Painting for Clinique Spring 2012

Earlier this year, I was invited by Clinique to be part of the four featured artists for the launch of their new makeup collection for Spring 2012.

We were commissioned to make artworks based on the theme “You as a work of art“, while using Clinique products in the creation of our pieces. They gave us stuff like foundation, lipsticks, eyeliners, and eyeshadows.

This is how my sketch started out. Doesn’t really look like much, hahah. I sketch very, very lightly.

Slowly establishing more detail.

Final line art. The face was inspired by Zooey Deschanel. (For some reason I now kind of see Anne Curtis too.)

official images from Clinique

I kept images like this in mind as a peg while I worked on my coloring.

To stay true with the visual identity of Clinique, I incorporated a lot of white space with bursts of vibrant color. Here’s a preview of my artwork in its earlier stages. I established very light colors with watercolor washes, and for certain parts I used the provided makeup to build up the color. I used some foundation on the skin, the tinted lip balm on the lips, and the eyeshadow cream around the eyes and cheeks.

Our artworks were unveiled  in an exclusive VIP event held at Whitespace last January 19, 2012. The night was a celebration of Clinique’s new makeup collection that captures women as works of beauty and art. (Article)

The lovely and talented Valerie Chua, part of the four featured artists. I took this photo of her beside her gorgeous painting,  “I Rise at the Caress of a Kindred Spirit”. I had a lovely time at the event with her and Miguel.

Val having a look around the gallery.

My painting, “Bloom“.

I was inspired by the way the provided Clinique products were made to enhance a person’s natural features, rather than paint a whole new face. Everything was sheer and natural, so I wanted to keep with the fresh, radiant vibe of the collection. Bloom may seem a bit too straightforward a title, but that’s what feels right to me. It’s a word that inspired my composition on many levels.

It was such a great honor and pleasure to be part of this, and I look forward to more collaborations of this sort. :)

Sweet colors and afternoon sweets

Hello, again! Today I want to share some detail snapshots of a painting commission I’m currently working on.

I used watercolor, gold ink and colored pencils. Normally, I tend to use every color I have available on my compositions. I lovingly call my usual color scheme “rainbow vomit”. Haha! I’m fighting that instinct to keep to the sweet, summery palette that I had in mind for this painting.

The earlier stages of color buildup. For me, it’s always a bit of an adventure using watercolors. It’s the most temperamental out of all the mediums I like to use. I feel like it behaves differently every time I paint with it.

It is a welcome challenge, though. It constantly provides me with opportunities to learn. I always find myself a little intimidated at first due to the relatively unforgiving nature of watercolors (as opposed to say, painting on canvas with acrylic) but it’s always a great feeling as I gradually ease myself into the process.

These kimono pattern details are a lot of work, but I’m enjoying every bit of it.

Looking at my kimono references for the painting got me wanting some Japanese sweets. Luckily, I had chanced upon a box of dango. Is it okay to think an item of food is cute, and feel the urge to pet it?

Sometimes I can’t help eating with my eyes as well.

After taking these out of the container, I had to admire the colors and texture first before eating them.

I also enjoy preserving these moments with my camera.

I have kind of an embarrassing number of photos of my food, but I’ll end with this one. I liked this shot for the simple reason that the background happened to have the same color scheme as the dango.

A peaceful afternoon with wonderful weather, a nice view of the sky, and some sweets — sometimes these little things do so much to keep me going.

What simple things do you get inspiration from?

It’s all about the music

When I was a freshman, I was chosen along with two of my classmates to create paintings for the home of Uli Behringer — CEO and founder of BEHRINGER, the multi-national audio equipment company. He could have had any artist he wanted to decorate his home, but he chose a bunch of students like us. Why? He wanted to give young talent a chance. Perhaps it had something to do with his humble beginnings.

While studying sound engineering and classical piano at the Robert Schumann conservatory in Düsseldorf, Behringer found the university had limited equipment for student use, so he started to build his own products. His fellow students requested equipment from him too, and soon he was receiving more orders than he could handle himself, leading to the creation of Behringer Inc.” (Source)

I invite you to read The BEHRINGER Story. It’s a very inspiring and heartwarming account of how he found his calling (by accepting that his first choice may not have been the right one), followed his passion, and came to be the founder of one of the world’s largest and most successful audio equipment companies.

My classmates and I had an excellent time working for him. And when our paintings were done, his home with our artwork was featured in the newspaper. It was a very rewarding moment for us.

Last year (years after our previous meeting), Mr. Behringer was having another home done and he searched for me again to ask me to make more art for him. It was a wonderful surprise to hear from him again, and a meeting was arranged for us to meet when he flew back to the Philippines. We pitched some ideas back and forth to figure out what visual style he’d like for the new series of artworks. He was delighted when I asked him what elements he would like to see in the paintings. His eyes lit up and he wanted instruments because “It’s all about the music”. Since there were to be three pieces, he chose a piano, a saxophone, and a guitar.

Thumbnail sketches

The canvas size required for the paintings was 1.2 x 1 meters. That is a relatively large scale, and it would be difficult to do a lot of trial and error straight on the canvas. It could damage the fabric as well.

So I started out by making rough thumbnail sketches on a small sketchpad. These are very small drawings that help me figure out the composition for the artwork. I also use them to block in light and dark values to get an idea of how to get a good overall balance for the final work.

Sketches on canvas

When I’m satisfied with my general compositions, I take my time to recreate them on the large canvas. I like to be very detailed with my line work because I tend to feel more confident when it’s time to bring in the paint.

One day's work on the guitar piece

I decided it would be best to use acrylic and oil paints for this triptych. Here’s the first night’s progress with acrylic paints. It’s not very pretty right now, but that’s what’s great about this type of paint — it doesn’t have to be neat because you can just keep layering as you figure things out. (And that layering can make the final work look better.)

Close-up on layering and textures

This photo shows the different opacities and textures that can be achieved with acrylic. Its qualities depend on a number of factors, including brand, pigment, and the amount of water used. It’s always fun buying a new tube of paint and experimenting to see what can be achieved by it.

Progress on two pieces

More establishing washes on the guitar piece, and the beginnings of the saxophone piece.

Early stages of the saxophone painting

I started with establishing washes and texture on the saxophone piece, then started rendering the sax with very diluted black acrylic which I treated like watercolor. It makes the final rendering a lot easier.

Underpainting and Initial washes on piano painting

Vertical wash texture on the piano painting, again achieved by diluting the paint in a lot of water. This will serve as the base for the textures I had in mind for the composition.

Piano painting progress

This shows the very early stages of the wash guide I painted for the piano. Looks a bit like random smudges, doesn’t it? Sometimes at this stage of the work I have to fight the feeling of being discouraged that my work isn’t looking good. I just have to keep at it until it looks the way I want it to.

Saxophone rendering progress

Here is the transition of my saxophone rendering, from the initial wash guide to the final render with oil paints.

Nearly finished

And here’s how the finished saxophone looks on the composition.

More texture work on the saxophone piece

Ever since the first commission, Mr. Behringer expressed how much he appreciates texture so I made sure to incorporate lots of it into the new paintings.

Guitar piece nearing completion

Textures were almost done. Just missing the final rendering on the guitar details and torn paper effect (which was achieved with gesso and paint)

My workplace

Here’s a look at my workplace during the final stages of the artwork. Ah, the bittersweet feeling of commission work nearing completion. It’s always a little painful parting with my work. (Hahah, the TV is on with Hey, Arnold! playing on Nick. I always have a show playing while I work.)

The final paintings

Here’s a look at the final works. (Higher resolution will be available when I’ve finished fixing up my gallery.) The colors and textures I chose for each of them represent how I feel the sound of the respective instruments would translate visually.

They were successfully installed on concrete panels made especially to hold them in Mr. Behringer’s home. I hope you enjoyed this post as I enjoyed working on this project. :) A lot of love and sleepless hours went into the creation of these paintings. I’m very happy with what I came up with, so it was all very much worth it.

These pieces are among the selections currently up at the store as prints or gadget skins.

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As always — thank you for reading! I’m looking forward to sharing more!