The Making of the Hand-Painted 2024 Year Task Planner Collection: An Interview with D. Michele Perry

How did this collaboration come into being?

This story started the day I fell in love with Appointed’s signature Year Task Planner. I spent years searching for the perfect balance of elegance, simplicity, and functionality in an annual planner. When I was picking up the pieces after a brain injury rearranged my world, the hunt for the perfect planner went from preference to necessity. I needed a structured planner that was purposeful but not overwhelming.

Enter my first Year Task Planner. It was this elegant canvas for the days it would contain, and I’ve used it ever since.

At the beginning of 2023, I finally took my fine art business full time. As I was planning out the year in my Year Task Planner, it dawned on me that the bookcloth cover would be perfect to embellish with my favorite whimsical cottage florals. So I broke out my acrylic paint and started creating. It was an absolute joy to paint on.

When I shared the project on my Instagram account, I could not have imagined where it would lead. Soon I was talking with the Appointed team and this beautiful collaboration was born.



How did you decide what to paint? 

This truly has been a collaboration every step of the way. One of my favorite parts about this experience has been working with some of the Appointed team as we developed this project together.

The team got me started with an incredible thesis: To make a plan is to plant a seed in life. Planning is part of the sowing, watering, and tending that can bring about joy and flourishing.

We decided I’d embellish a limited number of Year Task Planner covers for the 2024 launch period on each of the six colorways. As we talked through what elements might be included, I loved getting to create unique motifs for each of the colors that honored a different facet of Appointed’s home city of Washington D.C. and celebrated how we can plant tomorrow by planning today.

I also did some testing to make sure the designs could be appropriately sealed to protect them and still keep the beauty of Appointed’s signature bookcloth pristine.

Prior to going full-time with my art, I had 20 plus years of international nonprofit experience. It was important to me that this project was able to give back. I was beyond delighted when we decided to use a portion of the sales to support a local D.C. nonprofit, City Blossoms.

Once our themes were settled, I began researching the flora found in the different spaces and sketching out concepts. And soon the covers were at my doorstep ready to be painted.


Tell us more about each of the colors and motifs.

Each of the colorways celebrates a unique aspect of the natural beauty found in the DC area.

  • Hunter Green is inspired by the work of City Blossoms as they cultivate the well-being of their communities through creative programming in kid-driven gardens. I included plants they highlight in their programs, including sunflowers, Queen Anne’s lace, basil, strawberries, vegetable seed packets, garden trowels and tomatoes.
  • Charcoal Gray is inspired by the National Arboretum, featuring peonies, azaleas, heathers, and seasonal accent florals, as well as herbs and pollinators. I didn’t know we had a national herb garden until I started researching for this project!
  • Chambray Blue celebrates Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, featuring lotus and waterlilies, dragon flies, wisteria and white flowering dogwood. In the all-over pattern, I wanted to highlight the incredible motion aquatic garden habitats have as waterlilies move with the water and dragonflies flit about. Plus, I couldn’t paint waterlilies without at least one vignette being a headnod to Monet.
  • Sienna showcases the elegance of white magnolias and olive branches, including elements representing different portions of the lifecycle of a magnolia blossom.
  • Natural Linen What would a D.C. focused collaboration be without cherry blossoms? Natural Linen celebrates the beauty of all things cherry blossoms, including their buds, branches, and blooms.
  • Lavender Gray is a motif filled with lilacs, whimsical wildflowers, and the loveliest of pollinators.



What was your actual process for painting each of the covers?

Each cover started with research and sketching out ideas in my sketchbook. I played with composition and placement visually, as well as thinking through the story each of the motifs told.

When I was ready to start painting, I taped the cover down to a clean backing board to keep the back clean and make sure the cover didn’t move when I was painting. I also taped off the sides on the all-over pattern to make sure the elements had the appropriate margin.

Then, I lightly sketched each of the main elements in pencil. Once the pencil drawing was complete, I laid out my acrylic paint colors. I used a blend of acrylic gouache and liquid artist grade acrylic to paint the designs with a teeny-tiny brush. Because acrylic paint dries so quickly, I worked in one or two colors at a time.

Once the base coat was down, I got an even smaller brush and painted in details and gold leafing accents. When this dried completely, I handpainted the varnish over every little detail so it protected the paint without changing the feel of the bookcloth.


What has been your favorite part of this experience?

I absolutely LOVED getting to know more of the Appointed team and collaborating with them throughout the process.

I am so proud of how unique each of the covers are. Knowing the joy they will bring to those who collect them is deeply meaningful to me.

One of my favorite quotes is from William Morris and says, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” I feel like these covers embody that tradition, along with Appointed’s motto beautiful tools inspire beautiful work.

Knowing these planners will be part of people’s unfolding stories and even become potential heirlooms means the world. Plus, I am thrilled we get to support an amazing D.C.-based nonprofit whose mission is near and dear to my heart.


Is there anything else you'd like to share?

This project has been so special to me because the Year Task Planner is the only planner I have found that works with some of the ongoing challenges from a brain injury five years ago. I still have some short-term memory issues and get easily overwhelmed when something is too structured and detailed. So when I say my planner is like a second brain, I mean it.

Planning by its very nature is a creative process. It is unique and intensely personal. It is not one size fits all. The Year Task Planner offers just the right amount of structure and surface space for a custom fit for individualized needs.

Just like planting a seed and nurturing it as it grows, it is OK for growth to be quiet and slow. Each seed and each dream has its own timeline. When you have that growth recorded, you not only celebrate your progress, you actively shape your legacy so that living itself becomes our highest work of art.


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