Candice’s first public recital

Hello! It’s been a while since I last made an update. I’m alive and able and well. I went through 2 weeks of life challenge, and I had to drop a lot of things then in order to focus on what needs to be addressed right away. I’m not sure if I can share the details here as it’s too painful to think about it right now. Let me just share with you a happy moment, like Candice’s first public recital! Yup, the little girl has completed her first summer piano course and was more than glad to perform in front of an unknown crowd. I’m so proud of her! She played her two pieces without mistakes. Here’s a short video that I posted on Instagram:

Candice playing 10 Little Indians during the recital

A video posted by Connie Luayon (@conniesnotebook) on

I’m thankful for her teacher who managed to teach her a lot of pieces in less than 12 sessions. We’re now thinking of having her tutored again come October — but in the actual studio this time. Stella will join her sister next summer and learn piano too.
I was so in awe of the other kids, really young people, who did their best and practiced hard. Truly, you do not need a lot to achieve excellence. You only need your passion and your instrument. Though of course, it wouldn’t hurt to have additional gadgets later on. I actually scrutinized the sound system before the program proper to check what high tech stuff they got … maybe a pioneer dj controller or something.

Congratulations, Ate Candice! We are ever proud of you. There’ll be more of this for sure.

Piano Lessons

It’s such a wonderful feeling to see Candice make considerable progress in her piano lessons. It does make a lot of difference when your child is interested in her lessons and eager to learn more. And it helps that her piano teacher is a certified music teacher and a veteran musician.

I have been taking piano “lessons” too — in the comforts of our home and with MYSELF as the teacher. I hadn’t actually (or seriously) played for over 20 years. But now I feel compelled to refresh my skills and to relearn my minuets and sonatinas so my kids will be inspired and motivated to play more and to get past my skill level. I play mostly classical pieces because I had studied classical piano for a total of 10 years or so.  My husband plays mostly jazz, contemporary, and pop.

I’m currently doing the Bach pieces from my old Bach-Carroll book. I finished the book when I quit at Grade/Level 4 in music school. It required so much effort on my part, really. Until now I grapple with pieces that have like 4 flats. They make me anxious! But at my age and disposition, I now feel more determined and more than happy to take on the challenge. :D No more college of music professors to badger me or to force me to run exercises for like half an hour. I just play for pleasure and inspiration and learn at my own pace.

In 2 years, Stella will start taking music lessons as well. I don’t know yet what instrument she will take. My husband and I try our best to support our girls’ musical endeavours. If the little girl asks for drum lessons, we will definitely give her the go signal (and then work our socks off to get her a Zildjian set with z hats. LOL.) In the meantime, she picks up a few notes from Ate Candice and composes her own songs. Looks like she’ll be the composer in the family.

Happy Mother’s Day framed greeting in watercolor

Hello, everyone! We have 3 more days until Mother’s Day. Who’s excited? I am! I look forward to a day spent with my family this Sunday, May 10th. I’ve been so preoccupied with chores and solo parenting since my husband started his rounds of teacher training last April. He was given 6 this year and had to go to 5 different places in Luzon. He’s on the last leg as I write this, and I can’t wait for it all to get done and for us to be complete once more.

momsday periwinkle 01

Anyway, I’m sharing with you this Happy Mother’s Day framed greeting in watercolor that I did for my Mama. She’s in Batanes right now doing the thing she likes best, and that’s traveling solo! (Yes, I come from a line of adventurous, independent women. We chop wood and climb trees, too. Hehehe.) I hope to see her this Sunday when we gather for this worldwide, highly commercialized occasion. (The real Mother’s Day celebration in our family actually happens every September 8th.)

Oops, sorry for the digression. ;o)

To make this watercolor framed greeting, I simply doodled periwinkles on Canson watercolor paper with my Sakura #4 brush. Then, I stamped the Happy Mother’s Day sentiment (from the Hero Arts “Celebrate Everyday” clear stamp set) and trimmed the paper to fit a 5R desk frame.  I made 2 more Mother’s Day framed greetings also in watercolor and made them available for purchase via Facebook ( They were sold and shipped 3 days after I posted them! Must remember to make more for next year’s Mother’s Day celeb.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

Review of the Canson Mixed Media Sketchbook XL Series

Our weekly housekeeper thought to clean my art nook last time and arranged my art books, paper pads and sketchbooks according to size (!!!) Naturally I went a little crazy when I started looking for this and that. I know that my stuff look more like a clutter. But honestly: I do know where my items are and I’m the only one who can make sense out of my elaborate system of organization that is – OKAY – clutter. Anyway, to make myself calm, I gathered some of my favorite sketchbooks last night and put them in plastic envelopes and pouches. I’ve yet to provide a nice home for my two Canson mixed media XL series sketchbooks that measure 9” x 12” and 7” x 10” respectively. And while they’re literally beside me as I write this and waiting to be put away, I thought I’d do a little review of these mixed media papers.

canson xl series

A bit of side story: I got my first Canson mixed media sketchbook sometime in June or July last year. A dear friend based in California learned that I had just renewed my passion for drawing and painting. We had a chat last summer (around March 2014) and he asked me what art supplies I might want or need. I said I just need papers for sketching and watercolor. So he shopped for a few items at Blick’s, got additional items for my cardmaking/scrapbooking projects, and shipped them. Unfortunately, the parcel was returned to him because there was some problem with our town’s postal system. Right! And then in June, his sister came here for a vacation and mailed the stuff to me from Bicol via LBC. I was so surprised ‘cause I didn’t expect anything to arrive at that time. It was a #YEHEY moment indeed! Now, my second Canson XL series pad (the smaller one) was purchased by my brother while he was vacationing in New York. It came with the Sakura Koi pan set, the Derwent Inktense pencils set, and a foldable watercolor palette. Yes, I am the spoiled one.

On to the review: I asked for mixed media papers at that time because I wasn’t sure yet which medium I’d want to settle with. I was doing pencil, watercolor, and acrylics mostly. I first tested the paper with a graphite pencil. Here’s a profile sketch of a fairy:

fairy profile sketch

No doubt, this paper is good for pencil works. It’s pretty much like a thick cartridge drawing paper. I’ve never tried using colored pencils on this paper and blending the colors with a stump. But I supposed they’d turn out well too.

After doing the preliminary sketch, I gave the fairy a light wash using Sakura Koi watercolors, Derwent Inktense pencils, and Tsukineko Memento markers:

fairy profile wash

Watercolor is okay as long as you’re going for light washes only. I don’t think this paper would be good for color mixing or WIW techniques. Another thing: the Inktense pencils didn’t seem to rub well on the surface and when I tried to activate and blend the colors with a wet brush, the pigment settled quickly on the paper! I was really disappointed. What I should probably do next time is to just pick up the color from the ink pencil using a brush and then lay down the pigment on paper.

Here’s another ink and watercolor sketch that I did on the Canson Mixed Media XL series. The paper buckled a bit but it straightened out later.

pear on canson xl mixed mediaMy recommendations: This paper is absolutely good for dry media so go ahead and play with your pencils, charcoal, colored pencils and pens. If you wish to do wet media like ink, watercolors and acrylics, I suggest that you do light washes/alla prima only or coat the pages first with gesso before laying down the paints.

Other good points: The sizes are superb! I’m actually happy with what I got. Check out the other sizes and dimensions available for portrait and landscape illustrations. I also like the perforated pages. I use these sketchbooks mainly for studies and practice. But there’s this happy thought of tearing off a page of study that turns out perfect for framing. :o)

And that’s all there is, there isn’t anymore. If you’d like to give the Canson XL series a try, you might want to purchase it through my Amazon aStore. Remember to read the product details and costumer reviews of the Canson Mixed Media XL Series before buying it.