GUEST DOODLEWASH: Keeping Art Journals

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Art Journal page of Pao Alfonso - #doodlewash

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Art Journal page of Pao Alfonso - #doodlewashHello, 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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Art Journal page of Pao Alfonso - #doodlewashI 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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Art Journal page of Pao Alfonso - #doodlewashI 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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Art Journal page of Pao Alfonso - #doodlewash

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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Art Journal page of Pao Alfonso - #doodlewash

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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Art Journal page of Pao Alfonso - #doodlewash

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!

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Art Journal page of Pao Alfonso - #doodlewashI 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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Art Journal page of Pao Alfonso - #doodlewash

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor Art Journal page of Pao Alfonso - #doodlewashOverall, 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!

Pao Alfonso

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. […] super thrilled to be one of their featured artists this week. It’s quite an experience to see artwork of different artists from different parts of the […]

  2. M. L. Kappa 6 years ago

    Lovely work, Pao!🌺

  3. Lisa Roberge 6 years ago

    Really lovely Pao! I did the opposite – I started with watercolors but as soon as I added pen and ink I truly fell in love, and started journalling along. Thanks so much for sharing your journey!

  4. Teresa Robeson 6 years ago

    I’m always amazed at those who can keep an art journal! I can barely crank out a doodly scribble each day, let alone something as beautiful and colorful as what you do, Pao. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your artistic journey with us!

  5. jpeters6248 6 years ago

    I love your journals Pao. I just recently started journaling again and your pages are what I aspire to. I am too critical of my own drawing skills and constantly tear pages out. You’ve inspired me to just go with it. Can’t wait to see more on IG. Thank you for sharing this little piece of you.

  6. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 6 years ago

    Pao, your comment that you slowed down enough to discover the reflective life resonates with me. Too many people, myself often as well, respond without thinking about how our words will impact others. Your art shows how sensitive and thoughtful you are and is a wonderful document about all you love.

    • Pao Alfonso 6 years ago

      Thank you, Sharon. Slowing down, for me, always has to be a conscious effort. It’s really so easy to get lost in work. Writing is my way of reminding myself that there are more important things in life. 🙂 Keep on writing!

  7. memadtwo 6 years ago

    All of the food looks delicious. And I love the way you work it in with the text. (K)

  8. hmunro 6 years ago

    Your work is ASTOUNDING, Pao — everything. The writing, the sketching and painting, the creative process behind it. Thank you for sharing this beautiful glimpse into your journal, and for inspiring me to kick mine up a notch or too.

    (And thank you to *you* too, Charlie, for this wonderful introduction!)

    • Pao Alfonso 6 years ago

      Thank you. 🙂 Wow, the photos on your blog are amazing!

      • hmunro 6 years ago

        I am overwhelmed that someone as visual as yourself would like my photos, Pao. You’ve made my day! Thank you.

  9. Laura (PA Pict) 6 years ago

    Lovely work. I really enjoy the immediacy of it and the idea of capturing or recording your experiences and memories in visual journals. In addition to my love of art, I am just getting into fountain pens and inks (as a way of having more portable pen and ink tools) so I am going to follow your blog. 😀

  10. Phil Cooper 6 years ago

    Beautiful and inspiring journals Pao, congrats 🙂

  11. diane klock 6 years ago

    Pao , I loved reading this piece and seeing your work . I am also a sketchbook lover and couldn’t agree more with all you said . Thank you for sharing your art journey.

  12. mterrazas32 6 years ago

    Awesome art journal!:) Any tips/advice for beginner ink/fountain pen users. Am just starting and just curious what sketchbook do you use for ink/fountain pen?

    • Pao Alfonso 6 years ago

      Hi! When I was just beginning to use fountain pens, I loved Lamy pens and Pilot Metropolitans. They’re affordable and were great writers. If you want waterproof inks, I would suggest Noodler’s inks. I use Tomoe River inserts in my journals. I am absolutely in love with this paper.

  13. peppermintpatty442 6 years ago

    LOVE this Pao! Your work is wonderful and you just inspired me to start journaling! THANK YOU!

  14. prior.. 6 years ago

    Loved this post and your art journals are awesome !

  15. beverlydyer 6 years ago

    Lovely! and inspiring!

  16. SHARON HASCHALK 6 years ago

    I love your work Pao, thank you for the inspiration to start journaling! I’ve never used a fountain pen, but have seen a lot of old ones in antique shops/junk shops. What do you think about me getting one of those if they are a reasonable price? Any advice? I’m going to follow your blog. Thank you again! Sharon

    • Pao Alfonso 6 years ago

      Oh, I love vintage pens! A bulk of my collection are vintage Parker pens. Provided the filling mechanisms work well (because getting them fixed can be a bit difficult if you don’t know a nib meister in your area), I would highly suggest getting vintage pens. The workmanship of most of them is quite remarkable. I think my oldest pen is from the 1920’s, and it still writes so well.

  17. SHARON HASCHALK 6 years ago

    Hi Pao, thank you for replying. There are some flea markets in my area and a lot of times I have seen some older pens here and there. I guess I’ll have to just be careful not to pay too much in case the mechanism doesn’t work right. What was quite a coincidence for me today was that I had an eye doctor appointment, and at the end of exam the doctor was writing notes in my chart with a fountain pen and I asked him about it and that I was thinking of getting one. His said his was a Parker Duofold and that he just recently got it. He had the same kind of pen before for 25 years and loved it, so decided to get the same thing. He said he’s hoping this new one will last him another 25 years! I did check on online for prices of them, and they are definitely out of my price range, but I’ll go ahead and search in some antique shops and the flea markets for an old pen. I think they are so pretty and so classy looking. I will let you know later on how I make out. Thanks so much for your advice! Sharon

  18. […] Doodlewash – Using Watercolours […]

  19. Pamela Smith 5 years ago

    Wow,,I love your journals,they will be a wonderful legacy to leave your family,(not too soon I hope😊) your work is beautiful…

  20. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    Lovely sketchbooks!

  21. Jennifer McLean 5 years ago

    I just love how your journals look. I’ve never achieved that balance between the art on the page and the writing. And Oh those donuts look delish!

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