Wednesday, August 20, 2014


     This is a painting of a clematis from WetCanvas monthly challenge. It is the second serious painting I've made on a 300gsm paper. Once you've tried it there is no going back. Though I'm still getting around it, I was able to lay down dark washes which is a challenge on more light weight paper.

5" x 8" Arches 300gsm Paper

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sketch Kit Mark V

     For the techniques that I want to achieve, the Canson 200gsm watercolor paper wasn't doing it for me. Well, actually its not that bad. I was able to get pretty decent sketches with it until I've tried Saunders Waterford! Where have you been all this time? My watercolor life has never been the same again. The cold-pressed 300gsm paper is everything my usual paper is not. Unfortunately it was the last block available from NBS. Upon contacting the importer in Binondo I was informed that they no longer import that paper. That is sad news.

Saunders Waterford 300gsm CP
First painting with a 300gsm paper, Saunders Waterford

      Desperate for more 300gsm goodness I’ve inspected two more store’s inventory, The Oil Paint Store and Deovir Art supplies. Deovir carries Hahnemühle watercolor papers but the variety of their product line requires much exploration. I’ve tried the Britannia and the Multimedia bamboo. They are not so bad but the behavior I’m looking does not come close to the Waterford. Maybe I’ll try the Tiepolo and Cezanne next time. The Oil Paint Store carries Arches paper which I reluctantly tried since “rough” is the only available texture at the moment. I was also offered to try the Stonehenge brand which was a little cheaper than the Arches.The Stonehenge is not bad. As much as it readily absorbs the first wash creating hard edges, smooth washes are not impossible to achieve. It just requires a little experimentation and timing.I think its more suitable for other media such as gouache or acrylics. Still not the one I’m looking for. Finally I’ve come to test the Arches. Hmm…well..yes. this is it! I’ll let the sample wash speak for itself.

      I’m still looking for the Saunders experience. Probably it was just the first impression. probably it was just me. :) So its decided. My new sketchbook will be filled with arches paper. Its easy to source, cheaper than a similar sized Moleskine, performs better and is handmade by me!

How the paper was divided to yield 2 signatures with 4 folios. the dotted lines represent the fold and the final sketchbooks measures 5.5”x 7.5”

A single section is made up of four pages.

      Again as with my previous sketch book the sections were coptic stitched and inserted into the new leather cover. The leather that I bought was quite ugly so I distressed it with sandpaper and alcohol and dyed the raw edges with ink. Ideally it should be 4 sections per booklet but since I only bought one sheet for testing I was only able to complete 3 sections.

I've made the new watercolor notebook bigger than the precious one

     I thought that the quest for tiny watercolor box has come to an end. Until my office mate presented me with a super thin, enamel coated card case from Fullybooked.

Size Comparison

The new tin card case slides open with the interior already painted white

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Not So Daily Sketch Dump

     Just a collection of sketches I've managed to squeeze in between breaks and other free time. Original reference photos can be found on WetCanvas image gallery.

5" x 7" Canson Montval paper

Small Moleskine Watercolor Notebook

Small Moleskine Watercolor Notebook

Small Moleskine Watercolor Notebook

Small Moleskine Watercolor Notebook

Paco Park Sketchwalk

     A friend tipped me into doing a sketch at Paco park. In Manila. I was raining a little when I arrived and won't let up. Desperate not to waste time and returning without anything, I found myself positioning under a tree hoping that the few leaves will protect me from the continuous drizzle. Then, after about 15 minutes as I lay down the last strokes of color, the sun appeared!

The Paco Park Chapel

Monday, August 11, 2014

New toys from Jackson's Art Supply

          I believe in “buy the best materials you can afford”. But the best materials are very difficult to source if not impossible. When it comes to watercolor, most art supply stores which are  few mainly stock student grade supplies. I’m not sure if there are lots of people who share my frustration, though I’m still glad that the variety and quality of the stocks has improved through the years.
     One of the tools that are very difficult to acquire here are kolinsky sable brushes. Specifically the one with collapsible handles use in plein air painting. It has to be sourced somewhere else. Outside. Unfortunately at the time I’m making my order, brushes like these are not available neither from DickBlick nor Cheap Joe’s. So I checked on the other side of the globe, Jackson's Art supply in UK. It took about one month for them to arrive.

The brushes are works of art in itself. Such beauties are worth the wait.
From left: Jackson's squirrel Flat, Escoda Reserva travel brush sizes 4 and 8, Pro Arte flat travel brush, Pro Arte synthetics 2,4,6, and da Vinci Maestro size 6. 


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sketch Kit Mark IV!

     Here it is. The new and improved sketch kit!

Addition of  MDF board from a clipboard, binder clips, and a piece of magnet.

An elastic band with velcro holds everything in place.

Mark IV in action. The MDF provides a sturdy backing and makes everything comfortable to hold. The magnet attached to the clip holds the watercolor tin in place.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Manila Zoo Sketchwalk

     I haven't been in Manila Zoo since grade school so I thought now is the time to revisit the place. It was just an impulsive move since I have the free time after visiting my dentist. Fortunately I have my sketch kit with me, Sketch Kit Mark III! 

Sketch kit Mark III.  Mark II didn't even made it to the field test. After weeks of effort in painting the Altoids tin, I was disappointed the it just easily chipped off on the slightest bump. Besides, it is still a little too big and thick for my taste.
My office mate who is also a watercolor enthusiast gave me a small candy tin. Notice the manly color. It was very small though that it fits comfortably in my pocket. Now that’s stealth sketching.

      I was amazed at the number of people visiting, I guess it has something to do with the new animals they have acquired. I just hope they are properly taken care of.

     Having gained confidence from my previous sketching session, I felt that I’m more in control of my strokes. People doesn't distract me as much, unless they become too curious that their faces comes within one foot of mine. It was fun. I even had some kids and adults following me as I go and search for the next spot.

     Based on these experience I thought that the sketch kit still needs to be improved as to provide an even more comfortable painting experience. More on that on my next post, Sketch Kit Mark IV!

Friday, August 8, 2014

The First Plein Air Experience

     After completing my sketch kit I've decided that it's time to go out and paint. Armed with a Sakura Koi Waterbrush, Winsor and Newton Artists' Field Box, and a small Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, I went to the first place that I thought would provide me with inspiration, Intramuros.

Winsor & Newton Artists' Field Box
     Entering Intramuros from Manila City Hall side, I tried to remember how to get to Manila Cathedral. It has been years since I’ve been here. Along the way, I also tried to scout any spot that might be interesting to draw. Wow, they are really restoring this place. There are lots of buildings already renovated. New buildings are being built along the theme of the existing buildings, the guards are wearing uniforms as if they were Spanish soldiers of that time (I was later told that by my niece this has been going on a few years already). When I've finally arrived at the Manila Cathedral at 11:00 am, there were lots of people and its hard to find a spot to paint. Maybe I could just paint the fountain in front of the church. I knew its not going to be comfortable drawing and painting with all the people passing by, but I never knew I’ll feel VERY uncomfortable. I just keep telling myself that I have to draw something. I won’t go home without filling a page on my sketchbook. My hands were shaking as I lay down my first lines. What’s happening? I think It was a combination of anxiousness to get things right, excitement of the moment, and the distraction of the people.

My first attempt didn't go well, I ended up sketching a person sitting in the fountain. People keep moving so memory and speed drawing is necessary. 

     I thought that I should just go somewhere else. I remember seeing another good spot along the way so I decided to go there.

After 10 minutes into the painting, the sky began to darken so I've decided to wrap things up.

      I’m quite satisfied the way things turned up. Not bad for a first attempt, I thought. I should be doing this from now on. This is my new high! If only there is a group of people with the same interest to paint with...