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:



Memorable Books Read in 2015

So my friend and fellow bookworm @bookishremarks asked me what my top 5 books were for the 2015. I knew instantly which 5 books I wanted on the list. But given the fact that I’ve lent out some of them, it was impossible to gather them all for one photoshoot. So considering that it is already 2016 and I needed to get this done with lest it end up on my ever growing list of the perpetually undone, I settled for the most reasonable alternative and drew (sadly inaccurate) portraits of each one.

Aaand so my Top 5 Books for 2015 are:

  1. Quiet by Susan Cain (or My Book of Self Discovery)
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (or The Book That Changed My Life)
  3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (or The Book That Made Me Cry)
  4. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (or The Book That Was Unlike Anything I’ve Ever Read Before)
  5. Movement & Form by Samantha Youssef (or The Drawing Advice I Wish I Had A Decade Earlier)

Over the week I will (hopefully) be posting one by one the reasons why these were my top picks for 2015. 😀



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. 🙂


Stuff I Love: The Youssef Drawing Syllabus

Movement and Form by Samantha Youssef

So animator Samantha Youssef of Studio Technique is crowdfunding a book from her online course, the Youssef Drawing Syllabus on Kickstarter. The syllabus comes in three parts, which will each be a volume in her bookset. The Kickstarter campaign is for the first volume, which covers Movement and Form.

I’m supporting this project because I’ve wanted to take Samantha’s classes for a long time. Her multidisciplinary approach – particularly incorporating classical ballet and dance into teaching drawing and animation – appeals to me as I believe that art is a language that cuts across all disciplines.

On Youtube: Samantha’s live demo and critique session for book promotion.

Good news: the project looks like it’s going to be successful. Only 3 days in and it’s already almost 50% funded.

However, I do want it to be so ridiculously successful that Samantha will have no problem releasing an ebook, and the second, and the third book in the near future.

So if you like this sort of thing, do check it out! The Kickstarter page is here. You can learn more about Samantha’s classes at the Studio Technique website. Plus, here is a really good interview that picks her mind about how she teaches drawing and animation. 🙂


Update (December 2015): The book has arrived! I’ve already gone through it all and it’s an amazing read. But to really test it, I will be applying the techniques here over the next few months and see what I learn.


Stuff in the Mail: Ski Kitty from Leah

Like many things in my life right now, posting this is long overdue! 🙂

Before last Christmas, my online buddy Leah Peterson asked if I’d like to do a card exchange with her. And, of course, being the card and art exchange loving type I said yes!

I sent her the original of the Happy 2015 illustration I posted earlier. She then sent me the cool and Christmassy card above.

Just like that Christmas card, all of Leah’s work is vibrant and happy. I’ve put a small selection of her work below. You’ll find a lot more on her site. 🙂

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