Winter Break Adventure Game Camp @ The Arts Center

Let’s make a new adventure together!

In this 4-day Winter Break Camp, students will work together to create a collaborative game map, including characters, objects, challenges and objectives. Using a multitude of art skills, materials, tools and abundant imagination, students will create all elements of a game as they play it.

Each day will be a new task and a new level in their game, with students making decisions for how to change things, what rules to follow… and what rules to break!

This multi-media and SEL-informed class will encourage community collaboration and creative thinking for students who are interested in making and playing games, character design and crafting. Learning practice includes social-emotional skills in self- and social-awareness, collaborative problem-solving, and decision-making.

Hosted at The Arts Center, this camp is 4 days. All materials included.

December 18 – 21, 2023
Register at The Arts Center
Registration: $180 per student
Scholarships are available!

For the Love of Reading and Data

I’ve had my Goodreads account for over 14 years (holy smokes), although I took a long break for about 7 years from updating it. Recently, heard my dad and my sister talk about their Goodreads accounts and got a little jealous so I got back into my own account and have now been spending all my “in-between time” (that is, time between working on projects) updating my reading lists and adding the books I’ve been keeping track of on Google Docs.

It goes without saying, I love reading. Reading is an important element of inspiration in my artwork. Throughout my life, reading has inspired new ideas, and especially images in my imagination that I have worked into paintings and illustrations. In the past, I’ve created works for shows depicting scenes from Fairy Tales, such as my original illustration “She Yawned Tremendously,” created for Nordic Northwest to depict a scene from The Witch and the Stone Boat in their 2022 exhibit “Folktales Reimagined.”

She Yawned Tremendously (2022), watercolor, gouache, ink

At the time of this original writing (Nov. 2023), I am currently working on a small series of illustrations for Salem Reads based on the novel by Zoraida Cordóva, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina.

Inspiration from reading is vital to my own creative process as well as to my personhood, access to ideas and liberatory philosopy. So I read a lot and I love to read a lot. I read books in my hand, I read on my phone, I listen to audiobooks, I read graphic novels, comix and manga.

And I’ve read enough to know that I couldn’t possibly say anything about my love of reading that hasn’t already been said, and also better said than I could. So here are a few quotes from authors I’ve adored:

“We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel… is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”

– Ursula K. Le Guin

“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”

– Carl Sagan

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

– Joan Didion, The White Album

“An unfinished book, left unattended, turns feral, and she would need all her focus, will and ruthless determination to tame it again.”

– Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being

Despite being absent from Goodreads for 7 years, I have been practically compulsive in my reading goals and habits. I don’t remember when I first thought this thought, but the thought did come to me that my life is finite and within it all experiences are finite as well. There will be a finite number of hours I will sleep, pictures I will draw, people I will talk to, and *gasp* a finite number of books I will read. From this, I have cultivated the drive to read as many books as I can, and to also give up on reading books that do nothing to inspire or challenge or titillate or educate me. Since 2021, I have kept notes on my reading to understand my habits and drive with an analytical perspective.

As well as a love of books, I also harbor a deep fascination with spreadsheets and data. Last year, I turned my reading data into graphs so I could see what I’m reading and how I could challenge my reading habits more. I’ve kept that up this year as well. Also, I keep increasing my reading goal each year, from 36 in 2021, to 50 in 2022 and 60 in 2023. In 2024, I’m increasing that again to 100, which is a bonkers number of books, but if I can find a way to be listening and reading nearly all the time, I bet I can do it.

Here’s my list of books from recent years! It’s not particularly informative, other than being a list of books that I have read and documented. If you want to know more about these titles, check your library or, well, there’s always Goodreads 🙂

Books I’ve Read in 2021

2022 Reading data

2023 Reading data (so far)

(Not a) Conference DocuZine

In early October 2023, I had the pleasure and incredible good fortune to meet with artists, educators and advocates from all around my state (Oregon), for a (Not a) Conference. This group had been meeting for nearly 2 years virtually to discuss our experiences, dreams, and needs within the arts education professional field. For many of us, the October gathering was the first chance to meet in person.

These are our thoughts and reflections documented in digital zine form.
Note: as of November 13, 2023, this zine is still a work in progress and aspects may change (probably will).

If you were a participant in this gathering and would like a printed version of this zine, let me know!
You can download a PDF of this zine here:

Part of the Arts Education Learning Community organized by Oregon Community Foundation (2022-2024).

Wildling, A Quiet Comic about Life in the Misty Forest

Welcome to the Misty Forest! Read Wildling on this website here.

This little comic was first inspired by a character design I made while teaching comics camps this summer. In our camps, we would often take time to create characters starting with basic shapes, inspiration from our environment and questions about what we could make. And in the midst of that, Little Bun just jumped right out.

Little Bun has grown a bit since they’re first concept, but they’ve maintained their core characteristics. They’re a Bunny/ Deer hybrid in the spirit of the Jackalope except they’re forest based, they’re fluffy and small with bunny ears and deer antlers. And they like to wear really nice clothes. Right now for fall, knitted sweaters and big mud boots are in.

From that first design, a whole world unfolded where I could see Little Bun wandering around the forest, taking care of the other critters there, collecting flowers and mushrooms, and enjoying small moments in their acorn-style home.

Creating this comic has been a way for me to create a little time and space for myself to enjoy those little moments, and as I focused some energy on crafting the world of the Misty Forest, I have found myself getting lost in the details of the trees in the distance, moss on a root, and a tiny window sill herb garden that’s certainly there but still a little bit secret (for now). This comic is my ode to slow life, smelling the rain over pine needles and savoring hot tea on a cool morning. I hope you enjoy hanging out here with me and Little Bun for a bit.

This webcomic will update about every two weeks here on my website, on Webtoons, Instagram, and Tapas. Patrons on my patreon will see comics before everyone else, plus some little extras as they come along.

Fall 2023 Art Club for Kids!

The Club Password is “Creative”

This fall, we’re getting into drawing, comics, sticker making, and polymer clay figures in the first ever JH Art Club for kids ages 8 – 12!

In this weekly club, kids will practice and learn skills in illustration and crafts with artist and community educator, Jen Hernandez! We’ll practice character design, making comics, creating creatures from inspiration and imagination, and making artwork to share with others. Art projects and lessons are designed with Social-Emotional Learning objectives and studio habits of mind for a fully immersive artistic experience. Kids can attend all 5 Fall dates or pick special dates to attend.

Check out our schedule of dates and themes:

  • October 16 – Creating Characters
  • October 23 – Quick Comics
  • October 30 – Mashed up Monsters
  • November 6 – Pocket Pals – small sculpture in polymer clay
  • November 13 – Collage Cards and Stickers

Art Club Details

DATE/ TIME: Mondays, October 16 – November 13, 4:00 – 5:30 pm
Conundrum House Saunders Room
460 SW Madison Ave, 2nd Floor, Corvallis, OR

Registration: $35 per child per session, one-time $15 materials fee for all Fall sessions.
Space is limited! Our small classes ensure we can be comfortable and focused in Art Club. Limited registration to 8 students per session.

This class has closed. Look for the next Art Club for Kids in January 2024!

Little Buddy, a comic about anxiety

I made this comic about 5 years ago, when I was in the midst of a personal crisis and struggling with anxiety. I was very lucky to be in therapy at the time with an amazing therapist who helped me survive the worst moments of my life. From some of those sessions, I learned about the anxiety that I had more or less “managed” all my life. The feeling of being tied down to a needy, obnoxious, relentless albeit ineffective little monster clarified in my mind so clearly, I had to draw it. And this comic came out exactly how I pictured it.

I was having coffee with a friend recently and I remembered this comic in our conversation. I love this comic. I love it because it was made with simple pen and markers and sticky notes, and I love that’s all it took for me to visualize something I struggled so hard to reconcile. This comic feels so freshly relevant to me now, even 5 years later, when my artwork has changed but my anxiety really hasn’t– and it won’t, it’s part of me, but I don’t have to struggle against it and me so much anymore.

My anxiety is still very much with me, still screaming and demanding potato chips.

I’m Teaching Comics and SEL

One of my favorite things about being a teaching artist is the opportunity to dig deeper into my art forms alongside the creative and curious minds of students. I get to learn so much about the art I’m most interested in, and by sharing that experience with students openly, I can hear their questions and I can be inspired by their ideas. 

Lately, the artform I’m most interested in has been comics. Illustration has long held an intrigue, and for me comics is the elevated form of illustration as hybrid storytelling combining not only words and pictures, but also time, movement and atmosphere. Teaching comics to kids has been enlightening on this artform. It’s both so immediately accessible to so many students, and holds depths of possibility that seem endless. 

This past summer, I got to teach comics camps through partnership with some local arts organizations and libraries: The Arts Center (Corvallis), Salem Art Center, Lane Arts Council and Coos Bay Public Library. It’s been a very rich summer of creating and I’m struck with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for the experince. Actually, it was in a comics class with middle schoolers this summer that I developed a new character who seemed to leap out at me fully formed and I’ve been enamored with this character’s stories since. 

Comics and Social-Emotional Learning

What has been even more gratifying in these classes, is the opportunity for students’ as well as my own deeper holistic artistic experience through comics. Recently, I’ve been reworking many of my lesson plans to include aspects and goals of Social-Emotional Learning more intentionally. Comics has been a surprising (but then again, not surprising) perfect artform for supporting students in exploring emotional impulses and responses, cultural contexts, curiosity and questioning, hypothesizing and experimenting.

With comics as a medium, we can investigate materials, look for surprises in small moments and think of big possibilities. Students interpret emotional expressions of characters by observing the choices of the artist. Then, with theatre games inspired by Augusto Boal and Theatre of the Oppressed, students can embody experiences with play and performance. Meanwhile, their peers practice close observation and make artistic choices based on what they see and what they want to say. 

In camps and classes this summer, I’ve worked with students in exploring feelings both physical and emotional. We ask what might instigate those feelings and what options we have for response. We’ve practiced linework to explore how small gestures can become stories in their own right. Our fine felt tip pens slope down in thin, feeble lines that melt into exhaustion or sadness. We use the soft flexible tips of brush pens to create bold, spiked zags transformed into blasts of power and energy. With students, I’ve made scores of zines, revolutionizing what a book can be, who can make one and what can be in it. I’ve seen in students how the chance to make something to share freely and openly becomes itself a point of inspiration. 

Comics have inspired discussions about the kind of art we make, the kinds of jokes we tell, and why and how it affects others. Comics as a practice creates the opportunity for student expertise. They know how their characters should look, and students can lead the rest of the class, including the educators, in a drawing tutorial of their own designs. The comics practice of examining sequences while also anticipating different layers and perspectives of stories, as well as the practice of making art among and with each other, have cultural impacts for the comics class or camp.

In a comics camp this summer, a class of a dozen students and I debriefed after a playground brawl, focusing on the stories each person told themselves and believed about others. A camp culture of listening to each other and following each other’s guidance at different times allowed us to have conflict and to also move the story forward to what comes next.

Planning and Teaching with Values

As I prepare each residency and lesson plan about comics, I hold these 5 values in mind:

  • Close attention to the tools we use and small elements will reveal big inspiration.
  • Each story is part of a larger context: What happened before? What can happen next?
  • There are so many ways to make a book or tell a story.
  • Feeling something in our own bodies helps us know it with more intelligence.
  • Observing others with empathy helps us know ourselves and each other with more intelligence.

Comics are an incredibly rich educational resource. Through researching resources on comics, I stubled upon this panel discussion about education through comics featuring Malaka Gharib, Scott McCloud, Whit Taylor, and Kriota Willberg, and Robert Sikoryak. (Check out that resonance with Gharib about teaching people to make zines!) And this page from the UCLA Library is a treasure trove of resources, videos and links.

In my next posts about comics, I’ll share some of my lesson plans and teaching tools I use in my camps. There’s an entire pedagogy of comics that I am thrilled to explore and share with students, educators and folks who are interested in comics and arts experiences.

Philippine Society and Revolution Visual Notes

Malaya PDX is a Portland grassroots chapter of Malaya Movement, a national organization working in solidarity with labor movements for sovereignty and democracy in the Philippines. The Portland chapter is focused on education and outreach to mobilize for liberation of the Philippines and movement among Filipinos living in diaspora in the United States and around the world. Their program offerings include classes, film screenings, and food events. 

I got involved with this group through my personal search for a culture-based community in Oregon. Meeting folks in this group and other Filipino organizations like the Filipino Bayanihan Center has been a balm to my homesick heart. Since moving to Oregon from the California Bay Area 14 years ago, I’ve become part of so many wonderful communities and lifelong friendships, and have still missed a connection to my Filipino family. Getting involved with these community organizations has been an important part of my personal self-discovery as I take on artistic and educational projects to explore self, place, and identity.

While seeking out Filipino food options was my first instinct when looking for community in my area, the opportunity to learn about the Philippines and its social and political history was an incredible chance to understand my own family’s history in context. Malaya PDX has been an invaluable resource for this discovery.

The Malaya Movement is a broad movement of individuals, organizations, and various formations united under our objectives to defend human rights, democracy, and sovereignty in the Philippines which is expressed through the following points of unity:

1. Democracy: We stand for democracy that is founded on full participation of the broad majority of the Filipino people. We uphold the necessity of institutions in a democratic society such as media, institutions of faith and education to exist without repressive interference from the government, military, or other civil bodies. We denounce the practice of political dynasties and the use of wealth to gain unfair advantage.

2. Human Rights: We stand for people’s rights which includes civil and political rights, socio-cultural rights and the right to self-determination. We denounce  and work to end extrajudicial killings, a culture of impunity, and all forms of human rights violations.

3. Sovereignty: We stand for a genuine national sovereignty and assert that the waters, lands, and resources of the Philippine nation should be enjoyed and principally employed in the service of the Filipino people. We denounce unequal military and economic agreements that extract resources or take advantage of our lands and waters to the detriment of the Filipino people.

Text provided by Malaya PDX

In Spring and Summer 2023, I participated in a lecture series based on the writings of Jose Maria Sison in Philippine Society and Revolution. This text makes up the basis for the historical and philosophical understanding of the cultural context in the Philippines since Spanish colonization in the 16th century. It should be noted that since PSR was first written in the 1970’s, anthropological academia has shifted away from what had then been accepted theories of settlement in the Philippine archipelago. The history of pre-Spanish conquest is fascinating and woefully incomplete, as Spanish rule spanned nearly 400 years and was effective in effacing much of the oral and lived histories of the people living in the archipelago. That being said, the political history of the Philippines since the end of the 19th century is a well-documented political context for the current lived experience of Filipino people living in the Philippines and, like my family, living around the world. 

I participated in these lectures with Malaya PDX by creating visual notes of the series. Check out those notes below. Learn more about Malaya PDX by visiting their instagram account at

Further reading:

Teens and Tweens Bookbinding at the Library

Make Your Own Adventure

Make your own sketchbook or journal! In this workshop, we’ll use collage materials, specialty paper, stickers and more to make our own hardcover books for our drawings, stories and memories. Students can decorate their books to fit their unique style and design elements like pockets or secret flaps to make truly special tomes. Each student will be able to make one 5″ x 7″ hardcover book. All equipment and materials will be provided, students are encouraged to bring any scrapbook elements, photos, stickers, ephemera or stamping supplies they would like to use in the class.

This one-time workshop is open to teens and tweens at the Corvallis Public Library.

Workshop Details
DATE/ TIME: Saturday, November 4, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Corvallis-Benton County Public Library
645 NW Monroe Ave, Corvallis, OR 97330

Sign up at Corvallis-Benton County Public Library (Registration opens October 21)

Graphic Novels for Young Writers

Turn your story into a graphic novel

Turn your stories into comics and zines!

In this two-hour October Write Club workshop, you’ll take a story you’ve already written and turn it into a comic. 

You’ll learn how to frame an image to show what your characters are feeling, as well as how to get inspiration from graphic novels for young adults. And you’ll practice drawing skills and storytelling through the art of comix.

By the end of this fun, hands-on class, you’ll have completed–or gotten a good start on–either a one-page comic or a mini zine of a tale of your own!

Class Details
DATE/ TIME: Saturday, October 14, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Wordcrafters Studio, Eugene
436 Charnelton St. Ste 100, Eugene, OR 97401

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have notes and the beginnings of a thumbnailed scene for a comic or graphic novel, to continue working on later, plus tips for visualizing written content for comics, next steps, and a list of resources for further study.

Register online at Wordcrafters Eugene