Thursday, December 24, 2009















Friday, December 18, 2009


Recently, my power adaptor decided to die on me and all attempts to resuscitate failed.  Alas, I was forced to purchase a new one.  It just arrived but now my battery won't charge.  I think my poor computer was a bit shell shocked during school after only being used for email and occasional photoshop diddle dawdle.  That being said, I'm glad it starts and it's good to be back on my computer.

I'm super excited about two things coming up!

I am going birding again tomorrow!  Yippee!  This time in Marin.  This is a more unique experience than the last time I went in that we will be watching shorebirds from kayaks.  We will leave predawn towards the mudflats the Miller Boat ramp at the Walker creek Delta and see as much of the early morning shorebird, duck and gull action as possible. We will also try for Black Rail in the remote pickle weed expanses while its dark and stay out there until lunch counting shorebirds and sparrows. Although the water will be very flat and calm, I'm glad I had a chance to go both sea kayaking and flat lake kayaking beforehand. The leader of this adventure is Josiah Clark, founder of Habitat Potential.  In a nutshell, Habitat Potential offers environmental consulting services and naturalist expertise.  Super excited to meet him.  I'm also excited because this gave me a good excuse to get waterproof pants.  I think all girls desire a pair of stylish waterproof pants in their wardrobe, don't you think?  I'll have my new moleskin sketchbook in hand, binoculars around my neck and legs shielded from dangerous waters of the mudflats.  And of course, the Sibley Guide to Birds in my pocket.  Well, maybe not in my pockets.  It's a bit too big for that unless I get pants with Mary Poppin's storage ability.  

I went to a book signing of his with my roommate, Kristin, in Santa Cruz a few months ago.  It was to launch his new Field Guide of Trees.  All the copies were sold out when I got there.  Oh well.  I'm glad I went.  Other than the few annoying overly enthusiastic Californians bombarding him with continual questions of invasive species, it was nice to hear a bit about his process.  Here is also another fun video clip of him teaching a class of school kids how he draws a bird.

The other thing that I'm really looking forward to is celebrating the birthday of one of my closet friends, Hannah.  She is the proud owner of Pie Bird Press and an amazing person all around.  Normally, we celebrate each other's birthdays at LuLu in San Francisco.  This restaurant showcases a menu of delicious provencal style cuisine from their wood-fired oven, rotisserie and grill.  It is always a favorite spot.  BUT...this year, we will be celebrating at a relatively new restaurant in Oakland called Camino.  Camino is italian for fireplace, so the wood-fired oven theme remains the same.  It is a wonderful restaurant with a rustic atmosphere, great service and of course, amazing food.  I always loved this place, but recently, Hannah forwarded this interview with the owners of Camino and I am now even more in love with it.

Seriously awesome.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, December 7, 2009


Whew! I'm done with finals! Hooray!!! I cannot believe how quickly the first term came and went. Similarly, I cannot believe how much we crammed into essentially a 2 month period. Finals were intense and I pulled my first all nighter of the school year. I thought that was pretty good. I was expecting to have to pull more than that, but I'm so glad I didn't have to. I guess I'm getting old. I am now faced with 4 weeks of free time which I hope to productively fill.


One of my finals was to be done in scratch board. The bat was done with the same technique. I decided that for this final, I wanted to really challenge myself and tackle a more complicated subject. I am more than capable of rendering a single specimen in great detail. Capturing an entire scene, however, was imagery I had yet to try. I am in love with the redwood forests that line the coast of California and Oregon. I love that every sense is aroused. The smells in the air, the feel of the ground, the glimmer of light bouncing back and forth, and the wonderful tastes to be foraged. These are all things that I wanted to capture in my illustration along with scale and atmosphere. Originally, I had intended on including animals in redwood forests, but that would have been even more complicated than the already complex idea I had at hand. Instead, I focused on common plants found within redwood forests such as wood fern, sword fern, sorrel, rhododendron, manzanita, and oyster mushroom. I'm really glad I went in this direction. It was very satisfying at the end.


My final for Information Graphics was equally intense. I love painting in Photoshop. I love the intensity you can achieve on the computer. Not that you can't get intensity with traditional medium because you definitely can, but you end up with this super clean rendering that at least I've only been able to create with the computer. I chose to render jellies because they are beautiful and challenging to capture because of the transparency factor. I managed to discover the perfect combination of tools to recreate jellies. I hope to be as successful when rendering something else! I also wanted to combine elements from past assignments such as labeling, simple line rendering, and layout/map organization. I should also mention that I'm not totally sure the diagram is accurate. I used my best judgement based on diagrams of different species of jellies (just in case any of you reading this are jelly connoisseurs).

The last final was really fun. I don't have a picture. Sorry. It was for the Field Sketching class. We had to find a specimen that was unknown to us and identify it through sketched observations, meaning we had to try and identify the specimen using only our sketches. The specimen I found was a yellow sand verbena, a trailing beach succulent native to California.

Well, I'm very much looking forward to next term as our projects will become more complex. There are so many things to consider when illustrating science and it is so exciting to be learning constantly about what you are doing. I heart science illustration.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Happy belated Thanksgiving wishes! What a year. I feel like every year I have more and more to be thankful for because as I get older, I am more aware of all the people and things that contribute to a life I am so grateful to have, and my life becomes more rich every day. Thank you for reading my blog and adding to that richness. The support is always appreciated.

This year I went back to my parents' for the first time in like 10 years. They live in Mt. Prospect, IL, a northwest suburb of Chicago. Ah yes...I am a product of suburbia. I learned at an early age that I wanted to leave that as soon as I could, but I digress. It was an absolutely perfect visit of quality family time paired with great eats. The feast was a satisfying mix of Korean and traditional Thanksgiving fare. Delicious! During the visit, my family and I spent the next day at the Evanston Art Center and the Art Institute of Chicago which underwent a major renovation. The museum is now even better than the already exquisite museum it had always been. We finished the evening at four star restaurant, Spiaggia (meaning sea in Italian). I know. Very fancy. We were celebrating my dad's birthday and if you can't splurge for a birthday, then when can you, eh? Here are some highlights of the outing.


These were at The Evanston Art Center and were made by artist, Pamela Paulsrud. These stones are carved out of old books. I just loved the way the text in the pages create the texture of the rock. I also enjoy that you can still flip through the stone like a book.


Although I'm not the biggest fan of Pittman's work. I really enjoyed this part of the painting.


I was, of course, very attracted to this piece. It was inspired by a fallen redwood found in California. The redwood was then shipped to Japan where master sculptors copied the redwood out of Japanese Cypress.


My parents bought me this book and I am so awed and inspired by it. It is a catalogue of photos featuring birds. I don't know how he does it, but I have never seen birds captured in the way he captures them. They are hyper-realistic. I just love love love it. He has another book called Creature and it is definitely going on my book wish list.

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


My friend, Hannah Berman, turned me onto a store in New York that sells natural world splendors. Looks like the East Coast has a Paxton Gate or Bone Room of its own.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


A hoary bat that is...

Lasiurus cinereus

Scratch board is a medium that is sort of the opposite of pen and ink. You apply ink on clay coated paper and then scratch away the ink where you don't want it. You will often see scratch board that has been pre-inked in black, but the disadvantage to that is you don't always want the whole surface to be black. Whoa. Imagine if I had to scrape away black around the whole bat. It's much better and faster to only paint the areas that need it. I'm learning that science illustration is learning how to make the most efficient yet effective illustration. Ha! Despite that, it is still pretty time consuming. I guess some things you just can't speed up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


These are drawings that were done by my classmate, Cynthia. Cynthia is the kind of person that makes you smile every time you see her. She is like japanimation with a plethora of information. You can basically ask her any question regarding biology and she has an answer for you - not only an answer, but the correct answer. I absolutely love these drawings. I think they pretty much sum up what I know of Cynthia. Incredibly intelligent, great sense of humor with a simple and clean aesthetic. You must click on the images to see the labels and really appreciate these drawings. One of my favorites is how she showcases a hair on the whale. On top of that, I love how she includes japanese translations. See? Japanimation. Awesome.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I have a pretty intense fear of water due to a bad experience with it when I was really little. I wouldn't put my head underwater until I was about 8 and learned how to swim at a similar age. Then once I learned how to swim, I was like a little fish. I was at the YMCA all the time or at the outdoor pool in the summertime all the time. I loved it. Growing up near Chicago, I obviously wasn't getting any exposure to the ocean or a feel for what it's like to swim in it. The extent of my swimming took place in pools or lakes where the water is pretty still and very inviting. My first ocean experience was in Italy when I was 20. The wave took me out and I swallowed a bunch of sea water. I got out and didn't go back in that day. I didn't attempt to go back in the ocean until moving to California. My first attempts were in LA where the temperature of the water doesn't shock all of your muscles into tensing simultaneously. I did okay. Never actually "swam." I then decided it was ridiculous that I harbored a fear of the ocean and that I needed to do something to get over it.

Surfers - Man, I've always been attracted to surfers and surfing, and the more I watched them, the more I wanted to be able to get out there and do it, too. This past year, I was determined to learn. So I did. I've been 3 times. Each time was terrifying, but each time also got easier. Yesterday was my 4th go and I actually popped up AND more importantly, it was the first time I went in without fear. I'm not sure which I'm more proud of. Yay! I loved it and I can't wait to get back in there.

Thursday, November 12, 2009



They're finally here!

Anjel Van Slyke and Connal Hughes at Cabbage Design Company commissioned several artists to create designs for Waterbox - a stainless steel water bottle company. They not only worked with Waterbox to create this new line of bottles, but designed a great identity logo for the company as well. I was commissioned months ago to come up with a design and they are now available at REI among other retailers. I don't want to list those just yet until I know for sure which stores carry them. Several of my talented friends also created designs including Hannah Berman of Pie Bird Press and Olivia San Mateo of Olive-Route Design. Thanks Anjel for thinking of me!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009



I'm super excited about this drawing that I just finished. I think it's my favorite so far. Maybe because it has to do with food and diagrams. No. I think it's food. I'm not going to lie. I thoroughly enjoyed eating the oysters after shucking them. My hand model was my fabulous Information Graphics teacher, Amadeo Bachar.


Cynthia, one of my classmates, made the funniest comment in crit yesterday. "It's like coloring in a color book." And it kind of is. We had to scan our last coquille drawing in and paint it in photoshop in grayscale and color. Photoshop rocks. You can do so much with it even with just basic knowledge which is what we are learning. Say hello to my striped hawk moths again. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


We had a pretty interesting assignment in our field sketching class called Replica Illustration. It was just that. We each chose an artist to duplicate, using the same medium and size on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper. I chose to copy Walton Ford. He is an incredible artist painting in an old natural history style with political undertones. I discovered that we share a similar story. We both obtained a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and we were both selected to spend a year in Rome through the European Honors Program. I thought that was pretty neat. Anyway, because he works very large, I could only fit a detail in an 8 1/2 x 11 frame. Housatonic Ghost Cats is 60 x 120 inches. It's really big and really beautiful.



I had a hard time getting into this assignment at first, but I ended up loving it in the end. It was really gratifying to be able to copy a work that you admire and love. You also end up learning about new ways to use the medium. An upcoming assignment will be to draw in the style of the artist we just copied. I think it will be great to be able to utilize what we got out of the replica into our own work.

Last Wednesday, the class field trip was to a place called Wild Things. Wild Things is a non-profit organization that provides homes for displaced wildlife. Many of these animals work with trainers for movies, tv, or advertising. You've probably seen some of these animals. I didn't know how I was going to feel when I got there. Although this place isn't a zoo, I was worried that I might feel a bit sad like I often do at zoos. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I felt like all the animals seemed happy and content.

This was the first time that we drew from live animals. It was exhausting. Non-stop observation of moving specimens requires a lot of concentration, and by the end of the day, I was pooped. Stupidly, I forgot my camera, so all I have to share are pages from my sketchbook. I didn't get to all the animals like I had hoped. It was such a treat, and the experience left me with such admiration for all of the animals.

ELVIS, Red Kangaroo, 6 yrs

BARBIE, African crusted porcupine, 9 yrs

At one point, I moved my chair a bit and frightened her out of her relaxed state. She instantly became twice her size as her needles burst open. It was quite intimidating and she startled me right back.

THEO, Mara patagonia cavy, 5 yrs
CHIP and DALE, Capybara, 1 1/2 yrs, brothers

Remember the rodents of unusual size from The Princess Bride? Well, capybara are it. They are the largest rodent.

FRED, Ostrich, age unknown

LADY and ZAIER, Lion, 13 yrs

BUTCH, Elephant, 31 yrs, only male elephant

ED, Spotted Hyena, 2 1/2 - 3 yrs

MR. HOBBS, Tiger, 4 yrs

MISCHA, Siberian Lynx, 21 yrs

HUMPHREY, Camel, age unknown

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I don't know if this is obvious, but this program is extremely rigorous. Not only are we in class all week, but homework as you can imagine, is incredibly time consuming. It is not uncommon for a drawing to take 20 or more hours start to finish. Although we were given the usual work load, I found myself with more time to also enjoy myself outside of school. So I did!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, two of my classmates and I went to dinner at a wonderful place in Big Sur called Nepenthe. I forgot to provide a link to the restaurant so here you go: And on Friday, my friend Mark came down to say hello. We went to Lallapalooza restaurant in Monterey. I don't think you can ever go wrong when your weekend is kicked off with two really good meals and good people.

I went birding for the first time. I never realized how surrounded by them we are at all times. They are good at going unnoticed and that's just what they are most of the time - unnoticed. It was great to notice them. The tour guide, Rick Fournier, and his wife, Cheryl, were so fantastic and made the newbie feel very welcome. It's pretty fast paced, and the more experienced birder will call out, "Ooh! I just spotted an Aleutian," and I'm like, "Yes. Of course. An Aleutian." Below are pics I took while birding. Unfortunately, there aren't too many with birds in them because the birds we did see were often in flight or too far for my camera to capture.



Then on Sunday, a bunch of us spent the day in Santa Cruz. We started our day at the Harbor Cafe on 7th Ave. Two of my friends own the restaurant and they do such a great job with it. The atmosphere is super laid back with a beach shack feel. I've never ever been disappointed by a meal. Yesterday, I had a chipotle tri-tip omelette. Delicious! It's inexpensive and the owners Dan and Max are two of the nicest people I have ever met.

Afterwards, we drove along Highway 9 where several state parks are located including Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The weather was perfect for hiking and we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying our surroundings. These trails are also popular horse trails. Have I ever mentioned how much I love horseback riding? I was super excited every time I saw a horse and I swear it had nothing to do with the fact that he was carrying a hot guy wearing a cowboy hat and a plaid shirt. Below are pictures from the hike. I didn't get one of the hot guy on a horse. Sorry.




My classmate, Angela informed me later that these are edible. Wish I had known that at the time. I would have foraged!


Sarah cleverly came up with this caption. It really did look like a graveyard of pine cone. It was like all the pine cone in the forest were dumped in that one spot.