Arlene Sy
Art + Illustration


My journey as an artist chronicled in life events, thoughts, and musings.

Denise Veronica

I worked on a watercolor portrait last week. It's been a while since I got commissioned for one. Portraits are still one of my most favorite things to do. I'm usually open for these commissions, and I truly, wholeheartedly enjoy doing them!

Denise emailed me a couple of weeks ago (thanks to Alexis of Ink Scribbler for the referral!). She was going to celebrate her 18th birthday soon and wanted an invitation with a portrait on the main card. I was so excited when she showed me her peg--I instantly recognized the work of Cate Parr, who is a big influence when it comes to watercolor portraiture and fashion illustration (probably next to David Downton). I immediately said yes and committed myself to the project!

Just a few WIP snaps...


I wish I had a much, much better (photographic, is that the term?) scanner. A standard desktop scanner's light is just too harsh, so a lot of details get either too washed out or too saturated in the process. I don't like it when images get burned by scanner light; it just defeats the purpose and natural subtleties of watercolor. (I'm actually eyeing this baby right here--maybe I'll get one for Christmas?) I also can't afford to spend too much time adjusting the image on Photoshop.


I love the challenge of striking a balance between wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry. I think the allure of bleeding colors attracted me to watercolors when I first picked up the medium early on. For portrait work, though, the hardest thing for me is really still being able to capture the likeness of the subject, while infusing life and energy using expressive brush strokes.