Saturday, August 29, 2015

Five Days In

I have settled on a routine. Well, sort of.

Upon waking up (at around 5-6, to give myself enough time to prepare for work), I put water in the electric kettle (Made in China, but it's holding up really well)

Open the windows. Shiver

Depending on my mood (or level of laziness), I make coffee: instant 3-in-1 (Nescafe classic), mix-mix (I got matching jars for coffee, cream, and sugar), or brewed (I have to go to the market to get more grounds; what I have with me now is an already-opened pack of Monk's Brew I took from the kitchen when I went "shopping" (as my mom calls it, haha) at home

When it's not coffee, it's tea, and I am ever thrilled to use a glass teapot my bff Susa bought for me. I brought my whole stash: hojicha green tea from Japan, rhododendron tea from Nepal, fruit tea from China (but bought from LoyalTea), Ceylon tea from er, the UK (but was a gift to my mom), Charbrew's blueberry tea, CBTL's cherry blossom tea, and yes, even some herbal dietary tea for those erm, bloated days

I think of what to have for breakfast: cereals (what to do with leftover milk? I have no fridge--oh yeah, powdered milk), oatmeal, bread and cheese, omelette (thank goodness for oven toasters with a 'grill' at the top, and for another bff Dash who gave me the means to get it as a housewarming gift

I check my mobile everything, turn on my laptop, panic at the thought of making a mistake (sometimes yeah), and repeat to myself, "you're learning, you're learning"

Look out the window and determine weather. Have breakfast. Wash the dishes, brush teef

Work, get nervous about talking to Australian colleagues (I'm a better writer than a speaker), resume work, stare out window at birds

Wash the itty bitty things you cannot, or would rather not, have another person wash. Pray they dry within 2 days

Take a bath, pray the towel dries the next day

By midmorning, or noon, or a little after that, head out to a nearby carinderia (tourist price!) to buy my lunch and dinner. Choose from among the ten or so viands, ask for a half order and a cup of rice that costs an absurd Php15 for a total of Php50

Buy other stuff from the minimart a few meters away. Stuff like cheese and mayonnaise sachets, because I have no fridge

Upon getting back to my home|office, put half of the rice and viand in separate containers, and put the rest on a plate. Eat my lunch. Wash the dishes

Stretch and relax a bit, check my social networks

If work permits, run errands (buy something I need from the big store, pay bills) or walk around, because I'm here

Go back to work

Have a snack. And tea

Make a list of the stuff I need to do the following day

Reheat the food I bought earlier, maybe do something different with it (like add mayonnaise, or team it up with instant mushroom soup). Eat my dinner. Wash the dishes (I really like washing the dishes)

Read, study for work, do stuff for Urban Sketchers Philippines

Have hojicha or fruit tea. Brush teef, wash face, apply moisturizer

Close the windows

Prepare for bed: socks, sweater, fluffy blanket, bonnet (because cold hair). If necessary, set alarm (my body clock wakes me up at 6am no matter what time I went to bed; the alarm is only necessary when I need to wake up earlier)

Say a prayer of thanks

And look forward to a nice dream.

I've fixed things up a bit since I fully moved in, but here you go--my little space.
(I love everything about it, especially the natural light!)
sunny mornings
...and misty afternoons. This is the view when I look out my window to the right.
Things I have yet to do, things I am looking forward to doing this weekend:
  • Explore my neighborhood, establish possible running/jogging/walking routes
  • Sketch
  • Do some cardio
  • Go to market for fruit and coffee
  • Sunday siesta after church
  • Write for myself
Change is good, yes?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Trip Sketches: Sta. Ana, Cagayan

A very late post about spending ten days in beautiful Sta. Ana in Cagayan at the northernmost tip of the Philippines.

I had been feeling restless and troubled close to the end of summer this year. I felt I needed a change of scenery, and so I was glad a friend invited me over to spend a couple of weeks at his family's vacation resort in faraway Sta. Ana, Cagayan. I needed a break, and figured since my job lets me work anywhere, I grabbed the opportunity. I spent ten days staring out to sea, playing with my friend's dogs, working on learning modules, walking and jogging by the beach (and picking up trash along the way), eating lots of fresh fish and veggies, swimming in an infinity pool, taking photos of ridiculously magnificent sunsets, and of course, sketching.

I sat across this boy's family in the bus during the trip up north. We got stuck in traffic near the border of Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela, and, with my laptop, phone, tablet, and powerbank batteries all close to drained, I sketched instead. After getting off the bus in Tuguegarao, I took a van for the three-hour trip to Sta. Ana. Because of that traffic, I was on the road for 21 hours!

On my first morning there, I sat on the sea wall and observed the fishermen coming home. I found out that they fished mostly for 'espada' or beltfish.

The view of the sea. In between writing tasks I simply zone out look at the bright blue water.

The resort has two pools: an infinity pool and a kiddie pool. Guests were coming in the day I drew this, so the staff were busy preparing umbrellas and chairs for lounging in.

I tried to draw the usual mode of transport while waiting for mass. It's actually a motorcycle fitted with a body with two wheels behind it. It can fit around 6-8 passengers (I think).

The church where I attended mass. I had a blast trying to figure out perspective with this one.

The pool pump house and one of the boys cleaning the pool. I'm really trying hard to practice drawing people ;)

One of the beach cottages in the resort. It's fun just staying there and taking the breeze in. On the right, the resort's water tank and a few random sketches and brush marks.

We would sometimes see large vessels traveling across the water. My friend has a telescope, so one day he took it out and we observed the coming and going of boats and barges.

One day I borrowed his telescope and took a look at the fishing community again. I've never sketched using a telescope before, and I had fun!

For these sketches, I used pencils, colored pencils, a brush pen, and watercolors. I drew on a Derwent sketchbook that's not really meant to be used for wet media, but I don't mind. ;) There are days when I feel my sketching's awful, and there are days when I feel good about them. Oh well--practice makes better! 

That trip up north jump-started big changes, of which I'll tell you about in another post. ;) I'm really glad for the support of family, friends, and colleagues who understand my need to "go" and refresh, so thank you--you know who you are.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Baguio WIP: What I've been up to

Hello. Today marks the second week I've been in Baguio for a research project. The weather has been especially chilly and wet due to Tropical Storm Egay. I'm currently taking a break from sorting out my papers and drawings, thinking about the things I still need to do.

Part of my output for the research project is a tourist map of the community of Bahong, dubbed "The Rose Capital of the Philippines". Bahong is in La Trinidad, around seven kilometers from Baguio City. Most, if not all of the roses sold in bulk in Dangwa in Manila come from Bahong.

It's my first time making a tourist map, and though I'm pretty excited about it, I'm also quite nervous it wouldn't turn out the way I'd envisioned. I'm doing almost everything manually, especially the spot illustrations. I'm taking some inspiration from They Draw & Travel.

I'm in a cloud!

This is a tourist map of Sagada, which has become one of the most popular destinations in Northern Philippines. When done, my map will look a bit like this, but not really. I'm planning to make two versions, a black and white one and another one in color. The map will be given to the community so they can use it for their tourism project/s.

A view of the flower gardens of Bahong. At the foreground, in the open fields are roses. Grown in the greenhouses at the background are chrysanthemums and Malaysian mums.

Women sorting (according to size), cleaning, and packaging white anthurium flowers. Each bloom is carefully encased in a small plastic sleeve.

A garden of pink roses. Most of the blooms have already been cut that morning.

"So this is what pitimini flowers look like!" / "So that's what this flower is called!"
Some initial sketches for the spot illustrations. I've never drawn so many flowers and plants in my life. I need to draw more.

A portion of the stuff I've acquired in the last week. May I direct your attention to my 'new' pen holder? I'm out of sunflower brittle, but I promised myself I'd buy more when I'm done with this project. ;)

I came here with only my 'usual' on-location sketching tools: some ink pens, a few colored pencils, a few pieces of cream-colored watercolor paper, and a tiny watercolor set. As I was thinking of how to go about the map, I realized I was severely lacking in materials. I panicked and looked for other stuff that I can use, just in case: colored pencils (with free crayons haha), oil pastels, more watercolors, and acrylics. Plus lots of paper, heehee. 

The box of acrylic paints I think is a steal at Php 150--it has six 25-ml bottles of basic colors, a mini palette, six small bamboo sticks, and a thin brush. Baguio has a lot of mom&pop school and office supply stores, but these usually have only student-grade stuff (which is really good enough for me). I might not be able to use the oil pastels as I earlier thought, but we'll see.

To be honest, I never thought I'd join a research project as an "artist", haha. Anyway, I hope to finish the tourist map this week so I can move on to my other tasks. Wish me luck! :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

trying out the new Limelight sketchbook

I love trying out new stuff for sketching, so when I was presented with the opportunity to try out a new sketchbook, I gladly said yes. The Limelight Sketch Book from Star 360 Philippines in A5 size has rounded corners, 100 leaves, and I think 80gsm of smooth, cream-colored plain paper. The one here is the black version with a green elastic strap to keep it closed. There's another version, a grey one with an orange strap.

Front, without the label

Back, with the sticker.

The sticker peels off easily and leaves no residue. :)

A closer look at the elastic strap. It's got good tension.

It has an expandable inner pocket! I put Urban Sketchers leaflets in pockets just in case someone comes along and asks about what I'm up to (or, what on earth are you doing under the scorching heat?).

Inside, creamy paper. I wasn't able to take a photo of the binding but the sketchbook lays down flat, which is good for me, because it makes sketches easier to scan. The Limelight Sketch Book also has a ribbon marker.

Whenever I have my hands on new paper, my usual concern is "Will this hold watercolor?" because ink & wash remains to be my favorite 'technique'. When I saw and felt the paper of the Limelight Sketchbook, I got a bit sad, because I immediately knew it's not for watercolor. Light washes/touches of watercolor yes you can apply, but you can't "play" with wet media on this paper. So if you're into heavy washes, best manage your expectations considering this sketchbook's limitations. I do hope Limelight comes up with a sketchbook with thicker, watercolor-friendly paper soon--especially now that so many are getting into arts and crafts. ;)

Anyway, I still wanted to try out how the paper holds ink so I'll know which ones I can use with the sketchbook, and how, so I took out the big guns got my pens and set to work. Here are the results.

The thin paper is no match for markers, but holds other ink types well, even fountain pen ink (with no visible feathering).

Okay, so I did try watercolors (Sakura Mat). Just a light wash, but the paper (as expected) crumpled/wrinkled depending on the volume of water. Still, the paper is fab with dry media.

My calligraphy sucks; I just don't have the discipline for it, which is why I'm sticking to sketching (haha). I tried out China ink (the one with the elephant) and Ideal drawing ink with a Hunt 56 nib. It's probably my lack of fine writing skills, but the feathering and bleed-through on this page say nope, that's too much ink for this paper.

At the bottom I quickly sketched my trusty electric fan using my Kuretake ZIG Brush Pen No. 22 and a waterbrush filled with diluted Hero ink (to make grey) to see how that combo works.

See, I told you I used too much drawing ink.
The electric fan sketch was okay, with minimal wrinkling on the grey-washed portions.

I've taken the sketchbook with me last week to Plaza Lawton and the Kartilya ng Katipunan Shrine in Manila, where Urban Sketchers Philippines had an Independence Day sketchwalk. I drew some of the sketchers who participated that day. My initial drawing was done on location using a pencil; I added watercolors at home.

You really can't 'play' with the watercolors with this paper--as soon as you lay the brush down, the color gets absorbed instantly, and you can't dab and swirl. I made a few shadow errors I couldn't correct anymore--oh well. Using watercolors is a bit tricky with this sketchbook, so keep this in mind and you're good to go! (Or use colored pencils instead.)

Wrinkling behind where watercolors have been applied.

Overall, the Limelight Sketch Book is definitely something I'll use again for location sketching and practice drawing. It's really good, lightweight, and has paper that can work with a lot of materials. Plus, that expandable inner pocket is really handy. Personally I would skip using pages back-to-back considering the materials I work with and the (light) weight of Limelight's paper, but for pencil and other light/dry media work, the pages can be used one after the other without a hitch.

Hmm, I wonder if they'll come up with watercolor-friendly sketchbooks soon? :)