How I Continue to Learn Painting Using Watercolors

I am often asked what websites to visit when learning how to paint.  I would immediately reply, “Youtube!”

My watercolor art journey started two years ago and I have learned a lot since then. I still continue to learn. Albert Einstein said that once you stop learning, you start dying. So I chose to learn unceasingly  (Well, with leisure on the side).

I often refer to Anna Mason’s tutorials when it comes to botanicals. I love to paint flowers. Here is her tutorial in painting a rose:

Here is my version using one of her watercolor painting of a rose as a model.

Two years ago, I came across a tutorial on how to draw a realistic eye.

I think I have improved the technique since then.


I continue to practice. I think it is the best way to learn.  Put on the 10,000 hours of work and eventually, I get better than the last time. Here are my recent original botanical paintings.


peonies-katrina centeno

I also follow a lot of watercolor artists on Instagram.  I am currently part of the @wgcollab on instagram, where different watercolor artists share their painting techniques every day. Follow us there to learn more techniques. Use #wgcollab16 hashtag to find the videos.  The videos are also  posted on Facebook via Watercolour Gallery’s page.  Here is my painting video I made for this month.

Flower by Katrina“Here is my process: I try to draw my subject as detailed as possible so that I know where to put the darker tones and the lighter tones. I use a lot of water when I want lighter colors and lots of paint when I want darker colors. I paint starting with the lighter tones and I pile up my pigments as I go. I go from light to dark until I am satisfied with the outcome.This way, it is easy to correct mistakes. I usually paint with a picture as an inspiration. For this video, I had a photo of tulips in a flower garden I recently visited. ” by Katrina Karen made for #WGcollab16

Posted by Watercolour Gallery on Sunday, June 26, 2016


July is also the World Watercolor Month. Find inspiration using the hashtag ‪#‎WorldWatercolorMonth‬ on Facebook and Instagram.
Follow my instagram page: @katrinacenteno
Like my Facebook page: Katrina Karen Art



How to Add Your Own Handwriting to Your Photos

I posted this photo last February.


Russ asked this question:


This is now the tutorial I promised four months ago.

Let’s write the word “explore” in this photo which we shall refer to as a background photo.

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1. Write the word in paper.  I would write different versions.

2. Take a photo of the written word.  Tip: Find a well-lit area when taking the photo. Avoid shadows.

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3.  Open the file in Photoshop. Check image size.  Click on Image>Image Size. Take note of the width, height and resolution.


4. Create a new file. Click on File> New.  Set width, height and resolution the same as the image size of the photo. Make the background contents as transparent.


5. Choose which handwritten word you want to use. Cut and paste into the new file.


6. Make the stroke more prominent by adjusting threshold level.  Click on Image>Adjustment>Threshold. Set threshold to 171.


7.  Delete the white background. Click on the Magic Wand Tool. Click on the white area and press Delete on the keyboard.  Repeat the procedure in the remaining white areas.  You are left with this:


8. Select the word, copy and paste into the background photo.


9. To change the text to white, click on Image> Adjustment> Invert.   I moved the text to make it more visible.


I hope my instructions were clear. Comment or email if there are questions. Hope this helps you personalize your images with your own handwriting.


I was walking the dogs early this morning and I already saw a number of kids carrying their bags to school. Summer vacation is definitely over. Since the end of May, I have slowly gone back to my routine.  I am back to working out regularly. Although you can see me crossing out rest days more often than crossing out the scheduled workout, I am happy that I still get to exercise at least three times a week.  It is better than nothing.

My erudite uncle left all these books since he finished reading all these before he left. I have finished one book and I plan to start a new one.  I also caught up with some TV shows I have missed.


I have cleaned my closet and have done some laundry. I have a lot more to tackle but I am taking baby steps. We are still experiencing El Niño. Weather is hot and every simple movement  I make leaves me sweating so I work slow to minimize the sweating. Sweat and I are not a good mix.


I have done most of the errands and obligations I need to finish.

I had the time to do some art.

This is for the Watercolour Gallery collab I am doing. Follow @wgcollab and @watercolour_gallery on Instagram.


I also bought pearlescent watercolor from so I tried them on this painting. Can you see the sheen on the petals?


My friend, Jasmin, requested me to paint this jasmine for her.

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I was also able to insert some practice. The rose is not perfect. I will try again to make it look better. Hopefully.


I am doing art and I love it!

Pursuing Art, Creativity and Happiness

Two of the books I read last year were “Steal Like an Artist” and “Show You Work” by Austin Kleon. The books gave me the push to pursue the artistic path- the path that seemed to be way off-tangent from what I studied in the university and the career paths I took for the past 19 years. Here I am in my late 30’s and I am still pursuing and figuring out my passion, whatever it is. If I compare myself to my parents in their 30’s, it seemed like they had everything figured out while I am still clueless of what I want to do and I am nearing 40! At this age, my parents had stable jobs, were raising a family (me) and were in control of their lives while I still feel like a child: wide-eyed and unsure of herself. Yet, after reading the books, I felt that I have a place in the artistic world I am trying to squeeze myself in.

I do not remember everything the two books have taught me but there were a few things that stayed in mind that seemed to speak to me. Austin wrote,”Do not wait until you know who you are to get started.” I am one of those people who would wait for the right moment-the right time- instead of making the moment be the right time. Life is short. We have a finite lifetime and if we live by waiting for opportunities to fall in our lap, we might be waiting forever. Instead, we can create the opportunities.


It is the fear of failing that keeps me from doing the things I planned to do. I may write cliches about handling failure and believe them but in reality, I really do not want to fail. I would rather not do anything than do something and fail. But what good does that kind of mindset do to me? Nothing. The fear of failure puts my dreams at risk. Amy Poehler has some wise words about it.

“Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that- that’s what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.”

And who else can talk to me about failure and success than one of my favorite authors, J.K. Rowling? Many of us who read her books know that she was broke when wrote Harry Potter in a cafe in Edinburgh and that the manuscript she submitted to publishers was rejected several times. Yet, she persevered.


So what is the point of writing all these? This is actually a pep talk to myself. I am taking baby steps in pursuing a creative path. Right now, I am inclined to do a lot of art. I now have a Facebook page for those who are interested in getting me to do commission work for them. The Facebook page has samples of artwork that I have done in the past.

I have actually taken the steps quietly. Some friends asked me to do some artwork for them last year. This year, I am opening up the same service to anyone who is interested. You can like my facebook page to get updates on the projects that I am doing (or maybe you want me to do some projects for you. let’s talk!) and some snippets of my life. I will also share my blog posts there.

Here is the link to the eponymous Facebook page:


Hope you have the time to interact with me in that page. See you there!

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Artistic Inspirations: Kahlo, Dali and Kandinsky

I got into watercolor painting when I saw a video on how to paint a realistic apple.  From then on, I kept on practicing and I usually do that by finding inspirations from famous artists and their paintings. I am always attracted to paintings with pretty colors and beautiful subjects like flowers and landscapes.  However, I came across artists whose paintings evoke their emotions and struggles.  There are those paintings that make you think and process what the artist wished to convey.  Here are three artists with thought provoking masterpieces:

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo has painted many self-portraits in her lifetime. These paintings reflect her life story and the pain that she endured. Art must have been a good outlet for her to express her emotions. In my case, I have only done one self-portrait and it vaguely resembles me! It was not an expression of anything but a practice on skills and I came on a realization that I need to practice more.


This is my self-portait. Not Frida Kahloesque. Not thought provoking. ha!

Salvador Dali


Salvador Dali is a Spanish painter known for his surrealist painting. Surrealism is a movement that tries to connect  dream to reality.  An example of  a surrealism by Dali is “Persistence of Memory” which showed soft clocks against a landscape. There are many symbolisms in the painting that reflect his thoughts. Some objects are incorporated together that does seem to relate to each other.  The painting makes you think and you can just be engrossed in it at the same time.

Wassily Kandinsky 

Wassily Kandinsky is a Russian abstract painter. He is known for his colorful masterpieces. His early works were  impressionistic which gradually transitioned to a period of abstract painting. He is know to have immersed himself into art theory which explains his use of colors in his painting. I love colors and I must admit that I do not understand abstract painting. But there is a something about Kandinsky’s work that makes you appreciate the artist that he is.

How about you?  Who are your favorite artists?

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