Archives for June 2014

How I Paint Watercolor Portraits

If you are my friend on Facebook, you might have been sick of me posting my artworks several times in a week since I started on May 1. Nevertheless, I still get encouragement from friends. Some have expressed their interest in my work by asking me to paint for them. The usual request was to paint portraits. Err, I still need to practice that. I have done self-portrait once before as a requirement in art class. What I did was face the mirror and start sketching my face freehand. The sketch hardly looks me like except for the headband since I used that accessory almost everyday back them. With portraits, you really need to get  it right.

Since I know I cannot copy faces by hand, the next best thing is to use gridlines. I picked a photo I wanted to copy. Using photoshop, I added gridlines. I followed the instructions from this site.

It is a little blurry but I love this photo of me and Peachy.

It is a little blurry but I love this photo of me and Peachy.

The next thing I did is to draw gridlines on my paper by counting how many squares I need to draw. A little arithmetic does not hurt. ūüėČ Then I start sketching square by square. This way, even if I did not get the details right, there is one thing I can be certain. I get proportionate baseline drawing.

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Then, I erased the gridlines. (Tiring eh?)
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Then, I started with the underpainting. An underpainting is the initial layer of colors which serves as a guide as you add more and more color. I took note of the shadows and light.
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I added more and more colors to the underpainting until I got tired of trying to make it look like the picture! haha!

By the way, watercolor painting deals a lot of blending of colors. I test my mix by having a blank page of the sketchpad nearby. I try my stroke on an another paper first to test the color.
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I also keep tissues nearby to wipe water off my brush.
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I always stop painting when I think I can no longer do anything about it. Sometimes, I leave the painting halfway or close to completion to rest and get a better perspective on how to improve it.

With this portrait, I just want to move on. Haha
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When I posted this on Facebook, one honest friend commented that I looked slightly cross-eyed in the painting. Still, there were those who wanted their portraits made, too. I promised then they’ll get one from me when they reach 40. Haha! I have to work on those eyes.

Maybe I should start with pets first. I found a random painting of a dog on the internet which I practiced on.

I missed a few hairs  on the chin on this one. I already corrected them on the actual painting.  Oh, the things you see under the lens!

I missed a few hairs on the chin on this one. I already corrected them on the actual painting. Oh, the things you see under the lens!

Since my problem is painting the eyes, I found a temporary solution. One cousin wanted a painting of her son with angry birds. I found a solution when I saw her update her profile pic. This is the final painting.

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Cannot copy the eyes? Put sunglasses! hahaha

I hope you get to try to paint portraits, too!

Secured Premises with PERCo access control systems

I remember watching James Bond movies and the Jetsons cartoons and wondered if those nifty gadget would soon become reality. Slowly, some devices have slowly found its way to our normal lives. We can now communicate face-to-face (actually, screen-to-screen) in our mobile devices. We still do not have the Jetsons flying car though. That would have been a cool.

New technologies have change that way we think about accessibility. We have become more open and we reach so many people at the same time. Often, there is a thin line between personal and public lives. As we try to reach out to many people, we sometimes forget that we have opened ourselves to our own vulnerabilities. We must find a balance between accessibility and security.

The same can be said about the security of commercial spaces.  Businesses need to be appear inviting to the right people without appear closed and cold. Some times when you put walls and security personnel, the business space would look like a fortress rather than a cordial and welcoming space. To have security with without being obtrusive, there is the PERCo access control systems. For corporations, employees can have can access card which allows them to enter the premises easily. Turnstile systems can be equipped with cameras so you can monitor who goes in and out the premises. The company will have strict and tight security without having to appear cold and unwelcoming.

Photo from PERCo

Photo from PERCo

10 Reasons Why I had a Memorable Trip to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and Brunei

This was supposed to be a trip entitled “Don’t tell my aunts I climbed Mt. Kinabalu”.

My high school classmates and I have been chatting about going on a climbing trip before arthritis hits us.  Before the New Year started, two of them invited the batch to a trip to Kota Kinabalu which includes climbing Mt. Kinabalu. I was unsure if I could climb the mountain but I booked the trip anyway as soon as I saw a promo fare being offered. My cousin booked also. Another friend booked later after several annoying reminders from me. We had 5 months to prepare for the trip. We had this impression that it is easy to climb Mt Kinabalu. It is just a 6-hour trek to the base camp where there is decent lodging. We do not have to pitch in a tent and cook our own meals.   We could hire a porter to carry our bags. No sweat. However, one of  the classmates who is going to this trip with us, went on a 6-hour trek in Brunei and she shared that a 6-hour trek is not joke. She was the most athletic of the group and she did not think the climb is easy so we postponed the climb- not on this trip. It is still on the bucket list though.

Because we have 5 days for this trip, we thought we might visit Brunei as well. We hit two countries in one trip. We spent two days traveling to and from Brunei that I did not  feel like we have done a lot on this trip. Nevertheless, it was a memorable trip. This is the kind of trip that we did not get stressed about the number of sights to see or activities we to do.

Here are the reasons why the trip is memorable:

1. Relaxing vacation. We arrived at around 130AM in Kota Kinabalu and we were able to doze off at 3AM.  I slept well. The hotel was nice and clean. I recommend Hotel Eden54. It rained on Day2 so even if we woke up early and had our breakfast early, we went back to the hotel and waited for the rain to stop. So I slept. Oh, we also ate the brownies my friend baked which she brought from Brunei.

2. Tagalog.  There were many Tagalog-speaking people.  The people in Kota Kinabalu are warm and friendly. I think they can spot Filipinos a mile away for we were often greeted in Tagalog.  Geographically, Kota Kinabalu is in Sabah which is just south of Mindanao, Philippines. There are many Filipinos who migrated in this part of Malaysia. Still, I still get pleasantly surprised when Malaysians speak Tagalog to me especially when I have switched my brain to speak in English.

3. Food.  My friend treated us to a vegetarian meal at Beyond Veggie. Who would have thought tofu can be this delicious? I am a meat-eater yet  I love this dish.

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Photo from my cousin’s instagram. Follow him: bong2begood

This is what I ordered. It arrived when I was already full from tasting what others ordered. This is a taro dish and I am sorry I was not able to finish it.
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We love our breakfast at Old Town. Below are kaya and peanut butter toast, soft boiled eggs and coffee.

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Photo by my friend, Imma.

My friend’s husband let us try Kopi Luwak. Kopi Luwak is made from coffee beans passed on by a civet cat. Yes, the coffee beans passed through the civet’s digestive system. The beans that were excreted were processed ¬†and the end product is Kopi Luwak. It is an expensive coffee so buying a bag is out the question for me. I just want to try what it tastes like. It still tasted like coffee to me with a hint of nuttiness. The difference is in the after-effect. I slept at 1 AM. Good thing I woke up early. We were leaving Brunei that day.

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Kopi Luwak by bong2begood

My friend’s brownies are too die for! She baked salted caramel brownies for us which we brought to the beach. On day 2, it rained and we were stuck in the hotel, it was my comfort food. I was saving the last piece for later time but my friend Imma beat me to eating it. Huhuhu! ¬†Follow my friend on instagram via Abbyzzoven. She is so good that a real princess orders from her. Too bad she lives in Brunei.

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4. Sights and Activities. We did not visit a lot of places because of the weather but my cousin took awesome photos so I will just share them here. ¬†We went island hopping in¬†Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. But we called it an ‘island hop’. We only visited one island because we went there in the afternoon. We visited Sapi island.

To get to the island, we need to get to Jesselton Point which  is a walking distance from the hotel.

Jesselton Point

We went snorkeling on Sapi Island. Well, not on the island, how can I snorkel on ¬†land? You know what I mean. ūüėÄ

Pulau Sapi

This is the Sapi Island in color. Stunning.

Photo by Bong Flores

Photo by Bong Flores

We only had one day in Brunei. My cousin took this shot of the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque.

The Mosque

And friends played paintball with some Filipinos (and a Malaysian) in Brunei.
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5. Hotel.  We love Hotel Eden54! The rates are affordable. The rooms are clean. The people are nice. Since we were traveling to Brunei, we left  some of our things there because we would be taking the Kota Kinabalu-Manila fight home. They allowed us to stay in their receiving area when we came back from Brunei and offered that we can take a shower in their bathroom. We even unpacked and packed our things there. Imagine our clothes and what-nots sprawled over the place like our own home!

6.  Accessibility. Everything is so near in Kota Kinabalu.  The ferry terminal is just a block away from the hotel. Suria Mall is also a block away from the hotel.  We easily took the ferry to and from Brunei.  In Brunei, my friend drove us around since it is difficult to get around Brunei in a taxi. I do not even remember seeing one.  My friend said that there are as many people as cars in Brunei.

7. Duty Free Freebies. There is a duty-free shop in the Labuan Terminal. Labuan is the port town in Malaysia where we took the ferry to Brunei.  When we came back from Brunei, we bought chocolates there. A lot of chocolates that are on sale were about to expire in July. I bought 6 Cadbury chocolates of different sizes which are packed as one on sale. My friends bought more.  When we paid for the chocolates, the Filipino staff gave us toblerones and boxes of pralines. I got one large dark chocolate Toblerone and 3 boxes of pralines. My friends got more since they bought more.  The catch: the chocolates they gave for free were about to expire that week which is fine by me. Chocolates do not last for more than a week in my house.

8. Immigration. While filling up the immigration form in Manila, my cousin got too excited of the trip to Kota Kinabalu. In the country of destination, he was starting to fill up the boxes. He wrote the letter ‘K’ on the first box and started counting the spaces. He complained to me, ‘Ate, di kasya.‘ ( The letters won’t fit in the boxes provided.) To which I replied, ‘Kuya, country.” ¬†He quickly realized his mistake.

I love that I do not have to fill up forms in Malaysia. You just have to show your passport and all they ask of you is to put your forefingers on the scanner.

In Brunei, it was a different story. When we arrived at the immigration area, we went to the side to fill up the form. We were careful about what to write and thoroughly checking our forms. Halfway through filling up the form, an immigration officer came to us and exclaimed, “You, Filipinos, are wasting my time. What are you still doing there?”. We replied that we are filling up the forms. ¬†She asked, “Why didn’t you fill that up in the boat?” “They did not give us the forms.” “Why didn’t you ask for the forms?” ¬†My friend, who is a Brunei resident for 14 years already, ¬†was speechless. ¬†We quickly filled up our forms. While being interviewed by the immigration officer, we asked to show them our money. I have not experienced such ‘request’ in other countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau. ¬†The officers asked us to count our money in front of them. It is now a running joke in our group that if we go to Brunei next time, we will bring ¬†money in $1 denomination so that when they ask us to count the money, we will waste more of their time. ¬†ūüėÄ Kidding aside, we can only reflect on what happened. ¬†Taking the ferry is not a common route for tourists. Aside from two Chinese before us, we were the only foreigners in that ferry. There may be prior incidents of illegal immigrants taking that route. ¬†We should have asked to talk to the supervisor and report the incident. That was really rude for the officer to snap at us. We are not wasting her time since she is paid to do that job.

9. Laughter. We survived rain, grumpy immigration officer and long boat rides through laughter. We laugh at ourselves and at each other. We rib at each other over our obsessions: a friend got excited at Pandora and another one went ¬†on a ‘shopping spree’ at Rip Curl. I laughed at my cousin’s mishap on the speedboat and for forgetting our hotel room number.

10. Friends. This trip was a mini-reunion for us high school classmates, two of whom I have not seen in 20 years. A lot has changed yet we still get along like nothing has changed. We updated each other about our lives. We reminisced high school memories. I also have to commend my cousin for getting along well with my friends. They got along well that you would think they have been friends for a long time.  If budget is not a problem, I will not hesitate to travel again with this group.

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 Cheers to friendship!

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My Own Art Journey and How You Can Learn to Draw and Do Watercolor Painting

We had art classes in high school. Fine Arts was part of the curriculum for two years so I had prior knowledge on how to do watercolor paintings, sketch and use oil pastels. I did not just wake up one day and decide to do watercolor art.

In the past 25 years, I have picked up a pencil every now and then and did some sketching. In college, when boredom inspiration strikes, I sketch or paint. I kept a sketch pad (Care bears pa!).

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I lived in a dormitory so the easiest things to sketch are those near my table. Haha

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I also found time to pick up the brush. No, I had no morbid thoughts on that knife painting. It was the easiest photo of an object I can copy from a magazine. The second painting is an eye of the Philippine Eagle.

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That was in college. I have not really actively engaged in art not until recently.

In recent years, I was really inspired by the artsy stuff that Alessa Lanot does. And I have recently seen Ala Paredes’ work. I used to read her blog and was impressed with her drive to pursue her art. Recently, I have come across her watercolor painting in her instagram. It was really impressive. So I decided to give it another try.

Ala wrote a piece about art and learning: that art can be learned through repetition. Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers, said something about doing things regularly like it would take some 10,000 hours to become an expert. Relying on sheer talent and not doing anything to improve it is useless.

So, I am sharing with you the YouTube videos I viewed to learn some drawing and watercolor techniques. I have received a few comments about being interested in learning how to paint or draw. The good new is… YOU CAN! You just have to try.

These are the videos:

These are the artworks I did based on the videos:

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For now, I practice by copying existing images on the Internet. I am having fun doing it. One day, I hope to create original work from original ideas.

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In case you are interested on the tools I use, here is the list:

1. Faber Castell 0.7 mechanical pencil+ refill+ Pentel eraser
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2. Brushes + mixing tray. In high school, we only use chinese brushes. I am most comfortable using those. Regular trips to the school supplies store yielded me all these brushes. The blue and black brushes are sets and are inexpensive. (I think I paid Php50++ for each set.) The two brushes on the left were part of the watercolor set I bought.
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3. Watercolor. I have accummulated several kinds in the past month. I am most comfortable using the tubes but I just recently purchased those. In some of the artworks I made earlier this month like the apple, strawberry and flowers, I used the watercolor in palette.
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4. Paper. I use 200 GSM board. I recommend thicker boards for landscape painting. This type I use bends with water-heavy type of painting.
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I think I have shared everything you need to get you to try watercolor painting. Let me know when you have created your work. I would love to see them.

Of Passion, Courage and Photography

There are so many photographers out there: both hobbyists and  professionals. It can be a competitive world and it is quite challenging to find your place in the sun and stand out. Yet I know of people who enjoy photography just because they simply love it. They are undaunted by challenges and continue to push themselves to produce better work.

When it comes to photography, I always turn to my cousin, Bong, for help.  He teaches me how to get better photos. I do not necessarily get it right all the time but he is still happy to share new things he learned. I often pester him with photography questions and even when I thought I have learned enough,  he still has a lot of tricks up his sleeve which he generously shares with me. He takes awesome photos because he never stops learning.

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 Having passion at what you are interested in is great. However,  it also takes courage to  put your work out there for the world to judge. So I salute the brave souls like my cousin, Bong,  for joining the photography competition by Getty Images.

I have a little request. Please click on the photos below. You will be directed to Getty Images. Click ‘like’ on the lower left corner. ¬†No need to register. Please leave a comment when you have done so so I can thank you properly.

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  bong02

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I know you would agree with me that these are great photos. ¬†You won’t be sorry for clicking like. He is good. ¬†And if you live in Manila or Laguna area and need a great photographer, let me know. ¬†Photography is his hobby and he has a full-time job but who knows?¬†He might be available to accommodate your request.

Thank you again. Let me leave you with this quote.  In life, we should never be afraid to take chances.

 

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