Portrait Commission: Keri Zamora

Posted with permission from the client.

One day, a very sweet lady wrote to me to have a portrait done.

Her name is is Keri Zamora.

She’s a lovely lady with an exquisite sense of style.

I was pleasantly surprised when she expressed that she appreciated the anime influence in my work! When I asked her for visual pegs she would like me to draw inspiration from, she sent me images from the Studio Ghibli film, Spirited Away. I knew then that I would definitely enjoy working on this portrait.

One of the scenes from Spirited Away that I found visually striking was when Chihiro was running through the field of flowers. Perhaps you’ll see its influence on my painting when I show the final work at the end of this blog post!

I started out with soft washes, going from light to dark.

 I chose warm, sweet, summery colors that I felt Keri would like. I had also started adding the gold ink at this point.  I chose to outline some details in gold because it’s an element I really enjoy when looking at yukata or kimono prints.

They add a whole other dimension to a piece because of how it can look different when it catches light a certain way.

Chihiro was wearing traditional Japanese clothes, so I thought to draw Keri in a kimono. As I’ve mentioned, she really wanted me to incorporate the anime influence in this portrait so she was very game about being drawn in a kimono.

I filled in the colors of the flower details first, because I would base the color of the kimono and obi on their overall look. They are such big areas of color that I needed to be very careful with how I treated them so maintain the balance of the composition, as well as to compliment the colors of the smaller details around them.

 Here are the colors I decided on for the obi. And another look at the different qualities of the gold detailing based on the way light hits them.

 After coloring in the obi, I went to work on the rest of the kimono.

 I selected mainly shades of peach and pink for the kimono. I added some smaller bursts of similar but darker colors on areas where I needed the details to stand out more. It also added more balance by reflecting the color of the obi.

One of my favorite spots to work on.

Keri. Watercolor and gold ink on aquarelle paper. 15 x 20 inches.

And here is the final work, my portrait of Keri.

Rather than having her simply wear a floral-printed kimono, I wanted to add a bit of dimension and touch of whimsy by having the flowers growing out of the print. I also had her hold a chrysanthemum because it’s a flower that is traditionally given to mothers during Mother’s Day in some cultures, and it is also said to attract good luck in a household.

I’m very happy that she loved the painting and was such a wonderful client to work with! I hope somehow it does bring more good fortune and happiness to her home. :)

I’m currently open for commissions, so please feel free to send me an email (josonjin at gmail dot com) or use my contact form if you’d like to send an inquiry!

Thanks for looking!

Shirt Design: Forever and Always

A pair of ghostly hands I drew some time ago, for a creepy shirt design idea I had. I looked at x-rays as reference, and drew everything in Photoshop. I shared it on my dA page, and submitted it to a couple of shirt websites where people vote on designs to get them printed. So many people expressed their interest in owning the shirt, but it never quite made it through to printing.

However, one day I got an e-mail from T-shirts.com saying they had seen my work, along with an invitation to be part of a project they’ve been working on. And I’m now one of the artists they selected for their Artist-Designed Collection for which they selected illustrators around the world to make shirts of our artworks. Very honored to be part of the roster!

While my previous attempts to get this design printed may not have been exactly successful, sharing it with people and getting it out there still led to T-shirts.com to finding me. My arrangement with them is even better, because now I can design whatever I want and they can print it without me troubling people to vote for it first!

Let this an example of how things might not always work out quite the way you planned, but life may just surprise you with something better! Work hard and be kind. :)

See all my designs so far in this page!

Forever and Always is available in several color variations and on both men’s and women’s tees! (You may click on the pictures to be taken to the store, where you’ll also find a couple more of my designs)

I’ll be creating more designs over the next several months! If you like, comment to let me know what you’d like to see!

If you guys order any of my shirts, do send me pictures! It makes me happy seeing people wear my work!

Thank you for all your support and appreciation! This wouldn’t be possible without you guys!

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. :)

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.

Some of you guys have been asking how you may subscribe to this blog, so here are a couple of options for now:

I’ll be adding more later! Please feel free to leave a comment if there’s a method you’d like to suggest!

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