Hello, I’m Hanny! First of all, I’d like to thank Charlie for the opportunity to be featured on Doodlewash. I was so surprised and excited when I saw his message on Instagram, telling me that he wanted me to be a guest artist on his website. I’m beyond honored to share my artistic journey with the world.
My name is Khairani Larasati Imania, or Hanny for short (follow me on Instagram!). I live in Malang, Indonesia with my husband and a baby daughter. I currently work as a Visual Communication Design lecturer in a University.
I majored in Industrial Design back when I was in college and have a Master Degree in it. That being said, watercolor was never my favorite media to do design. I only had one year watercolor painting lesson on my first year but since I never got good marks for the assignments, I didn’t grow fond of it.
What brought me back to watercolor was my friend. I was in awe the first time I saw her works two years ago. I admire her adorable style and I wondered whether I could do the same. I built up the courage to pick up my watercolor paints (which had been abandoned for more than 10 years by then) and timidly tried to paint again. I was so afraid it would turn out bad…
Well, of course it turned out as such and far from what I expected. My standard was set too up high and now that I think about it, I was being too hard on myself (it was my first try since forever) because I’m somehow a perfectionist. I got discouraged again and abandoned it for the second time.
With time, my interest shifted and I had somehow accepted that watercolor was not meant for me after all. I’ve always liked making my own greeting cards to give to family and friends, and that led me to lettering. My favorite letterers are Ngah Muli Ong and Abbey Sy because their works are so neat and colorful. I learned different style of letterings and experimenting with various tools from pencil, pen, brush, brush pen, to pointed pen.
Eventually it brought me back to watercolor since I need colorful inks to letter with some of those tools, and the cheapest ‘inks’ are watercolor paints. Playing with watercolors this time wasn’t so scary because I only used them to letter. Initially, I only did it as an ‘escape’ from my daily routine, but then I got so engrossed and it became a habit. I’ve done lettering almost every day since then.
Slowly, I started to add some illustrations to my lettering works such as simplified flowers and other small object. Most of the time, I still look at photograph to give me a better understanding on how light fell on an object. As I felt more and more comfortable with watercolor, I continued working on bigger and more detailed objects. I tried to free my mind from setting a standard and just do it without having to worry that my work might not end up looking like another artist’s style. By doing so, I feel like I’ve slowly discovered my own style.
Some people on Instagram have told me that my paintings look ‘dreamy’ and ‘magical’ (probably because I did too many Harry Potter themed illustrations!). I like how people see my works and it definitely encourages me to do better. My current favorite objects to paint are desserts, birds, and anything from the Harry Potter world (haha!).
Now that I’ve became friends with watercolor, I can say that it’s my favorite material to work with. I use watercolor in most of my works, both for painting and lettering. I usually do a quick sketch with pencil before working with watercolor. For lettering, I use a very little bit of water to mix with the paints because I want them to be vibrant.
When I’m aiming for an ombré effect, I use a more diluted paints before adding the more opaque mix to my works. For object painting, I usually fill the drawing with light shade first, then slowly add darker shade to create depth. I also like to use white paint to create a dramatic effect or simply to make the painting look more realistic.
I’m still not THAT good with watercolor (moreover when compared to other artists) and still consider myself a beginner so I’m mainly still using my old student grade paints which are Pentel Watercolors. Sometimes I also use Sakura Koi Watercolors or mix it with gouache paints for a more opaque result or Finetec for metallic effect. As for the white paint, I usually use Uniball Signo White gel pen or Dr.Ph.Martin’s Bleed Proof White. I do wish to upgrade my watercolor, but I need to level up my painting skill first.
What I can probably say to those who just started their artistic journey: Don’t give up! Just because you’re not doing great at first, doesn’t mean you’ll be bad at it forever. Free your mind and keep on practicing. One day it’ll all be worth it and you just might surprise yourself at just how much you’ve grown since you’ve started!
Hanny (Khairani Larasati Imania)