Art Journal Page: La Vita Nuova

The past three weeks have been a sort of fermentation for me. And it doesn’t end today, not with this post anyway. I like to go with the process or with the flow whenever possible, so I can arrive at something in due time without any regret or reservations. When I made an important decision end of October, I instantly felt free and silently cried “Freedom!” from my dining chair. There was guilt all the same, but I was certain that joy will overcome every bit of negative feeling that goes with the turning.


I’m still in transition and I’m enjoying the ride. Of course, there will always be Plan B. In fact both Plan A and Plan B have been launched, just for me to see if matters can be realigned and priorities will undergo a shift. In the meantime, I comfort myself with the thought that I have arrived at this after some feverish reflection and copious writing in my journals. And how propitious some circumstances can be? I actually picked up a novel by A.S. Byatt and read about a main character diving into la vita nuova. I then knew I wasn’t alone in this. There is a time for everything.

Watercolor Series: Listen To The Trees

The northeast monsoon winds have come, and I can’t help but savor the cold breeze and watch with intent all those leaves and blooms falling gently from the trees. Yes, those are among my simple delights at this time of year. And while I’m trapped in all things pseudo-Autumn, allow me to share this watercolor series that I painted a few months ago. Trees are among my favorite subjects to draw and paint. There’s no doubt that I enjoyed doing these mini paintings immensely.

green and purple small

^ Before I began these paintings, I didn’t have a clear subject or composition in mind. All I knew was I wanted to practice negative painting and develop my own style eventually. When I started making circles, trees just came to mind. And it was then when I realized I hadn’t actually painted trees for some time! And what if I make them appear like they’re saying something in a very subtle and quiet way every time they change their colors? So I went on with the idea and referred to seasonal palettes. The green and yellow trees are supposed to represent Spring, and the purple and pink trees are for Winter. (I hope you could accept Winter trees in lush as I didn’t want them to look bare or petrified.)

autumn finished small

^ This one obviously represents Autumn. I wasn’t too happy with how I drew the trees. They looked so skinny. I guess I lost the groove, because I did this a week after I did Spring and Winter. Nevertheless, I’m loving the yellow and orange colors blending with the brown background. Next time, I’ll have to incorporate the color red as well.

And here are a few progress shots:

spring wip small

The Spring trees were done mostly in watercolor. I used Sakura Koi to render this painting on 180 gsm watercolor paper (Berkeley). The trees were lined and slightly shaded with Prismacolor Premier colored pencils. The white dots were made with a white Faber-Castell PITT pen. After everything dried up, I stamped the text blocks using Hero Hues archival ink.

winter wip small

The Winter trees are my favorite. I like how plump the trees look (despite the season being, ahem, Winter.) The colors are divine. I just love to combine indigo with blues and purples. These colors seem to exude calmness and encourage introspection. I used Van Gogh and Sakura Koi watercolors to paint everything and lined the trees with Inktense pencils. All done on 180 gsm Berkeley watercolor paper.

autumn wip smallThe Autumn trees were painted with Sakura Koi watercolors and lined with Inktense pencils. I’m showing you a photo of the raw negative painting. I remember doing this in the wee hours of the morning. My husband was out of town and I kept waking up and getting out of bed to check on our doors and think of things to do while the kids were asleep. It’s quite a struggle to paint under artificial light, but there’s that sense of peace when you spend some alone time in the dead of the night (and at home, of course.)

And in case you’re wondering about the Summer trees … well, I’ve yet to make them. :o) For now, it’s just these three seasons that make this watercolor series.

Thanks for dropping by!

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Mr. Kimbob’s Beef Bibimbob

I’m not always likely to treat myself to a fancy meal every time I go on a day off. I know I’d rather spend my budget on books, art supplies, and pasalubong for my family. But when my eyes spot something interesting, it’s the piqued curiosity that usually places the order.

beef bibimbop

I was at the SM Southmall Food Court when I saw a long line of hungry humans at the Mr. Kimbob food stall. I just had to check out what they’re ordering and apparently this bibimbob is the biggest hit. Right then and there, I ditched my ramen craving and ordered for beef bibimbob. It was good … and very filling! Price is reasonable too: at P99 you get the entire thing + a drink.

Creating Page Backgrounds in My Art Journal

When a composition is nowhere near completion in my mind or just wouldn’t come when I want it to, I help myself by creating page backgrounds in my art journals. Doing so is like loosening up, decompressing files, or untangling the knots. The finished backgrounds do not instantly give me ideas. Not all the time. But they inspire me a lot and they give me a sense of accomplishment. As much as possible I want to make good use of the time I spend at my art desk. Making page backgrounds in advance also saves me a lot of time.

vintage background script small

There are many different ways and techniques for creating art journal page backgrounds. You might have come up with a few of your own. When I’m using watercolors, I like to just blend 2 or 3 colors and make them appear soft and loose. Sometimes I use salt or makeup sponge to create texture. With acrylics, I blend 2 colors or make a collage. I may use scraps of paper, stencils, and/or layers of rubber stamping as I did with this page below:

vintage background script 2 small

This is a vintage-style page background. I glued scraps of paper with vintage design on the page, colored the page with a gel crayon (yellow ochre), stamped some old script using distress ink (vintage photo), and added color on the sides with walnut stain. I haven’t chosen a subject for this page so I’m just letting it sit for a while. In the meantime, do check out some of the backgrounds that I made here and here and here.