My late mother named me simply Nanette, a Hebrew name derived from Hannah and a French short name which means Little Anne. Most assume that this is a nickname falling short from a real long one or from multiples which is common from where I was born, my beautiful and sunny Philippines.
Early December of 2017, my family, along with our pet dog, moved to the USA in the dead of winter. So much excitement and anxiety stemmed from this uproot, however it has become a huge inspiration and drive to explore the beauty in this part of the world.
I would like to call myself deviant, forever evolving , curious and easily bored. I was learning to draw even before I started to write my simple name. Art nurtured my graceful spirit and imagination fueled my curiosity.
The Healing Effects Of Watercolor Painting
I have learned to seek positivity amidst any adversity; art taught me that. The rigors of medical school, training and practice hampered this gift from shining. It was only a shimmer, a dull colored ray and the profound thirst to reunite with my first love…painting.
It was only a matter of time for the creative stars to align. It was ironic to heal others in my capacity as a physician and yet, found myself to be incomplete.
Watercolor painting healed me in so many different ways; it is only imperative that I share this passion which is more potent than any other medicine out there. I want it to be contagious, rabid and full of energy. Our 2 brain hemispheres should function equally and harmoniously, not overshadowing the other. There has to be a balance to achieve that quality of life that we are entitled to.
My daily grind starts with doodles and random thoughts as I find that powerful gleam. I prep myself to have the imagination as big as the Pacific and the stamina to accept whatever output I have for the day. Appreciating the most mundane of things and considering it to be beautiful comes natural to me.
The chirpings of birds outside my window, the precocious squirrels, the white blanket of snow, the rust of tin, the gloomy skies, the kaleidoscope sunsets, the whistling kettle, the untied shoelace, the burnt bacon, the dead leaves… the everyday randomness in my world is everything to me. In medicine, we call it clinical eye.
For the artist, one must have the eye to appreciate the sensibility of the subject and highlight its importance by making it your focal point. The rest becomes a blur. The right subject comes like a thief for it strikes you at any given time or place. I head on to it, streamline in that particular direction, and just give my all. Magic comes as easily as preparing your cup of coffee in the morning.
Materials For Watercolor Painting
Color is important for anyone at any age. I still dream that it would rain crayons that melt in the summer and stay permanently in my hands. The lightfastness of Daniel Smith watercolors have given me that girl blush every time I flood my Arches or Saunders Waterford paper with it. But, I cannot have that exciting wash without stretching the 300gsm paper. I now religiously do it with a sturdy marine wood board, and keep it in place with the most reliable gummed tape and stapled. The artist tape is not as hard core for I had failures with buckled paper after a few washes.
Nothing beats a well prepared paper or canvas. There are no short cuts to a great painting. I believe that in order to be efficient, one should use the tools that work for her. I rely on good quality brushes that give me a fine point and have an ample reservoir for water. Mop brushes are a staple, as well as spotters for those intricate details.
I now shy away from the natural hair since I love the squirrels playing in my backyard. My old reliable ones are there to keep until they give up on me. My challenge now is to search for the good synthetic ones and be eventually happy and contented with its limitations, if there are any.
I am most in my zone when I’m painting flowers. They may be inspired by an actual piece or from reference photos. Either way, they are the most enjoyable and easiest to paint. In some occasions, I am obsessed with details and feel like the botanical artist that I aspire to be. But, I have found solace in painting freestyle. It starts with a rough sketch of the flower shape, followed by identification of tonal values, then adding details to my focal point. Everything in the background stays blurry.
Oftentimes, I loose myself and everything becomes as important as the intended focal point. Then, I compensate by using the cooler tones and values. My faves for floral paintings are Rose Madder, Rose of Ultramarine, Coral Pink, all of the Quinacridones, Perylene Maroon, Perylene Violet, Sap Green, Van Dycke Brown, Rare Green Earth and Hansa Yellow. I could go on forever.
My portraits start with a good sketch. Proportion is key to a realistic looking portrait. You can have any color that fancies you at the moment whether it be monochromes or limited palettes. For my skin tones, I also have my staples. I house them in a separate tin inside half pans. These colors are Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, Lemon Yellow, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Teal, Perinone Orange, Sepia and Van Dyke Brown.
Play around with the warms and the cools, work from light to dark, then give importance to the eyes. No doubt, eyes always speak to the viewer. Truth be told that there is still no perfect portrait . The artist is just the deliverer of the emotion and character of the subject. If he does it en point, then it becomes a great work of art.
Be inspired by everyday randomness, be infectious and not heal from that rabid frenzy, teach and be generous about it. Be frustrated so you do not stop painting. Stay true, forgive yourself and try to be your own version of greatness.
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. 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!