design projects

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. 🙂 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. 😀

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.

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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.

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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? 😀

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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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A photo posted by Cynthia Bauzon-Arre (@arncyn) on


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

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What Colors to Choose for a Minimalist Watercolor Palette + White Nights Review

Since White Nights (a.k.a. St. Petersburg) Watercolors from Russia became available here in Manila via Deovir, I’ve read a lot of reviews online and have even heard from art-friends that they are easy to re-wet and are highly pigmented. So, being low on EQ I decided to get a few pans for myself. You might already know that I’m not a fan of buying sets (though I have some but they’re either gifts and/or were purchased when I hadn’t the slightest clue about pigments and lightfastness) so I made sure to do my research before buying the paints. My self-imposed rules:

  1. I must be able to use the colors and their combinations in what I love to draw the most — faces, food, and felines (okay, animals in general :))
  2. The colors must consist of single pigments — this is to ensure lightfastness and also reduce the incidence of mud when layering.
  3. They have to fit into my handy DIY mint tin palette, meaning a maximum of 9 pans was in order.
  4. I can’t spend over P1,000.00 because do I really need another set of paints? Umm, no  (see previous post), but then need is sometimes < want. Fortunately White Nights, like ShinHan, isn’t as expensive as the other brands so I was able to stay below my limit.

White Nights Watercolors customized palette

So taking all that into account, here are the colors I ended up with along with their pigment info & light fastness ratings:
— 2 reds (1 cool, 1 warm): Madder Lake Red Light (PR 187 / LF ***) and Cadmium Red Light (PR 108 / LF ***)
— 1 warm yellow: Cadmium Yellow Medium (PY 35 / LF ***)
— 1 green: Emerald Green (PG7 / LF ***)
— 2 earth hues: Raw Sienna (PBr 7 / LF ***) and Burnt Sienna (PBr 7 / LF ***)
— 2 blues (1 warm, 1 cool): Ultramarine (PB29 / LF ***) and Prussian Blue (PB27 / LF ***)
— 1 neutral: Payne’s Grey (PBk7, PB15, PV3 / LF **)
[source]

The last one, Payne’s Grey is not a single-pigment color (it’s made up of 3 pigments) and is something I could’ve gone without since I can mix greys using some of the colors so it’s really just a handy “convenience hue” for days when I can’t be bothered to do extra mixing. 😀

Just to show you the range of colors that are possible using just these 9 pans, here are a couple of watercolor charts I made:

White Nights Watercolor Chart

This one (above) shows the range of color combinations and tonal ranges that can be achieved from mixing the brights with the darks. And just because I always paint portraits and people, I made a separate color chart mainly for the reds and yellows (below). I just added the column for green since there was extra space.

white nights watercolor chart skintones

Here’s something I painted using just the colors in the palette (you can view the work-in-progress video on my Instagram). I used them on Khadi Paper purchased a while back from ArtWhale.

white nights watercolor palette

My capsule review for White Nights Watercolors:
1. Indeed they are easy to re-wet, pick up with the brush and are highly pigmented (some colors more than others though)
2. They are also highly transparent — except for the Cadmiums which are opaque — so they are great for layering.
3. At only P87.00 per pan (except for the Cadmiums which are I think P120 / pan), they are quite affordable. My customized set amounted to around P849.00 and it consists of colors that I will actually use. (Sets usually have 3 or more pans that I always end up never using.) Also, these are FULL pans, not half pans, so you get a lot of paint for your hard-earned cash. 😛

And here is something else I painted using White Nights, a simple maguro sushi for my Youtube Channel (hah! If you’re one of my whopping 3 regular viewers, thank you for not laughing at my attempts to make these home videos <3)

Other observations:
1. ShinHan, Holbein, and Daniel Smith are still my favorites in terms of color intensity and flow but I’m happy to have this inexpensive set of vivid paints for drawings that will be scanned and for practice work. Van Gogh, my student-grade set that was a birthday gift from Arnold last year, is my other go-to for practice work but they are strangely more expensive than White Nights.
2. The pans remain moist for a while so I can’t close the lid of the tin until they dry completely because they might stick in the lid when I store them sideways.

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My favorite watercolor papers

I recently blogged about my watercolor paints and brushes in two parts — ONE / TWO

However, what good are those wonderful paints and brushes for without beautiful, high-quality paper? For daily practice work, inexpensive student quality pads like the Canson papers with the hot air balloon drawing on the cover that you can find at NBS and a Monologue Sketchbook (which I’ve also been abusing using) are great to have around but for commission work, it’s more appropriate to use paper that will allow illustrations to shine and last for a long time.

Here are some of my staples (so far) along with close-ups of samples of my illustrations using the different papers so that you can see their textures up close as well as how colors respond to them

.comparing watercolor papers

L-R and in no order of preference, these are the paper brands I keep going back to: Arches, Hahnemuhle, Khadi, and Canson. I’ve been hearing good things about Fabriano and Strathmore too but I have to wait for my shipment to arrive so I can try them out. The red, yellow, and blue paint I used for the comparison shot above are Shinhan PWC Permanent Red, Cadmium Yellow Deep, and Peacock Blue (from ArtWhale).

All of the above are acid-free and, save for Canson Montval Torchon which uses 100% cellulose, are fine artist quality papers made of natural fibers like cotton rag and bamboo in Hahnemuhle Bamboo Mixed Media Board’s case. Below are some notes:

arches watercolor paper sample work

Arches Cold-Pressed Cotton Watercolor Paper, 300 gsm (available at NBS and some Fully Booked branches though I got mine from Amazon.com)

I prefer cold-pressed to hot-pressed watercolor papers because I love the rough texture which IMHO lends an organic feel. Arches 100% cotton paper has a nicely coarse “tooth” that seems to absorb pigments easily which allows colors to remain vibrant and intense. I’m also able to paint big juicy washes and draw fine details with minimal buckling, even when I don’t stretch the paper (which I really usually don’t, being lazy). At 300 gsm, it’s also thick enough to handle re-wetting with no visible damage when I make mistakes. 😛

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Hahnemuhle matte watercolor paper

Hahnemuhle Mould-Made Watercolor Paper (Matte), 200 gsm (available at Deovir Arts)

Arnold introduced me to this paper so it was the first “fine art” paper I ever used. (I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that all of my watercolor work from years ago were done on yellow-backed illustration boards and sketch pads). Because of that, this has become my “benchmark” paper. It’s awesome for wet-on-wet painting (the paper drinks up the water & pigments without diminishing color vibrancy) and as you can see above, I can also do crisp-edged drawings on it with no problems. At 200 gsm, I avoid painting large washes though it may be possible if stretched beforehand. Mistakes are also easy to re-wet and “erase,” making it an ideal choice for beginners. It’s very economical to buy big sheets of these and tear them down to a more manageable size. The deckle edge is a nice touch and it’s inspired me to keep the torn edges when I tear it up into smaller pieces for a raw handmade look. 🙂

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Hahnemuhle mould made watercolor paper rough

Hahnemuhle Mould-Made Watercolor Paper (Rough), 300 gsm (available at Deovir Arts)

This one comes in block form and has a rougher, slightly raised and woven texture compared to the matt variant. A block is very convenient since you can immediately apply large washes with no need for stretching. I found the weave-like texture off-putting at first since I was already used to the fine-grained fibrous texture of Hahnemuhle’s matt paper but after using this for a while. I learned to like it as well. It appears that the pigments sink and “sit” in the grooves and so deep, rich colors are preserved.

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khadi handmade watercolor paper circle

Khadi Handmade Paper 320 gsm, circle (above) and A5 (below) — (available at ArtWhale)

At 329 gsm, this paper handmade in India is thicker than all the other natural-fiber papers I’ve tried and because it’s made of long-fiber cotton rag (upcycled t-shirt cuttings, anyone?), it seems to be more absorbent than the other papers. The painting above was done on the circle variant (which reminds me of pita bread 😉 ) months ago using ShinHan Korean Colors but because the pigments were fully absorbed by the paper, it looks as if it was painted just yesterday. Also, as you can see almost the entire surface is covered in watercolor but at 320 gsm, the paper didn’t buckle much and actually stiffened a bit once the paint dried — possibly because the rag combined with the pigments.

The A5 variant (below) has a slightly finer grain. Since my first artwork is almost opaque, I tried to see how the paper react to a transparent wet-on-wet technique and it performed beyond my expectations. 🙂 The paper was able to soak in a lot of water and it never once buckled. Also, just look at how rich the colors stayed even after the paint dried (I used ShinHan PWC paints for the test below). The A5 size is perfect for portraits too and the deckle edges add a beautiful handmade touch.

khadi handmade watercolor paper a5

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hahnemuhle bamboo mixed media board

Hahnemuhle Bamboo Mixed Media Board 265 gsm (available at Deovir Arts)

This is an all-in-one artist-grade paper made from 90% bamboo fibers and 10% rag which can be used with watercolour, gouache, acrylics, colored pencils, chalk and oil pastel, stamp pad inks, etc. It comes in sheets at Deovir (for around P118 per 19″ x 25″ sheet) which is great value since you can cut it up into smaller pieces and it can handle almost any media. The surface is smooth and watercolor glides on it with ease. I like using this paper with the wet-on-dry watercolor technique since colors seems to maintain brilliancy that way.

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Canson Montval Torchon watercolor paper

Canson Montval Torchon Watercolor Paper, 270 gsm (available at NBS and Fully Booked)

Among relatively inexpensive student-grade papers, this is the closest I’ve found that can mimic the behavior of premium watercolor paper. Made from archival cellulose, the texture is similar to that of Hahnemuhle Bamboo’s — smooth but grainy enough to absorb paint and give paintings a “watercolory” look, meaning it won’t look like the paint is just sitting on top of the paper. At 270 gsm it’s not prone to much buckling unless you’re doing heavy-duty washes. Remember though that this isn’t fine art paper and drawings might eventually fade so make sure to use this only when you will scan and digitize your work.

I would love to know what brands and kinds of paper you like using. Please do share in the comments section. 🙂

See also:

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New art prints + see you at the BGC Art Mart + The Diff

Today I finally got around to populating my online store with my latest art prints (yay!)

A photo posted by Cynthia Bauzon-Arre (@arncyn) on

(Some of the items in the photo above like the bookmarks and Pampanga parol gift tags will only be available for now at the BGC Art Mart on my second weekend this Sunday, December 6. And as always you can avail of them at special bazaar rates at the event. 😉 )

This new set of watercolor artworks are quite significant to me because through them, I got to relive and pay tribute to some of my favorite works of art (and people). The first two are homages to Philippine indie films “Ang Nawawala” by Marie Jamora and “Rakenrol” by Quark Henares. I’ve been a big sis to filmmakers Marie and Quark for about 18 years now (I met them when they were still in school!) and it makes me proud to witness all that they’ve achieved. Of course it was a no-brainer for me to select scenes from their films to draw for my first couple of tribute paintings.

ang nawawala by cynthia bauzon arre
“Ang Nawawala”
rakenrol by cynthia bauzon arre
“Rakenrol”

The next set are tributes to some of my favorite music by the Eraserheads, namely “Ligaya” and “Ang Huling El Bimbo.” I just had to set “Ligaya” in the UP Sunken Garden since that was a big part of my U.P. life. And incidentally, it was in UP Diliman where I first met the band members before they were even known as the Eheads.

ligaya by cynthia bauzon arre
“Ligaya”
ang huling el bimbo by cynthia bauzon arre
“Ang Huling El Bimbo”

Making the last painting in this series was perhaps the most nostalgic for me because it was a re-imagination of “Lightyears” (from the album and storybook “Fruitcake”) which I illustrated in 1996. It was like seeing the same scene, now in color, through older, more experienced eyes. 😀

A photo posted by Cynthia Bauzon-Arre (@arncyn) on


Lightyears 2015
In the new version, I imagined an older Frannie Wei back in the real world. She could be married and has kids by now but every Christmas eve she would still climb up on the rooftop and reminisce about her childhood adventures in the land of Fruitcake . Also, that may or may not be Shadow behind her anymore… but who knows?

All prints are available at my online store and directly through me at my pop-ups. 🙂

Endless thanks to Marie Jamora, Quark Henares, Ely Buendia, Raymund Marasigan. Buddy Zabala, and Marcus Adoro for allowing me to create tribute art and sell them as limited edition pieces.. <3

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Also! If you’ve been following on Instagram (or if we’re Facebook pals) you probably remember my “Literary Creatures Quotes” series. All of them are now available as postcards prints and on iPhone and Samsung phone cases courtesy of The Diff. 🙂

cynthia bauzon arre the diff

The phone cases feature hip animals reading books accompanied by quotes from Leo Tolstoy, Dr. Seuss, and L. Frank Baum. They’d be perfect Christmas gifts for your book-loving loved ones, yes? There;s also a bonus sleeping orange kitty doodle design on one of the phones. Shop my collection right here and also check out the awesome designs by other local artists!

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Shrink Plastic Workshop at Hey Kessy + Callalily’s 10th Anniversary Album

A photo posted by Cynthia Bauzon-Arre (@arncyn) on

I’m teaching my first ever workshop and it will be on Shrink Plastic Crafting! If you’d like to learn how to turn your doodles into wearable art in the form of necklace pendants, bracelet charms, pins, and earrings, I will show you how to do it and share some techniques and tricks I’ve learned along the way. It will be on November 21, Saturday, from 1-4pm at Hey Kessy (31 E. Abada, Katipunan).

The workshop fee already includes shrink plastic sheets and all other materials, design templates, a take-home zine, snacks and refreshments. (Additional shrink plastic sheets can be purchased from me at a discounted rate if you’re a participant. 🙂 )

See you there? Please go to www.heykessy.com/register to reserve your slot!

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callalily-by-cynthia-bauzon-arre

Callalily’s 5th album “Greetings from Callalily” was released last Friday, October 23, and I’m very happy to have been part of it! It’s been a while since I’ve designed a full-blown album because almost everyone prefers buying MP3s, right? But then this is Callalily — I heard that their albums’ sales can hit Platinum — so I wanted to design something that a fan would love to have in his/her possession. I’m happy with the end result and I can’t wait to share it with you. Please see the portfolio to see what we came up with. 🙂

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

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