Around the start of this year I started making notebooks and other stationery that featured local flora and fauna as a personal project. My motivation was that these are the plants I grew up around and the produce that my parents introduced to us siblings when we were young. Feeling a wave of nostalgia, I drew them while looking back at my childhood, also thinking that kids today could benefit from learning about them. (More on this here.)
I also found myself getting interested in endemic species and, through the process I learned about how a lot of our native plants and animals have, since the ’70s and ’80s, lost their habitats due to deforestation. That saddened me because it felt like this was no longer the environment I grew up in so I started drawing Philippine-endemic birds, some of them vulnerable or critically endangered – and putting them on stickers (with info sheets) and notebooks as my small way of bringing attention to them.
It was around that time when I received an e-mail from the kind folks at Forest Foundation Philippines asking if I would be open to collaborating with them. I actually had to do a double take because it was as if they had read my mind so I was on board almost immediately. <3
Some meetings, project proposals, and many brainstorming exchanges later, we thought up a campaign to promote the important role of native trees in forest protection. These greeting cards and a planner (WIP below) are among the products of our collab.
We also held a drawing contest on FB & IG (do check the #drawnativetreesph hashtag to see the entries) and there’ll be other activities soon which I won’t spoil for now. 🙂
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. 🙂
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.
(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)
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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 yearsdecades 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. 🙂
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…
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?
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?
Below: everyone hard at work on their paintings.
And finally, the result of everyone’s efforts — yay, class photo!
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. 🙂
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.
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. 🙂
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 ]