Hello, fellow art enthusiasts! My name is Pao Alfonso and I’m from the Philippines (Check out my blog here and my Instagram account here!). First of all, I’d like to thank Charlie for the opportunity to be a featured artist on this wonderful website. I always enjoy reading all of the articles here and I’m beyond thrilled for the opportunity to share my watercolor journey as well.
I’ve only recently started exploring watercolors because I’ve always been a pen and ink kind of gal. I consider myself more of a diarist than a visual artist, though. I’ve always kept a journal since I was young and I sketched a bit too, but somehow I lost touch with my creative side after college when it became all about the daily grind.
I guess it all changed when I resigned from my corporate job in 2009 and started doing freelance writing gigs. I found more time to spend with my family, I slowed down considerably and rediscovered my love for keeping journals and sketching. You can say that I slowed down enough to rediscover the reflective life.
In 2014, I started using fountain pens and I think what I love most about it is that the letters look more like they were painted on paper than written on. The strokes were beautiful and unique, and I loved seeing the ink pool in certain parts of the lines so that they produce gorgeous shading. Seeing these letters “painted” on paper made me curious about adding little paintings to my journal entries too.
I found it a little challenging to draw and paint small things that would fit a regular-sized traveler’s notebook, but it’s a fun experience. I don’t stress out too much about my artwork. I don’t tear off pages because they’re not exactly what I had in mind. I accept my mistakes as part of the creative process, leaving them where they are as part of the journal entry’s story. I often write and draw whatever would tie an important memory stronger to my mind.
I work as one of our church’s volunteers in our city jail, so I often draw memories that I share with the inmates. This is especially important to me because we’re not allowed to take photographs in jail.
Because of this, I often painted things from memory. I cherish these memories and every time I read back to my journal entries about the inmates, the words and the little paintings help make the memories come alive to me again. It helped me document this experience that is continuing to shape my life, along with the people that I work with.
I also love drawing food. I think that the colors and textures of different kinds of food are interesting subjects. I tend to tie up meals and memories a lot. So when I write about having dinner with family or friends, I make it a point to try and include a small painting of the food we shared. Rereading my old food-related entries is like a sensory experience, even if it’s just letters and paint on paper.
For my birthday this year, my husband and I went on a food adventure at Manila Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in the world. I documented the adventure by painting the food that we ate every day and writing about what fascinated me about them. I tried to make one journal entry for each day that we stayed there, it was lots of fun!
I like writing about childhood memories too. I think that as you get older, the vibrancy of some childhood memories begin to fade or change. By writing and drawing, I try to recapture them as best as I can. Perhaps someday my nieces and nephews and the future generation of our family will read them and get to know about our roots that way.
Aside from my daily journal entries, I keep a small watercolor notebook for practice. I like using Sennelier and Schmincke half pans, Moleskine watercolor album, and Khadi papers for my watercolor painting practice. My favorite watercolor set is the Sennelier walnut box set that my husband gave me for Christmas. I like Sennelier because the colors are vibrant and many of them have great transparency, which is awesome for layering colors.
Overall, I am enjoying this journey a lot. It really gave my journals a new dimension, and I enjoy reading my old entries so much more because of it. I also learned a lot of new things through it and have met a lot of amazing people both online and in real life through the common love for art and writing.
Thanks again for featuring my work, Charlie! You rock!