GUEST ARTIST: “Every Frame, Every Sketch, Has A Story” by McCollin Dulay Delos Santos

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - Doodlewash

My name is McCollin Dulay Delos Santos, You can call me “Mel” for short. I am from the province of Baguio City, Summer Capital, a mountainous area called Cordillera Region, and one of the coolest parts in the Northern Philippines.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - Doodlewash

I’m currently in Singapore and working as an architectural associate designer. There, I do most of my work on a computer, design of buildings and (3D) 3-dimensional modeling of architectural building facades and interior layouts and a little knowledge in graphics.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - Doodlewash

I am also a photographer as part of my hobby. My genre is more on street photography, portraiture, architecture and interior photography and I love to collect vintage lenses. Some of my selected works are on Facebook and you can follow me on Instagram.

How I Started Sketching And Discovering Watercolour

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - DoodlewashNowadays, and in this generation, architecture is becoming more digital due to ease in presentation, increase in production etc., etc. Of course with advantages and disadvantages.

For that reason, I don’t want my career in architecture to be locked up in the digital world. Instead, it should be a balance using a conventional freehand or manual sketch method, which is what I love and what I have learned in school during my college days.

So that’s one reason why I started sketching again. I don’t want to forget freehand sketching, because that is what architecture is all about.  I want to incorporate my sketches and watercolour in my daily design work.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - DoodlewashAnd due to my work load and tight deadlines, photography and urban sketching becomes part and my way to escape and get out from this digital computer environment. Being away from a computer at least one day of the week, and looking forward to relaxing and refreshing my eyes and mind.

So one day, one of my friends, Alfonso, also member of Urban Sketchers Singapore invited me/introduced me to this urban sketch group way back in 2016.

Since I also like photography, I asked myself, why not combine the two (sketching and photography) so I did bring my camera, paper, and a sketch pen. And so I followed them and I took a couple of street photographs. Then, after that, I tried to sketch what is on the site. That was my first urban sketch and from then on I get to join the group whenever I get free time.

But then mostly, I practice at home, experimenting with newly learned techniques in watercolour from what I have seen from the group and from YouTube references.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - Doodlewash

Months passed by and I continued to practice and learned how to used watercolour as my main medium. I tried painting some of my photographs taken from my previous sketch walks or from vacation photos.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - Doodlewash

At first, it was a struggle and chaos, because I wanted to paint the blurriness, fuzziness, mixed with focus, sharpness etc. Like what you see in camera lens settings. So with constant trial and error and more practice, I learned and produced my first painting from my photo reference.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - Doodlewash

From then onwards, I paint photographs with permission and credits to the owner, but not copying the same. I put a little twist of art in it by adding and subtracting colours, shadows, highlights etc. I want my photo or that other photo to transform into a more artistic style, in a more expressive and convincing way with a story. An example is my fisherman painting at the beginning of this post and “Solitude” at the end of the post.

My Technique Process/ Method Used

Having a background in architecture and in photography, plus years of constant practice, plays a great and important role in my journey to urban sketching. Especially in doing an angled complicated perspective and mainly proportion. I believe that having these elements are the main ingredients in a very good urban sketch.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - Doodlewash

In the office, I sketch in an architecture way meaning very ‘detailed’. But, in my urban sketching, or in my painting, I wanted to loosen up a bit by trying to simplify it, using just the main shape, form, and minimal detail.

My Technique And Tips

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - DoodlewashBefore doing an urban sketch, I always do my initial sketch trying to study the location of the focal point of the main subject, best angle view, location of shadows, and study the light, medium, and hard tones.

I also integrate in my sketch the so-called “rule of thirds” in photography, where you locate your main subject, focal point of interest 1/3 in the frame of the paper composition. Sometimes at the center, depending on the subject you’re sketching.

As a sketcher and a photographer, sometimes I challenge myself to sketch a scene or take a lonely dull photo and try to transform it into a more lively, colourful sketch. I create my own version using some additional effects and highlights, the addition or subtraction of shape, a new location for shadows and, most importantly, with meaning and leaving a story behind. Whenever a viewer sees my sketch and painting, this lets the painting speak for itself.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - Doodlewash

1. I’m using a bamboo stick or a bar-b-que stick as my “brush”… Yes, a bamboo stick combined with black ink serves as my outline to give emphasis in a shape or object and produce texture when applied in a proper angled stroke like a dry brush in my sketch and painting. Equivalent to what they call “twig” or wood. I used this stick also in creating a thin wire cable in my urban streetscape sketch instead of a rigger brush whenever possible.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - Doodlewash

2. I am using a correction fluid Pen or white liquid eraser as my highlighter instead of white watercolour pigment, I find it more impressive and more opaque and bright. I usually apply it in people, cars, light posts, cables …etc., bright highlight areas where the sun is coming from, and also my signature (or my white ink pen most of the time).

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - Doodlewash

3. My main type of works are watercolour plus on-site location for urban sketching, watercolour sketch from a reference photo, composition sketch in black and white using ink and twig or bamboo stick.

Materials Used

  1. For my sketch book I use A4 and A5. I used Daler Rowney 250g paper, A3 sized, for my bigger paper size work.
  2. Mop brush no 07 and no 10 and one 2” wash brush. The rest is bamboo stick or bar-b-que stick.
  3. Beginner watercolour and waterproof black ink and Chinese ink for sketching.


My main inspiration is my family, and my wife and only daughter Nicole. Also, I am  inspired by what is happening in my surroundings, events, etc. Sometimes, I sketch a base from what I see and observe. And sometimes as a designer/artist, I sketch what is on my mind right away in that moment – any paper, small paper receipt, or any blank paper will do. Just to sketch that idea before it fades away in my mind along with that eagerness to see what you have visualized.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Painting by Mc Collin Dulay Delos Santos - Doodlewash

As an artist, don’t be afraid to try and experiment because every frame you sketch has its own meaning and story and in photography every frame you click is history.

Thank you very much Mr. Charlie O’Shields for inviting me to be featured on your blog. More power to you and Doodlewash and all fellow artists.

McCollin Dulay Delos Santos

Recommended10 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Donna 5 years ago

    Wow! Beautiful light!

  2. Fantine Ponter 5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your tips and tricks! Love your art!

  3. Rod Fletcher 5 years ago

    Love your use of colour and impressionistic style.

  4. Sandra Strait 5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your artistic journey with us, Mel! I love the trick with using a Bar-b-Q stick. I’ll have to try that.

    • McCollin delos Santos 5 years ago

      Hi Ms Sandra yes you can try its fun , this can give you great tecture in your art. hope to see it soon how u apply . cheers

  5. Pam 5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your ideas and techniques. You have inspired me to try new things. I recently acquired some Japanese ink sticks. I have been wondering hoe I could use them. Now I have an idea.

    • McCollin delos Santos 5 years ago

      Thnx Pam . the Bamboo stick is a good combo with brush . try to dip the tip atleast 1 cm in ink or watercolor then try to sweep or wash it like a brush in a slanting position ur paper must be atleast 140 gram color paper then you can see the effect called broken edges . try it its fun just practice .

      • McCollin delos Santos 5 years ago

        correction not color paper . coldpress watercolor paper atleast 140 g with texture

        • Pam 4 years ago

          Thanks I will try that.

  6. MMcBuck 5 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing your talent and story. I loved the vibrant colors, and your watercolor tips!

  7. Jean Marmo 5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing. Love reading more about you and your works which are just beautiful!

  8. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    You have a very unique and effective process. I love the lines produced by the bamboo stick.

    • McCollin delos Santos 4 years ago

      Thnk u Ms Sharon for your appreciation yeah the bamboo can produce thin lines aswell as bold texture line

  9. Veronica Colvin 5 years ago

    Beautiful work!

  10. Beverly Wong-Kleinjan 5 years ago

    Enjoyed reading your feature. Lovely paintings!

  11. Susan Cuss 5 years ago

    Wow! Your architectural background shows in your beautiful sketching and paintings.Thanks for sharing your journey and your tips.

    • McCollin delos Santos 5 years ago

      Thnx Ms Susan , yeah … i thnk just an advantage . but everyone can learn perspective just practice

  12. Pamela Smith 5 years ago

    I enjoyed your journey to watercolor and your paintings are outstanding..Thank you for sharing..

  13. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 5 years ago

    McCollin, your art is a delight to see. Best wishes in future.-

  14. McCollin delos Santos 5 years ago

    thank you very much to all for appreciating my work. a great day everyone

  15. SnehLata Maheshwari 5 years ago

    Sorry i am always late as net work problem here.
    I love you r style of painting with bamboo sticks.beautful work. Good luck to you.

  16. Agnès McLaughlin 5 years ago

    Amazing use of colours and the use of a stick is such a great idea to obtain a line with character.Thanks for sharing !

  17. Janneke Booister 4 years ago

    Thank you for letting us enjoy your story and all that beautiful artwork. I hope to see much more of your art in the future 🙂

  18. Janneke Booister 4 years ago

    Thank you for letting us enjoy your story and all that beautiful art! I really hope to see more of your art in the future 🙂

  19. Jill Gustavis 4 years ago

    Lovely work, thank you for sharing it with everyone!

  20. SnehLata Maheshwari 4 years ago

    Great work but cant get your blog.

  21. Gareth Naylor 4 years ago

    Really lovely.

  22. SeemaMisra 4 years ago

    Very, very beautiful paintings. Love the way movement is captures. It all comes alive.

  23. newporter57 4 years ago

    Mel, I loved your work and the simplicity you employ re: your tools (bamboo stick). I so admire the enormous talent here on Doodlewash, and must ask: how long have you been painting watercolor? Paper brand, size, colors? Your lines are inspired! I loved viewing your pieces. All of the artists here are enviable, innate talent a gift. I’ve been painting (if one can call it that) since July, having learned from Birgit O’Connor (a recent feature artist here on DW). I am at the stage where my goal is simply to have my pieces actually resemble something that LOOKS like something. Rule of thirds is new to me, focal point? An utter mystery. Just loved your work, everyone’s really. Wow–I’m blown away, Mel! Thank you for sharing your art with us, with me. I learn from every painting I see.

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