Saturday, June 25, 2011

Talk on Travel Sketching this July 2, 2011

The Urban Sketchers Philippines will have a talk on travel sketches, with Buz, Ryan and I presenting our works on the subject. 2:00pm on Saturday, July 2, at the Metropolitan Museum, BSP compound, Roxas Blvd., Manila. This is near the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Php 100 entrance fee to the museum will let you see all the other exhibits. This talk is in conjunction with the ongoing exhibit of Jose Joya's travel sketches.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Urban Sketching last June 19, 2011

What the place offered
Daryll Alvero's fine sketches shows such maturity for a young lad
Buz Teach's Sketches
Janeil Arlegui's Sketches
The view outside
It was a rainy Sunday morning in Manila. Thanks to Daryll's getting us permission for the rooftop access to get this aerial view of Manila. There was a slight fog as well. Buz managed to do 2 sketches - the barbels in the gym and a view of the Manila Harbor; Daryll and I had targeted some of the landmark buildings. It'll be Manila Day this June 24th and this day (19th) celebrates Jose Rizal's 150th birthday anniversary. We had fun time doing all these, and the 3 hours seemed so short.

Wolfgang held a Concert at the Met Theatre!

A worthwhile great rock concert was held in the art-deco Metropolitan Theatre. Wolfgang, a Filipino rock band had a successful 3 hour concert. Basti, the lead singer is quite concerned with the state of our heritage structures, and having the concert here was a message that these structures should be used and kept alive. He emailed me one day to ask permission to use one of my painting images of the Met. Unfortunately, it did not make it for the printing on time. He gave me an all access pass, and I made use of it walking all over the place in sketching the concert. Enjoyed the whole show. Awesome band!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

The cemetery grounds and Memorial.

Looking down the Memorial hallway at some of the panels that make up the "Wall of Missing".

This past Sunday (12 June), I visited the Manila American Cemetery, a 21-acre memorial site dedicated to the American soldiers & sailors who lost their lives fighting in the Pacific War Operations in 1941-45. The cemetery was dedicated in 1960, and contains over 17,000 grave markers; the memorial contains marble panels etched with 36,286 names of those soldiers "missing in action", including many Philippine fighters - soldiers whose remains were never found at battles throughout Asia & the Pacific. Inside the halls beautiful mosaic tile maps tell the visual & written history of the battles.
It's a quiet and peaceful site to visit; few visitors were there on a hot Sunday. As I walked through the green lawns of markers and the marble memorial I tried to comprehend the huge loss of lives caused by this war over 65 years ago. I felt emotional for the losses on all sides, not just of the Americans - such a tragic waste of human life due to war.
I sketched for several hours in the memorial hall and underneath the trees, surrounded by the markers. I thought of all these young men who "never came home", and I felt fortunate to be alive today and to record my impressions of this special place.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sketching the University of Santo Tomas Fountains and Arch

I use a brown lead pencil
Just sketch light relating each form and proportion
I don't really layout, just imagine where things will fall.
I was standing for 3 hours on the same spot.

I used both pages for a long panoramic in this case
You can get clues of where lines start and end by relating to forms you have already created.
Background penciling has the lightest tone.
It's important for me to have warm underwash for a glow later, especially for shadows.
Since I used yellow, I then used it complimentary color - purple to  have this balance temperature.
I then start to color materials after the two pigment washes.
Start shaping the plant more vividly.
Contrast the little areas to differentiate of planes with more darker blues or purples for the final. 
I've grown to love the medium, watercolor. It has this reputation of being the hardest medium. I sucked when I first tried it in college. At the time, we were brainwashed that airbrush was more superior and easier. I discovered however that watercolor was rich and eloquent. It existed centuries before airbrush. Airbrush died out a natural death with the introduction of photoshop and the usher of 3D perspectives. Watercolor however offered the possibility of sketching on-the-spot. I started out practicing the medium in studio, and eventually only started out on location sketches only 5 years ago... sketching the very arch I am showing here.

Sketching on location has trained me to better see things than photograph referenced illustrating. The time to finish is actually shorter, more vivid, and you see everything that your eyes can see. Nothing can substitute that. Sometimes a picture, since it's tiny when printed cannot "capture" certain details or perhaps your eyes cannot fully pick up those details properly. On location eliminates this problem.

The point of sketching on location is the process of your eyes and your mind relates to the place being observed. It's not all about it being picture like or else you just use your camera within seconds and you move on to other places. The very idea is to take in the place's very essence of one's perception. The marks on the sketchbook to accommodate this process is the evidence, the product. The quality can be of your level, of course. It's not a question of how artistic it is.

Machines can never compensate for better perception and understanding of things, people and places. Sketching help us to better think, see and feel. Don't get me wrong. I love using digital cameras, and computers. I love the fact that they have changed the world by defying time and space. Bringing people closer and sharing our worlds instantaneously. No doubt.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Urban Sketching on Sunday, June 19, 2011

For those sure of going, please private message me through Facebook for my mobile phone number.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Aduana Ruins in Intramuros

Ok, I admit that old buildings & ruins interest me much more as sketching subjects than most examples of modern architecture. Some of my favorite subjects to draw may include any of the following: chipped paint, mould, broken & rusting objects and sense of disorder.
I had been eyeing the ruins of the Aduana Customs House in Intramuros for almost 2 months; it's a classic example of ruins - a 135-year old stone building, destroyed in turn by the bombings of Manila in 1945, a fire in 1979, and due to general neglect since. And it's slightly out of the main tourist belt of Intramuros, so many people probably miss it.
I had to sketch my view of the interior looking through the gated windows - it's guarded & closed to the public, to keep squatters out. Looking in at the array of mouldy, scorched arches and cracked & chipped stone beams exposed to the sky gave me a thrill, and a sense of the history of this place!
The old rusting cement mixer sitting amongst the weeds & broken cement was an added bonus to the sketch.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Harrison Plaza Kiosk

Kiosks (or "stalls" as they're more commonly known here) are overly abundant in the Philippines. They sell everything from snack foods to cell phones to pirated DVDs of almost any movie you can name, possibly including the silent film era. This particular stall in Harrison Plaza was selling an assortment of bags, DVDs, and other electronic paraphernalia. It was the bags that caught my attention, as I cast my eye around the mall for something interesting to sketch. There were just so many of them piled on top of each other in a haphazard fashion, and I wanted to push myself to render them in a way that made sense , as opposed to just trying to draw each bag in minute detail. I chose to draw the outline or silhouette of the amalgamation of bags, and then fill in the blank space with all the details.

Sketching for Sketching's Sake

Sketching is sometimes described as an incomplete drawing that can be done in a matter of seconds or minutes. Drawings however are more complete and can take hours, days, months and even years.
Sketching the new students help me associate their names. I have 40 of them to know and sketching helps a lot.

Observing people through sketching is like jotting notes about them
Sketching, and other critical skills like reflecting, reading, enables you to innovate, not imitate. Instead of mere imitating work of others, the on-the-spot observer is forced to rely of himself/herself illustrating in his/her own style. It offers an unpretentious style of your own skill level. It does not matter if it’s a bad drawing. Never mind proportion, scale, number, completeness, properness – not till you get to an eventual clear picture for others to see. It is for your private work process. To entertain, engage, educate, provoke, and inspire you first than anyone else. The craft of drawing will be more refined as the illustrator does more drawings without the constant pressures of impressing others first. The precondition of creativity is the art of forgetting at the proper moment what we know.

Model studies with Agos Kulay watercolor group
The sketchbook is the place where illustrators play with ideas, record what they notice, and capture a little of what they feel. It is a personal space for exploring, collating, recording, juxtaposing images, for reflecting and evaluating. It can build visual intelligence through habitual use. It can clear a difficult problem through images that help stimulate solutions.

The process of drawing includes: looking, seeing, responding, improvising, feeling, discovering, negotiating, designing, reasoning, enquiring, translating, scrutinizing, ordering, mapping, objectifying, exploring, measuring, documenting, and communicating. It helps you pay attention to things a whole lot better what is presented in front of you or an idea your mind is processing. It has the most direct and fundamental connection between what your consciousness being recorded tangibly on paper.

Keep in mind that the process (the act of sketching) is more important than the product (what is sketched on the paper).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Northern Philippines Exposure

The Philippines has several UNESCO declared World Heritage sites since the 1990s. The upper part of the island of Luzon has 4 sites namely, the church of Santa Maria in Ilocos Sur province, the church of Paoay in Ilocos Norte province, the Ifugao rice terraces, and the Spanish era collection of houses in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
Night sketch along a street in Vigan
Janeil Arlegui sketching on location in Paoay
 With only 36 hours stay in the two Ilocos provinces, I've managed to sketch Vigan houses and the church of Paoay.