Thursday, August 27, 2015

Illustrator Interview: Kora Dandan Albano

With Ms. Gidget Roceles Jimenez
Kora Dandan Albano shares with us her joy in working with Gidget Roceles Jimenez in their book, All About the Philippines (Tuttle, 2015). She has some tips for budding artists on the use of watercolor as medium for art. Read on and you might just learn a thing or two about watercolor painting!

I love your spreads for the book, especially the ones on the end pages. Why Banawe and Pahiyas?
Sagada and Pahiyas spreads were actually inside illustrations for the Travelling Together and Fiesta sections. But he editors decided to use them as end papers for the book.

Your control of color and water is amazing! How do you do it? Any tips for aspiring illustrators and artists who are using this medium?
Watercolor is an unforgiving medium. So careful planning is important. Hindi pwede yung attack ka lang ng attack. Calculated lahat - from the amount of water that you mix into the paint to the degree of dampness of a pre-wetted paper -  lahat iniisip at pinaplano muna. Sa una parang ang hirap, pero if you’ve been using the medium for over 25 years like me, it becomes second skin,  instinctive na.

For me, there is no substitute for a good  drawing, so I always draw my pencil sketches on plain paper first, adjusting and revising until I’m happy with them. Then I trace them on quality watercolor paper using a light box - this is to avoid damaging the paper with too much erasures. Arches and Canson Montval watercolor papers are my favorites. I always paint from light to dark. Highlights are leave outs – kung ano yung kulay ng papel, iyon ang whites or highlights sa illustration. I don’t use white paint as much as possible.  I build up my images one layer at a time. Like in the Sagada spread, I painted the first layer of clouds first, then while letting that area dry, I tackled the first layer of the greens of the rice terraces next, and so on and so forth until the entire paper is covered with first layer of paint. Then I work on the next layer, starting at the parts that are already dry.  I move my drawing board a lot while painting. I even paint some parts upside down sometimes. Normally it takes about four to five layers of paint to finish an illustration.

More tips: 

> Always clean your mixing plates to avoid muddy mixture of paints. Huwag manghinayang sa paint. 

> Always use fresh water for washing and dipping your brushes. Replace the water when using a different hue. Like, if you are painting a part that is yellow and your water is already blue, you will end up painting it green if you don’t replace your water with a clean one.

> Sketch pad papers are not watercolor papers. Don’t use them.

> Invest on good quality watercolor paints. I use Winsor and Newton, and Holbein paints.

> If you want to be good in watercolor, paint in watercolor most days of the weeks, at least 2 hours at a time.

At the book launch or All About the Philippines

Describe the experience of working with Gidget and Tuttle.

We were a good team! Just like with most of my children’s book projects, I only worked closely with the editor/coordinator of this book. I really appreciate it that Terri, the editor from Tuttle in the U.S.,  involved me from the planning stage of the book up to the edits. For this project, Terri and I exchanged about 250 emails between us and each one I got from her is a “feel good” email. Her reactions to my submissions were always -  Awesome! Fantastic! Wonderful!

Though, Gidget and I knew each other, we never met to discuss the project. It is only during the edits that the three of us worked together via email, proofreading and making sure everything is in place. But it was good to know afterwards that Gidget really loved what I have done with our book. Looks like, even if we didn’t discuss a single illustration while I’m doing them, our vision for the book were practically the same.

What is your dream book?

I want to write and illustrate a book about my childhood in Bulacan.

Photo source: Grabbed from FB with permission from Ms. Albano and A-gel Ramboyong.

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