Succs in Pots Title Image with succulent drawings in the background. Title text reads "The 8 Types of Succulents I've Drawn (and Owned)"

In building the foundation for an art business, I’ve been doing a lot more art. Naturally. What might not be natural is how much of that art has been of succulents. But the identity of plant addict is one I’m coming to terms with.

I saw an article a while back about how millennials are filling the child-shaped holes in their hearts with houseplants. Sure, I can go along with that.

Some of the most recent artwork I’ve done have been pages of succulents. Although I intended to use these pages as a way to draw a wide array of succulents, I filled a whole page with succulents I own or have owned…and didn’t even cover them all. This addiction might be worse than I thought.

But since each of these succulents has a story, I’ll share those baby pictures with you now, in one easily accessible blog post. Stick around (or scroll down) to the end to see a sneak peek at the second succulent page I haven’t yet posted anywhere.

Mini Succulent Pots

Here’s the full page. 16 plants. 9 still alive and well, 3 in a questionable state, and 4 no longer with us.

Succs in pots - Page of 16 colored pencil succulent drawings, 4 across and 4 down. Each plant is a different species and is in a terra cotta pot which is one of three colors: red, orange or yellow.

Now for close-ups and proud parent captions.


The Ones that Started It All

Succs in pots - 3 succulents drawn in colored pencil arranged in a horizontal line. The first is light green with an orange pot, second is dark green with a red pot and the third is light green with hints of red in a yellow-tinted pot
From left to right: Sedum adolphii/Golden Sedum, Sedum hernandezii, Crassula perforata variegata/”String of Pearls”

These are the first three succulents I ever purchased. I picked them out from Home Depot (probably) and they’ve thrived on beginner luck ever since.


The Elusive Ones

Succs in pots zebra plant drawn in colored pencil in a red-tinted clay pot
Haworthia fasciata

Writing an article about zebra plant succulents is one of the things that got me interested in succulents. So you can bet that I was looking for one of these. But none of my local stores ever seemed to have a zebra plant. Or if they did, it was part of a larger arrangement, which was just cruel.

Finally, on one bright day, I obtained my first zebra plant, from a Home Depot on the other end of town. They must have sold like hot cakes because I’d never find them in the same location twice.

Sadly, my favorite succulent wasn’t meant to be. Three have them have died on me. But love the way most haworthia succulents look, so I jumped at the opportunity to get this cool-looking plant:

Succs in pots cool haworthia drawn in colored pencil with light green at the top and a violet-red gradient near the bottom of the plant. It's in a red-tinted terra cotta pot.
Haworthia reinwardtii/”African pearls”

It died on me too.


The Patriotic Ones

Succs in pots - 4th of July colored succulents with blue, white and red succulents in a horizontal row from left to right
Senecio mandraliscae/”Blue chalk sticks”, Senecio haworthii/Cocoon plant, Sedum adolphii/”Firestorm”

For the 4th of July, I bought red, white, and blue succulents. They looked amazing. Until the “blue chalk sticks” died off and the fuzzy white ones shriveled up. The red ones are another variation of Sedum adolphii. They’ve turned mostly green with less light indoors, but are survivors.


The Pale Ones

Succs in pots - Colored pencil drawings of two succulents in orange-tinted terra cotta pots. Both plants have a pale blue-green tint with pastel pink or purple on the tips of their leaves.
Graptoveria/”Opalina”, Pachyphytum bracteosum

These two have similar coloring and are both sensitive. Apparently, they don’t like to be touched because the oils on your skin wear away their protective pastel coating. So any spot you poke has a permanently green mark that’s darker than the surrounding area.

I’m on my second pachyphytum. It was a scraggly plant with most of its leaves missing in the clearance section. Although my first pachyphytum died of sudden unknown causes, I like to think I’m making up for it with this “rescue plant.”


The Fuzzy Ones

Succs in pots - 3 colored pencil drawings of succulents in a horizontal row. All three plants are fuzzy with various shades of green leaves with brown tips.
Kalanchoe tomentosa/”Teddy Bear”, Cotyledon ladismithiensis/”Bear Paws”, Kalanchoe tomentosa/”Panda plant”

I love that there are fuzzy succulents. And that they’re all named after bears. But once again, I seem to have bad luck with these varieties. I got these three around the same time and arranged them neatly in a communal pot. The Bear Paws didn’t seem to like having roommates and didn’t last long. The Teddy Bear was doing fine but has been strangely stiff since the first freeze…

Meanwhile, my Panda plants seem to be surviving winter just fine and loving their space.


The “Hardy” Ones

Succs in pots - a colored pencil drawing of a single succulent in a yellow-tinted pot. It's a sempervivum with leaves that are light green with purple tips.
Sempervivum/”Isella” Not pictured: Sempervivum/”Ruby Heart” and Stonecrop sedum

Near the end of last summer, I finally crossed a line. I order succulents online.

They arrived quickly, well-packaged and not at all harmed. Since these were hardy outdoor plants, I stuck them into a planter outside. For a few months, I enjoyed seeing them grow rapidly, produce chicks, and change color according to lights and temperature.

Then one not-so-cold winter day, I decided to eat my lunch outside. I glanced over to the planter where my outdoor succulents were and did a double take. There was NOTHING THERE. The planter was empty except for torn up leaves and trampled dirt.

I don’t know what animal did this, but I hope they got indigestion. If that’s a thing animals can get.


The One That Grew on Me

Succs in pots - A colored pencil drawing of a Kalanchoe succulent in a red-tinted terra cotta pot. The plant has green leaves that fade into a purple gradient at the tips.
Kalanchoe longiflora coccinea

I bought this succulent because it looked different and then sort of regretted it. It looked like a regular plant. There was nothing cutesy or succulent-like about it. But I planted it in a wine glass with a cactus-shaped neck and let it grow.

This plant is surprisingly hardy. And the tiny baby leaves that pop up at the top are bright red at first and then morph into a violet-red/green gradient. It’s quite nice and is actually low-maintenance, unlike most of these other ungrateful succulents.


The Mystery Plant

Succs in pots - Colored pencil drawing of a tall thin plant that's leaning over to the right. Two new shoots come out of the base of the plant, which is in a red terra cotta pot.

One of my plants came with a little sprout in the same pot. I assumed it was from another succulent and planted it in its own little pot. And that plant has grown nonstop. It graduated from a toothpick support to a chopstick and is still getting taller. The lower leaves have started to produce their own sprout. Any leaves that fall off seem to develop roots instantly.

Is this even a succulent?


I had a lot of fun drawing these – even though colored pencil blending takes forever. So much fun that I started a second page of succulents drawn from a top view.

Here’s a sneak peek before these hit my Instagram:

 Succs in pots - a cropped image of a page of colored pencil succulent drawings. There are 9 plants visible, all from the top view, in various stages of color.

Which do you like better?


Coffee Sleeves: An Art Endeavor

While it may have taken me some time to get into the routine of doing art while in Korea, I finished my time there with a frantic flurry of art, as I scrambled to finish before yet another self-imposed deadline. This last art piece was my coffee sleeve project.

Coffee Sleeve Project


This piece, titled “Pieces of a Grant Year,” was displayed at Fulbright Korea’s Final Dinner, the last time all grantees gather before the grant year ends. I’d been fumbling with how I would display the piece – consisting of 55 cardboard coffee sleeves – but I arrived to find I’d been granted a table all to myself, where I laid out the pieces and displayed an artist statement.


Artist Statement

“Pieces of a Grant Year” is a collection of moments I experienced in Korea, from the mundane (students sleeping during self-study time) to the touristy (Beomeosa Temple, Busan) to the seemly insignificant but actually very influential (squatty potties).

Why use coffee cup warmers, also known as cup cozies, java jackets or paper zarfs?

Just because? Actually, the materials came before the plan. Thanks to encouragement from our own Hillary Veitch and my frustrated art drive, I began collecting java jackets in January. It wasn’t until many months and paper zarfs later that I decided to draw, paint and paste memories of Korea onto these pieces of cardboard. The concept was broad enough for any number of cup cozies and finding a connection to the material wasn’t too much of stretch.

Cardboard cup warmers are always wrapped snugly around your cafe drink-of-choice, but afterward they’re nothing but trash. Cup warmers are insignificant physical tokens, whereas the memories I wanted to capture were meaningful but intangible. Through “Pieces” I give form to these memories, but only in snippets, the same way one might experience memories.

The final component of this piece is up to you. The memories here are meant to be applicable to the general ETA experience. Our memories of Korea will eventually grow faint, but I’d like to think you could slip a zarf into your jacket pocket, fly back to America, and later look back on that piece of cardboard with some degree of fondness.

So what I’m saying is, if any of these catches your eye, take one because my jacket pockets aren’t big enough for them all.


This was a strange but fun project that I was excited to have featured on the Infusion website and make a cameo on another Fulbright-affiliated site. But in this post I’ll walk you through my process and highlight a few of my favorites.



I might not have done this piece at all if it hadn’t been for a little encouragement from a friend. I was sitting with Hillary at a cafe in Seoul called Zoo Coffee, a cozy second-floor location in Hongdae, cutely decorated with stuffed animals and fairy lights.

I remarked offhandedly that I bet I could do a cool art project with coffee cup sleeves, and Hillary said why not? I took the Zoo Coffee sleeve home after her urging – after all when would I be back at this cafe in Seoul?

Of course I dedicated a coffee cozy to Hillary for her influence, featuring her rapper stage name HillaVanillaThrilla and her brilliant smile.


Gathering Materials

I don’t know if coffee sleeves in Korea are prettier or there are more cafes, resulting in a greater variety of coffee sleeves. Maybe I just frequented a wider variety of cafes. Regardless, I’d been visually interested in them for a while. Collecting coffee cozies became a lot of fun.

This one was beautiful as is, so I kept my addition small.

I’d see an especially nicely designed sleeve on the street or in the trash and resist the temptation to pick it up. Walking around with my friend Arria, we’d notice people holding cups with standout coffee cozies and we’d squint to see the logo or examine the cafes we passed more carefully in the hopes of adding to my collection. I actually owe Arria credit for many of the coffee cozies I acquired; she’d visit me from Seoul and surprise me with donations, even though I still didn’t know what I’d be doing with these pieces of cardboard.

Some particularly adorable ones from Arria:

I also learned a bit about my cafe beverage consumption habits. I ended up with multiple cozies from GongCha, a bubble tea cafe, who also happened to be doing a collaboration with an artist known as Puuung. I chose to do collage with these pieces:


Coming up with Ideas

I collected java jackets for a long time. I started around January or February and was still collecting new cozies in May. But although I had built up an impressive collection, I was still trying to figure out what I was going to do with these coffee sleeves.

I toyed with a lot of ideas. Sculpture isn’t my strong suit, but I was working with a 3D material.  I had to make good use of it. I racked my brain for ways to use the material in a smart and interesting way. I turned down ideas I thought seemed cheesy or like too much a stretch for the material. My sketchbooks accumulated many unhelpful sketches of zarfs. On one page I repeatedly wrote “zarf zarf zarf,” this being my favorite name for them.

Finally I decided on the theme “Pieces of a Grant Year,” with each piece depicting a memory, even a mundane one, that other ETAs could take home – but you’ve already read the artist statement. I aimed to finish in time to display the pieces at Fulbright Korea’s annual Final Dinner in June, the last chance I’d have to catch our entire cohort of ETAs all in one place.

I forced myself to stop collecting and start drawing.


The Art-Making Itself

Regretfully, I didn’t use all the zarfs I’d collected. It was more work than I’d anticipated to do a different piece on every single coffee cozy.

This project forced me to both exercise my artist and reflect on my two years in Korea. What were the most significant moments? What would be the most relatable? It required taking a step back from the culture into which I’d been immersed and remembering what was different or had been initially surprising.

And then there was the material. What image would best match a particular coffee sleeve? Which coffee sleeve would be best for a drawing of an octopus in the fish market? Some zarfs were easy to match: my first one was a pen drawing of a cardboard collector’s cart, drawn upon a Starbucks sleeve to juxtapose poverty and a wealthy, international corporation.


While I’d decided to draw on top of the coffee sleeves, there was still media to consider. I started off with pen and ink, but found the cardboard brown (and some select colors) were perfectly suited for colored pencils. I realized 24 set of colored pencils I’d bought at popcorn was only 5,000 won ($5) for a reason. But the colored pencil zarfs were some of my favorites.



Colored pencils seemed to lend themselves naturally to food; either that or I simply gravitated toward food as a subject matter. But isn’t food often the thing we remember most about a place?


Pen and ink was another common medium I used, useful for zarfs with a plastic-like coating. The pieces below feature Korean skincare products (all owned by me incidentally),  Gamcheon village, and students sleeping during their “self study” time.

As for the coffee cozies with black backgrounds, I had to pick up a white pen and marker. Featured are Jungwon University, where our orientation was held, and a roll of kimbap.


In Memory…

During this time though, the Orlando shooting at Pulse took place, leaving 49 victims. Horrific details first leaked, then poured in over social media. The event shook me, especially having just attended Seoul’s Pride Fest the previous weekend.

I was stuck with that helplessness felt after a major tragedy, coupled with the desire to create something just to process or give voice to these terrible emotions. But I couldn’t. I stopped creating instead.

I gave up trying to create something beautiful to honor the dead and instead left these, two largely unnoticed coffee sleeves covered with the names of victims. I shook when I realized it took two to fit in 49 names.