31 October 2015

My Favorite Watercolors

One of the questions I get asked the most is which watercolors I use.

Over the years I've learned through experimentation which colors I prefer, which ones I like the most and how they behave and mix with each other.

When I buy my supplies I prefer to buy in open stock, and although it could seem it's more expensive, in the long run is not. I never buy sets because they normally have a lot of colors I don't like and I don't use and end up buying more...

All my watercolors are artist's grade, single pigment except two, the pigments are nice and rich and I don't get "mud" when I mix them. 
I buy them in tubes to refill empty half pans, only occasionally I have bought half pans.
As I mention, I have only colors I like, they are mainly Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolors, some Daniel Smith, a couple of MaimeriBlu and a couple of Holbein.

I have put together two watercolor sets, one to use at home and one I carry with me in my bag all the time.

The big one is the one that stays in my painting room.
 This is an empty box I bought in 2008 from Daniel Smith, unfortunately they don't sell it anymore.
I just found this one here, called FOME Empty Watercolor 24 Half Pan Box, it looks the same as mine before I modified it.
 It was originally design for 24 half pans but I bent all the divisions inside and now I can fit 39 half pans.
Here's a photo with its color chart, I hope is big enough for you to read it. It has the name for each color, pigment code and brand. 

My little set is a Winsor and Newton Bijou box. 
It originally came with only 8 half pans, but I removed all the metal bars and I can fit 15 Winsor and Newton half pans, which are slightly smaller than the ones you buy empty, otherwise it only fits 14.
This little box is not sold any more by Winsor and Newton, but I found this one here, called Whiskey Painters Standard Palette which looks pretty much the same as mine, but comes empty.
Find below
a photo with its color chart, again, it has the name for each color, pigment code and brand. I have recently replaced the Payne's Grey for Winsor and Newton Designers Gold Gouache which I like more than the grey, and I can mix the grey ;)

With the colors I have in this little set I can mix almost any color I need/want.

I hope this answers many questions, but please leave me a comment if you have any other.

Colors update 2016 here.

24 September 2015

Mandala Flower Tutorial

Nature is an endless source of inspiration and for me especially flowers. I love their shapes and their colors.

You'll probably know by now I love mandalas. For a while I've been drawing these Mandala-Flowers which are inspired in real flowers.

In this tutorial I'll show you how I do it.

 For this tutorial I used:

Stillman and Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
Staedtler Pigment Liners  0.05, 0.2 and 0.5
A photo I took of a flower.

You can use any paper or pen/pencil you have. 

As for the photo, is better if you use your own photo or a photo which you have permission to use. Most of the photos you find on internet have Copyrights and are NOT for FREE use, so make sure what type of Copyright it has before you use it.

This is a photo I took at a friend's farm some years ago. It's the flower of one of my favorite tropical fruits called LULO in Colombia, its scientific name is Solanum quitoense

First, look at you flower carefully. I like to use actinomorphic flowers, which means that it's radially symmetrical, like this one, you can divide it in equal segments meeting at the center.
This one has five segments.

I start with a big dot which will be the center of my flower using the 0.5 Pigment Liner.

Then I add the five heart yellow shapes using the 0.2 Pigment Liner.

Now I draw the five light purple petals, each starting and finishing in the middle of each heart shape.

Next I put the five dark purple sepals between the petals.

Now that I have  my mandala flower with its main elements I add the details inside the main shapes. I like to add some other details not in the actual flower,  they complement my drawing.
I like to use the very fine 0.05 Pigment Liner for this, to have a little bit of contrast with the heavier previous lines made with the 0.2 Pigment Liner. The little dots within the heart shapes are done with the 0.5 Pigment Liner.

You can make one or many, arrange them in a mandala like the first photo and previous tutorial or make a little composition page like the second photo.
You can leave them as black and white drawing or color them in with you favorite media.
You can add as many details as you want.

I hope you like this tutorial and have lots of fun drawing your own Mandala Flowers and flowers.

Find more tutorials here.

28 August 2015

From My Journal

For me nature is an endless source of inspiration, so is my journal.

I like to look at flowers and draw my mandala version of them in my journal.

I've done few pages full of these designs but this time I decided to organize my Mandala-Flowers in a bigger Mandala. 
 When I finished, I thought it would be nice to paint my Mandala-Flower Mandala in watercolor with white ink details. I transferred the drawing I had made in my journal to watercolor paper and painted it with nice bright colors.

When they were completely dry I added the white ink line work and dots.

Here is the finished piece along with some pebbles I made a while ago also inspired in another of my journal pages.

13 July 2015

Embroidered Mini Mandala Tutorial

Some of you here, in Facebook and Instagram have asked me for a tutorial to make an Embroidered Mandala.

I made this little mandala project specially for you, using basic stitching tools, few supplies and simple stitches. I hope you like it.


This is what I used but you can adapt it to what you have in hand. You can use almost any fabric or embroidered threads for this project.


5 x 5 cm piece of 100% Wool Felt in Violet
DMC Stranded Cotton 340, 3810 and 3819
Italian Seta Bozzolo 24wt Silk Thread #300
Opaque Lime Green 11/0 Japanese Glass Seed Beads


Crewel/Embroidery Needle Size 3 for all the stitches but the weaving.
Tapestry Needle Size 24 for weaving the Whipped Spider Web.
Straw/Milliners Needle Size 10 for beading.
Embroidery Scissors
Thread Heaven Conditioner & Protectant to protect and strengthen the beading thread.

Some Extras:
(not in the photo)

Helix Metric Circle Template
Bohin Extra Fine Chalk Pencil 3-in-1


Stem Stich
Fly Stitch
Whipped Spider Web Stitch / Backed Stitched Spider's Web
Chain Stitch


Using the circle template and the chalk pen, I divided my felt square in four to mark the centre, then I traced a 3.5 cm diameter circle.

Using three strands of DMC Stranded Cotton 3819 work a row of Stem Stitch over the circle.

Using the marked cross as a guide trace a concentric 2 cm diameter circle.

Using three strands of DMC Stranded Cotton 340 work side by side Fly Stitches, using the circle as starting point and working outwards.

Again, using the marked chalk cross trace a second concentric circle, this time about 1 cm diameter.

With three strands of DMC Stranded Cotton 3810 work a Whipped Sider Web using the circle as a guide.

Using the silk thread or any other beading thread, attach the beads in the area between the Stem Stitch and the Fly Stitch, one bead between two Fly Stitches.

Now with three strands of DMC Stranded Cotton 3819 and using the row of Fly Stitches as guide, make a second row of Fly Stitches this time working inwards.

Finally, with three strands of DMC Stranded Cotton 3810 work a row of Chain Stitch outside the Stem Stitch.

Your mandala is finished!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, please feel free to contact me with any question you may have.