Back from hibernation, a little about finding my own artistic voice, and Instagram experience

13 June 2018

Hi everyone! I’m back after a loooong break from writing on this blog.

I must admit I lost momentum in producing blog posts since each member of my family got the common flu one after another in February. By the time we’d fully recovered, I was already busy with other such activities as painting/illustrating and learning some techniques, which are new to me, from artists on YouTube, being active on Instagram (yes, I’m now on Instagram.. more on that later), writing the second draft of the story for my picture book project, actively taking classes online (i.e. Skillshare), to name a few.

Since joining Instagram on April 25, I’ve challenged myself to make at least one artwork a day for 100 days and post it there. I want to form a new habit of making art, and doing it every day is the way to go. It doesn’t matter what size or format or the medium(s) used. What’s important is to make art every day to develop creativity and skills. If I’m lucky enough to get suggestions, tips, or constructive criticism (as a comment on my posts) from fellow artists, that’s even better so I can also learn from them. I haven’t received any yet.

It’s a common advice you’ll hear from any seasoned artist that practicing/making art often is the best known way to improve your craft.  That is also the one true and tested method to developing your own style, to finding your own artistic voice. I’ve been busy with it for a month and a half now. On some days I’m satisfied with what I’ve made, on some days I’m not, depending on the subject. One of the best things from this exercise, however, is that I learn from those mistakes or mishaps. The next time I want to paint or sketch a particular subject, I do it differently or in other ways that work for me or that would lead to an output that I like better. As for sticking to the challenge and consistently making art every day, honestly, there were a few days I missed making art. I sometimes don’t feel good about it, but I quickly brush the feeling off and just go back to making art again the following day so I won’t waste much time in finding my own artistic style.

In my next week’s post, I’ll continue taking you to my journey in this search for my own artistic voice and I’ll also share how I design characters, as I promised in my previous post. In the meantime, here’s how my Instagram feed looks like with my most recent posts. How do you find it? If you want to see the rest, connect with me on Instagram (@artlenestudio). Please leave a comment especially if you could share some tips on flat lay photography and your experience with using the said social media platform. I’d love to hear from you.

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Travel Sketching and Sketching Semi-realistic Nose and Lips

7 Feb. 2018

Last week my husband and I went out on a day trip to Xanten, Germany, a town known for its archaeological park, one of the largest open-air museums in the world. It was once home to Roman settlements. Good thing taking photos was allowed. In the absence of a good camera, I just took out my phone to take some pictures as souvenirs or as photo references for a future art project.

One of the artifacts that caught my attention was a fragment of the gravestone of a painter named Tiberius Iulius Tertius. This gravestone was said to be the earliest evidence of a craftsman’s profession in Xanten. I wonder how was life then as an artist.

Such trips or travels and an online class on making diary comics gave me an idea to create my first travel sketch. I’ve seen some artists make diary comics, while some do urban sketching and/or plein air painting while on vacation. I’ve decided to give travel sketching a try as I’m not confident sketching or painting in public. I just chose four of the best photos I took from the trip/travel, composed them on my drawing pad, laid them out with pencil, inked them with liner, and brought them to life with watercolors. I also added captions that would remind me of the ambiance and experience we had on that trip. The pictures below show my initial sketch in pencil and the final sketch.

I enjoyed doing this travel sketch so I guess I’ll be doing more of it from the photos I’ve made of our past travels. Next time, though, I’ll use my watercolor sketchbook instead of an inexpensive drawing pad so the quality of the paper is a lot better.

On sketching semi-realistic nose and lips

Sketching faces is one of the things that I have had difficulty with in making art. I always think I end up with contorted nose or other facial features that look quite off or seem pretty much disproportionate to the face and so on. If one is working in abstract or whimsical style, the artist may have done it on purpose to convey a message or a strong expression. The case is different, however, when one wants to create semi-realistic sketches. Although I would often hear other artists’ or art teachers’ advice to embrace my mistakes and learn from them, there are still times that I can be too hard on myself.

Practicing every day what I learn from online classes, tutorials, books, etc. truly helps. Thank God for other artists who share their techniques in simpler and easy-to-follow steps. From these I follow their techniques and eventually do them my way. As a promise from my previous post, here’s how I practiced sketching semi-realistic nose and lips.

If you refer to my other post on sketching female faces in pencil, I used these techniques in drawing the nose and the lips.

In my next post I will share with you some samples of character designs I made as a project in an online art class. Until then!

Yummy Watercolor Illustrations

26 Jan. 2018

One of the best things about food as a subject in doing art is that even if you get so engaged with the subject, you won’t gain any calories from it. You even burn calories from doing this activity. I would love to be able to create an artwork that will bring immediate effect or give a feeling of sensation to anyone who’ll see it. There was a group of researchers who demonstrated that the mere sight of delicious food stimulates the appetite. This makes food and drinks a favorite of mine to illustrate and paint.

The photo above is my first attempt at doing coffee illustration using watercolor. This exercise was part of one of the online courses I’m taking. Because I can’t draw a perfect circle, I just used the rim of a cup to trace it. To imitate the colors of coffee, I chose raw sienna as a base color and applied it using wet-on-wet technique. Once the paper was dry, I then applied burnt sienna and burnt umber to create value.

This time I included a cup painted in magenta and some highlights using a white gel pen on some parts of the rim and handle of the cup (see above photo). I also added some bubbles to my first coffee illustration using a sepia fine liner. I think I prefer leaving it without the bubbles, though.

I also painted latte art and coffee with milk froth sprinkled with chocolate powder (see photo above in blue and green cups, respectively). Masking fluid was used to cover the heart shape and other parts in white to imitate latte art. Those tiny, irregular-shaped chocolate powder in the bottom right image was drawn using a sepia fine liner. I’ve also indicated where the light is coming from so I’d know where to place the shadow and highlights.

I even tried illustrating a cup of matcha tea and cakes. They’re really fun and satisfying to create, so I’ve decided I’d include these watercolor food illustrations in my listings on Etsy. I’m also planning to do a series of ACEO (art card editions and originals) of these sweet treats and drinks and make them available soon at my Etsy shop. So watch out for them!

Next week I’ll share how I sketched the nose and lips in creating a portrait of a female character in pencil. So I’ll go back to the topic in my previous post. Happy weekend, everyone!

Practicing Portrait Sketching in Pencil

25 Jan. 2018

The past week I was busy watching and rewatching the online courses on portrait sketching in pencil and coffee illustrations using watercolors. After mustering some guts, I picked up my art materials and started practicing. We learn by doing, so goes the saying. So here it goes:
The photo above is a step-by-step process of sketching the eyes of a female character. This is the technique shared on the said online course. I never really liked drawing/sketching portraits because I didn't know exactly how to do it properly. This online course, however, makes it easy and simple for students to follow and learn the techniques in sketching close-to-real life portraits of female characters. So far I'm enjoying the process and the results.

The photo on the left is my very first attempt to sketch a face. Although I'm pretty much satisfied with it, I still need to learn and practice more on how to sketch the head or the face shape and, of course, the hair. By the way, I used a graphite pencil, kneaded eraser, blending stump, and white gel pen in creating all these sketches.

This series of exercises in sketching portraits was so much fun that I thought of creating a pattern using those cute faces (see photo above). It's fun to create different female characters that show different personalities. I tried drawing the head. The face shapes are not bad at all, but the hair! I should really work on how to draw/sketch different hairstyles that will fit my characters.

Since I didn't post anything in the past 11 days, let me share some more tomorrow. I'll post the watercolor illustrations I've done and some notes on my painting/illustrating process. That's it for now.


Drawing Pad… Writing Pad…

14 Jan. 2018

Blogging again after 10 long days, I still need to get used to writing a journal. It’s not easy I might say, but if I want to share with the world all about my creative pursuits, this is the way to go.

I began 2018 with joining online classes on a learning platform offering courses on arts, business, tech subjects, and many more. So far I’m quite enjoying the classes I’m enrolled in, mostly arts and creative writing. Have I mentioned that one of the projects I would like to accomplish this year is a children’s picture book written and illustrated by yours truly? It could be a bit ambitious but I’m positive it’s doable. Drawing at least four times a week and painting at least once a week besides working on the story for the picture book are some of my weekly targets. To be honest, I haven’t delivered anything yet as far as painting is concerned. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, however, to start painting or most probably do watercolor illustrations this coming week. Next week I will also post my sketches, as part of a project on an online class called sketching female portraits in pencil. I’m taking the course to learn more on developing characters for my picture book project and on doing portraits.

Some of my free time is spent sketching but most of it I devote to writing. I just realized that I’ve used the same pad of paper in both activities. My drawing pad has also become my writing pad. Because my kids also use our PC during those times they like to watch kiddie programs on the Internet, I’m left to the old-school way of writing. I don’t have a laptop and I don’t need one, at least for now. Encoding part of the story in the PC is done in the evening as soon as the kids are already in bed. During which I write some more and edit before I go to bed.

Besides my portrait sketches, expect to see some of my watercolor illustrations in my next post. I’ll also share the painting/drawing process used in creating them. Have a fine week ahead!

To Paint (and Write) is To Love Again

4 Jan. 2018

To Paint is to Love Again is a famous book by Henry Miller, an American writer and artist. I haven’t read the book (I should… someday), just a blog post dedicated to said book.

I used to write—news or press releases, that is—but haven’t really thought of blogging, until now. Journalism is my background and I didn’t have any creative writing experience in my former profession, at least. The thought of blogging had not really crossed my mind until I decided to refrain from too much use of and exposure to social media, particularly Facebook. As a New Year’s resolution, spending me-time in 2018 (and beyond, I hope) shall focus more on creative work like painting, illustrating/drawing, and writing.

The Happy Hobbyist is a blog dedicated to all creative activities I’ve done since 2015 as well as those in the works. Expect to read my experiences in creating artworks, any difficulties or problems encountered and the solutions (or lack thereof) I’ve made, and lessons learned from making those projects (not necessarily paid, can also include hobbies because, after all, I’m a happy hobbyist). Any tips I’ve learned from experience or I’ve encountered from articles I’ve read or from art classes I’m taking online, shall also be shared here. This can be considered as a hobbyist’s diary, although I can’t commit to posting every day. Join me in my struggles and successes in this journey to developing my art.

And so, to reword Miller’s book title to connect to my 2018 resolution, to paint and write is to love again. The new year has brought me new creative aspirations. Like a person who has found new love, I’ve found hobbies to love and keep. Happy New Year! Happy new me!