Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Vietnamese Lady of Moon Blossoms

It's been awhile since my last post, holidays have not only been a rush it's been a whirlwind! Before you know it kids are already preparing their stuff for school and I'm now on to counting days till the next big break - summer!

Anway, this blog will be quite short, just to share a bit about my last project this year - the Vietnamese lady with the lotus and lanterns in the background from Moon Blossoms by Katrina Pallon. I finished it after four days but not because it was hard to do or that I was more meticulous, it took awhile because I was chatting online all the time. So there! Haha! I've been so 'madaldal' (talkative) with my kolorista friends lately. Also because we're busy with and excited to plan our events this year. That and our usual 'kulitan' make our convo threads something to look forward to every day.

When I work on an art project I usually start with the most interesting subject for me. It could be a face, a glowing object, or the background. Something that will help me proceed by giving me enough satisfaction after I've done it. Backgrounds usually already set the mood of the entire picture for me but for this one I found myself attracted to the face so I started with that. 

I also determined that the light source of this would be from all over. It's like she's walking through a tunnel full of lanterns. I wanted light shining on her face. So with just a second of hesitation (that wasn't entirely gone during ☺️) I put the light's color on her facial features, yellow and beige. I used Prismacolor Premier colored pencils for the entire project by the way. When I stepped back and thought it would work I proceeded to color the lanterns in the background.

Initially her blouse, an Áo dài (Vietnamese traditional costume), was supposed to be red, but when an ink accident made me change the color to this turquoise shade. I shook a glitter pen and it's cap came off and many blots fell smack in the middle of her left arm sleeve. Fate has decided. 

For the lanterns I developed a technique after the first two. Would you like to know the secret of the glow? I'm sure there are many ways to do it out there, for me it's with much help from that jolly ol'e Koh I Noor pencil eraser (that works as a blender as well). I first lay down all the colors with medium to light pressure on the paper. Then I erased the "glow" in the middle creating an uneven circle or oval. Make sure you see it glowing. Then I added the darker tones or reapplied the same color I erased on the top and bottom parts of the lantern and gradually softening the gradient as I move to the middle glow. And voila!

Be ready to make plenty of mistakes when combining, especially with the neon pencils since these perform differently on some papers, this especially. I believe the paper didn't absorb their pigments well hence the loose wax.   

The lanterns weren't the only ones glowing after I was done, with them was my smile, too. Have to say I felt quite proud finishing this one, especially after those nice remarks from Moon Blossom's artist, Katrina Pallon. It got 2 likes shy of 250 in one international coloring group site in Facebook. Yipeee! 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dog by Marjorie Sarnat

This line art from an online post by Marjorie Sarnat is for a dear friend, Fe Brusola, who loves dogs. When my friend learned that I was going to color this for her she was thrilled, and so I thought of making my coloring extra nice. On the difficulty scale this type of art is slightly difficult for me, oftentimes I'm more inspired by realistic images. So I brought out my Prismacolor Premier pencils which is my go-to set when I need to be assured that the work will come out vibrant after. Faber-Castell's Polychromos colored pencils, being oil based, lack a bit of that oomph when it comes to brightness. 

For a touch of playfulness I decided to use my neons more this time. Since the background showed a bright sunlight I thought it would do me well to use more than one shade of yellow. It was then that I stumbled upon this: yellow chartreuse. It had a tinge of green but with a neon appearance when rendered. I knocked myself out with it, even coloring the sun with this hue. 

Halfway through I decided to color the flowers in monochrome style so that, in contrast, the whimsical colors on the dog would stand out. The butterflies as well were assigned the darker hues, again, to make them pop out. 
In the end I was definitely happy with this pooch art. I named him Ichiban, the pet name assigned by my son to our Maltese. Here's to more happy puppies! 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Announcing the Winner of the Christmas Coloring Raffle Contest

Kape o Tsokolate Christmas Raffle Contest was an idea that got cooked up when I was already halfway through drawing sketches to give away on our Kolorista Christmas party. I thought why not ask people to color them, then tag me when they post them to qualify for a raffle? With that decided next thing to consider then was the prize? I wanted to give something no one else can win in any other raffle, something personal that the winner could appreciate. I thought of a framed work of mine but hesitated because not everyone might want someone else's art hanging on their wall. So I thought of giving the option to frame the winner's work. 

The sole winner of the raffle can choose either of the two then, a framed artwork of mine, or his/her artwork that I will have framed and ready for wall mounting. I know for a fact too that some works of mine have already faded due to friction, and so if the winner wants my work he or she also can choose from either a good enhanced copy, or the original. How about you, which would you choose? 

A bit about the image.

A fellow colorist and a professional artist asked me to write a few words about the Kape o Tsokolate image because he wanted to post his in an international page. This is what I wrote for him: 

"Always perfect with hot coffee or cocoa, the Philippine bibingka ang puto bumbong are staple rice cake delicacies in our country during the Christmas season. With rice flour as base ingredient they are steamed to perfection using native cookwares made of clay pottery. Filipino Catholics that attend midnight masses can look forward to these warm delights for their breakfast in the cool December mornings. The Christmas lantern or 'parol' in the vernacular is star shaped which symbolizes the star of Bethlehem in the birth of Jesus Christ, shining light and bringing hope to all."

Many Facebook friends of mine enjoyed the colored bibingka and puto bumbong pictures popping up on their newsfeeds in the run up to Christmas day. Among them were two who, even though they were not members of a kolorista group I'm in, felt enticed to color as well. I can't explain the feeling of happiness that filled me when I received their works. 

Others that expressed desire to color but not join the contest were a group of former classmates having a reunion, a high school friend of one kolorista, and a kolorista who requested me to make more Christmas images for her to color. Too bad I didn't have time to make those for her.  

Raffle proper: 

I woke up before 7:00 am on Christmas Day to handwrite each name entry in a post it pad. Yes, you read right each had been handwritten. I wasn't planning to, mind you, I wasn't being sentimental and old-fashioned, it's just that the printer ran out of black ink and I had no choice but to write them. 

My eldest son suggested an online random picking system but I thought I'd like it better if it were live and tactile, with my sister and brother-in-law as witnesses. 

At 8:17 am on Christmas Day 2015 we settled in my favorite coloring spot in the house to begin the process of picking the winner. 

There are 50 official entries, my sister, Tet, checked and counted them to make sure that different names were written in the entries and that no one was left behind. Multiple submissions of artworks were still counted as a single entry. Tet counted 50 entries.
Butch, my brother-in-law,and Tet helped me put all the raffle entries in a big glass container. 
And here it is! 

I picked this entry, but before announcing it I had to consult with the witnesses. 
After verifying that the procedure and outcome of the draw were valid I can now announce the winner!   

Congratulations, AILEEN ROTOR! Your name was picked!

To everybody who joined and took part in this event thank you so much for sharing your time and talent with all of us. God bless you! 

Will keep this blog updated on what prize Aileen would decide to have.

Meantime, Merry Christmas y'all! 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Mystery Women, An Adult Coloring Book by M. R. Umlas

Front cover of the coloring book
It's been almost a week since my fingers touched the keys of my laptop, just to tell you how pretty much out of sync I have been since December started. I literally declared myself incommunicado from all things coloring just so I could give focus to last minute Christmas shopping and preparations for my sister's upcoming wedding. (Geez, who said Christmas is all we celebrate in December. Weddings are happening left and right! One can tell, formals are quickly running out of sizes in shops.)

Anyway, a couple of days ago this book came to my door, literally, and I just had to stop everything and peek inside. The cover may not all be that stunning, more of dark and mysterious, but being a sucker that I am for coloring I just had to see quickly if the illustrations inside would make me bolt up and want to color again despite my hectic schedule.

They did. My heart skipped a beat. First thought that ran in my mind was that I had to tell my kolorista group about the existence of this work.

I immediately uploaded a flip-through clip in my Instagram account, take a look:  https://instagram.com/p/_RVD8ZA2Si/

Let me tell you more about the pictures later, before that let me briefly talk about the cover. It is made of paperboard that's held together with glue. Its dimensions are 9 x 12 in. and a quarter of an inch thick. The cover illustration which has a matte finish runs from front to back of both Front Cover and Back Cover, with a poetic blurb at the back that gives more illusion of the mystique in between the pages. There's nothing printed behind the covers, just plain white. No jacket as well.

Moving inside, the book was printed offset, on 90gsm paper. The cover page has printed on it the title, the name of the author, M. R. Umlas, and the Illustrator's name, Ronaldo Jimenez. In the reverse page are the information on the Philippine copyright which essentially says that anyone who reproduces the book or any portion of it in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author will get sued. The information on the Layout and Cover Design Artist, Kathleen Melendrez, as well as the printer, Visualtek Graphic Solutions, can likewise be found there. A blurb page follows before the actual coloring pages, which makes up 30 illustrations. The coloring pages are one-sided, just perfect for markers and watercolor. (I have actually tried each of them to see what medium to recommend, you may read about that later on.) They are also perforated. I tried to detach one and it came off with small, careful tugs as I went down the page.

Another blurb page is inserted before the actual coloring pages
I asked the author, M. R. Umlas, to tell me a bit about her 'baby' and here's what she shared:

"The idea for this project was born when I started drawing late last year, and I found that I was drawn to drawing mysterious women's faces. I felt like there was so much to convey in a women-themed book because well, women are such multi-layered and fantastic creatures, right?? I thought of putting them all in a book, as coloring pages. But I was so busy that time so I couldn't really work on it. Anyway, around June this year, I finally buckled down to work. So I enlisted the help of my best friend's brother, Rolando Jimenez, to help me. He is incredibly talented and this appears to be a perfect opportunity to showcase his talent. So ayun, I would make up mock-up boards and tell him what to draw, and he'd draw them."

The 30 creations mysterious women creations of the collaboration of this author and artist are what blew me away. The drawings are all frame-worthy when colored. They are extremely well-proportioned illustrations of different women either in action or striking a pose. There is dramatic, depth, character, and innocence in them. The way women are conveyed in the pages is a celebration of her fine yet powerful qualities unique to every woman. The blurbs are a good touch of the poetry one perhaps experiences when coloring these mystery women.
There are thirty of them, namely:
1. African Turban 
2. Indian Princess
3. Flower Goddess
4. Geisha
5. Lonely Pierrete
6. Cecilia *a modified version of the author's sister
7. Navajo Beauty
8. Peek
9. Victoria
10. Swirls and Squares
11. The Painted Face
12. Sari
13. Cafe Amour
14. Masked Beauty
15. Balinese Dancer
16. Egyptian Queen
17. Inked
18. Peacock Lady
19. Japanese Rain
20. Flapper Gal
21. African Veil
22. Simpli-City
23. Gossamer Glory
24. Moroccan Princess
25. Butterfly Goddess
26. Belly Dancer
27. Arabian Eyes
28. Window Wishing
29. Moon Goddess
30. Gypsy Dreams

Save for one page that's badly printed I'd say this book is a good one to add to any kolorista's collection. Its SRP is only PhP350.00 plus shipping. You can find it here: Opal Pages - Coloring Book for Adults

Before heading off to the site let me tell you first about the paper's quality. It's a 90 gsm paper, not a board, so you can expect some bleeding through. I played around a bit using the page that was badly printed because to tell you honestly I still liked it despite that (heck! I like them all!).

Dark ink marks can perhaps be covered when colored. If only it wasn't costly to change this particular page in the printing process.

Watercolor Pencils

The paper crumpled a bit on the part I brushed water on. Something I had expected. I tried tugging and stretching that portion in opposite directions as what had been taught to me by an art coach, Laura Abejo, and you know what it worked! An hour later the crumpled portion was no more. However, I just don't know if that technique could work on the entire page once you've already colored and brushed it with water. Suffice it to say the paper held well.
After coloring with a Derwent watercolor pencil and applying water with brush

The reverse side with a bit of crumpling. After this I tried to stretch it a bit. An hour later, after it had dried, the paper's shape was back to normal

Water-based Faber Castell Colored Felt-tip Markers

I used the light blue to color the round shapes in the peacock design of the headdress. And the verdict, it bled through.
Slight bleeding through after used the Faber Castell felt-tip markers

ZIG Scroll and Brush which is non-bleeding

The Zig Scroll and Brush markers from Kuretake are actually calligraphy pens. They are dual tip. I bought them because I wanted to use the brush tip for coloring, never mind the existence of the scroll tip. When I tried this on other coloring books like Tangle Wood, or the Magical City by Lizzie Mary Cullen, the ink bled through. So naturally I expected that to happen here as well.

But it didn't! The light green marker I used to color the feather didn't show signs of bleeding in the reverse side of the page. That's fantastic.

Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

On the use of colored pencils I'd say the paper holds well against too much shading although my strokes are rather light in general. Absorption of colored pigments only stopped after applying the 5th layer or so. It's a good paper quality for pencils suffice it to say.
The author said a Philippine culture book and a bible verse book are in the works for summer next year.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Kape o Tsokolate: A Christmas Raffle for Coloristas

Another UPDATE as of Monday, Dec 14, 6:17 am:

Kindly tag me <Celeste Lecaroz> in your "Kape O Tsokolate" page post, and I'lll be the one to post in my Facebook page. Please make that Post's Privacy Setting PUBLIC. Unfortunately kasi not everyone may post on people's personal FB pages. So I'll just be the one to post it if entry owner is not an FB friend yet. 

I already posted Isabella's page ;) 

Thank you! 

IMPORTANT UPDATE as of 1:52 AM December 13:

This coloring raffle contest is now open to everyone!

Please download the image above to color and present as your entry on or before December 24 12:00 noon.

Kindly read the contest details below.

Good luck!


Hello! I'm not really an illustrator but for our Christmas party I was moved to draw each of these personally for all of you who are coming tomorrow. It's a Christmas sketch on a 6.5 x 8 in board. 

If you COLOR yours on or before December 24 12:00 noon and POST it on my Facebook page I will include your name in a raffle. Draw will be one December 25. The sole winner will receive a framed art work from me (either I frame winner's own art work for him/her, or I give one from my collection, whichever winner prefers). 

Please check this blog once in awhile for updates on the raffle. 

My Facebook page Celeste Aceron will go public after the Christmas party on December 12, Saturday. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Shy Owl in Tangle Wood

I worked on this page for two days and most of the time I was doing the background. When working on backgrounds using the flick technique with colored pencils you have to be prepared mentally, you have to condition your mind to be in it for the long haul.

When I saw this image from a page in Jessica Palmer's Tangled Wood book I was immediately attracted to the personality of this owl. Unlike the other owl image (in Animorphia) that I previously colored, the character of this one was the complete opposite. He is shy and even a bit scardy dardy to step out of this hole in a tree. It needed much prodding to do so and I thought I was up to it.
I used Prismacolor Premiere pencils and expected some wax bloom typical of wax pencils. But I didn't experience that here.
Many colorist friends were quite intrigued by the the paper used in this book. It looks rather thin because the images on the reverse side showed through but when I tested waterbased markers on it the ink didn't bleed to the other side. It's like a tougher kind of parchment or onion skin paper. I even emailed Jessica Palmer to inquire about this rather mysterious paper but she hasn't replied yet.

When I used my Prismacolor Premiere colored pencils set I expected wax bloom, but for some reason there wasn't any. I still don't know where all the wax bloom went. Is it the paper's absorption capacity? I'm not sure. All I know is my wax pencils are not behaving normally on this paper, and I'm rather happy about it.
Burnt Ochre was the shade I used on the darkest, most recessed part of the trunk's grooves.

The violet hues I used on my twilight sky. For the pinkest part I used Process Red.
I thought I could just maintain the background light so that I wouldn't have to use the blender pencil. But that plan was shelved after I began adding more blue, then more violet, then more blue again, and so on and so forth on the background to try to achieve continuity.

I still ended up using my pencil blender to create a solid background image. The wild pencil streaks, if left on their own, simply would look unfinished and unkempt. I hope the owl would step out of his hole now, to appreciate his new surroundings I colored.

Quite happy finally with the background after two hours of balancing the blues and purples

Una Donna in Milan

I had a great time working on this image from The Look by Suwa_ (that's how her name is spelled in Instagram). The fun started last weekend at the OCC (an acronym for 'over-coffee-coloring' which is a gathering of koloristas), after we broke off into smaller coloring groups I asked my friend Anwy Fua Gaño to choose an image from this book for us to play around with using my new and never been tried coloring materials - PanPastel.
I handed her two palettes from my small collection of PanPastel Artists' Pastels. I was right, they were fabulous to use. My friend applied the soft pastel powder as if she were applying ordinary face make ups, powder and blush on. In fact the stuff I bought to apply them on my coloring book are from the department store's make up section. I bought a brush and the foam tips normally used for applying eye shadow. They're so much cheaper than the applicators that PanPastel sells.
They went on sale when I bought these cake pastels (my coined term). Got them for only PhP 349.00 a piece, from PhP500+. Still a hefty price but I knew what I was getting.
My friend, who was used to coloring with pencils, just noticed that she had to apply several layers before she could see some progress. Maybe it was the tint she was using, it may have been too pale. Or maybe we were just new at it hence our hesitance to apply too much too soon. Anyhow, that's her initial reaction to using this coloring material, thought you might want to know.

When I got home I decided to work on the same image with the colors Burnt Sienna, Orange Tint, and Red Iron Oxide Tint. I applied them on all the exposed skin, her face, neck and hands.

I spent some time perfecting the highlights of the hair, which, according to my hairstylist is the new way to go with highlights.
For the rest of the image I used my Prismacolor Premiere colored pencils. When I got to the background after finishing all the details on the girl, I decided to use my Derwent Watercolour pencils. I wasn't so keen on spending too much time on this background so I thought coloring the door, for instance, without too much attention to detail, and brushing it with wet brush would cut my working time to half. I was wrong. I spent quite some time coloring the red door meticulously because I wanted to make it appear old and worn out, rustic so to speak. Also, I forgot that before I could add a new layer I had to wait for the paper to completely dry after brushing it with water. That's where I spent half the time on.

But overall I was happy with the end product, which got featured in another page livrocoloriramo in Instagram. Instagram users are used to that, having their works reposted in someone else's page. I wasn't. So you could imagine how thrilled I was to have someone pick up my photo and repost it in theirs. I noticed over time that those that got reposted earned more likes in those other pages than in mine. Oh well, I'm ok, as long as they attribute all my works to me I don't really mind. In fact I'm really grateful!

Update as of December 16: 

The author of this book, Suwa, made a comment on my Instagram page (see bottom)! I'm one happy puppy!