Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I like ... and I cannot lie

Has it really been two months since I posted last? The horror. I would blame work...well, actually I do blame work.

Finally finished another stamp collage illustration...
The top half is a geisha stamp I've had for ages, the bottom is Winsor & Newton Emerald ink. The chop is actually a genuine stone carved chop from Hong Kong with my last name on it. The waves are a mix of Higgins indigo and Prang turquoise, I really like the gradating effect they make against the torn-paper edge of the tea stain.

I am less pleased with the teapot stamp--it looks incongruous. That's an ill effect of doing everything on one page instead of Photoshopping in separate elements: no backsies!

Speaking of backsies, I have noticed a trend in my figures:
All my ladies lately have skinny arms and relatively big bottoms (well, big for fashion illustration). It's funny to note that as my body changes, my drawings do too.

I did call this one Tangerine Dreams, and then I changed it to Tangerine Dress. You're welcome. Prang watercolours, black tea, and Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna ink, which has always been a mystery to me--why is this so-called 'burnt sienna' so dang orange??

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sketchbook Project 2013, part 2: Pembroke

Part 1

Door 2: Wall Passage, Pembroke Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales, the UK.

Henry VIII (yup, that one) spent his childhood here. It's a big, worn, drafty old place, with an enormous cave in the lower levels that dates back to prehistoric times. Pembroke is a tiny town that basically has this huge castle, its huge moat (actually a millpond that extends into a small lake, which proceeds to run into a river that goes 97 miles to the sea), and the ruins of a mill that's older than the castle.

I remember it because this is the first holiday I was ever on which I planned, organised and paid for all by myself. It's also the only holiday I've ever been on by myself. I stayed in an old coaching inn and walked round and round the castle and millpond for three days and felt boring and happy and utterly relaxed. I met a couple of Filipino caregivers, which strengthens my belief that we have infiltrated every level of service everywhere.

I also got catcalled by a car full of redheaded boys. Is this a thing that happens a lot in Wales?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

the secret life of things

 More catalogue silliness with the pathetically non-solid Cavallini & Co. ink.
The chairs, the chairs of CB2. Lots of pipe legs in watery ink. The fake rattan weave texture was really fun to draw.

And done in the equally shitty sepia ink, my J. Alfred Prufrock tribute. Actually I drew/painted this whole thing oriented vertically, and only noticed it looked a lot better rotated 90% left. (Or, as actually happened, tossed it randomly on the bed and saw it looked better in passing.)

I would love to turn this second one into a postcard, or landscape notebook, or some other item of stationery.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Going through my aunt's junk mail is like living a fantasy life in which I'm a character from Revenge or Gossip Girl. West Elm, J. Crew, Athleta, the MoMA Store...where I'm from, catalogues are almost unheard of, so it's like having free magazines dropped off at your doorstep every day.

Today all my stuff arrived from the US, so I spent the day going through it. You've guessed why I'm posting about it here: sketchblogging!

I don't know what it is about West Elm catalogues that makes me want to draw inanimate objects till my vision blurs. I shouldn't question it, I guess.

 The dearth of dip pens in this country forced my to try and work with one of my weird skinny crow quills and forgo my usual death grip near the point. That and the fragility of the nib itself means a lot of variation in the line and a slight unpredictability.

Also, one of the inks I brought back is 'black' ink from Cavallini and Co. Black my foot! Look at those tea drawings! There's a 'sepia' which isn't much better...both inks are watery, with grainy, uneven pigment in the thicker lines. I ended up liking the effect. I think I can play with colourising in Photoshop to get various illustration effects with these inks.
This other ink, which just arrived today, is Visconti and seems to be a much better colour and consistency. You can see the difference. I'm still using my Noodler's Bulletproof Black for my book project though--it's sticky and takes a while to dry, but it's the most gorgeous black I've ever seen in an ink.

So today was an adventure in 'working with what you've got'. It was unexpectedly productive and fun though; I'll work on spending more days like this.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Same as it ever was...

It's time for the annual Birthday Wish list! And I mean like Santa-style, wish-upon-a-star list, as everybody likes to play around with on their birthdays.

1) A ticket to ride (or possibly a chicken to ride, according to the mondegreen)

2) A Lomo Lubitel, LC-A, LC-A Wide, or possibly just a film SLR

3) Adobe Illustrator? or possibly a Photoshop that isn't Elements? ;_;

4) a Wacom Intuos

5) Alcoholic hot chocolate with either homemade or Bailey's marshmallows, mmm.

6) ...and as for non-tangibles, I really wish I had a week in Manila to spend with my friends ;_; ;_; ;_;

What else do I want? My cousin's coming home from Barcelona, and my uncle will be in town the week after, so that'll be fun. I'm actually set for books, just for once. And there are lots of nice toys in the house to play with. Really the only thing I sincerely want more of at this point is free time, and a bit more money. Isn't that what everyone wants?

Have a frazzled Arthur to end the post...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sketchbook Project 2013, part 1: St Anns Villas

The Sketchbook Project is on again! The books are very small this time, with kind of low-grade paper, but I was planning to use my own paper anyway, no worries.

I am doing a chronicle of doors: One door, one painting, one memory. Some of them from pictures I took, some I can only remember (probably inaccurately). All drawn freehand and then watercoloured and labelled. The memory goes on the opposite page. There are only 15 pages, so I have plenty of time to get it done before January.

Door 1: Front door, 10 St. Anns Villas, Holland Park, London, UK. Drawn from memory.
I lived here with my cousins in a beautiful garden flat with glassed-in stairs and dining room. One time I was going out with one of my cousins. Nic loves the kind of hip-hop jeans that hang off your arse, and always forgot to wear a belt with them. He slammed the door to secure it, and his jeans fell to his ankles, leaving him in boxers on the sidewalk. He grabbed them back up again, but I laughed so hard I had to sit on the pavement before I had enough breath to get going. Luckily no one else was around!

Staedler Artliner and Pelikan watercolours with Blue Heron waterbrushes on Arturo paper. I love this paper so much, you guys. Lettered in Pen & Ink Sketch extra fine fountain pen. All the doors will be done this way.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Jónsi Project Production Diary, part 6

So since starting this painting I have ruined it, done a second version, ruined that, moved house, put the unfinished third version into storage and...forgotten about it, for a while.

Finally dug it out of storage again and got to work on the figure.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

tiny stories

Happy May Day!

HitRECord is putting together work for another Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, so I'm hastily scrobbling things together in the hope that I can get into this little indie art book.

This is a standalone illustration for a writer to build a tiny story around. Oh look, mermaids again. Speaking of which, if you like mermaids and you haven't seen the blog The Wide-Eyed Legless, you are missing out on a lot.

This is an illustration for ubespidermonkey's tiny story 'Jealous Stars':

Stars are jealous of city lights.
So once in a while, they cut the power.

Monday, April 16, 2012


I was getting tired of drawing ridiculously well-dressed men and women and pretty objects. What is the perfect antidote? Dinosaurs!

James Gurney's Dinotopia is the most wonderful book you can ever buy for your kid or yourself. My copy is 20 years old and I still get a kick and some drawings out of it. Worth every penny.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

view master - a progression of colour

Raw: Pen & Ink Sketch fountain pen, Pilot G-Tec C3, red Uniball Vision Elite and scraps cut out from a Vogue ad. Dress inspired by a Sarah Burton design for Alexander McQueen.
Coloured in Photoshop Elements - too flat!
Caran d'Ache coloured pencils - scanned much lighter than they looked on the paper. No whitewashing, please!
Adding the Photoshop colour layers gave a solid foundation and the pencils enriched the colour. Hooray! Now...where are her legs? oO

Saturday, April 7, 2012

fashion sketch stuff

I've been on a fashion sketching streak lately!
Mechanical pencil, blue Pentel animation lead.

Mechanical pencil, Faber-Castell 2B lead--wonderful for shading.

Top cut out of a Free People catalogue, Pen and Ink Sketch fountain pen, extra fine, Pilot G-Tec C3 gel pen, and a bit of white Rotring ink for when I made a stupid mistake and crosshatched where I shouldn't have >_<

Monday, April 2, 2012


ugh you guys I have been drawing tiny flowers for two days straight and I am sick of it

...but look!


I saw a girl on Guerrisms.com in a coat and a hoodie and she reminded me of my friend Abrar. My fashion obsession at that point kind of ran into my thoughts about how the Arab Spring reminded me of the EDSA Revolution in the Philippines. Add a twist of how I've been annoyed with random misogyny around the internet lately and voilá.

('No, commander, the word means "What is that in the table?" ')*

*sorry, Pratchett joke†
†oh look, another one!

WIP (warning: pink)

Ahahaha this is taking forever but I feel pretty good about it. I wish the red pen had contrasted better though; I should have used the violet one all the way. Sakura colour turned out bolder in the scan.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

being bored in cafes is slightly productive

Drawn with Pen and Ink Sketch Extra Fine fountain pen.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Red Hood - shadow puppet prototype

I'm working on some shadow puppets based on the Indonesian tradition of Wayang Kulit, for the Red Riding Hood tie-in on hitRECord.org. Luckily I have the 2 puppets I got in the market in Bali. The piercing is really way more intricate than this, but I've simplified it for a lot of reasons.

More soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

more on the theme of mermaids

Did more work on the Nile guardian from this post. I cannot believe how long it takes me to do detailed watercolours. One of my art heroes is PJ Lynch and I wonder how much time he spends layering his illustrations. Also I should think through my light sources more carefully before I start to fill in everything.

Here's something I did ages ago but re-scanned. I lost all the data on my other computer when it crashed, including the files for my yakuza mermaids. Still one of my favourite ideas.

This is also an old one, but I don't think I ever posted this anywhere.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

mailer angels

Did a favour for a friend who's on the web team of Kate's Paperie and drew an 'angel' for their Valentine's Day mailer. This is seriously the kind of work I love to do...and putting it on my CV doesn't hurt, either!

Friday, February 3, 2012


A project I'm working on with my aunt. I need to adjust the scanner settings; am working with 2 different 3-in-1 scanners, and I kind of hate them. They don't work with Photoshop, for one.

Pretty pleased with the art so far, though. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Louis and Elizabeth Attend the Venetian Prince's Ball - a handwavey explanation for wildly differing historical fashions. I am amused by Louis's tiny feet; possibly stealing from channelling Jiri Trnka there.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

strawberry flavour

Two of my contributions to hitRECord for their project 'Strawberry Bootlaces'.

This site's pretty fun--Joe is not a man who likes to wait around when he has an idea, so you usually just have a few days to bang something out before he hands it over to the animators. So far the most frustrating thing is not having a tablet or a proper version of PS that allows you to load a layer as a selection for transparency. But it does give me some unexpected ideas to run with every so often, and I need that lately. I've been getting sluggish.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Quoted from Cetaganda, by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

tea cliche poster

Messing about with Photoshop Elements. Hand drawn tea things and ink blotches. Maybe a poster, or a notebook cover?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sleep No More

Immersive theatre. What does that mean? All I knew going in was that it meant a lot of walking, mandatory coat check ('nothing hanging off your body', said the polite but insistent ushers) and an ID inspection at the entrance queue. The rest was a weird but thrilling surprise.

Sleep No More is an immersive theatre production from a genius company called Punchdrunk. Imagine if the team from Inception put up a production of the Scottish Play set in a haunted house that was also somehow a hotel and hospital. Then imagine that they replaced all the dialogue with contemporary dance but somehow still managed to keep the profound Shakespearean energy.

Wearing a Venetian mask that was soon damp with sweat, I wandered overheated through several levels of rooms set up like Joseph Cornell boxes, rifling through desk drawers and damp letters and thimbles made of dirty sugar. I tried to get my bearings while keeping track of my scarf, my hat, my 'room key' and my coat check tag, not to mention my mother and my aunt. It was eerie and quiet at first, shuffling round the house with the other masked zombies. Then we started to stumble into actors and things got more exciting, although no less confusing.

You really have to know your Macbeth to get the scenes, and even then you can still miss a lot. Going from overheard conversation, we seemed to have missed the murders of King Duncan and Lady Macduff. We couldn't quite manage to see the final battle with Macduff, although we did see Macbeth grab one of the girls from the audience and haul her away. (He was covered in blood; I hope she wasn't wearing anything expensive.) And those are the bits I know we missed. We did catch the banquet with Banquo's ghost (in super slow motion!), Birnham Wood coming to Dunsinane, and a great extended post-murder scene involving a bathtub (warning: male nudity!), some rather brusque cuddles, and Lady Macbeth dancing furiously around a lot of furniture.

There were other scenes that didn't seem to have anything to do with the play--the program I picked up after the show said each actor had their own character arc, which played through three times over. I saw a nurse dally with a strapping young man who fed her whiskey out of highly suspicious bottles; that same nurse later performed a fantastic convulsive dance scene in what looked like an operating theatre out of Arkham Asylum. And right before we finally left two hours later we saw a witch-like ritual that turned into a ballroom scene with some more great dancing, and that became a one-on-one Mortal Kombat-style pas-de-deux...I'm still not sure what that was about but it was amazing.

Still, it's not for everyone. There are definite mobility issues, and I was often frustrated by being too short to see. You also won't like it if you have a problem with crowds, enclosed spaces, dirt or if you're just easily spooked. Timid souls might want to go with a friend. Just check your inhibitions at the door, and make sure to wear easily recognisable clothes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year's Resolution: share. :)

Life is better when you share it with someone--friend, family, or lover. Just share. Happy New Year, all.