Posts Tagged "watercolor"

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 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.

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


(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)

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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.

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

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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Illustrating Recipes in Watercolor Workshop at Prism Gallery

Hey guys! I’m having a watercolor food illustration workshop at Prism Gallery in Makati on April 30 from 9am-12nn. Class fee, inclusive of materials and yummy snacks and food props (c/0 Chili Asylum!) is P2500.00.

This class is perfect for those of you who want to preserve or chronicle your favorite recipes in a fun way in your journals and sketchbooks.
watercolor food illustration workshop

If you’ve been checking my IG, haha yes all those tomato drawings were in preparation for this class! Prism Gallery’s Gold Tantoco asked me to hold a workshop there as far back as August of last year, but I already had classes lined up (and I can only handle one workshop every 2-3 months :P) so this actually took several months to plan. I’m glad it’s finally happening. 🙂

At first I couldn’t think of a theme (aside from portraits) to teach… and then the project with Chili Asylum popped up last January. That brought about the idea of a food illustration class with a twist and since I love Chili Asylum products, it was only fitting that they would be providing the snacks. (Thank you, Isi!)

The class is open to learners with basic skills in drawing and painting in watercolors. Don’t worry though if you haven’t painted in a while — we will review color theory and some general techniques in watercolor painting such as the wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry methods, among others.

watercolor food

Workshop kits will include a watercolor set, brushes, watercolor paper, a fineliner + a pencil and an eraser.

To sign up, please call Prism at 886-3947 or e-mail prismgalleryph@gmail.com (kindly put APRIL WORKSHOPS on the subject line.)

Hope to see you there!

 

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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. 🙂

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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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