My COVID Stories: My Art Journey Continues

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It has been six years since I started picking up that brush again and thirty one years since I learned how to paint. Yes, I learned how to paint from the womb. Nah, I am a relic. Ha!

At the start of the year, I wrote about getting my hands into digital illustrations. I had plans of getting a cheap graphics tablet just to get some creative juices flowing. We all know that many of our plans for this year did not happen. I only created a single digital illustration this year. There was a toon me challenge on Instagram where you turn into cartoon the half of youf face. This was my take on that challenge.

illustration

On the positive side, I had ample time to do some watercolor artworks.

I have packs of postcard sized watercolor paper. So I started practicing painting dews. It is always a challenge for me to paint any form of water.

dew watercolor

So this is the first artwork for 2020.

leaf dew
And then Taal happened. I saw a video of the plumes of the erupting volcano.

taal volcano

Whenever I have pockets of free time, I paint on the watercolor postcards. A rocky brook, this time around.

I realized that I also made a rocky landscape 5 years before and I think I improved a lot.

I really think that constant practice matters. But then again, my art is also fueled with those intangible things like mood, inspiration and feelings. I think no amount of practice would help improve my art when those things are amiss. Even if I have the time but I do not have the inspiration, I don’t paint. There are no deadlines for me. But that‚Äôs just me. Other artists operate differently.

I always try to challenge myself. I have always avoided painting people because they look like caricatures when I paint them. Then I figured I will just paint the back view. Thus, this postcard piece. The reference photo is from unsplash.com.

And I tried to paint something metallic.

My aunt celebrated her 60th birthday last year. I had no gift. Ha! I was supposed to give her a koi painting after she expressed that she wanted one when she saw what I painted for a cousin. She wanted something bigger. I was not able to paint one for her birthday. I think it is never too late to give her one especially that I have a reference photo from the only place in the world with the widest variety of koi- Nishikigoi No Sato!

So after painting non-flowers, I had to go back to botanicals. Flowers are still my favorite subject for paintings.


By March, a friend messaged me if I have a painting that I can donate to a fund drive to help fire victims here in my city. There was a huge fire in a densely populated area. Many of the victims were informal settlers who took refuge in the community covered court. I had paintings in my file but they were unframed so I made one with a subject that has been brewing in my mind for a while.


Then COVID-19 happened. Although it has been on the news since the end of January before we left for Baguio, it was March 15 when community quarantine started and we were supposed to go to Dinagat by March 20 so it was cancelled. I can only dream of the sunrise/sunset by the sea.

My cousin also sent me bunch of beach photos. He had a bright idea to go to Batangas before the community quarantine. I sighed and I just painted.

The quarantine was really getting to my nerves. My stress level was up. My projects for the rest of the month were cancelled so I stayed at home, dreamt of nature and painted.


Somehow I needed to keep my mind off the internet for periods of time in a day. What better way to do that than paint a very detailed subject. Strawberries.


Those little specks in the indentations are actually the seeds. Thinking about it now that I am gardening, we should have saved some seeds! Here’s a backstory: These strawberries are the ones we bought in Baguio. They were huge so we were really enticed to buy even if it was expensive. The vendor told us it would last a week. We just have to leave it in room temperature in its packaging. Fast forward to 5 days after while we were still in Manila, the strawberries had molds. My inner brazen self was telling me that I could eat the parts without molds. Hahaha My cousin who is a nurse insisted that these should be discarded. We should listen to our health workers, right? So we threw away Php 900. Ouch. This painting was my therapy. A friend offered to buy it so that is also my therapy. ūüėČ

strawberries
There were other things that occupied my time while in quarantine. And many of us are familiar with these scenes. *wink wink*


The thing with art is that I always try to challenge myself with something new. This time around I wanted to paint realistic hair. I found a Youtube video detailing how to paint hair and I applied what I learned in this piece.


On the other hand, this piece is not a new concept. However, this is a testament how my art is about how I feel and how I see things. I just wanted to paint peonies. Ha! This is the original piece.


I feel like it was too plain.  So I painted a dark background to make it pop.


Now I kind of miss the old painting. This is the trouble with watercolor. I cannot undo what I did unless I repaint everything. I just have to live with it. Just like life. (Naks! May reflections?)

I was also invited to an online art sale and exhibit, Love in the Time of COVID-19. Thirty percent of the proceeds of the sale was used to support relief operations for micro and small entrepreneurs, artists and designers that are affected by the pandemic. I sold seven paintings for that cause. Some of the paintings were made years ago. I just kept them for my dream art gallery. Yes, in my dreams, I will have my own art gallery. I guess the art gallery of my dreams had to wait. (Wala kang pera, Kat!)

The last two paintings, I did them in May which I also included in the art sale after the other paintings were sold. I am thankful for those who appreciated my art- most of them my friends. When you get such support from the people around you, you realize that not everything is bad in this pandemic. My friends also bought pieces from my artist friends. Thank you so much, friends! I feel the love! I have framed some of the works my friends bought.


My friend in Japan lives Niigata where COVID cases and population density are so low that they can spend their weekends outdoors. During cherry blossoms season, she sent me a lot of dreamy landscapes. They were so beautiful I could cry! So I painted them. I painted two pieces so far and I have at least two more planned when I have the time.


My cousin’s birthday came up and I promised her a painting. She wanted koi after she saw my aunt’s painting. I no longer want to paint koi for a while. I do not have a decent reference photo that I truly love to replicate. I told her I don’t want to repeat the same concept in my painting. Since her name is Cherry, I painted cherry blossoms for her. I even wore my dress that I painted with cherry blossoms.

I was busy with work from May to July so I was only able to find few pockets of time to finish a commissioned piece which almost has the concept of three paintings this year- the back view of a woman. This time, I painted the side view and placed a lot of red roses since the recipient loves red roses.

I shipped this framed painting without glass but it was protected with cold wax – the same way I did with my largest painting to date.


July was world watercolor month and I wish I did a few pieces but I just couldn’t find time to paint. I really do not paint that fast. I take my time. I plan how to execute it. It is a therapeutic process for me. I wish I can be prolific but I am not and it is okay. I still have a number of commissioned pieces on my list and I am thankful for the trust. I’ll take it one rest day at a time since, surprisingly, I still have projects coming in my other job. I thank God for the opportunities because, with this pandemic, my thoughts often wander. Should I find new ways to earn a living? Should I start a full-time creative business with my art? I tread this path carefully. Austin Kleon wrote in his book, ‘Keep Going’: ‚ÄúOne of the easiest ways to hate something you love is to turn it into your job: taking the thing that keeps you alive spiritually and turning it into the thing that keeps you alive literally.‚ÄĚ Art truly feeds my soul so I try to nurture it well. I try to keep it that way.

But then again he also said something about keeping a daily routine with art which I do not have yet. So far what I do is to challenge myself with a few techniques once in a while and I try to improve on what I already know. Hopefully, in time, I find my own rhythm and continue to produce pieces I really love. Never mind if others do not like it. I paint really for myself and, if others appreciate it, it is already a bonus. Art really helped me ease my anxiety with the pandemic. I get to create scenes I wish to see even if I am stuck in my little corner in this world. I hope I continue to find inspiration in the world around me no matter how bleak things are. I hope everyone struggling in this pandemic is able to figure out how to cope in these trying times.

 

Show and Tell: 25 Watercolor Postcards

25 watercolor postcards

Early in January, I bought different packs of watercolor pads¬† from Jackson’s Art. I wanted to try different brands of watercolor paper. One of which was a pack of 25 Fabriano Artistico postcards. I painted on these cards in January only when I felt like painting.

My first postcard was a winter scene from Niigata Prefecture in Japan where my friend Grace lives.

25 watercolor postcards

The next postcard was a sunset scene where I also created a tutorial on how to paint it.

25 watercolor postcards sunset scene

I guess I was busy from February to May because the next postcard I painted was done in June.  I also have painting tutorial on how to paint these tulips.

25 watercolor postcards

I was pretty hard working in June and painted all these.

25 watercolor postcards

In July, I challenged myself to not paint flowers and I was happy with this little accomplishment that I posted this photo on Facebook.

25 watercolor postcards 4

Two of my friends (who happened to be husband and wife) took notice and asked me if they can buy all the postcards.  I knew I had 4 empty postcards left of the 25 so I offered that they might want to wait for the rest of the postcards to be painted so they could chose which postcards they would like to buy. Without hesitation, they offered that they will buy all the 25 postcards.  My jaw dropped. They have not even seen the rest of the 15 postcards! I am grateful that they appreciate my art.  As a little token for their appreciation, I asked what they wanted me to paint on those 4 postcards.  My friend asked for postcards representing the four seasons. She picked what subjects to paint and it was up to me how I was going to paint them. I made these.

4 seasons

And I then I found out I still have an extra postcard so I decided to paint this.

25 watercolor postcards

And these are all the post cards in one photo. I hope my friends like them all.

25 watercolor postcards

Since I will be saying  goodbye to all these postcards, I made a Youtube video!

 

How to Paint Realistic Cherries in Watercolor

How to Paint Cherries in Watercolor

I finally got around into writing another art tutorial. It is almost the end of July and it is World Watercolor Month. For this month, I challenged myself to not paint flowers so this tutorial is about painting cherries.  The reference photo for this painting is from Pexels.

I always start with a drawing and I marked all the areas where I put my highlights and shadows.

How to Paint Cherries in Watercolor (1)

I used Raphael kolinsky round brushes (size 2 and 4) and I used Daler-Rowney watercolors. For this painting, I used alizarin crimson, cadmium red, prussian blue, chinese white, viridian and yellow ochre.

To get the colors I wanted that are close to the dark red plump cherries. I play with these three colors: alizarin crimson, cadmium red, prussian blue. I mix alizarin crimson with prussian blue when painting the areas and the shadows. I used the individual colors to match the different tones in the cherry.

How to Paint Cherries in Watercolor (2)

Whenever I start painting, I always have this fear that I would be wasting my time trying to paint and end up with unsatisfactory painting. I like to scare myself that way. (Praning-praningan. hehehe) When I started, the first cherry did not look like a cherry at all. Honestly, I was not sure if I am going to successfully paint it but I continued painting. It took me almost two hours to complete the painting.

As you can see there were areas that I avoided painting, those are the areas for highlighting. Cherries have shiny skin. To show that shine, you need to leave areas unpainted because it is easier to add color to these areas later than to remove the pigment. For me, the markings on the drawing where to put the highlights and shadows are helpful in the painting process. I have not yet developed the skill of painting from memory. I still need planning on how to tackle a certain painting. I always look at the reference photo as a whole and try to understand where the light source is and how the light casts shadows on the surface. I also try to identify the different colors on the object so even if we see that the cherry is dark red, there are different shades of red you can see and these shades depend on how the light illuminates the surface. This is how I study the subject so that it would closely resemble the real thing.

In every painting I work on, I always have a tissue near my palette to easily blot the excess water on the brush. I also have another paper on the side where I test if I mixed the right color.

My usual painting technique when using watercolor is to apply my strokes using a dry and more saturated color on the dark areas and I gradually spread the color using a wet brush. I use this technique when my subject is either a flower, fruit or animal. It may look like I am very certain and precise about my strokes and colors.  In reality, I am really looking at the reference photo every now and then and I paint the different shades on the different areas as I see fit.

At this point, the painting is slowly taking shape. Attention to details is important in realistic paintings. Each little highlight and fine stroke contribute to the painting a whole. This is one of the benefits in learning how to paint; you tend to be very observant of your surroundings.

How to Paint Cherries in Watercolor (4)

All these colors used in painting cherries are the different colors that are produced from mixing alizarin crimson, cadmium red and prussian blue. These are the specific pigments I used. You can also try different shades of red available in you palette. Try to experiment one bright red pigment, one medium red and one dark blue or any combination of red and blue. Cherries have stages of ripeness and different varieties so different combinations of reds and blues could still result to a realistic painting.

Painting a glass jar can look challenging. It is easier to paint it by studying the jar. Understand that this jar is a clear object. It does not have color. The reflection of the cherries on the surface tells us that this is a glass jar. Also try to observe the way the light hits the surface. For the rim and grooves on jar, I see shades of light gray to gray on the surface of the glass. I used the existing colors on my palette . I mixed everything which made the mixture close to black and when I mix black with white, I get grey. The different shades of gray is dependent on the amount of white mixed in. In that way, I did not have use tube of black paint. I get save on paint by the the colors I already have in my palette.

How to Paint Cherries in Watercolor (5)

In painting a jar, you do not have to paint the entire shape. You just paint the reflection and shadows and when finished, you can already see the shape of the container. When looking at the reference photo, I really try to identify the very dark areas and try to replicate it in the painting. The contrast between light and dark adds depth and makes the painting look real.

For the finishing touches, I went over the painting and started blending the colors until I was satisfied with the outcome.

This is the completed painting.

How to Paint Cherries in Watercolor (7)

This is the Youtube video of the process.

Until the next tutorial!

How to Paint a Durian in Watercolor

 

I have a Youtube video on how to paint durian but I feel that the process deserves a separate blog post because, in the beginning, I was not confident on how this would turn out. Giving something a try ( as long it is legal) is worth your while when you learn something along the way. I feel like I have better control of the pigments and water because of this painting that I wanted to share the process.  I hope somebody who wants to learn painting using watercolor will learn from my videos because I relied so much on Youtube videos when I rekindled my love for art.  I am paying it forward.

So here is how I did it:

I started with a sketch. I made my sketch as detailed as possible.

I start painting it with green. Unripe durian is green and it slowly turns to brown when it ripens. Even with ripe durian, you can see the green part on the base of the spikes. The color I used was close to sage green. To get the green pigment, I mixed prussian blue and permanent deep yellow. I got this tip from a watercolor group to mix my own green color instead of the green watercolor tubes available. Most of the available green tubes can be too bright or too dark so I often get the right green if I mix my own yellows and blues.

Then, I started painting the spikes. You¬†need to paint each spike so that you can clearly see them¬†individually. The spikes are just a series of “V’s”. I used yellow ochre, burnt sienna and burnt umber. Yellow ochre is lighter so I used that for the lighter parts. Burnt sienna and burnt umber are for the shadows and darker areas. ¬†I generally used burnt umber on the tips of the spikes and the edges. Just blend the colors well so that it will look like spikes.

Not all spikes are the same. Some spikes are larger and the gaps between the spikes are wider.  These spikes look like pyramids.

You just have to keep repeating the process. Start with yellow ochre.  Spread lightly. Add burnt sienna on the sides. Add details using burnt umber.  Add water to blend in colors. Dab the brush on the tissue to blot off excess water. The cycle goes on.

To paint the custard flesh, use yellow ochre and permanent deep yellow.  Use the yellow ochre on the sides where the shadows are and use the permanent deep yellow on some of the fleshy part. Use ample water to create a light yellow wash. You just want a hint of yellow. Leave some white on the middle part of the seed to make it look fluffy. Mix prussian blue and some of the excess burnt umber we used earlier. Add some water to make it look greyish and use that to create shadows on the fleshy seed. You want a subtle shading so keep the color light by blotting the brush on the tissue.  I always keep a tissue on the side because that is where I blot the brush if it has too much water.

You may use the same technique for that seed on the foreground. Just take note that the shadow is on the lower part of the seed so use darker tones on that part. Paint the permanent deep yellow liberally on the lower part of the seed and if you need to lighten them, just dab a clean tissue. Sometimes I go through the dab-paint-dab process several times until I get the kind of shade and texture I want. It is easy to do that with light colors. Just be careful in using this technique with darker colors as it may be difficult to correct the mistake. It is always safe to paint from light to dark. Just keep adding pigments until you get it right.

Since the durian is on a surface and not hanging on a tree, you need pain the shadows. Use the prussian blue-burnt umber mix for the shadows.

Voila!

My aunt got a store-bought frame and just like that her gift was ready.

For commission work, send me a message through my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/katrinakarenart

Here’s the Youtube video of the entire process:

My Own Art Journey and How You Can Learn to Draw and Do Watercolor Painting

We had art classes in high school. Fine Arts was part of the curriculum for two years so I had prior knowledge on how to do watercolor paintings, sketch and use oil pastels. I did not just wake up one day and decide to do watercolor art.

In the past 25 years, I have picked up a pencil every now and then and did some sketching. In college, when boredom inspiration strikes, I sketch or paint. I kept a sketch pad (Care bears pa!).

art 01

I lived in a dormitory so the easiest things to sketch are those near my table. Haha

art 02

I also found time to pick up the brush. No, I had no morbid thoughts on that knife painting. It was the easiest photo of an object I can copy from a magazine. The second painting is an eye of the Philippine Eagle.

art 03

That was in college. I have not really actively engaged in art not until recently.

In recent years, I was really inspired by the artsy stuff that Alessa Lanot does. And I have recently seen Ala Paredes’ work. I used to read her blog and was impressed with her drive to pursue her art. Recently, I have come across her watercolor painting in her instagram. It was really impressive. So I decided to give it another try.

Ala wrote a piece about art and learning: that art can be learned through repetition. Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers, said something about doing things regularly like it would take some 10,000 hours to become an expert. Relying on sheer talent and not doing anything to improve it is useless.

So, I am sharing with you the YouTube videos I viewed to learn some drawing and watercolor techniques. I have received a few comments about being interested in learning how to paint or draw. The good new is… YOU CAN! You just have to try.

These are the videos:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJ25OngOLts?rel=0]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy1KcEJ2YkA?rel=0]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcmfRooP6dg?rel=0]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAvvP-pb6CQ?rel=0]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpbW3Aq0PB0?rel=0]

These are the artworks I did based on the videos:

art 04

For now, I practice by copying existing images on the Internet. I am having fun doing it. One day, I hope to create original work from original ideas.

art 05

In case you are interested on the tools I use, here is the list:

1. Faber Castell 0.7 mechanical pencil+ refill+ Pentel eraser
art 06

2. Brushes + mixing tray. In high school, we only use chinese brushes. I am most comfortable using those. Regular trips to the school supplies store yielded me all these brushes. The blue and black brushes are sets and are inexpensive. (I think I paid Php50++ for each set.) The two brushes on the left were part of the watercolor set I bought.
art 07

3. Watercolor. I have accummulated several kinds in the past month. I am most comfortable using the tubes but I just recently purchased those. In some of the artworks I made earlier this month like the apple, strawberry and flowers, I used the watercolor in palette.
art 08

4. Paper. I use 200 GSM board. I recommend thicker boards for landscape painting. This type I use bends with water-heavy type of painting.
art 09
I think I have shared everything you need to get you to try watercolor painting. Let me know when you have created your work. I would love to see them.



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