Posts Tagged "illustration"

My Watercolor Portrait Workshop: quick recap + snaps

Last Saturday I had the privilege of teaching my first watercolor class on portraits. If anyone told the me of 2015 that I’d be holding workshops in a year’s time, I would have laughed in their face. Seriously, it took me a lot of thinking, overthinking, and convincing to finally crawl out of my comfort zone and gather the confidence to actually go and do it. Why? Because workshops are the new ballet lessons? Well …yes (*sheepish smile*) but also because I’ve gained so much from being part of Manila’s growing handmade art community so it’s time to give back. <3 And why not share what I’ve learned over the years decades that I’ve been drawing faces to budding artists who share the same passion for creating?

But first, credit where it’s due. The first and only drawing-related workshop I ever attended is veteran artist Fernando Sena’s Summer Art Workshop way back in 1986. Believe me that was enough. (He still conducts these workshops, do check them out.) It was an intensive 8-session art course (complete with an on-site sketching session at Hinulugang Taktak in Antipolo, a “graduation” and an exhibit) while I was between 2nd and 3rd year high school and that was where I honed my drawing skills. I learned how to use graphite, charcoal, oil pastels, and even oil paints. It completely prepared me for the courses in the UP College of Fine Arts that I would eventually take. 🙂

oil portrait painting by cynthia bauzon arre

An oil portrait painting I made of my Tita Lina back in 1986. My Ate Peach sent this pic to me via IG. Haven’t seen it in years since it’s in their family home in Sydney. 🙂

After that I’d do charcoal and oil portraits of relatives, friends, and the random 80s teen hearthrob (i.e. River Phoenix, Scott Baio, Robby Rosa… I know, so very #titahits). It was only last year when I picked up the old hobby again and taught myself how to do it using watercolors by watching Youtube videos and reading tutorials. I would also observe Arnold whenever he drew and applied some of his digital sketching techniques to my analog work. And that’s how I developed a watercolor portrait style that I’m quite happy with — and that’s what I shared and demonstrated in my class last Saturday.

It was held at Hey Kessy, a cute little art and crafts store in Katipunan which also houses a charmingly decorated brightly-lit workshop venue. It’s also where I did the Shrink Art workshop last year. I love the place’s artsy, creative vibe so please expect more workshops from me in the space.

Some photos of what went on…

watercolor workshop portraits

I thought it was important for them to learn face-drawing basics first so I guided the participants on how to do it then let them apply what they learned when sketching from a reference photo. *I just had to pick Kiko Mizuhara as our practice model. How pretty is she?

watercolor workshop portraits watercolor workshop portraits philippines

After we were happy with our respective pencil drawings, we started painting. Below is the result of the face I sketched and painted on-site. Admittedly, this was the part I stressed over for weeks since I’ve never drawn in front of an audience before — can I do it fast enough? Will it turn out okay?

watercolor workshop portraits manila

Below: everyone hard at work on their paintings.

watercolor workshop portraits quezon city

And finally, the result of everyone’s efforts — yay, class photo!

watercolor workshop philippines

A few of the participants are illustrators like my friend Jovan de Ocampo who’s a cake designer and longtime member of AngINK; some are young art students looking to hone their portrait skills, and some are new to watercolors and admitted that they’ve never properly drawn faces before. But look at their outputs above and below, they did it and I think some of their own styles are already emerging! I’m so proud of them. 🙂

workshop participant works

One of the participants, Chu, even shared a before and after photo (below, left)  of a portrait she made a month ago (inset) and her work after she took my workshop.

workshop student works

The other drawing (aboce, right) is a portrait wherein she used a technique I taught them. So happy to see so much improvement in such a short time!

You can keep track of my workshops and student outputs via the hashtag #cynarreworkshops on Instagram. I will definitely hold another class like this soon so if you’d like to join the next one, please leave a comment on this post + your preference of area (QC / Makati) so I can update you once I get hold of more details. 🙂

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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.

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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Please join me in my Watercolor Portrait Workshop

After a year of practicing watercolors almost non-stop, I’ve decided that I’m now ready to hold my own watercolor workshop. I’ve thought about it for months — some generous people have already offered their establishments as venues — but I didn’t want to commit until I was 100% ready. But then I got such a high from teaching the shrink art workshop and from giving a talk to young creative ICA girls last year that something inside me clicked and said “ok, now na.”

Since Mansy of Hey Kessy has been very supportive of me & my art journey, I wanted to hold my first watercolor workshop with them. 🙂

watercolor portrait painting workshop

You can sign up for a slot here.

In this class I’ll be teaching you how to paint simple and loosely expressive watercolor portraits from live or photo references. Don’t worry, even if you have never drawn a face you will learn the basics. We also won’t make anything too involved or “overworked” since I want to highlight the spontaneous quality of the medium. (And to be honest, I can appreciate them but I’m not a big fan of hyper-realistic paintings because if I wanted “realistic” I’ll just use a camera. ;))

The fee is inclusive of snacks & a workshop kit consisting of a zine, a 12-tube watercolor set, a 3-pc round brush set, watercolor paper sheets, a mixing plate, a pencil and an eraser.

Here are some of my sample practive work. Can you tell that I’m both nervous and excited?

Hope to see you then though if you can’t make it on Feb. 20, I promise there’ll be more soon. I’ll announce when the dates are final.

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Update on our coloring books: they are now available at select Powerbooks and NBS branches in Metro Manila, Hey Kessy in Katipunan (Flutterby only), and Laruan Atbp, in Maginhawa St. QC along with Arnold’s graphic novels and Nautilus Comics / Chamber Shell Publishing books.

Some local award winning comics brought to us by Arnold Arre and Nautilus Comics. #laruanatbp #laruanph

A photo posted by Laruan Atbp. Cafe (@laruanph) on

You can also buy them directly from our publisher at Chamber Shell, via orders@nautiluscomics.net, or by clicking the button on the sidebar — >

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Happy 2016! Sorry, I’ve been a little remiss in updating these past few weeks… BUT! If you’d like some bite-size news, I recently reactivated my Twitter so you can peek in there every now and then if you like. 🙂

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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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Watercolor Tributes to Pinoy Indie Films & the Eraserheads

Watercolor illustrations – homages to Philippine indie cinema and the Pinoy rock scene

Ang Nawawala” inspired artwork created with permission from Director Marie Jamora
Rakenrol” inspired artwork created with permission from Director Quark Henares
Ang Huling El Bimbo,” “Ligaya,” and “Lightyears” inspired artworks created with permission from the Eraserheads (Ely Buendia, Buddy Zabala, Raymund Marasigan, and Marcus Adoro)

Medium: watercolor on cold-pressed archival paper
Nov-Dec 2015
* all are available as art prints in my online store

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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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