My name is Aliver Escano or “Esc” as my friends call me. I am from Cebu, Philippines and I’m an avid sketcher and painter. My mother recalls that I used to imitate or redraw all her drawings when I was a toddler. These drawings were the settings and characters based on her storytelling.
She said that it easily caught my attention every time she started sketching while telling me a story. Since then, sketching was a daily habit during break time and after school hours. It was sort of a ritual before doing homework or projects and before dinner.
In college, I took up architecture, it was more of pen and ink with pen markers and colored pencil rendering. A few in watercolor and gouache rendering too. Very architectural and design oriented approach to sketching which molded my attention more on perspectives, proportion and scale.
When I was working in Singapore, I fell in love with the urban city setting. The old shop houses along with the skyscrapers that defined the city’s skyline gave me a sense of awe. The presence of the old strongly indicates Asian heritage, architecture and culture while the presence of the new and modern signifies progress and economy.
Wasting no time, I got a pocket size sketchbook and sketched everyday – early in the morning, lunch breaks, after work and weekends. (please see video clip of the sketches I did in Singapore at the link below)
In 2013, I went back to Cebu and continued working as an architect in a local firm and co-founded Urban Sketchers Cebu with Cholo who started a few years back. Every so often I go back to Singapore to visit my wife and joined Urban Sketchers Singapore. Together with fellow Bisaya friends Cholo, Uhky, Sonny and Gibrone we sketch and paint during Sketchwalks and free times.
In Cebu, I got interested in sketching Streetscapes where the presence of vernacular architecture blends naturally or at times in contrast to its surroundings. Though not as grand compared to any first world country but surely one of my favorite subjects.
Of course, not missing a few of the Heritage houses and buildings around the city, together with Urban Sketchers Cebu we go around and sketch them during our monthly sketchwalks.
Using mixed media, pen and ink with watercolor wash was easy and fast. But in 2016, I started practicing watercolor as a medium. It was a hype that I do it during lunch break and late evenings. Learning the techniques and styles was not easy. It needs constant practice, perseverance and patience. Despite it all, it was FUN. As a beginner it was easier doing it with small sketchbooks and A4 pads before shifting into larger formats.
Before trying watercolor it is an advantage learning and mastering the basics of drawing and sketching. It only takes a little time everyday and can always be mastered through practice. It was a different scenario when I started watercolor as a medium. Honestly it was difficult to control and tricky compared to pen and ink with watercolor wash. From there I got to know the different materials to be used. Like the brands of watercolors, brushes, sketchbooks and watercolor papers.
Sketching and Painting Materials I’ve Used
Rembrandt and Winsor & Newton watercolors for mixed media and watercolor sketches in sketchbooks and smaller formats. Daniel Smith watercolors for the bigger, large formats. Neef and Escoda brushes. Fabriano and Saunders Waterford watercolor paper for larger formats and recently using Baohong and Arches.
Currently, I am doing landscapes. Inspired by the rural terrain of the north which is just an hour ride from the city. It reminds me of the old town were people living simply – Fishermen and their small boats or “Bangka” preparing for the next catch, people swimming at the creek, huts or the modern “Bahay Kubo” sits nearby, domesticated farm animals like cows and goats move around freely, tricycle a local mode of public transportation roam over the dirt roads and children playing on the grassy field.
It was like reminiscing the past as a kid where our place used to be similar to this, but now it is full of concrete and noise becoming like a metropolis. Now, it is where me and my kids would stay for the weekend (at my in-laws house) to keep us away from the city rush and experience what it was before, in the 80’s.
Until now, I am still practicing watercolor. Trying it at home, in every sketchwalk or plein air session while applying, not all, but a few techniques that I’ve learned. Framing, composition and scale are the few elements that I find useful in watercolor painting.
Framing – Focal point and Subject.
Composition – Forms and Shapes.
Scale – Perspective and Proportion.
With all of these elements combined, It is best to simplify without going into intricate details. There were times when I just go spontaneous without thinking a lot. Setting up a mood, just enjoying and having fun. Making an impression out of it, using yellow instead of blue for the sky, orange for the tree, leaves and branches mixing with darks of purple, red and blue instead of green.
Adding elements like canopies, roofs, wires, twigs, people, vehicles or just lines and blots that came out of nowhere. Rub it, bleed it, scratch it, splash it … some would even spit on it. The essence is to have FUN.
I think that would be all. A big “Thank you!” to Charlie O’Shields for giving me the chance in sharing my views. I hope this can help in some way or another.Recommended2 recommendationsPublished in
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!