Artsycraftsy interview series: Valerie Chua

Happy Easter! In keeping up with the theme of new beginnings, this here is a new series that I’m so excited about.

One of the things that I dreamt of when I started this blog was a series devoted to interviewing local artists and crafters who inspire me. The local arts and crafts community continues to grow and expand each day, and the influx of creative inspiration they provide never fails to amaze me.

To kick off this series, we have the super-talented Valerie Chua telling us more about her artistic process and sources of inspiration. I always love looking at her artworks because they transport me to a serene place filled with magic and wonder. Her use of color is gorgeous, and so are the girls in her paintings. (It’s my dream to own one!). I am in awe of her mastery of watercolor, especially since it’s a tricky medium for me. I find myself mesmerized by the intricate details in all of her pieces and her color palette with its soothing, calming hues.

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A Game Over Tea

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Gardenia

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She Waited

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Manora

Valerie Chua

1. What are your favorite tools in creating art and why do you love them?
I like working on paper using acrylic and watercolor. My tools are just the basic like paint brushes, pan sets, a spray bottle and paper.

2. Can you tell us about your daily routine or your artistic process?
I usually wake up at 7am. I start with cleaning my room, prepping my workspace and other morning necessities. I often start work at 9am. I take a lot of breaks in between and end work at around 5pm. Waking up early is very important for me. It makes and breaks my entire work routine so I never pull all-nighters unless it’s extremely important.

As for my process, I do a lot of thumbs and studies. I pick out what satisfies me the most and I work on this. I make color studies, enlarge it, refine it. 30% of the time it doesn’t turn out well so I repeat the entire process. It sometimes takes a while before I complete a work.

3. What inspires you? What makes you excited?
Traveling excites me a lot. When I’m in a different place I take a lot of photos. Looking at them gets me in a drawing appetite. I also like facial features. When I don’t know what to draw, I start with Aoi Yu, houses or plants.

4. Earliest childhood memory related to arts/crafts?
When I was 8, I had a cousin who drew girls a lot. I tried to copy her style. When I stopped seeing her a year later, I stopped drawing.

5. What is your philosophy when creating/making art?
Don’t think, just do.

Check out more of her work here:
http://valerieannchua.com/
http://valeriechua.tumblr.com/
http://green-tea.deviantart.com/

All the images above were taken from Valerie’s website.

Thank you for sharing, Valerie! πŸ™‚

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Artsycraftsy exploration: Bali

Hello, how’ve you been? I just got home from my wonderful vacation in Bali. The place was filled with beautiful art and handmade artistry could be seen everywhere: from the stone and wood carvings that adorn the houses and walls to the meticulously-made symbolic offerings and luscious batik and woven textiles.

Ubud was the center of artistic endeavors in the area, and it actually reminded me of our very own rustic Vigan and the handmade items there, mixed with that Paete charm (with its woodcarvings).
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Wherever you look in Bali, you’d see a melding of fine craftsmanship and their spiritual belief, which is predominantly Hindu.

I was lucky enough to be able to try silversmithing and lontar (palm tree leaves) etching.

Here I am having a go at silversmithing:Image

Lontar etching is used when they make the traditional Balinese calendar.

I thoroughly enjoyed my lontar etching experience and want to learn more about it!

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Here are some of the lovely things that caught my eye:

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The Nyepi had just finished when we arrived and we saw some Ogoh-ogohs (or at least that’s what I thought they were) in the area, simjilar to our higantes. They symbolize malevolent spirits, then the villagers burn it afterwards.
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This is the hind of a giant Barong made of plants. Wow!

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There were a lot of motorbikes everywhere, and this person’s helmet made me smile:

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Sorry about the blurry photo! We passed by this house so quickly that I just managed to take a quick snapshot of it. Love how the roof has that colorful pattern:

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Read more about my Bali adventure here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Wandering wonderer: Bali

Artist Tribute: Danny Gregory and Robert Alejandro and their travel sketchbooks

Another new section! Each month, I’ll try to talk about artists who have inspired me and how they’ve influenced my artsycraftsy attempts and my life in general. πŸ™‚

Danny Gregory
Some years ago, I stumbled across Danny Gregory’s book in a bookstore. Flipping through it, I was entranced. It was vibrant and filled with so much creative energy and got me so inspired. I wrote down his name and researched his other books when I got home. A generous ninang learned about how much I liked his books and sent me my first Danny Gregory book, The Creative License, which I read ever so slowly, savoring all his creativity tips and luscious drawings.

His books reinforced my belief that every one of us has an interesting story to tell and how each person has an inner artist, how each one has his/her own artistic style.

Yesterday, a kindly fairy godmother sent me Danny Gregory’s memoir about love and loss, A Kiss Before You Go, which totally made my day (and made me cry in happiness a bit–Thank you again!). I have been reading about his wife Patti and their son Jack in his other books and was devastated to learn about Patti’s tragic accident. I finished reading it last night and discussed it in my book blog.

Danny Gregory amazes me with his ability to combine thought-provoking reflections and unforgettable drawings. I love his handwriting, the vibrant colors in his journal pages and his eye for detail. When I’m in a creative slump I browse through his books and become inspired and excited to start writing my own stories and experiences. His words of encouragement are life-changing for me. It would be an absolute dream to meet him someday!

Some of my favorite pages from his journals:
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ImageMore of his work here.

Robert Alejandro
Kuya Robert (of Papemelroti fame) is one of my idols. I am and will always be a Papemelroti loyalist. As a kid, I religiously collected Papemelroti products. I had a folder filled with Papemelroti notepads and various paper products. I remember we had a very cool adviser who gave us personalized Papemelroti planners for Christmas, with our name in neon orange puffy paint and a personalized dedication, then she placed each one inside a handmade origami shirt bag,Β  which made us all love her more. For me, the brand represents Filipino creativity and if the brand were a person, she’d be that crafty eco-friendly tita, or our awesome adviser.

I was lucky enough to meet Kuya Robert (and fangirl shamelessly) in the awarding night of NBDB’s National Children’s Book Award. While his work was being discussed onstage, I exclaimed loudly to my seatmate that I love him and his art (and other gushy statements) and to my embarrassment, I discovered that the guy with his back turned to me a few seats away (same table, probably heard my fangirling) was Kuya Robert himself! Haha.

One of my favorite drawings of his. Look at the detail!

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Check out more of his awesome sketches here.

Inspired by both artists, I have been drawing a lot more in my travel journal because I too have discovered that travel memories become more vivid when recorded on paper. I love taking photos but find that compared to photos, my travel sketches magically transport me to that specific moment and the details seem so vivid–the weather, the smell of the place, the sounds I hear in that area, my mood that day. Maybe slowing down and focusing your attention to a particular aspect of a place trains your brain to be more sensitive and all your senses to be fully engaged.

I am slowly learning how to not be too OC with getting the details correctly or the proportions right. I am teaching myself how to loosen up and not be too focused with perfection. I am doing this for myself, after all.

Using my calligraphy pen has forced me to stop being nitpicky and to embrace messiness, just record what I see, how I see it.

Some of my travel journals. That green notebook is filled with letters and ephemera from my trip to Thailand, and I gave it to my partner as part of my pasalubong package.

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The only hindrance I have to drawing all day is the lack of time. I would dream of drawing but have to decide if I should do that or explore some magical new place. Of course exploration wins, and what I just do is to take a lot of photographs and then draw it before I sleep while the memory’s still fresh. My camera’s review function doesn’t work anymore though (boo), so I am planning to do super-quick sketches within a limited amount of time, say maybe 5-10 minutes, Dr. Sketchy style.

Here are some of my travel journal pages. You can deduce if I had time to sketch of if I needed to hurry by the quality of the drawings, haha. I like experimenting with various sketching materials from calligraphy pens to plain crayons. It all depends on my bag space, the temperature of the place where we’re headed and my current obsession.

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My family and I will be traveling to another country next week. I used to bring just a thin notebook and a pen, and then transfer relevant ephemera to my main travel journal (a thick one that I can hardly close, heh), but for a change I plan on bringing a new blank journal this time, to inspire me to draw more and not be afraid of paper running out. (I have paper issues, haha).

Here’s what I’ll be bringing this time in my artsycraftsy travel kit. I wanted to bring more coloring items but was concerned about the weight:
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– A new travel journal, decorated with washi tape in my fave shades, with a handmade lucky knot as bookmark (made by an awesome friend)

– My reliable Pentel water brush

– Washi tape, for sticking brochures, tickets and food labels to my journal

– Little watercolor pencils

– A ziploc bag for special items: unique pebbles, fallen leaves, found items)

– Cameras and film. A friend commissioned me to create a washi illustration for her in exchange for lots of yummy film, which I’ll use with my Vivitar. I love the output of Vivitar, and can’t wait to use the film she sent (which came in a protective pouch!):

Any other suggestions for what else I can bring?

Happy weekend!

DIY galaxy Chucks

I’ve been seeing a lot of galaxy prints lately in clothes, bags and shoes, and I’m glad about this trend because the cosmos has always been a source of fascination for me. Saw a nice pair of shoes with a pinkish galaxy print in Forever 21 but for around the same price, I thought it might be better to invest in a new pair of Chucks. My ratty old pair celebrated its tenth birthday recently and it’s so worn out that when I step on puddles, my heels get wet because the sole has tons of holes, heh.

I treated myself to a new pair and chose an all-black one because I wanted to try customizing it with a galaxy print. Why buy when you can DIY, right? πŸ™‚

There are lots of tutorials online (google galaxy print shoes. Thank you, lovely generous people of the interwebs) but this is the lazy-arse way of doing it, with cheapo materials from local bookstores. The original plan was to make a detailed tutorial but my hands got too messy and I forgot to take photos of some of the procedures because I was so engrossed with the process, so apologies for the lack of photos.

What you’ll need:

– Shoes made of canvas material, preferably black or dark blue so that it’d look more “spacey”

– Acrylic paint. I used an acrylic paint set from Color & Co, around Php100+ from National. You’ll probably just use the blues, the reds and the white tubes.

– Masking tape

– Very important: A sponge brush. I got myself this nice sponge brush from Fully Booked for around Php90, but I think you can also try using plain sponges.

– An old toothbrush

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HOW TO DO IT:

1. Cover the non-canvas areas with masking tape. I originally used yellow, but that ran out, so I switched to blue, but that ran out as well, so I ended up using brown paper tape from Daiso. It’s better to use plain masking tape, though, since the brown tape wouldn’t stick to itself.

2. Mix the paint so you’d get a nice royal shade of blue, purple, and pink. It’s up to you. I saw a tutorial that used bleach, but we didn’t have bleach so I wasn’t able to try it. The results of bleach against black canvas would be orangey, and that’s also nice. Try it in a small hidden area first to see if you like the results. Dab the paint with the sponge, spreading it gently. A small amount of paint goes a long way, so it’s better to layer them. Use alternating colors. You can search for galaxy images online and use them as reference if you want.

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3. When you’re satisfied with it, dip the toothbrush in a mixture of white paint and water. Then flick the toothbrush atop your design to create stars. Another technique is to try drawing tiny stars with white paint and a toothpick, but I tried it and it messed things up so I’m not sure about this idea. Try it and see if you like the results more. Image

4. Peel off the tape and admire your masterpiece. Voila! I’m thinking of replacing the black shoelaces with something more striking, maybe shoelaces in hot pink or purple.

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Feel free to ask me if you have any questions, though, and I’ll try my best to answer them. πŸ™‚

Happy DIY-ing!

Tips, Tricks, and Techniques: Papercutting!

This is going to be a regular feature in this blog, because I want everyone to fall in love with the wonderful world of DIY. My crafting philosophy involves trying everything (with a bit of research online/through craft idols/books and magazines) and not being afraid of making mistakes–it’s all a part of the learning process! πŸ™‚ This philosophy has helped me to determine which artsycraftsy activities I love the most.

I’ll be sharing some DIY-related discoveries based on my experience with the craft, and I hope you find this guide (and future guides!) useful!

Papercutting involves the simplest of materials–a piece of paper, a cutter, and a self-healing cutting mat. Although I have tried cutting paper while sprawled on the floor (see previous post), I feel more relaxed doing it on a desk with a comfy chair. Safer, too.

I highly enjoy doing it inside coffeeshops that aren’t too crowded or distractingly noisy. I discovered papercutting some years back, when I saw the intricate paper cut artworks of Rob Ryan, and met the awesome Pergy with her ace papercutting skills.

I tried to make one myself, but I didn’t have a cutting mat back then so I used the yellow pages as a makeshift cutting mat, which didn’t work that great at all. My blade was also dull, so it kept snagging at my work, which frustrated me. However, I now have a nice cutting mat and a new sharp cutter, and Pinay crafters like Patricia, Richelle and Mansy (she’s going to have a papercutting workshop, do check it out!) inspired me with their beautiful papercut artworks, so I decided to give papercutting a second chance. We’re friends now, and my level of obsession reached that point where my day isn’t complete without doing a papercut. Heh.

Tips, tricks and techniques:

1.Plan, plan, plan. If you have a design in mind, consider which parts you’ll be cutting out and which parts you’ll be leaving. I like marking the areas I’ll cut out with an x or making marks on it with my pencil so I won’t be confused.

This is my most recent papercut entitled “Amelia’s Dream”. The outline of the face make up the positive space and the airplane cut out from her hair is the negative space. It might be helpful to read this post about positive and negative space. When making designs with a lot of positive space, bear in mind that everything should be connected though, so you can place tiny connectors between your border and your design, for example. In the papercut below, the lashes serve as my connector:

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2. Patience is a virtue. Intricate details look lovely and they also require a certain amount of concentration andΒ  so set aside a pocket of time for doing it, unless that’s how you roll. I am highly impatient and I have the attention span of a two-year-old, but for some reason, the act of papercutting puts me in a sort of relaxed trance, while I try to achieve cutting fine lines. Sometimes I hold my breath and it helps!

3. You don’t have to focus on one area. Because of my short attention span, I switch between cutting hard, detailed areas and huge easy chunks to minimize fatigue. It’s up to you.

4. Sharp cutters = <3. I use a Genmes cutter but I’ve heard others use X-acto knives or those usual thin cutters. Try various cutters to find out which suits you, but changing the blades ever so often spells a world of difference.

5. Angles, then curves. If you’re like me and you have a hard time cutting curves, cut them as angles first, then go back and round off the angles. It’ll be easier then.

6. To each their own paper. I like normal bond paper, but I’ve also tried using an index card, tracing paper and a thicker, almost board-like paper. I love bond paper the most because it’s easier to slice, but then your mistakes easily show too, and sometimes it snags, when I forget to replace my blade. The thick paper was more durable and hid mistakes easily, but it was harder to slice too.

7. Freestyle it. It’s nice to have a planned design (see first tip), but I highly recommend just taking a piece of paper and cutting shapes you like. I believe that papercutting is just like drawing, where we each have our own distinct style. Doing this will help you discover what shapes you enjoy making (mine are long, lazy waves and easy askew triangles). You can then incorporate said favorite shapes in your designs. This would also familiarize you with the kind of paper, cutter, and cutter angle you fancy.

8. Mask accidents with masking tape or washi tape. That’s what I do. Just stick some tape at the back and cut off the surrounding areas. πŸ™‚

Some papercutting links you might like:
Paper cuts by Joe
Elsita’s papercut art. She made a detailed tutorial here that I love.
Lovely blog. Here’s an interview with the artist, Naomi Shiek. (Lotsa tips there too!)

Have you tried papercutting? Do share your experience!

Ticking off items from my crafty bucket list and new music-inspired papercuts

It’s only March but I’m glad to report that I’m feeling accomplished lately when I check out my artsycraftsy bucket list.
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I was invited by Genie to join this fab foodie blogging event called “Our Growing Edge”. Read more about it here.

It’s no secret that I love food and eating, and this year has been turning out to be a very good year for food (diet schmiet!).

Aside from being able to finally taste food items and restos that are on my gluttonous wishlist (Carmen’s Best, Echo store resto, Stella and Circles, among others), I was also able to tick off food-related items from my artsycraftsy bucket list:

1. Make my own jam. Full post here.
I was pleasantly surprised with the end-product, and although it was pinker than the usual, it tasted just like what you’d imagine a chili-strawberry-basil jam to taste like. Meaning, it was edible, which was a relief. Haha.

 

2. Make a bento for me and my life partner. She’s on a raw diet so it was a bit harder to come up with a meal that wasn’t too light and to think of ways to design the bento, but I took it as a challenge. Read more about it in this post.

 

Here’s my updated artsycraftsy bucket list (it’s still growing, by the way!)

* Try embroidery
* Embroider on paper
* Make my own chalkboard paint
* Paint chip art
* Make that wrap dress
* Paint on those wooden matryoshkas
* Make a “tribute to artists I love” post/craft
* Make a paper quilt

I also made some new papercuts! They’re inspired by songs from Tegan and Sara and Stars (I still have a concert high):
Walking with a ghost/We don’t want your body:

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Tried to make a 3d/pop-up papercut, words from my favorite Stars song, and a gentle reminder to continue living with hope and a happy heart:
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Alice’s Dream and my first bento

For the first time, I tried papercutting at home. I was sprawled on the floor with my cutting mat propped against my legs and cutting very slowly and carefully lest I end up slashing my legs instead. I started this at CBTL but had to leave since it was getting too late and finished it at home. Here’s ‘Alice’s Dream’, because I love Alice and her curiosity:

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One of the items in my craft bucket list include preparing a nice bento lunch for my love. I always enjoy checking out bento photos online and am amazed at how meticulously prepared they are, and how they look too pretty to eat! I got what was left from my paid VL (one day? two? haha)Β  and rushed to the nearest Japan Home Store for some bento paraphernalia:

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Decorated the jellies with handmade stickers from Richelle and some deco tape from Frances (thanks, girls!).

The partner’s on a diet and can’t eat a lot of fried food so I made what I think is a healthy mix of savory and sweet: Panda egg with cucumber bamboo forest, herb-y steamed young corn with olive oil, orange wedges and apple with orange juice and freshly-cracked pepper for zing, and raisins as a pebbly surprise:Image

For me, almost the same thing, in a nifty ichigo bento box:

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The night before that, I pretended to be Alice and had myself a wee tea party. My tea pot is smiling (because she likes washi too, apparently) and I filled her with healthy malunggay tea which I drank in my handmade stoneware cup and saucer set from Crescent Moon.

I also adore the beautiful packaging of Vanilla Cupcake Bakery! I wanted to treat myself to a cupcake after a long day at work and was so pleasantly surprised when I saw the teapot box:

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Check out the scallops on that handle! Lovely.Image