art and design

My first solo exhibit – “Girl Jam” at Pablo Gallery BGC

Girl Jam exhibit Cynthia Bauzon Arre Pablo Gallery

Happy New Year! I know this is late but I wanted to tell you a bit about my first solo exhibit, “Girl Jam” which is still on display at Pablo Galleries Fort but only until Saturday, January 6. If you were to tell my 18-year-old Fine Arts student self that I will be having my own show some years — okay, decades — later, I wouldn’t have been able to believe it because back then I wasn’t really serious about pursuing painting. I mean, I drew and painted a lot for school but my heart was bent on working in the advertising industry. Which was exactly what happened, but I digress…

A few years ago, when I started revisiting watercolors, I posted these practice sketches on Instagram —

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A friend from the music scene days, Indi, wrote me privately to say that she would love to see me paint local female musicians. I loved the idea but I wasn’t confident enough at the time so I said to her (and apparently to the Universe?), “maybe someday.” I forgot about it but somehow I got obsessed with drawing portraits and capturing accurate likenesses, as you will see if you scroll down to around 2-3 years ago on my IG.

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Drawing and painting everyday I really did improve. By late 2016, when I had already been selling art prints online for a year I was trying to think of what series to draw next and then I remembered that conversation with Indi. So I asked a female musician friend, Myrene of Sandwich, if I could paint her and she said yes which was awesome. <3 When I had lunch with my friends, writer Chinggay Labrador & artist Christina Dy, I mentioned that I was going to make a postcard series starring female musicians but then CDy said, “postcards? Why not have an exhibit instead?” I was surprised because it was an idea playing in my head too but I guess I needed a boost from someone else? She encouraged me to contact a gallery then & there. Pablo was top of mind since I had already taken part in two group shows at their Cubao X gallery years ago and I also remember promising the owners, Yo & Osie that I will have my first ever show with them. So when I texted them, it was an instant yes and my show was almost immediately scheduled! No turning back anymore.

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That was in December 2016. I had, roughly, a year to prepare but I still had to figure out what style to do and what materials to use. I practiced with different mediums and decided to use Turner Acryl Gouache since the bright opaque colors suited the look I had in mind. I purchased my initial Acryl Gouache set from ArtWhale 2 or so years ago but they were almost used up so I decided to buy big tubes of White, Perm. Red, Perm. Yellow, and Ultramarine Blue plus a couple of small tubes of Burnt Umber. All the colors I used are mixes of those colors. (Btw All the canvases were purchased from ArtWhale as well. They were a great big help to me. <3)

Once I had the look figured out it was time to decide on my muses. I made a list but I also asked my friends Buddy & Raymund (formerly of the Eheads) for suggestions on who else to draw — particularly from the younger set — since I wasn’t that immersed in the local scene anymore. After finalizing my list I finally got to work. This was in July 2017.

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I have to be honest, I was thrilled to be working on a personal passion project but there were also times when I would cry out of frustration & exhaustion. Sometimes I felt like giving up, but it was the thought of making my family & also Arnold proud that pushed me to go on. In the end I decided to just let go because I know that I gave it my all.

Since the show is still up I would like to invite you to check out the paintings in person over at Pablo Gallery, South of Market Residences, 11th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, which is just a couple of blocks away from BHS and Serendra. 🙂

But if you can’t make it, you can view my IG for a few photos plus more backstories. Also, here’s a quick peek via this Twitter thread. 🙂

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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 😀

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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.

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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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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. 😛 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. 😀

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.

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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. 😀 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. 🙂 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. 🙂 Below is one of my bestsellers:


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

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CandyMag feature, live watercolor portraiture at Hey Kessy, new items in stock!

Just a quick update! This week’s highlight is definitely the feature on my painting beginnings and works-in-progress on Candy Mag (*heart eyes emoji*).

candymag feature

I was just telling friends that it would’ve been nice to have a publication like Candy when I was a teen. Locally we only had Panorama and MOD(ikr?) so I resorted to saving up and buying copies of Tiger Beat and Bop! at the bookstore near my high school UPIS along Katipunan (now transformed into what’s known as the UP Town Center).  I don’t remember what that book shop / magazine stand was colled but I remember it being at the back of Vinzon’s Hall in UP so I had to cross the bustling Katipunan avenue just to get there — kind of risky for a 13 year old, now that I think about it.

So anyway I was happy to have been chosen by Candy to feature in their section called “Creative Space”, many thanks to Macy Alcaraz and the team! <3

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Speaking of UP Town, I had another live portrait session at Hey Kessy’s “Better and Brighter” party/launch at the spanking new location on the 2/F of the Urban Turf wing a few weekends ago. 🙂  Here are photos of the lovely ladies I drew. (Were you one of them? :))

cynthia bauzon arre watercolor portraits

There are more behind-the-scene photos in my Facebook Page (here’s the direct link to the album) and on Hey Kessy’s blog. Here’s a video too, in case you’d like to see me in actio.

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And finally, I’ve updated my online store! Please do check out the new stuff when you have time. <3

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My Watercolor Palette + Live Portrait Session at Hey Kessy Photos

Choosing colors for a watercolor palette is tricky. I’m a little OC so up ’til a few weeks ago, my palettes were sorted by brand — one for ShinHan, one for Holbein, etc. The downside is that I had to lug both palettes around when I paint outdoors. Very impractical, especially since I acquired tubes from other brands (Daniel Smith & Sennelier) which meant I’ll have to add more palettes for each additional brand. Eek. To avoid that bothersome scenario, I devoted an afternoon to testing all the colors and hand-picking ones I’ll have the most use out of and then I combined those into a single palette. Thought I’d share it here since a lot of folks have been asking me about the paints I use. 🙂

watercolor palette

Since I paint mostly people with the occasional landscape or urban background, I decided on a rainbow spectrum of colors — their warm and cool iterations — plus a few neutrals. This way I’ll get to mix a large variety of the other hues I might need.

Top row, left to right: Cobalt Blue Light (Holbein), Marine Blue (Shin Han PWC), Viridian (Shin Han PWC), Hooker’s Green (Sennelier), Leaf Green (Holbein), Hansa Yellow Light (Daniel Smith), New Gamboge (Daniel Smith), Pyrrol Scarlet (Daniel Smith), Quinacridone Rose (Daniel Smith), Permanent Red (Shin Han PWC).
Bottom row, left to right: Vandyke Brown (ShinHan PWC), Helios Purple (Sennelier), Quinacridone Gold (Sennelier), Davy’s Grey (Holbein), Payne’s Grey (Holbein), Permanent Violet (Holbein), Mineral Violet (ShinHan PWC), French Ultramarine (Daniel Smith), and Pthalo Blue (Daniel Smith).  [info on where to shop these brands are below]

Below is an illustration I made using only the paints from this palette.

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(If you think the characters look familiar, that’s because they’re based on Augustus and Hazel from “The Fault in Our Stars.” I’m currently working on illustrations inspired by YA films, a wonderful idea suggested to me by talented artist & letterer Abbey Sy. So excited to make more. :D)

I’m very happy with this combination because it has everything I need — just look at the colors that can be mixed from this selection on the charts I placed beside the palette. If you’re looking into getting into watercolors and are panicking over what pricey set to buy, try determining the colors you need first and then purchase individual tubes & pans and make your own set 🙂

ShinHan PWC and Sennelier tubes are from ArtWhale (can be ordered online)
Daniel Smith tubes are from DE’s ArtRoom (they’re based in Cebu but you can also order online)
Holbein tubes are from Deovir Arts (SM North Edsa, Quezon City)

***
Last Saturday I had a live portrait session for Hey Kessy’s Father’s Day Celebration. When Dinny (of Hey Kessy) asked a few weeks ago if I ‘d be willing to do it, I hesitated but, as expected, dear husband said that I’ll never know that I can if I don’t try. I practiced using Arnold, random faces on Pinterest, and my cat (:D) as the models, grit my teeth and finally messaged back in the affirmative.

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I sat in the store for 3 hours, from 10 am to 1 pm and was able to draw three friendly faces.  I’m thinking that if I had chosen an afternoon schedule, there’d probably be more walk-ins but I was thankful for the relaxed pace.

live portraits by cynthia bauzon arre

Each portrait took about 20-30 minutes to make. I was worried about not capturing resemblance exactly but I relaxed once I set my mind that given the setup, all I could do were caricatures at the most…

live portraits cynthia bauzon arre

On hindsight, I’m glad I accepted the gig because painting from life with the models actually knowing that I’m painting them — as opposed to sneakily painting people in a coffee shop — is a great experience. We had to do it for art class in college but the subjects were either classmates or hired models. This time, my subjects really had the intention of having me draw them, which gave me a boost of confidence. Save for Danry who I already know from comic-related events, I got to know really nice people beyond just “hi’s and hello’s” and that was wonderful.

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Speaking of Hey Kessy, I have a Shrink Art Workshop there on July 2! I resurrected my Youtube Channel and made a How-to Make-Shrink-Art video so you’ll have a taste of what we’ll be doing there,

Please sign up via this form if you’d like to learn how to make shrink art out of your doodles too! Class fee is P1500, inclusive of materials and light snacks.
*More details here.

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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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