Monday, December 29, 2014


       This was a very challenging life session at the Basic Inquiry. Usually poses work their way up from 1 to 15 minutes. Our model, Marilou, a professional Flamenco dancer from Acapulco, got into a rhythm first, recalling some routines before settling with a pose for 5 minutes before shaking it all off to strike another pose for 5 minutes again. This continued for 3 hours. I did quite a number of quick-fire sketches before finding my way to this one, using different tools, charcoal pencils, charcoal sticks, blue pencils, news print and eventually watercolor. I managed to pin down a fast pencil sketch and a spontaneous light wash within the 5 minutes. After it all ended, I slowed down and added shadows and background splashes.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


This is a painting I did during a recent watercolor workshop I attended. This was my second attempt painting the same picture, trying to understand how color behaves in water. From washes to creating texture, I took notes and mostly observed what the instructor was doing in class (even if I brought all my materials) and then continued to paint at home. I took liberties at using different splashes of warm and cool colors departing from the stoic cold gray of the reference photo. The other two I uploaded were not part of the workshop, but I thought of doing a black and white sketch first to come up with different interpretations of light and shadows. After selecting the best one, I did a small color study (palm size) before doing the bigger piece. I learned from the first attempt, that preparation is key. Someone once said that watercolors is much like living your life forward and understanding it backward. You do it and then you say I shouldn't have done that, and it's too late. It can't happen again.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


BRIDGE OVER LILLIED WATERS: PAINT NITE DEUX ~ Thank you to Cu Xi and friends! Actually, their friend #5 couldn't make it so, that night I was Yolanda, hanging out with some classy ladies. The tag line of the event says Drink Creatively: I used my drink to get creative. Budweiser is now a part of this painting's DNA

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


            This was a practice painting using a photo reference, courtesy of Owno Photo. I could somehow relate to the lone duck, breaking away from the group, finding a quiet spot to call it's own in the early misty morning. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014


I was with a friend MJ walking along Moncton St. with our sketch books. It was around 4pm and establishments were winding down their operations and calling it a day. We managed to get ourselves some coffee and pastries and sat ourselves at a table facing the Cannery. The sun was out but it was really chilly and windy. This was done straight with a micron pen. Pretty proud of myself since I'm so used to laying down sketchy guidelines to begin with.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


         This is a sketch I did on site of an art installation known as the Light Shed. It was very cold outside. I was on a bench not too far from the installation, shivering, while everybody else seemed fine. People were in shorts, biking, jogging, running. (My nose went on its own marathon as well). The amazing thing about this is that it's entirely a cast made from a light gray non-shiny aluminum. It also has internal lights that are timed to go off at night, illuminating the sculpture from the inside, shining through the glazed windows and through the crack of the slightly ajar front door. On the end of one of the beams the little hut is resting on, there was a round, black palm-sized sticker that suggested that underneath the shed was a good place to kiss.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


        "Have you heard about this guy named Robert Bateman?" I asked. ROBERT BATEMAN? ROBERT BATEMAN?! "He's only the best living WATERCOLOR artist in Canada." A confession I made to Robert about a conversation I had with watercolor artists since I only found out about who he was a week before meeting him. Robert laughed and said thank you. Then he leaned in a bit and whispered, "I actually paint in acrylics and oils." (Some fast facts about him: In the 1950s he went around the world in a Land Rover ; He drew an unusually large crowd for a living artist at his exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute in '87 ; He destroyed his own painting of orca whales demonstrating his protest against the possibility of oil tankers passing through B.C.'s Douglas Channel.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Holy Post itz Batman! This greeted me as I came back to work from a 4 day holiday. Our resident prankster Jordan has once again had too much time on his hands! I sat on my un-posted-it chair looking and observing the meticulous work laid out like overlapping colored paper bricks. Unbelievable. Everything was tiled from the cpu, phone, mug, mousepad, even the narrow tops of the monitors were covered by half vertically torn post its. The 2 botttom drawers were taped together as I later on discovered. Good grief. It also came with a disclaimer and a note that justified the use of post its! Nice. Well played. It felt more like a treat than a prank. A cool work of art at the start of the day. Amazing. I felt kinda bad having to destroy it all by taking it apart so I decided to slowly lift off portions of it until the end of the week. If anyone needs post its, don't ask. Just take 'em!

Sunday, October 19, 2014


This was my second attempt on the same still lifes. I used masking fluid for the highlights on the glass jar and corn kernels. The masking fluid is like rubber cement. Once it dries, you can freely paint over the area without fussing with which parts to leave out. When you are ready to reveal the highlights, you simply rub the dried masking fluid off with your finger or the sticky side of some scotch tape. The preserved white areas will have a sharp edge to it though, so if you need to soften the edges, you will have to go over it slowly with just the right values. In this exercise, I left the highlights as they were and did not retouch any of the edges. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Back in the day, I remember asking myself if it were possible to solve the mystery while reading one of the Sherlock Holmes Chronicles. I went as far as taking notes of each character, their quirks, every evidence presented in the story, finding connections, jotting down my impressions and hypotheses before I got to the end of the story. When I did, I was far from solving the crime. (Maybe a puff of opium from a pipe would have helped?) There were crucial details left out in the story. (Unfair!) Details that Sherlock observed that Watson missed. From that time, I decided to read it for sheer entertainment. Having seen the TV Series adaptation of Sherlock portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, I am so looking forward to Season 4. This is a quick sketch I made using a blue colored pencil.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I was told that Oppenheimer Park used to be where the center of the festival activities used to be. It is now occupied by homeless people protesting the removal of residents in the park. There was the occasional screamer, (a guy trying to pitch his tent but couldn't. He eventually did.) but otherwise, this peaceful scene was a direct contrast to all the activity 1 minute away from the other side of the street.

Monday, October 6, 2014


        The grey skies and rain did little to dampen our spirits. We broke out our sketch books and did quick 10-20 minute sketches when we hit the falls. The sky opened up in the afternoon, the sun came out to greet us, the scenes changed from light and shade to misty and atmospheric. Here are some snaps on the way up that made the cut. It was a full day of hiking, painting, photographing for me ~ three of the four activities I enjoy doing, all in one event with some awesome artists.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


       The view up there is amazing. 900 meters. Waterfalls. Tree ladders. Ropes. Chains. Steep inclines. Misty forests. If anyone tells you to "take a hike", do it!

Monday, September 15, 2014


        At the VanDusen Botanical Gardens with my friend Lara.  I had my paint and sketchbook in hand and was looking for something unusual and unique to the place to paint. After walking around looking at green leaves...and green grass...and green plants, this tractor came out of nowhere and said, paint me! I found a sweet spot on the grass and a rock to lean my back on. The water I used for this painting was from a small flowing stream just behind me.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


                      Where did the 3 hours go? Traditional Life drawing @ New Westminster. The venue provided easels and I felt like an amateur, clipping my dinky little tear away pad on the easel board while others brought their huge newsprints to draw on. Once I started to draw though, I couldn't care any less. This particular session was different from the others that I attended since the longest pose was only 20 minutes short. I see how being present in that kind of environment can affect your drawing as opposed to a much longer pose or even doing this at home, copying off a picture. I felt very tense under time pressure, trying to capture the essence of the pose as quickly as I could. It felt like I was transferring that energetic, intense pace into the art. When it was all drawn and done, that was the only time the tension melted away, leaving me exhausted, stretched beyond my comfort zone BUT feeling like I achieved something today. (and exceeded my drawing quota for the week!)

Sunday, August 31, 2014


                                          Glad that the weather cleared up and the sun decided to show itself! There were about 11 artists on site at the Heritage Stewart Farm in Surrey. There were so many things to capture (i.e. barn with original tools and machinery, boats, work sheds, and a root cellar (the closest thing to a fridge back in the day) but we only had 2 hours to sketch. This restored farmhouse from the 1890s was the star of the show! Not to mention the two ladies in Victorian costumes who'd be more than happy to give you a tour of the house.

I've been practicing my pen and ink sketches and thought I'd give it a go with the farmhouse. The tree on the left was actually inside the fence but I didn't like how it hid part of the house. Keeping it outside the fence was much better and it also frames the scene quite nicely. I had just enough time to do a color wash before the time was up. Some finishing touches were done to tighten up the painting after.

Having a foldable chair in tow allows me to be selective of my vantage point without having to stand while sketching or getting "brown butt" by sitting on the ground. I was quite comfortable sitting at the parking lot of the farm, under a shade.

The two beautiful "Victorian" ladies came out to join us. You can see all our sketchbooks on the floor. They liked what they saw...and so did I!

Monday, August 11, 2014


    Here's a page out of my other sketchbook. I usually do a rough gestural flow of the subject with a pencil but this time it was just me, my sketchbook and a pen. I was at the Chinese Garden taking it slow and easy. I thoroughly enjoyed noting down some things I never noticed before, things that I overheard from others who came by my way, things I would have missed had I just taken a photo and walked away. This tree represents more than an ornament in the garden but it is a philosophy in itself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


     What better way to spend a summer Saturday afternoon than being outdoors, having an ice cold latte...trees, fresh air and sketching with fellow sketchers in the city.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


       This is a cool archway, the Jubilee Grove on Patterson and Kingsway. If you looked straight through the arch, you might find some random couple sitting on the platform of the fountain. I liked how the arch naturally framed them. I often though of photographing it whenever the opportunity came again and then one day, it did. I chickened out though. I felt like a paparazzi intruding on their quality time together. So, a sketch to capture this heritage site was a better alternative. I had to come back to this place on three different days at three different times to get some kind of cast shadow happening.

Monday, July 7, 2014


         Dr. Sketchy #2. This was held at the Wallflower. Such a great vibe in the place, friendly atmosphere, cool music and we all were treated to a dance/tease by Dolly Dynamite before taking it off. I took the liberty of cleaning up my sketchy lines and smoothing out the tones after. These were selected from several other drawings that were either warm up sketches or remained unfinished (hmmm...must have been distracted by something else.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


       This is a practice painting I did with watercolors using a picture from the internet. (Painting city streets and buildings was not a very good subject for someone starting out. I thought this barn was good enough to start with!) I woke up 6:00am one morning to see what it felt like to paint before starting my work day. I continued this the next two mornings at around 630am. It felt good to start the day with some art and a proper breakfast.

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