How I Painted My Biggest Piece to Date and Why it Took Me Almost Three Months to Display it

Or maybe we should call this the post with the longest title!  Ha!

My art journey is slow and steady. I do not get to do art as much as I like this year but whenever I find pockets of time, I try to do one piece.  To keep the inspiration burning, I try to immerse myself in the creative world by visiting museums and exhibits in between leisure and work trips.  I also try to observe my surroundings, be in the moment and find inspiration around me.

I found that pocket of time in August, right after my trip to Baler.  This idea has been brewing in my head for some time. I wanted a piece of my own art in my own wall. I already bought my A1 size watercolor paper in June. My plan was already in motion. To visualize an A1 paper, it is 8 times the size of an A4 paper. Arrange two rows of four A4 paper in portrait orientation to get an A1 size paper.

So for a size that big, what should I paint? No question, it has to be something botanical.  I have files of plants and flowers I wanted to paint. I always check those files for inspiration. I decided on succulents because it is an ode to my inability to grow them.  I have tried growing them several times before. They always die. Painting them is the best alternative.

Painting a large piece requires me to allot space in my dining/office table.

Painting is really therapeutic. It feeds my soul so I always take my time. I do not hurry.  It is a pleasurable experience for me so I savor the moment.  (Ang drama ko! Haha)

What I enjoy most about painting succulents is that there are different varieties. It was an exciting process to paint the details of the different varieties.

Painting can be a cerebral process when you try to decide how you are going to add depths to the piece and where to add those specks to show texture and dimension.

Painting is an exercise of planning skills.  Since I taped the edges of the paper unto my table, I covered the piece with sheets of bond paper every time I was not working on it. I always emptied my water cup and placed my palette away from the table to avoid mishaps.  (Imagine this scenario: a lizard walking on my palette and over my painting. I do not want that to happen.)

I also used these pieces of paper to cover painted areas to prevent myself from touching those areas.

Painting tested my EQ, which I know I barely have. My initial plan was just to finish this with a white background.  This is supposedly the finished painting.

But no matter how I want to avoid mishaps, this happened. No use crying over spilled paint, right?  

So I added other details little by little.

I added more succulents until I was finally done with this finished piece.

I sent this to the framer and I finally have my own painting in my living room.

Well, not quite.

Since this is a watercolor painting on paper, this was framed behind a glass to protect it from the elements.   Large painting + glass= heavy painting.  So I kept the painting on my sofa reinforcing it with pillows. I was still trying to figure out how to hang this heavy painting.  I thought of buying brackets and additional screws but I was not able to find time to go to a hardware store.

Let me say that painting can be a test for AQ- Adversity Quotient. I recently learned about AQ from my smart friends. An adversity quotient is a score that measures the ability of a person to deal with adversities in his or her life.  I must admit that I have a really low EQ but I think I have a reasonable AQ score.

So here is the story. The painting had been sitting on my couch for weeks. My aunt kept asking me when am I going hang my painting but I was busy so I never had time.  One fine Sunday, my friends came for a visit. We were waiting for another friend.  (I feel like I am writing a blind item of some chismis column! Ha.) When the friend came he/she went to sit on the couch.  Our dog, Christian, was barking hard because he saw a new face. I directed him to smell the new visitor so he would feel at ease but instead of smelling, he jumped at the visitor prompting the visitor to lean back. Then I heard the cracking sound of my breaking heart chos of the glass.

I looked at my friend’s back and I saw no blood.  I was relieved.  My friend was apologetic. I told my friend not to worry about it too much as I do not have attachment to things.  Attachment to people, yes.  Chos! (Notice my effort of not identifying my friend.)

This is where my high adversity quotient comes in. (Buhat sariling bangko moment?)  It was easy to just have it re-framed but I would still have the same predicament as before. How do I hang the heavy frame?  Many watercolor artists have the same dilemma as me. How does one frame the painting without the glass? Glass is heavy and it adds glare when you tried to view the painting. A quick Google search led me to a painting technique-  apply cold wax. Cold wax is a substance often used to oil paintings as a medium and sealant.  Apparently, you can use it for watercolor paintings.

So when I went to Japan, I looked for cold wax from an art store there and they did not have it.  When I went back to Manila, I also went to Fullybooked and Art Bar but they did not have it.

I finally found an online store that carries it. Yay! I also bought a fixative as a backup.  I had work for the month of November so the wax application was put on hold.

Finally I found some free time in the first week of December so I worked on applying the wax. At first, I used a cleaning cloth to apply the wax but it seemed like the product was absorbed by the cloth .

So I used the best tool in the world- my hands. It really was easier to use my fingers because I could feel which part of the surface still needed to be waxed.

Waxing made the colors pop and it protects the surface from the elements. Plus, I did not have to buy brackets. The painting was light and easy to hang.


 Look at that!

I have finally decorated my living room for Christmas and hanged my painting!

All’s well that ends well.

How to Paint a Sunset Scene

I have always painted flowers.   Recently, I started painting landscape photos for practice.  I believe in continuous learning.

These are some of my recent work.

Notice that I always paint from a photo reference.  I think it is a good way to practice.

I also believe in sharing knowledge so I am showing you how I paint sunset.

For the sunset painting practice, I am using a photo I took years ago. It was a sunset in San Agustin, Surigao del Sur.

I start with a sketch.  I am not really good at sketching so what I do is add grid lines to the photo.  I use Photoshop to fill the photo with square patterns.

I have the same square patterns on my paper. Then I start sketching grid by grid. After I finish sketching, I erase the grid lines.

I can start painting. I start with Sennelier yellow. I am using a flat 3/4 synthetic brush.  I lightly brush over the areas with yellow.  Then I use ivory black. With a wet brush, I blend the color.

I paint an outline around this area with yellow and blend the color.

I always look at the reference photo and try to see where the yellow glow of the sun hits the water because once I start painting with black, there is no turning back.

I lightly put another layer of ivory black.

I am now painting the dark areas. I use burnt sienna and ivory black.  I also changed my brush into a Kolinksky round brush size 0.  Every now and then, I switch from a round brush size 0 and round brush size 4.

From here, I am going to start filling the sketch with black. I hope you will be able to follow what I am doing.

This is the completed artwork.

You can also follow the painting process on my Youtube channel.  Don’t forget to like and subscribe!


Let know if you were able to paint the same scene. If you want more tutorials, please let me know what you want me to paint next.

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Materials  used: Fabriano Artistico 300 gsm paper, Sennelier watercolor, 3/4″ synthetic flat brush,  Kolinsky sable round brush size 0 and 4

 

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:

Original Watercolor Paintings for Sale and How to Display Them

“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.”
― Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

So here I am. I finally completed 12 botanical paintings that are for sale. It was an exciting process of finding the subjects that appeal to me. I have to paint what I like because if these paintings will not end up in somebody else’s home, I am keeping them and I will still be happy.  I find joy in the creative process but the business side of it is what I dread most. What do I know about selling? Nothing. However, these words spoke to me.

“Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.”
― Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”– Gail Devers,  three-time Olympic champion in track-and-field.

Seeing the paints, brushes, paper and other materials I have to buy to continue doing what I love is my motivation. Ha! So I am now putting my paintings for sale on my Facebook page. These are all botanical watercolor done using artist-grade watercolor and 140 lb. hot-pressed watercolor paper in A3 size (11.7″ x 16.5″). I used Holbein for the watercolor and Daler-Rowney for the paper. All the paintings in this set are in landscape orientation but there are some paintings that still look okay when displayed in portrait orientation.

I am selling these paintings unframed because it is easier to ship them that way. The paintings will be shipped from the Philippines. When a painting is unframed, the client has the option to choose the right frame that will match the interiors where the the painting will be displayed.  I suggest that the painting be framed in a glass to protect the painting from dust and water.  For those who do not want the glare of the glass in a painting, there is always the non-reflective glass but it may cost a little more.  One can go a step further by using a conservation glass with UV protection against harmful rays.

To help you visualize how the paintings will look like in frames, I made the mock-ups below.

I have taken a step further by putting the paintings in an interior scene so you can better visualize where to possible display them in your space.

I hope I have convinced you enough to brighten up your walls with my paintings. You can have a closer look at my paintings in my Facebook page.  Message me there for details.

For larger photos of the paintings, click here.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” –Walt Disney

 

Sources for the mock-ups:

http://www.freepik.com/free-vector/realisitc-photo-frame-mockup_1177173.htm
http://www.freepik.com/free-vector/blank-picture-frame-on-a-wooden-wall-background_852393.htm http://www.freepik.com/free-psd/ipad-screen-on-wood-background_1096356.htm https://365webresources.com/10-free-poster-frame-mock-ups-graphic-designers/ https://www.freecreatives.com/mockups/photo-frame-psd-mockups.html



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