Hi, I am Pamela from Davao City, Philippines, and I’m a self-taught watercolorist. Growing up, I have always had this strong affinity to artsy endeavors where I could use my hands and imagination. I came from a typical Filipino family where my parents’ income was just enough so spending on art was more of an indulgence than a necessity. As my dad was a CPA, I followed on and took a finance-related degree. Life was hectic and time for art was sparse. The spark was there but I just didn’t have the energy and resources to take it any further.
15 years after, in 2017, I was where I planned to be in my career. I felt the slow simmer of wanting to do more than just work. I’ve always felt a sense of calm when I paint, and so I decided to pick up a pencil and start drawing again. It was pen and ink sketches initially which progressed into watercolor and ink. And finally, after a year of self study, I managed to establish an online gallery. In just over 12 months, I sold around 15 artworks and that tiny spark was finally set ablaze.
The beginning wasn’t easy. I was torn between my grueling day job and my extreme desire to just spend all day painting. Like any newbie, I was definitely overwhelmed but the universe of free information lying around is more than enough for anyone to get better (Wetcanvas, youtube). I read books on composition and perspective (Ian Roberts), color theory (Stephen Quiller) and watercolor techniques (Michael Reardon, David Webb). I watched videos of watercolor masters like Alvaro Castagnet, Joseph Zbukvic, Chien Chung Wei, among others. Resource sites such as enterclass.ru and slon.it, tremendoulsy helped me to progress further in watercolor.
I don’t use cobalts and cadmiums anymore for safety and environmental reasons. I have always loved Daniel Smith and W&N but they’re a bit on the expensive side. Recently, I have discovered below brands which I believe are comparable and more affordable.
- Holbein (Lots of semi opaque pigments which are beautiful for muted scenes like chien chung wei)
- Mission Gold (Extremely bright colors, lots of semi staining pigments)
- Shinhan – PWC (professional) I have not fully used this but the reviews are all positive
My Current Palette
St Petersburg/ White Nights – I have been using their fantasy set for a while and I have right now these colors in my palette: Lemon Yellow, Naples, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Golden Yellow Deep, Ruby/Claret, Quinacridone Rose/Lilac, Sap Green, Emerald Green, Blue/Bright Blue, Cerulean, Ultramarine, Indigo.
* wild card colors – Lilac and Jaune Brilliant (Holbein, opaque), white gouache (for highlights), Paynes Gray (Winsor & Newton watercolors, for quickly achieving darker tones)
- Joseph Zbuckvic – Escoda Aquario set (Big shape washes)
- Isabey squirrel mop (Big shape washes)
- Italian art store Kazan squirrel mop – Loose medium size shapes
- Escoda Perla – 4, 6, 8 (for more details objects, controlled shapes)
- Rat Whisker Outline/Detail Brush (bought at blueheronarts store in the US) – this is an amazing rigger brush for poles and electrical lines
Plein Air Set & Studio
I have a portable plein-air kit (tripod and tray) handmade from Indonesia by artist Denny Samawa. For my home studio, I have a self assembled set-up composed of:
My technical profession taught me that a solid framework is key to excel in any endeavor. I personally don’t believe in “talent.” I believe in grit and resourcefulness to get to anywhere significant. In watercolor, the primary things to understand are: a) color theory b) composition and c) understanding of basic shapes.
My process is both structured and intuitive. First, I choose a specific scene then, I try to grasp the atmosphere and what colors would work best. For example, I use Naples to exhibit early morning light whilst Quinacridone Gold is for sunset scenes. Also, I use at least 2 variants of each primary color, preferably one warm and one cool. Of course, these are relative to the hue you want to dominate in your work. Taking blue as an example, if I can only have two in my palette I’ll have Ultramarine (“warm blue” bias towards purple) and Cerulean/Cobalt for achieving clean skies and beautiful bluish-green waters.
Second, is composition. As I’m a bit of a tech geek, I explored ways to visualize what I want to achieve. Recently, I discovered a neat app called “Sketchbook” where you could recolor and sketch over photos of scenes you want to paint. I use my note 10 to digitally sketch and edit images. Through this, I got better in “simplifying” which for me, is the foundation of a great painting. And the third element which I learned from Zbukvic is answering the question of what makes “IT”, IT? In a scene, details are irrelevant, focusing only on the basic shapes results to a loose and more cohesive painting.
Lastly, I believe that the only way to get better is to recognize that the race is long, hence humility is key. Venturing into an artistic endeavor requires soul and a genuine desire to showcase your innermost emotions (the reason behind my gallery “thousand shades of feeling”). When I look at each of my works, I feel I’m seeing a part of myself I’ve never seen before. I know there is a long way to go, but I will venture on, as I’m certain that art will lead me to a better me. Thanks for reading my story and feel free to reach out to me anytime.Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in