Fall favorites & a still life drawing party
Greetings! Today I’d love to share with you my fall favorites and some things I’ve been up to this season. This is my favorite time of year, starting with my birthday on the autumn equinox up until the holidays, so I make sure to relish in lots of seasonal rituals. (Side note: isn’t it wild that winter officially starts on December 21? AFAIK all semblance of fall disappears as soon as Thanksgiving ends and Christmas consumerism takes over).
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✍️ FAVORITE ACTIVITY: A still life drawing party
After reading Ladies Drawing Night earlier this year, I made it a goal to host a drawing party for friends. Once the weather got chilly and my friends and I weren’t meeting up outside to draw, I thought it’d be a perfect time to host a drawing party and set up an autumnal still life indoors.
I browsed Still Here Still Life for inspiration and bought some fruits and gourds, dried botanicals, a plaid backdrop cloth, and a cute woodland squirrel figurine with one missing (found in the sale bin). A friend brought pretty desserts that we plated on pretty porcelain plates. I gathered other tchotchkes from around the house and briefly went into a tangent hand painting taper candles while setting up (you can see one in the still life above). All in all I probably spent less than $25 total to set things up—you’d be surprised how much you already have lying around the house!
After much arranging (you can see all the fiddling in this IG reel) we drew and painted the scene for two hours. It was fascinating to see which items each of us chose to include or leave out, and to see how the different angles of where we were sitting affected the composition. I am so impressed by all of my friends’ work and am really happy that everyone had such a good time!
I would love to do this every season and think it’s such a fun ritual with friends to mark the passage of time and have a lasting record of an afternoon spent together. Would you try this out too?
📚 FAVORITE BOOKS (sorry I cannot pick just one)
All summer I had been in a reading rut, which dissipated as soon as I could feel the brisk air of fall. Something about the cooler temps frees up my brain to focus on words again! Below are my favorite books I’ve read so far this season:
For cozy magic lovers: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
For a true story of friendship and grief (extra recommend if you have ties to the Bay Area or Berkeley): Stay True by Hua Hsu
For anti-Asian dystopia not far from reality: Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
For literary college discussion vibes: Either/Or by Elif Batuman
💿 FAVORITE ALBUM: five seconds flat by Lizzy McAlpine
I listened to Lizzy McAlpine’s sophomore album five seconds flat an unholy number of times throughout Peachtober. I’m still not sick of it! Her lyrics have so much evocative detail and intimacy. She recently was on NPR’s Tiny Desk with just an acoustic guitar and backup vocals by Tiny Habits—watch below!
🫖 FAVORITE BEVERAGES: Apple and orange-y drinks galore
It’s finally hot beverage season, so I’ve been drinking fermented tangerine tea from Osulloc during the day and Trader Joe's harvest blend herbal tea at night.
I’ve also been on an Apple Sidra kick lately! Have you tried the Taiwanese soda? It is the ultimate apple soda, and a cheaper alternative to Martinelli’s sparkling cider.
🖼 FAVORITE EXHIBIT: Maira Kalman’s “Women Holding Things” at Mary Ryan Gallery
I had the pleasure of going to Maira Kalman’s opening reception back in October. I have never been to a more New York-y gallery opening in my life! My friend and I spotted Issac Mizrahi (a good friend of Maira’s) and lots of other fashionably dressed people of all ages.
The exhibit is over now, but all the paintings and accompanying writings are compiled into her latest book, Women Holding Things. Maira Kalman is so good at connecting random ruminations and whimsical observations into a cohesive collection.
Speaking of gallery shows, my painting is now in a group show in LA titled “Faith, Hopes, and Dreams” in REALM Chinatown! The show is curated by art collective Golden 8Ours and features work by many talented Asian American artists. Please do check it out if you're in the LA area, the show is open through December 18 and open every weekend.
I made this gouache painting Taegeuk last November, and it’s the largest painting I’ve ever made (12x16” which is not that large but I’m used to working in tiny). It’s a very personal piece about the duality of self that I may share about in a future newsletter—let me know if you are interested in hearing more 👀
That wraps up my post on my favorites for this fall. What have you been reading, watching, baking, listening, or going to lately? Please share in the comments!