Saturday, March 26, 2016

OCC™, Our Distinct Brand of Coloring Happiness

The koloristas flashing the OCC™hand sign at the first OCC™held in Dolcelatte, SM Megamall
In the Philippines there are several other Facebook coloring groups but the only one I joined is Coloring Book for Adults Philippines (CBAP). My coloring days were never the same after. The koloristas (adult coloring enthusiasts, what we call ourselves in CBAP) of the group became my chatter mates about coloring materials, book titles, authors, artists, art exhibits, coloring inspirations, copyright law, book launches, hoarding, selling, sellers, fairs, wishlists, OCCs, more OCCs! I can go on but you already get what I mean haha!

At this point you might already be wondering what an OCC is and what it stands for. It's a term I coined actually, an acronym for Over Coffee Coloring™ (trademark pending) which started with "kulitan" (poking fun and teasing) among some of us koloristas online. A handful of koloristas nudged me to coach some coloring techniques which I agreed to do for fun. I also openly declared that I wasn't an art tutor so suggested  that we use the term coaching instead, and that we can do it over a cup of coffee, hence over-coffee coaching. Over time 'coaching' evolved to the broader term 'coloring'

The first gathering took place in Dolcelatte, SM Megamall in Metro Manila. A couple of days before the meet-up I was already declining people from joining since I only reserved a small cafe that can comfortably seat 40 people. And by the way I also got Vermailene Barrios to join us by then, author of Kulay Pinoy and colorist extraordinaire, and sellers in the group to sign up which explains the full house. The program that panned out was nothing short of unique, and it happened spontaneously mind you. Well, not really, I did have an outline of how it could go but we were all still open to wherever our mood would bring us. After that OCC™ I felt a door was opened to us, that we can all actually be friends in person even if it's our first time to meet each other!

Now how can I describe what an OCC™ is to people who may be interested to feature us and our future gatherings? I tried, here it is.

Over Coffee Coloring™ is a unique gathering that draws koloristas (coloring enthusiasts) to, spontaneously or otherwise, converge in cafes, restaurants, private homes, and offices for the purpose of social interaction and advancing one’s skills in coloring. 

What was originally a loose term for us since its initial salvo has developed into a recognizable meeting with a distinct form and following. After our first OCC™ impromptu organizers in the CBAP group would then test the waters by hinting if an OCC can be held in their particular area or city. Once other koloristas respond with a "let's go!" the word is spread and before you know it we're all seeing each other in person and sharing our ideas and passion for coloring within the brief time we have together. And it's always brief. Three to four hours is never enough when one is in the OCC™ among kindred spirits in coloring. 

A group during an OCC™demo by Art Coach Dino Copreros
In a span of five months six (6) formal OCC™s have already been mounted in various areas in Metro Manila not to mention numerous other informal ones, called mini-OCC™s. Before 2016 is over there are six (6) more OCC™’s scheduled to take place in different areas and cities, including one in Cebu City.

OCC™in SM Mall of Asia (MOA) in January 2015

Since I was requested for a video about me and the OCC™ recently I thought I'd share it here, too, for inspiration. I hope you enjoy viewing it. And in case you still need some push to hold your own OCC™ after watching this send me a message and I'll tell you how easy it is to throw an OCC™ party for all the koloristas in your area. It's always a treat to hold one I tell you. 

Watch the video here ­čÄą

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Lenten Reflection In Pencil Strokes

Instead of Lenten readings I found myself taking a quiet mental walk in my cozy world colors while laying pigments on this image. It was like saying a prayer for every pencil stroke, a mindful exercise of keeping my heart free of any yearning other than what the pencil and the paper wish to accomplish through me. 

Where the artist's lines curve there my wrist follows.

Where the petals meet in the flower's core there my darkest shades converge. 

Where the tips open up to the light there my pencil lifts as if in flight, to leave the surface white, free of color, to bare the highlight. 

Petal Maddock, a colorist friend, gave an insightful comment about my recent muted works admiring the restraint she surmised I had summoned to finish them. 'Less is more' was my reply to her comment. Indeed that's what I may have developed, not just as an approach to coloring, but as a way of living as well. 

Adult coloring is an addicting hobby to many but to me it's evolving as a manner of self expression in my adult years, to show how much I have come to appreciate my life, my family, my friends, and myself. There is much to be pruned in me but that too must be appreciated.

In the absence of extravagant colors, in the muted presence of the greys that are normally shunned is a kind of spiritual solace. A concealed yet still beautiful path to take for a deeper understanding of beauty and life that are all, ultimately, gifts to our being.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Muted (Dagdr├Âmmar)


I woke up to a gray Monday. It wasn't cloudy, just a kind of longing inside me to color with my grays. 

I opened Hannah Karlzon's Dagdrommar which has been with me for three months already but with not a single page finished.

Here are my unfinished pages. 

For some strange reason I don't feel like continuing the three works above anymore. As if color inspirations escaped me once I was halfway through with them. 

But today was an exception. For this image of a Spartan lady it was smooth sailing from the start, no mental blockades at all. It was like something was telling me that for this (and maybe for the rest of the pages in this book), muted is the way to go. 

I used five gray pencils for the face alone: 90% Gris Chaud
50% Gris Chaud
30% Gris Chaud
70% Warm Grey
10% Gris Froid

I'm convinced this is pretty much how the rest of my Dagdr├Âmmar (daydream) images should be rendered. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Cloudy Skies Over Venice

It's been a topsy turvy Friday morning in my corner of the house. I had wanted to finish the Venice page from the book Street Traveling by Jeongjiwon before lunch so I started dabbling in it before my husband, Marvin, and I even had breakfast.

Two hours later, with two buildings left to color on the left side of the spread I took a break and  mindlessly flipped through the posts of the coloristas at the Coloring Book for Adults Philippines group page. I then came across Ian's video clips on blending. 'Wow, sipag, galing ni Ian!' I thought. Then came the inspiration to shoot a short video clip of the remaining water part I was about to color using Inktense pencils and paint brush.

So I hurriedly fixed my tripod and selfie stick and lodged the phone on the clamp, rather routine when I take videos of works in progress.

Now here's the thing, I never took note of the proper orientation of the phone when taking videos. So, when the shot video appeared sideways on my phone screen I knew the project was going to take more time than I intended. 

To cut the long story short I uploaded the 'sideways' video but apologized to everyone who would be viewing it (or would be turned off from viewing it) since I knew there was no way I could reorient it from my phone, laptop, or any other device I had.

Good thing my friend Eli Lorenzo saw it and came to the rescue. She downloaded the video using this app:, then edited it using Movie Maker, and even added nice royalty-free background music from She is such an angel!

You may view the video from this link:
A word on the sky that I painted though, it was an afterthought.

Since I was bent on using only Inktense watercolor pencils on this picture I went along and shaded the sky area with very light lines at first. But then I had instead this brilliant (rather moronic, really) idea of scratching the tip of the pencil against sandpaper and letting the dust fall loosely on the page. Next, with my wet brush in hand and much bravado I swooshed the pigments around on that small part of the page leaving a big blue blot that I could not lift even after adding more water. That's Inktense for you.

Anyhow, I didn't want to blame myself immediately after and just thought it could still be rectified later on. The only thing left to do then was to just continue laying the blue the same way until the entire sky was done. 

When I was finished I studied the image I had created of the sky and started to notice that the uneven coloring could pass off as cumulonimbus clouds! It was a speck of light in the end of the tunnel, not exactly a eureka moment because I wasn't entirely sure it would work, but I had no other choice, I had to take it. I went in with the Aquamarine Inktense pencil and sketched tiny lines here and there until, voila! the clouds looked like it was deliberately done.

I'm definitely charging this to experience, as my friend colorist Cathy Lasam-Ballo comfortingly suggested. 

Happy Weekend everyone, life is good and beautiful! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Le Fruit by Mucha

When I began working on this Alphonse Mucha image I planned to use five colors in mind: grey, blue, pink, flesh, violet. When I finished I ended up using more tones and tints. It was great, those helped add depth. 

I also thought I'd use wet media for this but decided that it was too risky, I didnt want to end up ruining the reverse sides' images. I love this Mucha coloring book of mine, published by the Mucha Trust, and I don't think I could forgive myself if something happened to these near-sacred images. 

I know, I know "why don't I have it reprinted in watercolor paper". Truth is it takes time. I usually have one of two print shops do the image transfer for me. One is in UP Diliman and the other is in Joli's Espa├▒a. And I usually don't want to wait. I can't wait. Once I choose an image I like I'd want to get down to coloring it at once. At that very minute. Wish I had a reliable printer at home instead. That should be in my list of future investments. A good, reliable laser printer like Ver's.

Anyway here are the colors I picked for the skintone: Polychromos' raw umber, light flesh, and cinnamon. 
And these are the colors I ended up using.

A word about my experience coloring skin. I find that when working on skin my strokes turn naturally light. Like I almost don't want to touch the paper with my pencil tips. Works for me because then it's easier to blend the colors to produce the highlights and shadows.

I was just telling a good friend in a chatroom that when we color it takes awhile for our brain to warm up to the image even if my eyes are already familiar with the general lines. When I render colors onto spaces the image on paper seems to acquire a life of its own only after sometime, and I can feel I'm already in the zone when my mind is most susceptible to the image's suggestions of where curves, or creases, or bumps, or deflations should be. It's like my pencils have no choice but to subserviently follow the command of the drawing. I don't know if that's a familiar experience to most of you, but to me it is. I always hope to get in the zone when working on a coloring project. It cannot be planned. It's something that either happens or not. 
For Le Fruit it was when I got to the fruits. 
I found myself slowing down, enjoying each stroke of the pencil as I completed a grape. One after another. It wasn't while I was doing the skin, mind you. Maybe it was because I was too caught up getting the shading of the muscles right. 

All in all the Le Fruit was a joy to do, especially when I began to see how the psychedelic color palette I chose is far across the opposite side of the spectrum from its original colors. Am happy about the balance though, how the heavy and light colors were evenly distributed, thanks to the photo reference of the original work at the back of the book. 

I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy this coloring book more than usual.