beginning on the new island

March 29th, 2019

An illustration for my agency newsletter on the theme “beginnings”: an ancient Polynesian girl arriving for the first time at a new island, her arms full of canoe plants.

Canoe plants were a set of about 20 or so food plants that the Polynesians took with them in their canoes and propagated all over the Pacific. They include taro, sweet potatoes, coconuts, yams, and breadfruit.

Her dress is made of mulberry barkcloth – essentially paper! She’s also with her poi dog, which were related to dingoes but are now extinct. They were pot-bellied dogs evolved to eat poi and take care of children. A lot of internet descriptions of them are rather dire (they were fairly dim and as likely to play and sleep with the tribe’s children as they were to be eaten by them), but I think they sounded kind of sweet.

This picture was inspired by my recent (40th!!) birthday trip to Hawaii.

on being a 4th culture kid

January 31st, 2019

I grew up a biracial, tricultural kid in America, with one grandmother living across the Pacific in Malaysia and one across the Atlantic in England.

drinking teh tarik

August 22nd, 2017

Teh tarik is a milky tea you can get in Malaysia that’s frothy from being hurled in the air. You can either drink it at the the stall or take it to go in a plastic bag with a straw. Plants: a young banana tree and caladium. Bugs: atlas moths.

st. basil’s cathedral, moscow

May 18th, 2017

I’ve been working on this for a while in fits and starts and finished a couple days ago. Comical timing, no? It doesn’t mean anything!…OR DOES IT (From a photo of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow by my friend Janie.

mapping my ride through golden gate park

June 4th, 2015


i added a map of my well-pedaled route through golden gate park to the painting of my bicycle. starting at home, i pass the conservatory of flowers, the disco rollerskaters, the academy of sciences, the lindy hop people, the boats on spreckels lake, the bison paddock, the windmill and the tulip garden and end up at ocean beach, where there is the cliff house with juicy booties graffiti, the spray-painted sea wall, kite boarders, and surfers.

find the river

August 30th, 2014


all the plants in Find the River by REM (at the end of Automatic for the People). i listen to it and Nightswimming a lot at this time of year for that mushy, end-of-summer melancholia feeling. “september is coming soon / pining for the moon”

here’s one with a title, i couldn’t decide which i liked better:


sisters making milo

August 20th, 2014


milo is like a more earnest ovaltine. malaysian aunties make it for you when they want you to be distracted from what they are gossipping to your mother about.

besides the milo, some other very malay things in the painting are the bobtailed cat and the house geckos, or cicak. my grandmother’s house was full of them!

note the moths approaching (ominously?) outside the window. this is the second painting in a series i’m working on about a giant moth invasion. i haven’t written a story, i am messing around with painting things i like, adding words later, and hoping something interesting comes of it all.

work + play group show

July 6th, 2014

monkey on my bike

hooray, i’m in! my illustration got picked for the upcoming ICON illustration conference Work + Play group show. it’ll be up at land gallery in portland from july 11th-august 17th. land is selling prints of all the participating illustrations. my print is here.

the painting was inspired by a recent tandem outing with steve, during which we had a terrible argument (naturally). surprisingly pleasant work getting lost in the swirlies of hairy orangutan.

giant moth invasion

April 13th, 2014


new painting! it’s the house where my mom grew up (with large uninvited insect guest). one day i was looking at pictures of atlas moths and my mother, peering over my shoulder, mentioned she hated them. i prodded a bit to find out the reason for the strong reaction. apparently, her village was overrun with them!

One year we had these atlas moths invading our village. They were fluttering all around the house to try and get in! They left torn and battered wings all over the yard!

i always pictured the invasion looking like this. i’m gonna give it a stir in my brainpan and see if i can’t get a book to pop out.

reading list

February 13th, 2014


my favorite books from the last couple years. they are! moab is my washpot by stephen fry, burma chronicles by guy delisle, relish by lucy knisley, birds of a lesser paradise by megan mayhew bergman, wide-eyed by trinie dalton, farm city by novella carpenter, and magic for beginners by kelly link. (i might have to make another painting, there were a bunch of runners-up)

circus bugs welcome

December 7th, 2013

baby announcement, circus bugs

circus bugs to welcome a handsome wee gentleman.

circus bugs baby announcement


February 7th, 2013

hooray, tumblewords is available in the itunes store! this means i’m a video game illustrator!

tumblewords is a word game for apple-type devices from minicore studios in austin. i illustrated two of the themes, “mushroom forest” and “painted desert.” it’s actually pretty addictive, i spent several hours on it last weekend and managed, with considerable joy, to wrest 150 points out of it by finding “philistine.”

so, do step into my world and find some juicy words. i painted all that woodgrain for you!!

click here to download tumblewords at the itunes store

all of my tumblewords bits and pieces:


malaysian moon moth

December 18th, 2012

malaysian moon moth

my favorite kind of moon moth. coincidentally from the same neck of the woods as me!

redwood grove

August 18th, 2012

meiling-front-final-small meiling-back-final-small

an invitation for a redwood grove wedding. the bride is a san francisco urban forest and urban agriculture coordinator who saved some trees i really like from being cut down at zeitgeist. hooray!

i love this little bug party:

i spent some time at the botanical garden in golden gate park to do my research. they have a redwood grove tucked away in a little corner by the moon viewing garden. i was really delighted to find that it was carpeted in hearts (wild ginger and redwood sorrell), perfect for a wedding. PERFECT!!

these were the sketches that were smushed together to make the final painting:
meiling-sketch-owls_sm meiling-sketch-snails-sm

i was a little sad to abandon the bats, but i’m sure i’ll find a use for them one day.

welcome eliza jane

August 17th, 2012


for wee eliza, born this spring on the day of the solar eclipse. i was there for her birth! (thus the ferns. i know, i am so sneaky)

chuck your car

February 10th, 2012

finished this one a few days ago for bicycle times magazine, for an article about getting rid of modern conveniences whose contributions to our quality of life are questionable:

chuck your car

i’m feeling triumphant, cars are wicked hard to draw! (it’s a 1968 volkswagen squareback, by the way — it was my high school self’s dream car)

san franciscans will notice that he’s stuffing the squareback into one of our blue recycling bins. my friend richard says, “Oh no!!! Reuse *before* recycle…. [sigh]”

this article also featured a demonic microwave (hah!):

possessed microwave

granny gear

December 4th, 2011

granny gear

an illustration for bicycle times magazine about using your granny gear on steep hills. it’s out now — i saw one at our local whole foods in the checkout line. it’s always a thrill to see work i’ve done out in the wild!

granny gear illustration for bicycle times

a preliminary sketch of the grocery-laden wife:

it’s hard matchmaking for drawings, so i asked around on the internet: who was her husband? the consensus was: beardy. and that’s how mr. shaggy suspendersman up there came to be.

sweet banana seat

October 26th, 2011

schwinn stingray krate bikes doing sweet jumps
schwinn stingray krate bikes doing awesome jumps, where awesome=freaky, rickety, kid-built, corroded plywood, bust-your-teeth-in. i wanted a banana seat bike so bad in the 80s! a friend of mine had a beautiful blue one with a white wicker flower-bedecked basket in the front. mine was a blue and yellow boys’ huffy, clearly inferior and much less magical.

bike basket pies for bicycle times

May 12th, 2011

bikebasketpies final

For Bicycle Times issue #11 (out on June 1st), I made a painting of Bike Basket Pies’ baker and biker, Natalie. (Some friends pointed out that I have a nifty start to a food delivery bike oeuvre, what with having illustrated the Soup Peddler a few years ago as well.) I was just gonna draw Natalie and her bike, but I know she delivers in the Mission district and thought it would be fun to make up a little storefront. I love papel picado, so I made up some bicycle ones, and a San Francisco bike rack really needs a guerilla knit cozy (knitta please!!).

here’s where I started:
bike basket pies sketch
You’ll notice I got a hold of one of her pies, a yummy but important step in my research.

here’s step two, with a photoshopped actual storefront temporarily standing in:
bikebasketpies rough

historical fruit corsets

March 10th, 2011

fruit corsets in history
^^click for biggerer!

new painting!! this was so much fun to research. the antique corset gallery and bridges on the body were especially helpful. while i was working on it, i liked imagining who would be wearing these undergarments. elizabeth bennett reading impassioned letters from mr. darcy in her blueberry underpinnings… laura ingalls walking on the prairie in her apple corset… mary poppins in that sassy s-curve banana… ladies on the titanic sinking in that skinny boob-to-hip constriction… me own nan in a postwar pear girdle.

i painted this for jessica ayre, who made me the strawberry corset which was the original inspiration!