Posts Tagged "watercolors"

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.


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, or by clicking the button on the sidebar — >


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

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
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

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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“Greetings from Callalily” Illustrations & Album Design

Project: Callalily’s 10th Anniversary Album “Greetings From Callalily” Packaging Design
Tasks: Watercolor portraits, illustrations, art direction and graphic design
Date of publication: October 23, 2015
Client: Soupstar Entertainment

It was my first time to design a fully-illustrated album in 15 years (the last one was for Ely Buendia’s “Wanted Bedspacer” in 2000) so working on this was a treat. We had already agreed on a watercolor look — it was what made them get in touch with me in the first place — and when the guys told me that the title of the album was going to be “Greetings From Callalily,” I immediately thought of those retro “Greetings from Las Vegas” etc postcards. I suggested a rectangular envelope design containing actual postcards featuring portraits of the guys along with letters from them to their fans. We corresponded via many DMs on Instagram and I was so glad that they were all for it! (Side note: how convenient is it that everyone’s on social media now? Back in the day I had to go to midnight gigs to present my concepts. :D). Here’s a peek of the postcards with each band member’s personal note:

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

For the back side of each card, I asked the guys to send me gut-wrenching lines from their respective songs so that I could make some typography art for them. All incorporating the calla lily flower. 😀

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

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My watercolors, brushes, and other painting tools

Since I’ve been painting again almost everyday for months now, I thought I’d share my current favorite watercolors and tools with you as well as a few notes and photos about how I’ve been using them. (See also: My watercolors, brushes, and painting tools (Part 2) and My favorite watercolor papers )

shinhan korean colors

1) ShinHan Korean Colors, which I wrote my first impressions about previously. These paints seem to work best for the “moody” illustrations that I like to make. I love how vivid the colors are and I think this is mainly due to the binder being refined gelatin and not gum arabic which is the traditional binder for Western watercolors. After a bit of research and also through experience,  I learned that having gelatin for a pigment binder results in a finish that’s more opaque than watercolors but more translucent than gouache or poster colors.  I’ve also tried adding a few drops of gum arabic to make them more transparent but 99% of the time I just use them as they are.

Best for: paintings with scenery and a lot of detail and background elements. Using more water allows me to achieve a watercolory effect, and layering on the colors produces a painterly look.
*Available locally at ArtWhale in sets and individual tubes

holbein watercolor swatches

2) Holbein Watercolors. I’ve always been curious about this Japanese-made brand so I purchased a few tubes last month, taking care to pick cooler colors as my ShinHan tubes were all warm tones. I’ve read that since the paints don’t have ox gall, they are richly pigmented and slow-moving. Like ShinHan, they’re also thicker than traditional Western watercolors but they can be thinned down with water for a transparent, muted finish. They are beautiful, creamy colors although I haven’t used them much in my paintings — maybe due to my color choices since so far I’ve only used them for flowers, save for Jaune Brilliant no.2 which I’ve been using as a base for skin tones. I’m planning to buy warmer hues sometime in the future since those are what I use more often anyway.

Best for: floral art, thick color applications, and probably lettering and calligraphy where you’d like to preserve brush strokes because the paints are formulated for classical Japanese-style painting or Nihonga.
* Available locally at ArtWhale and Deovir Arts in sets and individual tubes

kuretake gansai tambi swatches

3) Kuretake Gansai Tambi 36-color set, which I also wrote my first impressions about months ago. Having used it a lot more times now, I find that I always reach for this set when adding foliage and background elements to a painting because of the bright, beautiful colors and the vast color range — there’s almost no need to pre-mix specialty colors. I don’t use it as often for portraiture though because it takes me too much time to mix a skin tone I’m happy with (2017 UPDATE — I used the set for the portrait demo below).

A post shared by Cynthia Bauzon-Arre (@arncyn) on

I also like the addition of pearlescent colors which are handy for adding sheen to some of the hues when necessary. The consistency of this paint is very creamy and they’re slightly more opaque than usual, kind of like ShinHan and Holbein (which doesn’t surprise me, all of them being traditional Eastern / Asian watercolors).

Best for: drawing food, foliage, background elements, landscapes, still life paintings, also calligraphy, lettering and sumi-e painting which is what they were really intended for. Because of the variety of colors, there’s practically no need to mix.
* Not aware if this is already available here in the Philippines.  I bought mine in Amazon last March.

Van Gogh watercolor swatches

4) Van Gogh Watercolors 24-color set, which I also already reviewed here. This is the set that travels out of the house with me due to its portable design. I also use this a lot for people drawings and portraits because it has Naples Yellow Red which is a great base for skin tones. The paints are very transparent and highly pigmented, resulting in intense colors even when diluted with a lot of water. Overall I think this set has the most balanced variety of colors, making it a good traveling and journaling companion.

Best for: portraits, landscapes, food, people / journaling, traveling, urban sketching
* Available from Deovir Arts and Fully Booked in Greenbelt 5.

my watercolor brushes

Watercolor Brushes

From left to right:
1) Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky brush size 0
2) Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky brush size 3
3) Royal Talens Rembrandt Series 100 Pure Kolinsky size 6

These three are my “investment” brushes and fortunately I get a lot of use out of them, especially from the Rembrandt because of its size. Kolinsky sable brushes are known for their ability to hold paint (no need to keep reloading the brush) and retain the pointed shape while you’re using them. I love how springy the bristles are which makes painting a breeze. No need to worry about stray hairs producing uneven, streaky marks or accidentally coloring outside outlines.

*Available from Amazon, Fully Booked GB5, and Deovir Arts

I really would rather buy synthetic hair brushes for ethical reasons so I also recommend the following:

4) Van Gogh GWVR Mini Yohitsu Visual brush size 3
5-7) Van Gogh  GWVR Yohitsu Visual brush sizes 2, 4, and 6
8-9) Van Gogh  GWVR Yohitsu Visual brush sizes 1/8 and 3/8

Before buying the Kolinskys in April, I’ve been using the Van Gogh visual brushes. (These are actually Arnold‘s but he gave them to me when I started painting again. 🙂 ) The brushes are made of a mixture of synthetic hair (nylon) + ox hair and goat hair. I love these brushes too and still use them up to now. Paint load capacity is good enough and, more importantly, the bristles hold the pointed shape well. I can’t achieve a super fine point with the #6 as well as with the Rembrandt #6 but they are great for general coloring and layering.

* Arnold got them from Sekaido in Shinjuku when we went a couple of years ago

10-12) Sterling Studio Golden Taklon brushes sizes round 5/0, flat 2, and angled 3/16

Given by Alessa Lanot of Life After Breakfast during the #LABWatercolorSwap. I don’t normally use brushes as tiny as these but the size 0/5 in particular made me a convert. Unlike other fine point brushes I’ve used before, I’m actually able to get a decent line out of this brush because the bristles are made of taklon, therefore it can hold more paint than other synthetic hairs. Because of this brush now I cannot stop adding detail to my works. 🙂

My workhorse brushes

kolinsky and synthetic brush comparison

The brushes I use most often are the Rembrandt Kolinsky #6, Van Gogh Yohitsu #6, Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky #3, Van Gogh #3, and Sterling Studio 5/0. I made this comparison chart (above) so you can also see how versatile round brushes are in that you can use them to draw both fine lines and broad strokes. It’s also easy to see how “thirsty” Kolinsky brushes are compared to the synthetic ones — just look at that paint load. Still, the Van Goghs are also able to make fine lines because of their ability to retain their shape which make them workhorses in my little studio.

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

I actually also have a Holbein Water Brush and an old set of Koh-I-Noor Watercolor Pencils but I only use them when I’m out of the house. Both are available from Deovir.

paint palette

My final tool is a Reeves Folding Plastic Palette which I ordered from Amazon along with the brushes. Because of my limited watercolor tube palette, I needed a surface where I could pre-mix colors and keep them safe and usable. I haven’t changed anything that you see here in 2 months which makes having a palette like this very economical since I get to save paint (and money).

* I bought this from Amazon but I’ve read that you can get similar ones locally from Craft Central.

As for watercolor paper, for archival drawings I use Arches and Hahnemuhle (my favorites though I only buy them in sheets, not in blocks. Those are way out of my budget.) and Canson Montval Torchon, For commercial (i.e. for scanning) work, I use a Canson Montval Aquarelle block or my small Daler-Rowney Aquafine sketch pad. I also recently used up a Potentate sketch pad that was given by Craft Carrot. For practice and tooling around, I use an inexpensive children’s watercolor pad from Saizen / Daiso and a Berkeley pad.

(Feb.12, 2016: I’ve updated this list in Part 2 of this entry and added a review of my favorite watercolor papers)

I hope you guys found this useful. Please do share what your favorite materials are. 🙂

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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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