Flower Power

So, as it happens, my latest obsession has been botanical art. This is partially due to the fact that some of my favorite artists are really into it as well. But I think that it’s also something that fits my personality well. While I do love creating loose, expressive watercolors as much as every other painter, most of the time I prefer to be methodical when it comes to most things. I’m still not 100% exact when it comes to botanicals, though. (Still too impatient for that.) But at least, it’s methodical.


Referenced from The Sweet Pea Book by Graham Rice

You can blame it on good old nursing school discipline, perhaps. Anything I do still follows the framework of assess-diagnose-plan-implement-evaluate. Yes, for everything. Even painting. And, as you may imagine, that’s not exactly something that flies when you’re trying to be loose and painterly. Basically, I have a stick up my ass. So judge me.


It’s taking forever to finish this one…

And while I do like getting messy with paint sometimes, I find planning and taking my time to put in tiny details just so meditative. This is probably why, nowadays, finishing a single piece takes such a long time. Painting is not any more about producing finished things to post online (although that’s nice when it happens, too). Instead, it has become about exploration, getting to know things in a way you never would otherwise. You can, after all, appreciate all the flowers in a parts. But drawing them helps you get to know every single leaf whether green or dry and every single hole carved out by a hungry insect. You don’t see flowers that are just white or red or yellow anymore. Instead, you get to know all the tiny little hints of purple or blue or deep gold. That’s the true joy of painting, I think.


In honor of R+L=J

And on today’s morning walk, I think I found myself my next subject. If anyone can tell me what sort of plant this is, I’d very much appreciate it.


Where to Next?

(bits and pieces of the past two months because I’m so far behind with blogging)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself so far this year, it’s that I’m super restless. I have a chronic need to always have a plan, to learn things, to make things, to have a purpose. And so I immerse myself in pretty much anything that sparks my interest. Which is probably how I end up places, wondering how on earth I’ve gotten here.

That’s pretty much how this year has gone so far.

Oh, and most of it is recorded in this really nifty planner which I have turned into a visual journal.

Where to Next?

(As a side note: It’s obvious that this photo was taken on a really stressful day. There are very few occasions in which I’m willing to buy both dark chocolate and a cappuccino to calm my spirits.)

“Where to Next?” I like that. It implies a sense of completion and, at the same time, excitedly moving forward to the next new thing.  Oh, and the great thing about this planner is that the pages are, for the most part, unlined. So I had a bit of fun documenting my life in small doodles inspired by the work of @naomi_zz_kuwa.

A Visual Journal Page

Sketching stuff I’ve eaten, and memories of a twice-a-week zumba dancing session I’ve been going to. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve really danced but it’s always nice to get the feel of your own body.
A Visual Journal Page

We spent the Holy Week at my father’s home town. So one day we went out to visit some relatives and they didn’t say we would be going to the beach afterwards. So I didn’t bring any beach stuff and so, instead, sketched the beach people.

A Visual Journal Page

Some more things I’ve eaten, running at Pelaez Sports Center, a Calligraphy workshop (which we’ll get into in a bit), and brush pens I bought on impulse after a tip from a fellow art supply addict.


I’ve also taken to sticking receipts, labels and movie tickets in the pages. Just so I know what I’ve done that day. Here, I bought a pair of sunglasses because of the goddamn summer heat.

And also: vandalizing unapologetically on the photo pages with a white ink pen. I am so in love with white ink right now.

White ink on a photo pages of the Where To Next Planner. White ink on a photo pages of the Where To Next Planner.

(Poem credit to Nayyirah Waheed, who writes the shortest but most heartfelt poems I have ever seen.)

By the way, this one is a travel planner from Where to Next? which my boyfriend gave me (after claiming that he was keeping it for himself.) Admittedly, most of it is still blank because sometimes I’m too preoccupied with things to spare time for a doodle. (Or, more accurately, I tend to doodle pretty much everywhere and I forget to doodle on this one.)

So, those calligraphy classes I mentioned? Now, I must admit first that my writing has always been horrid. I was THAT kid in class whose papers got sent home with a footnote to “please improve your handwriting” much to the dismay of my mother, whose handwriting is pristine.

After a workshop by @sheilaleng, however, I’m convinced that if they had taught us to write with dip pens back in elementary school, my writing would be gorgeous af.

Calligraphy Workshop in CDO

Nobody ever said that calligraphy was so addicting, but I couldn’t stop for a while until I ran out of paper.

Calligraphy Workshop in CDO Calligraphy Workshop in CDO

Calligraphy Workshop in CDOI’m hoping I can snag a slot in a brush pen workshop during the summer, too.

Earlier this month, I also got a chance to be a Fellow at the first Cagayan de Oro Writer’s Workshop, which was so refreshing and eye-opening that it deserves an entire blog post of its own. Maybe soon. (Although do note that I have a habit of promising blog posts about something or another, and then forgetting about them.)

The First Cagayan de Oro Writer's Workshop

All that is just the tip of the iceberg of what happened in the past two months. I hardly believe it’s only been two months myself!

OK, so the reason behind this seemingly random, patchwork blog post is that I just wanted to get caught up with blogging. There are so many things I still need to write about but I figure I needed to kickstart it a bit.

Hopefully, I’ll be posting more frequent and more organized entries in the next few months. There are so many new, exciting things happening and I can’t wait to tell you all about them.

In the meantime here’s a photo of my dog to distract you from the fact that I’m not sure how to end:



Catching up over lunch

Given that so much has happened over the past few months and I haven’t been blogging a whole lot, I have so much to catch up on! I haven’t had that much time to draw, either. Although I do draw more than the average person (mostly because of low attention span issues, and it’s one of the only ways I can ever focus on anything), but lately it just hasn’t been enough to churn out a lot of stuff I would post online.

However that doesn’t mean I haven’t been drawing a lot of my favorite thing to draw: food. There are so many advantages to drawing food. First: It stays still. Unless someone else touches it before you finish, which is why in this case I do not recommend sharing. Second: It’s always pretty. Or, at least, it’s always possible to make it pretty or fascinating on paper. Third: There’s so much variety in form, textures and colors. Fourth: It’s fun to understand your food. Sometimes you just don’t notice things when you’re so intent on eating them. Fifth: You get to eat it afterwards. The only disadvantage, I guess, is that it gets cold after drawing. But that’s not something I mind entirely.

One of my favorite drawing places is Missy Bonbon. They have some of the best salads and breads. Also love their gelato. Plus, they have such a cheery ambiance and very reliable WiFi.

Salad and Tea at Missy BonbonSalad and Tea at Missy Bonbon

If you’ve been following for a while, you know I’ve posted sketches of their food a couple of times before:

1-IMG_6268 IMG_5897

Another of my favorite drawing places as of late is Red Nectar. Their specialty is fruit and veggie shakes which, admittedly, I’m not all that into. They serve a decent coffee, though. And I’ve recently tried their Kori Kohi which is basically coffee cubes in milk. I dig this so much. It’s basically just milk that gets coffee-ier and coffee-ier by the minute.

Lunch at Red NectarPasta and Kohi Kori and Red Nectar

It’s a convenient chill place because it’s near my uni. A bonus is that it’s always fun as a 20-something to chill with a slow, solo lunch and listen to college kids overthinking their relationships out loud. Don’t worry, kids. I don’t judge. Was like that once. Although there was this one time I was sorely tempted to tell some guy at the next table “Uhm, I’m sorry bro, but I just don’t think she’s into you, you know.”

For lunch, I usually go for anything with pesto, just because their pesto smells amazing.

Coffee and a Sandwich at Red Nectar

Yet another place I’ve gotten the chance to go to pretty often is Dave’s Beanery Cafe, which is a bit of a pitstop when I’m going around barangays for work. I only go there for coffee, although one day I’d like to try their cakes which are huge for coffee shop standards.

Display at Dave's Beanery

Dave's Beanery

There are a few other of my favorite coffee and lunch places which I haven’t managed to sketch. Mostly because I’m just there for a quick lunch or I’m feeling self-conscious about sketching at the moment. Perhaps I’ll make it my mission over the holidays to sketch them all.

(By the way, my Instagram is a bit more updated than this blog. Mostly because I don’t curate it with really high standards. So if you’re on IG, perhaps you’d like to check it out too.)


Repurposing a Children’s Palette

A few months ago, my trusty pocket palette began to rust. This probably could have been prevented had I sprayed the metal pans beforehand with some kind of sealant, but what’s done is done.

So lately, I’ve been trying out alternative palettes, the latest of which was a pill box that turned out to be really inconvenient and prone to spills. On a trip to a school supply store, I ran across a relatively cheap watercolor set (about Php 60.00) that had what looked like a pretty good palette.

Now, I am aware that when this watercolor set was made, someone probably handcrafted it with the best intentions that it would one day be used by some eager schoolchild to discover the wonders of art. (Or perhaps it was just put together by some factory slave who didn’t care less. I don’t care less either way.) But this process just goes to show that you can never have everything in life. Especially while utilitarian maniacs like me run free.

So without further ado (and the manufacturer’s feelings not considered), here is how to repurpose a children’s palette into… just a palette:
Brand New Palette

I got this watercolor set from Gaisano. The palette itself has the quality of a standard plastic artist’s palette. It will probably stain from strong pigments, but this isn’t a big deal. The brush, however, isn’t too good so you can just throw it away.

If you like, you can use the set for projects that don’t require lightfast pigments. The color concentration is quite good, if not a bit chalky. This is because student-grade paints have a chalk filler. We’ll be using this to our advantage shortly. Note that this process does not work with higher-quality paints, which are more tacky than chalky. You’d have to wash all the paint off, although this is a waste of good paint.

Cracking the colors

Because the paint is chalky, it cracks easily. You can chisel parts of the paint block away and it will crack, making it easy to remove. At this point, you can collect the bits of paint, put them in small ziplock bags and crush them into a powder. The resulting color dust has many creative applications. And also, it’s less wasteful.

Washing the palette

Now, no matter how carefully you’ve removed the paint blocks, there is still likely to be a bit left in the pan. If you soak this in a solution of water and soap for a while, it will be easier to take off.

Note that they stick the paint blocks into the pan with a double-sided adhesive. You can scratch this out with your fingernails. (I shall refrain posting a photo of my dirty fingernails here.)

Clean PaletteOnce the palette is clean, some parts of the plastic may still be stained with paint. But this is nothing to worry about.

Refilling the palette pans

Finally, you can now fill in the pans with your choice of artist-grade paint. Personally, I mixed in a bit of baking soda with a toothpick to prevent mold. (Mold is generally not a problem if you leave it to dry after using, but sometimes when you’re in a rush it can’t be prevented.)

Since there are only eight pans, I filled it in with a split primary palette plus two sentimental colors.

Finally, let the paint cure overnight. With the brand of paint I’m using (M. Graham), it will dry a bit tacky. Other brands will dry rock hard (although not chalky).

Palette Process Animation

So there you go! No need to buy an expensive palette.

Can’t wait to test this out. It’s been a while since I’ve gone out to urban sketch in color. 🙂


Chillin’ at Bo’s

Passport renewal takes up a huge chunk of the day, especially if you happen to have not shown up on time. (No thanks to National Department of Foreign Affairs for making the entire process more centralized and more time consuming. Before the changes, I got a passport well within two hours of application. The local DFA, however, is well appreciated.)

After the ordeal, I decided to have a really late lunch and a coffee at Bo’s Cafe.

Aaand details just because the camera I managed to snag today is pretty amazing: chillinatbos-preview3 chillinatbos-preview chillinatbos-preview2 I’ve decided that this place is officially my favorite coffeeshop. You can find another sketch of the place here.

Done with fineliners and watercolor on khadda paper.