color chart pretty easily.
Color chart is nice to have especially when you have so many different colors to play with! Some colors are not exactly the same as the color of the cap, so the color chart can help you see what it actually looks like on paper.
Some of the colors I use A LOT in my drawings are: Light Cool Gray, Ice Green, Peacock Green, Light Sky Blue, Fresh Green, Pale Orange, and Naples Yellow.
These are all pretty subtle colors and I use them often to blend and layer with other colors.
2. They blend and layer nicely.
Speaking of blending and layering, they’re transparent and you can easily create your own colors much like watercolor.
I often layer 2 or 3 colors to create different colors and add depth to my drawings. To do so, I often draw with the lighter colors first and layer darker colors on top. You can see the example from a drawing tutorial I created last year.
I don’t typically do this, but you can also blend the colors together by using watercolor brush and water or their colorless blender pens.
3. They’re odorless.
I didn’t even think about this until I reviewed their product information more in depth to write this post, but Koi Pens are water-based and odorless. Which is a good thing because I’m pretty sensitive to smell and some art supplies with odor give me a headache.
I definitely have a better drawing experience when the materials don’t make me sick! 🙂
4. Flexible tip
Though this is not exactly like using a brush, it does allow some flexibility and you can change the thickness of your brush strokes somewhat by adjusting the pressure you add to the tip.
When you first start using it, it’ll be a little stiffer so it’ll be easier to draw fine lines. As you use it more, you’ll break them in and the tips will be more flexible.
The tips do become a little flared with more use, and making fine details may become difficult. If you want to keep it fine, you might just want to get two of the same color and try to designate one for fine tip and the other for medium/bold.
One of the reasons why I love the Koi Pens so much is because it’s so portable. When you’re drawing with these, there is no need to set up – you just grab what you need and the way we go!
I have a little zip pouch I carry my favorite micron pens and koi pens in when I’m out and about so if I have some extra time, I can draw and sketch anywhere. I’ve never had any issues with leakage either while I’m carrying them around.
6. No Clean-UpNecessary
Unlike using paints and brush, there is no need for clean-up afterwards!
As a busy artist, this is a great news. I know often people want to have a consistent art practice but are discouraged by the hassles of set-up and clean-up. With these Koi pens, set-up is as easy as grabbing your pens and there is no mess to clean up afterwards!
Even if you make a mess or get some on your hands, it’s easy to clean up with water/soap because they’re water-based.
I didn’t think markers would be my go-to medium before, but these Koi Pens had totally changed my view on markers and broadened my artistic horizon!
If you’re looking for new and fun drawing tools, definitely give them a try!
You might have seen many of my sketchbook photos I share have Microns, and I was recently asked why I like drawing with them, so let me tell you why!
I started using Micron pens for drawing only a couple of years ago. I chose them simply because some of the artists I admire, like the handlettering artist Sean McCabe and artist Lisa Congdon, use and recommended them.
My favorite thing about it is how smoothly and evenly it writes/draws. Its pigment based ink is waterproof and fade proof as well, so I feel confident that my artwork will maintain its quality for a long time.
I like and use size 01 (0.25mm) for most of my work. It’s pretty fine, but since the ink flows out so evenly and the line is so consistent, I can trust it to handle some small detail work nicely.
It works well with my simple and clean illustration style as well. I also like to add my handwriting/handlettering to the piece and this size is my personal favorite to do so.
I use size 08 (0.50mm) sometimes when I want a little bit more boldness. This drawing was done in size 08 Micron.
No matter which size I use, I typically stick to using just one size within the same piece. I like the consistency of the look.
As far as colors go, I like drawing in black ink the best. I do like other colors and do draw with them occasionally to switch things up.
I pretty much use my favorite Micron for all my writing and journaling too.
When I make my drawings, I typically just draw with the pen and no pencil sketch first. I used to sketch with pencil first and trace over it with pen, but when I did my 365 Day Happiness Is drawing project in 2014, I quickly realized that I simply didn’t have the time to be sketching first and making a perfect drawing every day!
When I draw with pen, my drawings have more spontaneous and organic look. It’s the key factor that makes my drawings wonky 🙂 Of course, I don’t always get it the first time when I draw with pen. So I start out sketching or practice drawing with pen or pencil a lot before I work on the actual piece. It’s a bit scary but I like the drawings I make this way better than any other! Plus you can use Photoshop later to touch up small mistakes 😀
If you want to see how I make my line drawings with a Micron pen, I share my steps in my upcoming tutorial here. And I’m guest Instagramming on Sakura’s feed this week in case you’re looking for more inspirations!
I’ve used other pens to draw before, but this is the one I keep coming back to. If you’re in a market for good quality drawing pens, give them a try 🙂