art and design

Custom Pet Portraits + I Love My Cat

I’d like to to share one of my latest projects, something I never thought I would do since I’ve never really drawn animals other than cats and birds before: custom portraits of my friend April’s Shiba Inus! When she first asked me I wasn’t sure if I could do it so I made this colored pencil sketch of her two Shibas sitting side by side. For practice.
custom pet portraits by cynthia bauzon arre
Obviously I got the proportions all wrong. ūüė≥ Anyway, working on the sketch allowed me to familiarize myself with their features and markings so I eventually felt more at ease drawing them. I think it also helped that Shiba dogs look somewhat “feline”1 with their upright ears and almond-shaped upward-slanting eyes.

And then I made individual portraits, taking into account each of their distinct attributes — for instance a slightly crooked ear for one of them which was from an operation, etc — for a more personal touch. I was confident enough to use watercolor this time. I don’t typically use blacks for coloring but the black and tan Shiba variety called for it and I was quite happy with how they turned out and thankfully, so was their mom. ūüôā
custom pet portraits cynthia bauzon arre
These were so fun to do and once I get more dog-drawing practice under my belt, I’ll likely add animal portraits to my custom artwork repertoire. (I will have to draw the line at pet reptiles though… ūüėĮ )
Meanwhile.. it’s no secret that I love our cat. In fact he’s right there in my blog logo illustration which I haven’t changed for years. He’s also in my still-non-existent handmade store’s logo (see watermark) and in a lot of drawings I’ve done and even in some of Arnold‘s comics as an Easter egg to friends who know us well.

There was one day last week when my mind hit a blank¬†and I couldn’t start working. He was lying on his play mat¬†in front of me and, as if sensing¬†my anxiety, started rolling around playfully. I could never resist when he does that so I went over and gave him a chin and back rub. He looked so¬†content¬†and carefree that I felt like preserving that moment. Without thinking I started sketching him. He kept moving around while¬†I tried capturing all his poses¬†and that was the birth of the series of illustrations below (right) which I ended up turning into a pattern (left).
pet portraits

It’s still being proofed over at Spoonflower but if you like cats too, my orange tabbies pattern is now available on phone covers, iPad sleeves, and more at Zazzle and RedBubble.

  1. for me at least[ back]
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Shrink Plastic: Before and After

shrink plastic before and after

Thought I’d share this before and after image of the shrink plastic “Sampayan” (“Laundry Line”) necklace I made the other day. See how those drawings shrunk down to about 1/4th of their original size? They also grew about a millimeter in thickness and the colors got more saturated. Here’s a closer view:

I used Frosted “Ruff and Ready” Shrinky Dinks Shrinkable Plastic sheets to make these charms. My favorite thing about these sheets is that one side has already been machine-sanded so I can draw directly on them with colored pencils. The other side is glossy and when it shrinks, there’s no more need to coat the front with glaze. I don’t know if you can see it in the pic but I love how nice and glossy they¬†are. It’s almost like these charms were cast in resin.

Another reason for this blog update is to announce that one of my designs is featured on RedBubble’s front page¬†among¬†the curators’ picks for the day. #kilig

hipsters pattern

The Cool Kids” on FOUND by RB

If you’re interested, you can also purchase this design on iPhone covers on RedBubble, and on¬†wristlets, wallets, and even plates (yes) on Zazzle @ Funky Patterns. And for you crafty cats,¬†fabric printed with this pattern (on either a pink or¬†blue background) is also available starting today in my Spoonflower store. If you ever get to use it on your projects, please upload a photo of your finished project¬†on there¬†ok? ūüôā

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Where I buy art & craft materials in Manila

Years ago National Book Store was the only easily accessible place where you can buy¬†arts and crafts equipment here in Manila. Well there was Joli along Espana and Artek in Delta but they were quite far, and online shopping — let alone the internet — was unheard of at the time. So by default NBS was The Mothership and to be fair, selection wasn’t bad. It’s just that compared to today, we had a¬†very limited range¬†of art materials to choose from.

And now¬†— okay I don’t know when exactly the local arts and crafts movement boomed but it sure happened when I wasn’t looking. Very pleased¬†though that I don’t have to turn to DickBlick or Amazon’s Arts, Crafts & Sewing section for supplies anymore since I can now easily get them locally and from within the comforts of home, no less.

If you check my Instagram feed, you’ll see that I’ve been into honing my analog art skills¬†since late last year¬†and I’ve explored everything¬†from rubber stamp carving¬†and¬†shrink¬†plastic¬†crafting to watercolor painting and even lettering. Here are the stores I’ve been getting all my crafty goodies from.¬†There may be more out there but I find the following¬†shops’ inventories sufficient for my needs.

(Updated on Jan. 6, 2018)

ARTWHALE an online store that carries beautiful not-so-commonly-available paints like Korea-based Nicker fine art gouache (a.k.a. the brand that Ghibli Animation Studio uses), Japan-based Turner Colour Works Acryl Gouache, Peerless Watercolors (a vintage American brand known for highly pigmented watercolors in sheet form), and Shin Han Art Korean Watercolours. The proprietor Kuki is very friendly and knowledgeable about their products and customer service is top notch. (Please refer to this newer post for the full story. :D)


They have pop-up stores every once in a while so I recommend following¬†their Instagram account to see if they’ll be in a bazaar soon.

CRAFT CARROT¬†– an online store¬†based¬†in¬†Loyola Heights, Quezon City. They¬†stock¬†artist paints & paper, calligraphy tools and inks, sketch markers, and rubber stamp carving supplies. I got my two-tone carving blocks¬†—¬†4″x 6″ and 2″x 2″ round and square¬†blocks — from them (see below). I also purchased a few of the inexpensive “Craft” brand ink pads. I don’t think¬†they’re archival though¬†so I just use them for testing my stamps.

craft carrot ph

I’m not sure if they have a physical shop since their website says you’ll have to set up an appointment before visiting their office¬†but ordering online¬†is¬†quick and painless. I’ve already purchased from them twice and both times I received fast and friendly service – “friendly” meaning there is actual communication from¬†the shopkeepers, not just automated replies. ūüôā Also, they use for shipping so you’ll be sure to get your items within 24-48 hours upon receiving confirmation for your order.

HEY KESSY¬†– another online store¬†with an¬†HQ in Loyola Heights which I believe is a physical shop. They sell washi tape, chalk markers, air dry clay and a¬†good variety¬†of fun¬†crafting supplies.¬†They’re the only place I’ve found that carries¬†Tsukineko VersaCraft Fabric Inkpads (pigment-based, archival, and acid-free) and¬†Speedball Speedy-Carve Carving Blocks, currently¬†the biggest (and priciest) ones that are available locally. These blocks carve like butter — no, wait.¬†Like konnyaku jelly! Soft and jiggly!¬†—¬†so I use them for special, intricate designs.

hey kessy

I can also say that they know how to make their customers feel special. Aside from the friendly correspondence, they sent me that¬†adorable postcard on the left. Look at how the¬†items were¬†packaged too. It¬†was¬†like opening a gift. (It’s all in the details. ūüôā ) I’ll definitely buy from them again — but first, I need to use up my blocks. As¬†with Craft Carrot, you can receive your items within 24-48 hours.

CREATE CRAFTS¬†– a.k.a. CreatebyTLF is another online store based Quezon City. There is no physical shop but they have a display at Mrs. Graham’s Store in Scout Rallos¬†which is restocked twice a month. So far I’ve bought 1.75″x 3.5″ eraser blocks (sold by the dozen!) and Japanese keshigomu carving blocks¬†(smaller than the ones from Craft Carrot and Speedycarve but they carve just as smoothly), Kuretake ZIG Clean Color Real Brush markers, and Speedball Lino Cutter spare blades.Create Crafts PH

When you buy from their site, you have the option to¬†create¬†an account which facilitates ordering¬†in the future since you won’t have to input your details all over again. Becoming a site member also entitles you to occasional¬†perks like free shipping¬†— just keep your eyes peeled for promos¬†(I was able to avail of that last December.) ¬†I’m not sure if they really don’t update customers with tracking numbers¬†via e-mail but my purchases appear at my doorstep right on schedule which makes up for¬†the lack of communication.

BEE HAPPY CRAFTS¬†– is a crafting and party supplies¬†store in Caloocan, open to customers on Saturdays but you can also order from them online. They stock a lot of scrapbook¬†and journal-keeping goods like stamps, stickers, scrapbook sheets, punches, cardboard¬†stock, ribbons, etc. They’re also the only place I’ve found that stocks unbranded shrink plastic locally.¬†I’ve ordered a few sheets of the Inkjet shrink plastic and have found that they hold ink well and shrink almost exactly like¬†the Shrinky Dinks-branded ones that I bought from Amazon¬†(please¬†see my Instagram feed or the previous post for examples of what I’ve done with the material).

bee happy

The Inkjet sheets are a little pricey at P90/piece but I’m glad to have¬†an option to ordering them from overseas. I’ve also bought some cardboard stock from them for mounting. The site is easy to use and you¬†will¬†receive email confirmations for your order. You may also follow up with them through sms.

… and finally¬†DEOVIR

I love that they have physical stores in¬†malls which means that I can get my materials on the same day I need them. The selection in their SM North Edsa outlet is impressive¬†and Arnold has been buying his Micron drawing pens, watercolor paper, and comic tools¬†from there for years. You can also buy from them online but I haven’t¬†done¬†so yet since SM is close by.¬†Also,¬†there are items in the physical stores that aren’t on the site so it’s more advisable¬†to swing by the actual shop and see the merchandise first hand.

I’d love to know where you shop for your art materials. And¬†if you know of other stores that I may have missed (or don’t know about yet), do let me know in the comments!

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I'm Cynthia Bauzon-Arre, a Filipino watercolor artist & graphic designer. I live in QC with my 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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