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.

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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.

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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: http://www.facebook.com/katrinakarenart

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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.

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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?

More Art, A Poem and A New Craft

I am still not done with my friends’ requests for an artwork (which also doubles as my Christmas gift). My friend, Ernelyn, wanted a bamboo painting with a bird.  I thought this was an easy task since the first watercolor lesson we were  taught in high school was painting a bamboo. However, the artwork I took inspiration from was a thicker bamboo. I used to be able to paint the trunk with one  stroke using a thick brush. Now, I had to use multiple strokes and it required a certain amount of water to make the strokes unnoticeable.  It was challenging. This is the final artwork.

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My friend liked it and that matters most.  (Or she had no choice! hahaha I did my best with this one.)

My friend, Wela, wanted a lighthouse with a sea and some rocks. I let her choose from different pegs. I had trouble with making the rocks look like real rocks but I have to settle with a ‘cartoonish’ version.  I’ll practice more. This is the final artwork.

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She was happy with the artwork that she made me a poem.  My friend (who happens to be a cousin also) writes beautiful poems. She often does this when someone close to her celebrates a birthday.  I requested for a poem on my next birthday and, in exchange, I’ll record a song for her.  No, I am not a good singer. I do not sing when we gather together for a night of karaoke.  I have stage fright. I sing averagely okay when I am alone but put someone to listen to my voice and  no sound would come out.  Thus, I will just send a recording.  Hehe  But when we gathered for breakfast early this January, they urged me to sing which I obliged because a friend who is a very good singer sang with me.

This is the poem she made for me:

A song to sing,
A joy you bring,
To this morning gathering,
Of friends who are truly caring.

A friend since nineteen eighty six,
A gal who’s a wonderful mix,
Of talents and wit,
Of a genius that’s only fit.

Grateful to God for having met you,
A friend who is loving and true,
May you never be blue,
For in His perfect timing your prince
charming will be due! 

Yes, your parents may have gone ahead,
And left you longing instead,
But always remember, in this life there
are no accidents,
Things happen for a reason and not just by mere
coincidence.

So as you welcome the year two thousand fifteen,
Whatever may happen in between,
Stand still and be strong,
For with the Lord by your side, nothing can go
wrong.

What a nice gift! I really have sweet friends.  Thank you, God!

Now back to more painting. These are three different cherry blossoms-like painting which I will ask my friend to choose (if she likes any) since she wanted something similar to what I previously did for another friend.

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Yesterday, I finally tried my pastel dye.  I bought this last Christmas as gifts for my godchildren and I bought one for myself.   When I painted bougainvillea last year, my friend, Mau, wanted the artwork but she is a wanderlust. I told her she would just leave behind the painting in her house which she only visits a few times a year.  I told her I’ll put it in a t-shirt.

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I thought of printing the artwork on an iron-on sheet but I cannot find a sheet here. I asked about t-shirt printing and it was a little expensive which I was willing to pay for but when I asked about it, they cannot deliver at the time when Mau is in town. I have totally forgotten about t-shirt until I saw the pastels in a store.

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This is what  I did. I drew the design using a marker on a white sheet. I taped the sketch on an illustration board which I inserted inside the t-shirt. Then, I began tracing the design.

This is the finished work.

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I really enjoy creating something with my hands.  I am off to do more. I still have some requests to fulfill.  Bye for now!

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. 😉 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!

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.

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