Arte, arte!

Hello, blog.

Just an update (especially for those two of you who reads this).

So I have been doing some commission work for friends, nothing massive but enough to keep me busy all this time. Recently, an Indonesian who introduced himself as a font designer asked me if I could make him an exemplar in modern script (meaning, my calligraphic style), for a fee, of course. While I was flattered that I got offered to do this kind of job, I declined as this is not actually what I want to do or make. I found this guy’s online shop and — lo and behold — he is selling these kinds online! Tsk, tsk… these guys!

Anyways, I’m currently experimenting on gouache paint. It’s similar to watercolour paints, but it is more opaque and the texture more powdery or chalky. However, I like the colours though. Here’s one example:

Mixing gouache paints
Mixing colours is fun! These are pastel blue and pink. You can also see the bottles of drawing ink on the upper right hand side of the picture; I use them for calligraphy.

My younger brother requested for pastel colours. Since there is no pink nor any pastel colours on the gouache, I took it upon myself to mix colours. YouTube is a fountain useful of video tutorials, I found out. Choosing one tutorial to use is quite a challenge. Thanks to these generous people who upload their video, they are helping newbies like me! So, what do you think of the result?

Planning for Christmas in September

Funny how I ended my previous post… made me look like someone who is easily distracted, haha.

We are in the last days of September… and before we know it, it’s Christmas time. Well, at least this is how many Filipinos feel. As soon as September arrives in the Philippines, radios start playing Christmas songs and houses are getting decorated. And of course, we plan for Christmas. It is weird for most but, hey, this is uniquely Filipino! Friends I know have already made a gift list, including one who has a very specific wish for Santa, a shure super 55 for his music hobby. Imagine that.

Thinking about it, preparing this early makes sense. Preparing months ahead makes it easier (because you avoid the holiday rush) and Christmas a lot less stressful. Won’t it feel great to go into the Christmas season with most of the work already done and taken care of? I thought so, too.

On the other hand, living in Cambodia this long has been great because I am spared of the usual Christmas frenzy! Sure I miss the Christmas spirit every now and then but I relish the stress-free, laid-back December here. I can’t explain the sense of relief I have every time I see news reports on TV showing jampacked malls in November and especially December, and have that little voice in my head say I don’t have to go in there myself.

My husband and I are not truly big on celebrations and gift-giving. What we are, or what we do, rather, is buy each other (and other family members) little things that we see throughout the year. This way, to us, is really a surprise and usually something we (they) truly would enjoy. I hope we’re not the only ones who feel this way. Can anybody relate to this?

Can’t get it out of my head

I am not a fan of Adele but her song Hello is in stuck in loops in my head, for some reason.

This song’s been going on and on in my head and the kids in school weren’t help at all as they keep on singing the chorus. When I got home, I sat down and watched/listened to it properly (on YouTube) and it made me think that the song’s not bad actually. It’s pretty good. Her vocals are great. You know what… I don’t know much about pop music – or music in general – but I’ll surely take her over Taylor Swift anytime.

Checking in, again

Hi, friends. It’s been a long while, isn’t it?
September just rolled in quietly and now we’re just 12 days away till we begin October. Time is just flying right before our eyes!

I took a temporary indefinite from blogging {again}. I guess I have this habit of dropping out of the blogging radar because… loss of blogging mojo, you know. Hah. There are just days that I cannot write anything on my blog even if I want to.

Modern calligraphy
Not Copperplate. This is an example of modern calligraphy. Just practicing my strokes.

Luckily, I have other activities that kept me busy-busy. As mentioned several posts ago, I’ve taken up calligraphy. I’ve been doing this since last year and I’m pretty pleased to tell you that my strokes are getting more polished. The two hours I spend every afternoon is getting results. Not only that I can now boast of decent writing in Copperplate (or English Roundhand), calligraphy is teaching me a lot of patience and I am loving it!

It amuses me to think that while calligraphy requires focus and concentration when practicing/writing, my choice of background music is rock – you know, fast, thumping, and screeching. Other calligraphers I know prefer the calm, soothing sounds of classical music or instrumentals from premier acoustic guitars. How is it that I can listen to this loud, fast music while still immersed with my writing? It boggles the mind.

Blue Monday: Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue ink

Hello, friends.
At the outset, sorry I was not able to visit your posts last week. So many things happened and, yesterday, I was informed that a cousin’s son died suddenly. We are all heartbroken – so young, at 17. The last time I saw my nephew was when he was only a six-year old boy, a shy but sweet one, always hiding behind his mum. It pains me to think that I will never see him again. May he rest in peace.

On a lighter note, I have been practicing more calligraphy at night time, when everyone is asleep. I devoted one hour each night since I could not go back to my regular daytime schedule. I find it hard to do with all the household chores, errands, and dogs to mind. I’m not complaining, though. When you want something, you have to work hard to achieve it. My husband also bought me some stuff – his Valentine present, if I may say so. He bought me a Pelikan ink 4001, in Royal Blue. Along with the ink, he also bought me these Japanese coloured cards for my craft projects. How sweet is that.

Grateful to my thoughtful husband. Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue ink (right) and coloured papers from a Japanese shop.
Grateful to my thoughtful husband. Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue ink (right) and coloured papers from a Japanese shop.

The Pelikan ink is designed for use on fountain pens but can also used in dip pens, as told by many season calligraphers. So, of course, I sprang to action right after we got home. I wanted to test the Pelikan ink with my Nikkon G nib.

blue  monday calligraphy quotes on blue
So much inconsistency in the shapes of the letters. Need to practice my strokes more.

The Pelikan ink has a beautiful, vibrant blue colour! Too bad my camera could not capture the vibrance of the colour. Although loading it on my nib was a bit challenging, it has a smooth flow and dries easily. However, the paper I used to write it on was not the proper one. As you can see, there was substantial bleeding on the paper. When I wrote in another paper, a printing paper I snitched from my husband’s printer, it wasn’t the case. So, I have to test more to find out which ink works best in what kind of paper.

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Blue Monday: Tools of the trade

Hah, last week, I posted about my current “obsession”. Today I’m posting some of the tools that I use because they are – wait for it – in blue 🙂

A. Paint brushes

Cheap watercolour brushes.
Cheap watercolour brushes.

First of all, I’m not a painter but I use a fair bit of watercolours in my drawings and calligraphy. Also, I use brushes not only for colouring purposes but also for loading my nibs with ink. Before starting calligraphy, I read blogs of expert calligraphers and they have really helpful tips for newbies like me. Dunking the nib to the ink-well or bottle can be done but it makes a mess and, more often in my case, loading copious amount of ink to the nib causing the dreaded blobs and blots.

Also, I wanted to buy brushes of different sizes. The smaller it is, the better since I like to be able to do small details. These are cheap brushes that I bought from a Chinese shop close to where I live and so far, I’m happy with the results.

2. Pens, pencils, and erasers

Pens, pencils and erasers.
Pens, pencils and erasers.

There is nothing more important to an artist than a pencil. It is the very foundation of many great masterpieces. I use a pencil to sketch my idea. Again, any pencil will do. An eraser is equally important to me, too.

Gel pens are very useful when I do faux calligraphy on black (or any other coloured) papers. I love them – especially metallic colours. They’re so pretty in black paper and/or card stock.  I’m also looking for the white gel pen but, as most art stuff, it is hard to find them here in Cambodia. The black pen (Pilot G2) is also a must-have for me and I use it for usual writing (postcards, letters, etc.) and also some special hand-lettering projects, too.

So there you have it, these are but some of the tools in my long list.
Have a great week ahead, my friends. Thank you for dropping by.

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Blue Monday: Gouache and water ink

In case anyone noticed, I was away from blogging for a good two weeks.
Nothing really happening from my side of the planet. Been busy with home-life and some creative hobbies on the side.

Marie's Gouache Paint Set
Getting ready to make some mess.

I love my blue and white dipping bowl. It’s small and hand-painted and costs me next-to-nothing. As mentioned previously, I’ve picked up calligraphy again and been experimenting on inks. Since calligraphy inks here are rare, much more coloured inks, I tried mixing gouache and water and voila! Problem solved. Here’s a scanned result – I mixed vermillion red and viridian green:

Love the henna-ish effect!
Love the henna-ish effect!

I am excited about the thousand and one possibilities of mixing colours!
Do you have any creative hobbies, too? Do tell 🙂

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Australian Open 2015 now on!

Yes it is the first round today in sunny Melbourne!

Rafael Nadal vs Mikhail Youzhny AO 2015 first round
Rafael Nadal, on his first round match against Mikhail Youzhny. Photo by Rafaholics FB page. Please click the photo to take you to Rafaholics page.

Ladies and gentlemen of tennis are beginning their campaign today. And since it is summer Down Under, one can feel the heat, the sweat, and oh, this is the best time for deodorant – petal pushers or any deodorant that does its job.

And my boy, Rafael Nadal, played earlier today against the Russian Mikhail Youzhny. He is simply fab in his pink and short-shorts, which he prefers as he is comfortable in it. Oh, did I mention there is also a sparkly pink stripe on his shorts?

I was only able to watch the match intermittently but I’m very pleased with Rafa and his game. I’ll watch the full match later tonight, hopefully someone’s able to post it on youtube.

Blue Monday: Fancy

Some months ago, out of boredom, my husband and I set out to see what goes inside a local market. That day we went to Psah Olympic, or the Olympic Market. To my blogger-friends who haven’t been to Asia yet, shopping is quite an adventure in Asian markets. Cambodia is no exception. It is quite a treat to the senses!

I just might write some more about this market tours in my future blog posts, including photos. For the meantime, let me share you one of the sights I managed to capture inside the Olympic Market.

On the third floor of the market is where you will find fabrics of all kinds and, of course, Cambodian silk. Aside from the many shops selling fabrics and ready-to-wear dresses, there are also shops where seamstresses make these custom-made fancy clothes.

Cambodian wedding dress
Fancy dresses for Cambodian women on display at Psah Olympic. These are actually the traditional ones women wear during weddings. The more glitters there are, the more fabulous the wearer thinks it is.

The colours are splendid and the glitters even more fabulous.

These are the recent styles and are becoming more popular and preferred by the modern Cambodian woman.  It lis still
These are the recent styles and are becoming more popular and preferred by the modern Cambodian woman. The dresses are still bedecked in glittery sequins and the colour vibrant but, compared to the above photo, look more “subdued”.

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Quiet weekends

I like quiet weekends. And so does my husband.
There is nothing better to us than to have a plan-free weekend, with our time free to potter around the house.

Of course, we still do errands and shopping (recently we were scouting for a yamaha hs50m for his class) and other chores but, for most of the time, you would catch us relaxing, pursuing our own hobbies, or napping, and then we’ll have a nice dinner at home or, on rare occasions, dine out in our favourite restaurant. Our lifestyle is definitely changing and I’m pleased about it.

Grilled mackerel laced in mixed spices, mango salsa, and Chinese bok choi with oyster sauce and garlic.
Grilled mackerel laced in mixed spices, mango salsa, and Chinese bok choi with oyster sauce and garlic.

The past weekend, my husband wanted to have some grilled fish. And so we trooped to Psah Thmey and bought nearly a kilo of mackerel (2 pcs for 17,000riels) for grilling and ingredients for the Khmer mango salsa to go with the fish.

Every time we visit Psah Thmey it is crowded than ever, no thanks to the busloads after busloads of tourists that go there and the worsening traffic. It was nice to be in the market last weekend when most of the shoppers and tourists have already gone. Psah Thmey was no longer crowded (it was around 12nn) and so we’ve avoided the traffic jam as well as bumping into fumbling tourists in great numbers who were eager for bargains. Still, despite the crowd, the overpriced goods and sellers more aggressive than ever, Psah Thmey retains its charm that we keep on coming back.

We were home by 1pm and we didn’t get the dinner started till 4pm. We capped our day with a movie after this sumptuous dinner we bought earlier today.