How I’ve been trying to improve my figure drawing

I’ve always been frustrated with my figure drawing skills (or lack thereof) and, until recently, have been getting away with “charmingly” distorted figures as popularized by indie comics and fashion illustration. For example, the figures in my work for Ang Nawawalang Soundtrack¬†obviously defy human structure logic.

That kind of drawing is acceptable, yes, but I am married to a very skilled artist who always tells me that I have to know anatomy before I can deviate from it. Remember, even¬†Picasso had a realist period before the creative genius revolutionized the art world with his abstract depictions of society. So I made it my mission to practice drawing figures whenever I can and this is how I’ve been doing it.

1. I hang out in coffee shops where I can watch people and draw them inconspicuously. I usually sit in a corner where no one can see me drawing or else they might shy away and turn their backs on me.

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2. I’ve been attending life drawing sessions such as Who Are Maro’s Life Drawing Setup. The session is divided into two halves — one for the male model and another for the female model. Each half is divided into 5, 10, 15, and 30-minute pose sessions so it really trains the artists to draw what they see without overthinking it. Arnold and I have been attending almost regularly since last year. You can follow their FB page to find out when the next one is. Here’s a video of my drawings from the latest one. The first time we joined I just used pencils. The following time I used watercolors, and for this most recent one I used Viarco graphite sticks and tailor’s chalk from ArtWhale.

Using different mediums is training me to think and act quickly before the minutes are up and the model assumes a new position.

3. I watch gesture drawing videos on YouTube. The artist Proko’s human anatomy playlist is definitely a good starting point as he demonstrates drawing, explains bone joints and describes muscle groups in an entertaining way.

4. Sometimes I use Arnold’s action figures to study anatomy. The Final Fantasy XIII figures (which he has a complete set of, lol) are *gorgeous* and I like to pose them around so I can use them as models. They’re also great for studying lighting.

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5. When watching TV series or movies here at home I sometimes sketch from the screen just to train myself to observe lines and angles carefully while setting them on paper. I found it really hard to capture likenesses at first but after much practice I think I’ve gotten a little better at it. Can you guys tell that this is Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? J/K ūüėÄ

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My figure drawing is still very much a work in progress but I hope this post has inspired those of you who are also struggling to get figures done right.

***
Kuretake Zig Pen Meet 3
By the way, if you guys aren’t doing anything this Saturday, September 9, I’d like to invite you to come to the Kuretake ZIG Pen Meet 3 at the ShangriLa Plaza. I’ll be there among around 50 artists who’ll be doing live art. My slot is from 3-5pm and I will be at the “Illustration Alley” section. Not sure what I’ll be drawing yet but for sure I’ll be doing it in watercolors. Hope to see you then!

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My DIY Portable Watercolor Kit

DIY postable watercolor kit

My work space¬†at home is still the most ideal location for painting but¬†there are times when I need to work outside the house¬†like when I do demos or live portraiture and also¬†when I meet with friends for art dates so I DIY-ed a portable watercolor kit that comfortably¬†allows me to bring my at-home work experience wherever I go. In case you’re in the process of making a watercolor travel or plein-air kit too, I’m sharing mine with you. ūüôā

DIY watercolor travel kit

The actual kit is a¬†red pouch that measures 11.5″ x 8.5″ that I¬†purchased for P88 years ago in Daiso. I think it’s a travel accessory pouch but I’ve found it suitable for storing my painting materials especially since the mesh front pocket allows anything that might still be wet inside it to air dry even when¬†already packed.¬†The¬†kit is sitting on a wooden book stand (bought from Fully Booked but it’s similar to this one) that I use as an easel when doing on-the-spot portraits. I have a portable table easel too, you’ll see it in use in this video, but it’s bigger and heavier so I only use it for outdoor¬†events or when I hold workshops.

DIY watercolor plein air kit

The back of the pouch has two more pockets where I store watercolor journals, pads and paper towels. See just how sulit this P88 bag is? By the way, the Clester journal is from Sekaido in Tokyo (I also use the Albireo journal which is slightly cheaper) and the Bockingford pad is from ArtWhale.

What’s inside the bag:

  1. Brush stnad (given by my friend Jovan (@starshuffler). I believe she bought this in an art store n Hong Kong), Never leave your brushes submerged in water, guys. You can rest them on paper towels when not in use but I particularly like how this holder lets my brushes’ bristles dry while keeping their shape.
  2. A roll-up tool case I bought from crafter friend Nikki of Tweed & Twine. I like that this tool case has wide pockets so I can keep rulers and small pocket palettes in it too. Also, fabric = breathable!
  3. Flat¬†water bottle from my Holbein Pro Compo II travel set – a kit I¬†stopped using because it’s quite heavy and bulky. I transferred the paint from it into a folding palette.
  4. My husband‘s 20-year-old Schmincke watercolor palette (video of when I first discovered it here), resurrected for my personal use. ¬†ūüėõ
  5. Collapsible water pail that I bought in Sekaido (Shinjuku main branch) last year.
  6.  Little tin container bought for P29 in Landmark. I have lots of these and I use them for storing extra paint pans or graphite sticks.

The usual art materials:

  1. Silver Black Velvet Brush #8, a gift from my cousin abroad, locally available from Craft Carrot. The bristles are synthetic and I like how I can make both fine lines and semi-thick washes with it.
  2. Artetje Canlon Pro 5/0 brush I bought in Sekaido. I think it’s meant for miniature work and I only use it for detail work if necessary.
  3. Escoda Aquario #12 Squirrel Mop¬†from ArtWhale — my all-time favorite brush. It’s a great mop for laying down initial washes of transparent color and if I forget to bring my other brushes, the pointy end is awesome for sketchy detail work too.
  4. Escoda Reserva #8 Kolinsky Sable Brush, also from ArtWhale — my next favorite brush. It’s collapsible so it’s perfect for travel.¬†It can hold¬†a lot of paint and is great for laying down juicy strokes of color¬†which supplements the initial base washes made by the Aquario. I have a video of the two brushes in action¬†on my Youtube watercolor tutorial channel.
  5. Some of the paint in the original palette has¬†dried up so I filled it with colors I actually use which is a combination of Shin Han, White Nights, and leftover Shcmincke pans. I alternate this palette with¬†my other folding palettes (see photo below), depending on what I’ll be painting that day.
  6. Viarco ArtGraf Water-Soluble Tailor Shape Graphite Block in Sanguine and ArtGraf Graphite Stick, both from ArtWhale. These are awesome and dissolve unbelievably smooth with no obvious streaking, perfect for live figure drawing sessions.
  7. Selection of paper — usually Strathmore. Khadi and Bockingford from ArtWhale, Hahnemuhle from Deovir Arts, Fabriano from NBS, and Canson Montval or Arches from IFEX or NBS. See my old blog post¬†comparing different watercolor papers¬†and on my watercolor tools (part 1, part 2)

watercolor palettes

My alternate folding palettes. I love this kind of palette since they are light, inexpensive and they have ample space for mixing colors. The one on the left is¬†the palette I use the most since I’m already accustomed to the paints in it. You can refer to this old post for the colors / brands it contains (though I replaced¬†3 or 4 of the colors since writing that post). The palette on the right contains Holbein paint from that I transferred from my Pro Compo II travel kit which, as mentioned above, is really too bulky¬†for me to lug around.

And finally below is what the portable setup looks like when in use.

Also here ūüėÄ

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How about you? What’s in your portable watercolor kit? If you have blog posts about it please do share the links with me in the comments section. ūüôā

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Pinoy Food Stickers, Awit Awards, and other Updates

If you’ve been checking my Instagram, it¬†might seem that I have been making nothing but stickers…

Pinoy Food Stickers — Ulam, Panghimagas, Almusal, Kakanin, and Merienda

…which is partly true. The reason for this is I am mostly working offline¬†to prepare¬†for a major project I’m undertaking this year. Something very much-delayed in my life as an artist. ūüėõ Before I¬†reveal details though, I would like to talk about my current batch of stickers. Pictured above is the Filipino Food Sticker Set which consists of my watercolor illustrations of common Pinoy food for almusal (longganisa, itlog na maalat, taho…), ulam (sinigang, bulalo, lechon kawali, adobo…), merienda (fishball, isaw, turon…), kakanin or native delicacies (bibingka, puto bumbong, sapin-sapin, palitaw…) and panghimagas or dessert (leche flan, halo-halo, sago’t gulaman…). It was a challenge to draw the ulam or Filipino dishes especially because our food is so brown and saucy! How to make them look appetizing, right? My solution was to choose food that had vegetables in them to add color, or if they’re just really brown, I placed them on a colored plate. ūüėÄ

If you’re interested in these stickers, they are available online at my shop and at Hey Kessy (UP Town Center) and Common Room (near Katipunan Ave cor. Dela Rosa St. QC).

Other designs available are the following: dreaming dogs, smartly-dressed cats, bread and cheese, sushi, girls & kitties, and coffee. Each one is die cut for easy peel-off and size ranges from .5″ to 2″ — perfect for your planners and journals, yes?

stickers philippines

These can be purchased online from my shop too. In-the-making / painting photos are on www.instagram.com/arncyn.

***

Other updates since the last time I wrote here:

1. My design for Callalily’s album “Greetings from Callalily” won at last yeat’s Awit Awards for Best Album Packaging. I was in Tokyo when the guys sent me a Viber message so I couldn’t attend the event but it was such a pleasant surprise because I completely forgot about the nomination hehe. It’s my sexond Awit Best Album Packaging Design Award — the first one was for the Eraserheads’ “Fruitcake” in 1997 — 20 years ago OMG. Who knew.

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2. I’ve been working on honing my figure drawing skills by attending WhoAreMaro Live Drawing Setup events. Aside from Arnold, I usually attend with my art date friends Arlene Sy and Kuki Ulpindo of ArtWhale which makes it fun and less nerve-wracking. ūüėÄ Drawing from life is great exercise and WhoAreMaro’s setup is pretty cool. It’s just like the ones we had in school (UPCFA) where the model poses in 5, 10, and 15 minute increments but it’s more hip and¬†millennial-y since they¬†invite¬†guest DJs to provide live background music and serve food & drinks at intermission. Here are drawings from the first one I attended:

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3. I’ve also had two on-the-spot-portrait sessions since 2017 rolled in — one was at the BGC Art Mart and the other one at Hey Kessy’s Valentine Pop-Up. Tin of Hey Kessy took a video while I was at work (below).

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4. I help my good friend and soul sis, fashion designer Tippi Ocampo with her blog every now and then. This time we changed her blog theme and updated her logo. Tippi has always had a hook and eye logo but she had an idea to use her initials “TO” as the hook & eye and I executed it in graphics for her. ūüôā Please visit her site for her updates — she is one of the most talented and insightful people I know. <3

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5. Have I mentioned that I have an online wedding invitation store (and moderately active wedding blog) called Poptastic Bride? I was very active about updating it from 20011-2014 until I got pulled into the arts & crafts scene. The blog is still up and I post updates and freebies (printables) every now and then. I also made an Instagram page for my invitation portfolio. ūüôā Below is one of my bestsellers:


That’s all for now. I promise to update more often this year!

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Googoo&Gaga Artist Collection – Watercolor Series + Musings

Excited to tell you guys that super cool apparel brand¬†Googoo&Gaga has invited me along with fellow artist Wiji Lacsamana to come up with designs for their 2016¬†Artist Collection series. This year they’re focusing on watercolor art. ūüôā I’ve always been a fan of Audrey & AJ Dimarucot’s Googoo&Gaga’s quirky designs (and designer AJ¬†has been a friend since the late 90s) so I was happy to be a part of this collaboration.

Here¬†are the designs I came up with. They come in all sorts of clothing styles too — onesies, tees, lap t-shirts, t-shirt dresses, leggings, and even swimsuits which is pretty cool, right? The pre-order period is over but I believe you can still place orders through this link¬†or by clicking on the image below.

googoo & gaga x cynthia bauzon arre

Googoo&Gaga x Cynthia Arre

I wanted to come up with designs that were fun and quirky without being “cutesy” since these qualities are what sets Googoo & Gaga apart from the other kiddie brands so I thought of drawing animals sporting human clothing and acting like they couldn’t care less. ;P I chose a zebra and giraffe because I read somewhere that these animals, normally found in Africa, actually exist here on our shores — in Calauit¬†to be exact. I thought it would be interesting to set them against tropical foliage to reflect that fact. ūüėÄ

I had a great time working on them — and making illustrations for a brand for a change — and would love to have another opportunity like it¬†again. So if anyone out there reading has an idea for a collaboration, please shoot me a message and let’s see what we can do.

***

via GIPHY

To you guys subscribed to this blog (yes, all three of you ;p) I must apologize for the lack of updates and for also being a little impersonal lately. I know I’ve mostly been posting ads¬†for workshops or new¬†products in my store¬†and the occasional product review. Where have¬†all my musings¬†and indirect confessions of inadequacy¬†gone, right?

Well, here goes. I often find myself wondering¬†about what I’m really doing.¬†Shouldn’t I¬†busy myself with¬†making money instead of art? Obviously I¬†can earn more as a designer since that’s what I do professionally but I have stubbornly been focusing more on improving my skills at drawing rather than pursuing¬†what I already know how to do. If there’s something I’ve clocked in over 10,000 of hours on, it’s graphic design. But here I am trying to get¬†into¬†the world of illustration, unknown territory. Perhaps it’s because I almost had it¬†— I was on that route a long time ago. I used to paint everyday. I drew¬†portraits of my idols (River Phoenix, Ralph Macchio, and, okay, the Menudo guys) in charcoal back in high school. The late¬†Jose Joya, a *National Artist*,¬†gave¬†me the honor of being a recipient of his award in 1988. And then I slipped down the rabbit hole of commercial work¬†and all traces of my previous budding illustrator self disappeared.

Around 10 years ago, a friend / fellow artist I greatly admired complimented my portfolio but then asked to see my personal work. My mind went blank. I¬†asked¬†him sheepishly, “what do you mean,¬†‘personal work’?” ¬†He said, “you know, art you’ve done just for fun.” And so¬†it struck me that¬†I¬†had absolutely NONE to show. Everything was for a client. Even the band stuff. I had fun working on them, yes, but they weren’t for *me*.

BUT.¬†2014 happened and¬†I’m¬†back on that track or so I’d like to think. I have a long way to go still but whenever I feel like giving up and going back on familiar ground, I scroll down¬†my Instagram, look at¬†the body of *personal work* I’ve amassed, and keep soldering on.

***
p.s. Incidentally, I do almost always post personal musings on Twitter more than any other social network because I know¬†I can write anything and my post will get buried in a few¬†minutess so maybe I’ll see you there? ūüėÄ

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I'm Cynthia Bauzon-Arre, a Filipino watercolor artist & graphic designer. I live in QC with my talented graphic novelist husband Arnold and our friendly marmalade tabby Abbas. This blog has been chronicling my life, likes, and loves since 2001. [ more ]

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