Sunday, December 26, 2021

2021 in a Nutshell

I'm writing this right after finishing my belated 2020 post, and needless to say it really put this year into perspective for me.  This past few months I've been feeling pretty down, and it's been hard to see all the good that's sitting in front of me (my tarot deck even said my aura right now is the Five of Cups - I know, Spirit, you don't have to rub it in!!).  But after looking back on 2020 and seeing how far I've come, I'm regaining a sense of pride in myself that I thought was gone (or maybe one that was never really there but I'm finally starting to embrace).

Sometimes when I'm down I like to think of 16-year-old me and what she'd think of me now, and I've realized I'm a mix of things I wished I would and wouldn't be.  I've accomplished things I never thought I could.  I have a place of my own.  I have deep friendships I never thought would exist.  But I'm also still scared.  I'm still heartbroken when I'm not loved back.  I'm still uncertain of anything the future holds for me.  I'm a mixture of my insecure self and my confident self, and maybe it's always going to be that way.  There is strength in acknowledging your insecurities and being vulnerable despite them, and one thing I've gotten better at is letting myself feel those pains and insecurities without judgment.  Life is always gonna be hard, so why not make it easier by being kind to yourself?

All Five of Cups things aside, I definitely received some of the fruits of my labor this year.  I got to make art for another year (and made one of my dream projects come true), and as I'm writing this sitting on my porch in my very first place-of-my-own, watching five little palm warblers play in the rain and dig up bugs, I'm feeling very very grateful.  

Here are some art and nature shots that sum up my 2021, and here's to being kinder to myself and others in 2022💛:


A pet portrait for my friends<3
My first collaboration with one of my favorite organizations - the Florida Wildlife Corridor and their Path of the Panther project!


I added my Kickstarter sea turtle pins to my shop and made some new FL and CA inspired earring designs

Personal Work

I worked a lil' on doodling for myself again, something I hope to do more of in 2022

Wild Florida

The next two projects deserve a little more explaining.  In 2019 I started an Inktober series on Wild Florida where I drew 16 endangered animals highlighting the importance of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.  In 2020 I finally finished that series, aaand then it snowballed into an even bigger series on all of Florida's biodiversity!  My goal is to draw 10-30 species that represent every taxonomic class/order in Florida and turn it into a book one day.  So far I finished Aves and a couple aquatic and arthropod species, and only have 273 species to go (and then on to plants 😅).  Lord help me, because sometimes I just wanna chill and be happy with what I've done, but I can't stop myself.

I also made a poster for my shop as an homage to California with 30 endangered/endemic species, and I'll be working on one for North Carolina soon 👀

The Panther Murals

But the real star project of 2021 was my first personal mural project in 4 years - "Mirrored Migrators" in Sanford, FL.  My dream of making a series of murals along the Florida Wildlife Corridor started in 2019, and after getting valuable mural experience at Ink Dwell, applying to walls for over a year, blindly putting my art on the internet, and networking, I got a wall!  

This mural is the first of hopefully many illustrating the migration of the Florida Panther (and yes, it's another collaboration with the Path of the Panther!) with this one highlighting a critical area in need of protection - the Volusia Conservation Corridor.  A more detailed story behind this design can be found on my website, but for now here are some pics of our process and final product<3

And the best part of this project was that I got to create it with two of my best and most talented friends, Ame Mei and Jess Soriano.  Working/living/breathing next to the same people day in and day out can sometimes have terrible outcomes.  But painting with these ladies, watching trash TV together, having deep tear-filled conversations, and exploring all the weird and beautiful parts of Florida was one of the best experiences of my life, and I can't wait for them to come back and do it again<333

Also we found Voldemort in Florida


Some birding adventures, including my first time seeing endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers, a Tricolored heron-snowy egret hybrid, and a feisty juvy FL scrub jay that used my face as a jumping off platform
A snail kite hunting for apple snails
Catsby's/Pine Lily at Kissimmee Prairie Preserver
The magnificent Swamp Sunflower blooms at Lake Jesup
Silver Springs (where we got up close and personal with some curious manatees<3)
Largeleaf Grass-of-Parnassus - one of the rarest flowers in Florida!
The first American Crocodile I've ever seen at the Everglades, compared to the abundant but still stunning American Alligator
Some unforgettable landscapes of the Everglades<3

Sea Turtles

I finished my 7th season working with sea turtles on the Treasure Coast, and even though it takes everything out of me every year and I tell myself I can't do it again, I've come to accept that this certainly won't be my last season


Finally, I have to end this post with my dearest pup Maddy who passed in November.  She's been by my side my entire adult life, through every college apartment, every job, every boyfriend, all the ups and downs, and after almost 11 years I don't really know what to do without her.  She taught me what unconditional love and companionship is, and even though we never got to have our Golden Girls era of just the two of us living together, sometimes I still feel her eyes starin' me down from across the room and I know she's right here with me.  You'll always be my best friend, Maddy, I'll miss you forever, and there will never be another stinky hot potato like you<333

I have simply too many pictures of her, but here are a few of my favs<3

Past year's "In a Nutshell" Posts

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

2020 in a Nutshell

 Well well well... I forgot to post my yearly round up yet again so I'm doing it 1 year later 😏 Honestly there really is no other way to treat the year of 2020 than by forgetting it ever happened.  But I did manage to gather up photos last year that represented my experience, and looking back on them now is kind of bittersweet.  

I had been living with my parents for 4 years after graduating from college, working 3-4 jobs at once trying my hardest to build my dream career as an artist and scientist.  I went back to grad school in 2018, and finally thought I had a job that could sustain me enough to move out of my childhood bedroom permanently.  But I spent the first 3 months of 2020 filled with uncertainty, not knowing where I'd be living or if I'd still have my job in San Francisco.  And then on March 16th, the pandemic reached new heights and San Francisco initiated the first shut down in the US, making all the decisions for me then and there.  I flew back home to Florida the next day with only 2 suitcases, leaving behind most of my belongings and moving back in with my parents.  It was a shell-shocking experience that a lot of people had, especially millenials like myself who had been just scraping by for years with no savings or job guarantees.

But while it was hard facing this defeat, I understood how lucky I was just to have a safe place to stay during this year that seemed like the apocalypse.  Wildfires in California engulfed the Bay Area in an orange haze.  The George Floyd tragedy ignited a global surge in the Black Lives Matter movement.  The pandemic killed hundreds of thousands of people with numbers rising daily.  The presidential election....  And all we could do was stay at home and watch.  2020 felt like I was sitting through a documentary on the collapse of modern capitalist society, but it was happening in real life.  Even now it feels like it was all just a bad dream, but the pain and trauma is still there reminding us it was real, and it hasn't ended.

I'm not even sure how to finish this post.  I look back with sadness for the incomprehensible suffering that occurred last year.  And seeing every bit of it through TV and social media was a stimulus overload that we as humans were never built to withstand.  I'm really shocked when I see the little bit of art I managed to make in 2020, and I'm grateful I had it to keep me going.  No matter what you created, read, watched, cooked, or did in 2020, be proud of yourself, because 2020 was a true test of our resilience as humans.  It reminded me of what really matters in life, and more importantly, what needs to be fixed.


From top left to bottom right: A sea turtle tattoo design for a friend, a cover illustration for the Florida Keys NWR Junior Ranger handbook, a painted storm drain in my hometown about water pollution and the Indian River Lagoon, a logo for my friend's podcast "Marine Bio Life", and a mini roseate spoonbill portrait


I started selling prints in my shop, made new products, and ran my very first Kickstarter campaign for my sea turtle enamel pin designs!

Personal Work

"Sea Turtles of the World" - a series I painted highlighting all the sea turtle nesting sites in the world, with hatchlings popping out of fruits native to one of their nesting locations

And finally, I finished my first series of Wild Florida drawings I started in 2019 highlighting animals that rely on the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Of course I couldn't stop there, and I started making more for a future book I'm working on!

Social, Environmental, and Personal Strife

Two pieces I made at the peak of the BLM movement, the second one paying homage to the town of Rosewood - a predominantly black community in Florida that was invaded and burned down in 1923 by racist rioters.

My silly addition to all the amazing artists creating social media pieces to encourage voting in the 2020 election


I made LOTS of backyard buddies during the shut down!
And continued my favorite activity, bird watching<3
Malabar Scrubs
Kissimmee Prairie Preserve

Sea Turtles

And of course, getting to escape the human world at my job as a sea turtle nesting surveyor really kept me afloat this year<3

Past year's "In a Nutshell" Posts