Wednesday, January 29, 2020

2019 In a Nutshell

I promised myself I wouldn't type up this 2019 recap in 2021, and I'm holding myself to it.  So here we go - what can I say about the end of a DECADE??  The 2010's were a wild time, full of social hashtag movements, the rise and fall of Vine (we will never forget you), a transition from our first black president to the "innovation of white supremacy", and to top it all off, the entirety of my messy-ass 20's.

The start of a new decade definitely makes me look back on the last ten years of my life, all the things I've done, all the places I've been, all the people I've known.  And while I'm still very uncertain of what the next ten years of my life will be, I feel like 2019 finally solidified what makes me happy, which gives me more security than I ever felt in my messy-ass 20's.

CSUMB Science Illustration (Part II)

2019 included the last semester of my grad program at CSUMB, and in summary it was "let's take every media you are uncomfortable with and do it HARDCORE."  I learned that color pencil on Dura-lene and gouache are my new favorite tools, that if I put a little effort into trying other brushes digital work isn't so bad, and that I really have a hard time deviating from Florida wildlife in my work 😬

But that's one of the greatest things I learned from this program.  Wanderlust has always been my vice, and growing up in Florida, I never really felt settled.  California was always the place I imagined I would finally settle down in, but even while living in the whale-watching-tide-pooling-utopia that is Monterey Bay, I kept feeling my heart pull back to Florida in my artwork.  This huge life change showed me that Florida, in all it's wild, trashy, beautiful, diverse glory, is my home, and when I move back in May, my mind can finally rest at ease.

This program also gave me a lot of ideas I want to turn into future projects, so 2020's get ready!

Top left: Roseate spoonbill portrait, Top right: Florida Scrub Wildflowers poster, Bottom left: Assets from my animation "The Red Tide Cascade", Bottom right: Black Racer in the Grass
Chondricthyes Beachcombing - fly-by illustration showing several shark, ray, and skate fossils and jaws
Anatomical study of a nine-banded armadillo - drawn from personal photos and a skeletal specimen
A Moment of Truce - illustration showing the moment a wildfire spreads across the Florida Scrub, as animals take shelter in a gopher tortoise burrow
Winter in South Florida - a piece that shows native plants and animals that resemble a natural winter
Me at the opening of our "Illustrating Nature" exhibit at the Pacific Grove NHM


I also made a new pin design with me bff Anisha (, and it represented our time in the sea otter capitol of the US - Monterey Bay<3  The design was a combo of my sea otter and her California poppies, and I'm hoping to restock them in my shop soon!

Our sea otter poppy pin visiting the Carrizo Plains super bloom, and the Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey
Also made more sea turtle stickers of course


I also did (or at least started 😬) the Inktober challenge again in 2019, but this time with a larger project in mind.  A group that has FULLY inspired me lately is the Florida Wildlife Corridor.  In an effort to save the last remaining lands that link Florida habitats together, researchers and photographers are conducting expeditions across the state following the migration path of the endangered Florida panther.  But this project is much more than just protecting land, or saving endangered species - it's reminding all Florida residents that we are connected to this land.  Our heritage, our water supply, and ultimately our livelihood are bound to the health of Florida's habitats, and we have to take care of it.

So in my effort to raise awareness about protecting wild Florida, I started a series of ink drawings of 17 animals linked to our wildlife corridor.  My very ambitious Aries-driven dream is to turn these drawings into murals across the state, to both beautify our towns and remind us of why nature is so important.  It's a work in progress, but I'm hopeful that it will come to fruition🙏

Illustrations in my Inking Wild Florida series, including the Florida panther, Black bear, American alligator, Crested caracara, Red-cockaded woodpecker, and Swallow-tail kite

Ink Dwell

Another big thing that happened in 2019 was getting to work with one of my idols, the company Ink Dwell!  Their works were some of the first to inspire me to jump into the mural world (as you may recall from this fangirl blog post I made in 2016), and from August through December I helped them create 4 murals in the heart of San Francisco.  I've gained so much from this experience: from learning anything and everything about making murals, to meeting so many other AMAZING ladies in art, to seeing the city from a completely unique point of view (literally a bird's eye view).

Me the first week on our 11 story Migrating Mural
Left: Amy and Marie on the 943 Howard st mural, Right: Ellie and Alice on the 455 Hyde st mural
Phacilia painted at 943 Howard st
A series of selfies that show how mural work is not far off from turtle work (Top: mural, Bottom: turtle)
Me painting as a dragonfly on Halloween
Amy and Jess working at 455 Hyde st
Drone photo taken by Pavol Federov, showing our 50' butterfly changing the city skyline!

The many comfortable positions that come with mural work

Speaking of "bird's eye view," we made an unexpected friend at the Hyde st mural - a juvenile red-tail hawk!!  She visited our swing stage several times, snagging pigeons from the rooftops, and giving us mesmerizing stares from just feet away.  Luckily we happened to have a raptor researcher on our mural team, and she was able to ID our hawk from all our pictures!  Now our experiences with her can be applied to the research at Golden Gate Raptor Observatory to better understand the lives of these beautiful birds.

P.S. Her real ID name is "15," but I think our name "Keanu" is much more suiting.

Left: Photo by Ellie of Keanu/15 catching a pigeon in front of 455 Hyde st, Right: Keanu getting even CLOSER to Ellie giving her the shock of her life lol
Keanu's/15's ID photo taken by GGRO

Here are the final murals I helped create with the amazing team at Ink Dwell!  And there will be more to come in 2020.

Migrating Mural "Families" at 943 Howard st, San Francisco, CA
"Steelhead Entry" an accompanying entryway mural made for the workers at 943 Howard st
Migrating Mural "One Monarch" at 455 Hyde st, San Francisco, CA
Migrating Mural "Butterflies and Poppies" at 455 Hyde st, San Francisco, CA

Nature & Travel

Finally, I wanted to showcase some of the crazy wildlife and places I got to see in 2019.  I'm officially going to start using this blog as scrapbook, because I need to do SOMETHING with the thousands of photos I take!  So here are some pretty birds n' landscapes from Florida to California<3

From top left to bottom right: European starling, breeding Brandt cormorants, Great blue heron, male Anhinga, Crested caracara, Acorn woodpecker, CALIFORNIA CONDOR!!!!!, Oyster catcher, Red-tail hawk
Albino redwoods in Santa Cruz
Humpback whale fluke with a juvy Albatros floating behind it!
Monterey ensatina (salamander)
A lush cabbage palm and white-tailed deer at Kelly Springs
AMAZING wildflower superbloom at Carizzo Plains<3

Common buckeye (Junonia coenia)
Floatin' at Kelly Springs
Night-time tide pooling in Monterey
Female elephant seals battling it out at San Simeon
Curious finds at the UCSC Arboretum and Botanical Garden
White-tailed deer at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve
Tide pooling at Pleasure Point beach
Got to work with my turtles in July!!<3
Coyote spotted in Glenn Canyon Park
Adventures had on my first ever cross-country road trip with my bro!
Wonderful gals trip to Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival, where we met the suavest little kid ever
My first time visiting the Fog City, San Francisco<3

San Francisco

After my first visit to the city in January, I never dreamed I would be living in it by the end of the year, but here we are!  San Francisco is always talked about as the progressive city, and after living here for 5 1/2 months, I can attest to that.  One thing that has drained me while living in Florida is the overall resistance our government has to change.  I never realized how freeing it would feel to live in a city that cared about the environment, that cared about the homeless, that cared about worker's rights, and that all around doesn't emit a "fend for yourself" atmosphere.  From the very start I felt welcomed here (it didn't hurt that I had the best local tour guide ever, Amy<3), and my short time here has truly helped me become a more mindful person.  I still have a few months left to explore this city, so I will take HELLA advantage of what I have left<3

Left: Sunset walk on the Coastline Trail, Right: Students Climate Strike in downtown
Ocean mural in downtown
Views of the Tenderloin district from our 11 story mural
My absolute favorite part of the city - random things found on the ground
View of Ocean Beach from my apartment balcony
Me and my ma on a Twilight Cruz in the bay
those colors<3

The other great thing about this city is ALL OF THE DOGS, so I had to make a collage of just a few, including the 12yo pug named Dude I live with.  Also there is truly nothing better than seeing a dog match their owner.

A sketch I made of some SF residents and their identical twin dogs

But even though SF is great, I can't wait to move back home and find a place for me and my own pup.  The real dream for 2020<3

Past year's "In a Nutshell" Posts

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