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Exploring Art in 2016: A Year End Wrap Up

This year felt like it came and passed so quickly. I wanted to take time and look back at what I tried doing and to see if I’ve improved in my painting.

First up…


Joining Art Trades

I don’t usually do art trades because I have a tendency not to complete them but earlier this year the facebook group I’m part of, Watercolorists PH, had set up an art trade and meet up. It was an interesting event!

We had to make a minimum of 10 paintings each. The paintings were 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches in size. I still can’t believe I finish my share and I think I leveled up a lot from doing them all!

It was one of the times I really saw how the quantity of my output helping me improve at a fast rate. If you ever get to go to art trades like this try to go! You get to learn from new friends and push yourself to make new things.


A photo posted by Kara L. (@renka002) on

Giving Workshops

It’s really good to have friends who believe in you and push you into trying something that is within your capabilities but you’re just scared to try at first. My friend Robbie is that kind of friend. 

He had introduced me to Amanda who he had meet at a calligraphy workshop. We had met up and collaborated for a series of workshops to teach during the summer at Big Bad Wolf in BGC, Taguig. Unfortunately because I was due to go back to Bacolod so I couldn’t join them. But the determination they helped me develop got me to keep working on my lesson plan.

A photo posted by Kara L. (@renka002) on

A photo posted by Kara L. (@renka002) on


I continued my own preparations when I got home. Chrissy was kind enough to be my test bunny for my first trial run. I learned a lot from her feedback that day. And oh! She is a booktuber btw! (Check out her YT Channel!) She was able to vlog our casual watercolor sesh that time.


I tweaked and edited my lesson plan and finished putting together my starter kits. This was when I was finally confident enough to hold small sessions in Bacolod.

It was so fun! Once I knew what I wanted my students to learn and practiced beforehand it was a lot easier. Being prepared is always helpful when you are going to teach.

A few months later I was back in Manila, Ms. Gold of Prism Gallery had asked if I wanted to try giving a workshop there. I said yes. This time I handled a bigger group of 9 in one session. I had forgotten to eat beforehand so I was pretty tired at the end of that one. Will have to remember not to do that next time hahaha.

I’m planning to teach more workshops in Bacolod in 2017. Please follow my Instagram or FB Page for announcements!

A photo posted by Kara L. (@renka002) on

A photo posted by Kara L. (@renka002) on


A photo posted by Kara L. (@renka002) on

Getting my Notebooks made!

I want to take a moment to think back to the day I got the first batch of my notebooks. It still makes me feel giddy to see my unboxing video!

You can see the complete collection at my FaceBook Page.

A video posted by Kara L. (@renka002) on

INVERSE: A Group Exhibit


A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on

My first invite to a group exhibit in my hometown of Bacolod <3

The title of the group show was INVERSE. The concept was about how a different truth can be hidden behind a positive looking output. I honestly found the concept intriguing. I ended up painting something with bright colors but with a sad expression. I’m really proud of taking a chance and cutting out the art as well as how I rendered the carnation.

The title of this piece is “I Call You Memory”.

A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on

A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on

Playing with Acrylics

A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on

Last I tried to paint with Acrylics was around 6 years ago. The medium has always had a charm that I wanted to explore and I will do so more in 2017.  For the piece above, I had to substitute some colors with my gouache paints since I didn’t have all the colors I need.


As an artist, looking back at old work can potentially be cringe worthy. But I like to do it anyway in order to remind myself that it has been worth the time I spent. It would also help me decide what I should be focusing to keep my momentum going.


January 2016

A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on

December 2016

A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on


Okay.  I was surprised.

I wanted to compare my progress with painting portraits but to see the difference side-by-side baffles me a bit. It’s weird to see how differently I control my paint with roughly a year difference. Seems like I’ve simplified my approach over time. Though I do like the subtle definition around the cheeks I was able to do in the first painting I have to admit I have a preference drawing people with smoother features. I guess it’s an aesthetic preference.

Overall, I like where I’m heading. Maybe next year, I’ll try harder to practice on people with more defined facial structures when I have the chance.

To give credit where credit is due, I think what had contributed a lot to my progress was taking Valerie Chua‘s Realistic Portrait Sketching Workshop. (Peek of my output from that class below).

A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on

I think this was the 3rd or 4th workshop I’ve had with her. I keep coming back because I love her teaching style and I always find her workshops helpful.

This one helped me be more confident using color when I paint faces. Before, I would only paint the shadows and the blush in. I got to have a better understanding about the colors used when painting skin and sketching thumbnails.

Though I believe I am capable of applying the techniques she taught, I started to have some internal conflict with my artistic instinct. Something felt off and I started to second guess myself.

After some self reflection, I realized since I love Valerie’s style and admire her a lot, I had started to pressure myself to trying to imitate her.

In the end, I realized what I wanted to do was to apply what she taught me in a different way. After all, she and I are totally different people so it would be natural I would want to do something different. I took confidence in knowing that I shouldn’t be afraid of just wanting to express how I see my subjects through my own eyes.

Over the last few months, I also continued to find inspiration from other artists and tried to keep experimenting.

Inspired by Jennee Yang (@treetrooper)

A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on

Inspired by NALU (@seburan)


A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on


A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on

A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on

In 2015, I strived to get better at painting pre-drawn flowers. I focused on details and lighting as well as understanding the form of different flowers. This year, I wanted to tackle making wreaths out of loose florals.

I’m pretty confident that I can get so much better at making these this time around. Leaves aren’t a problem but doing impressions of flowers is still something I don’t totally feel comfortable with. Will have to keep practicing.


A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on

A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on

A photo posted by Kara Leonardia (@renka002) on


It still amazes me when I realized I finally had the courage to do all these things in the past year.

It may not look like it but I had been struggling to get myself to believe in my own potential for two years before 2016.

It really helped to have such a supportive group of friends who called were frank enough to tell me I actually had potential but was just scared. They were the ones who help me face my own fears and come to terms with why I was apprehensive about taking art as seriously as I do now.

Now, I know it’s still a long road but with what I’ve been through I’ve realized that all I have to be is to be prepared for opportunities that will come and to be open to accepting these opportunities in the first place.

I’ve only been able to meet such lovely people as I’ve started to open up myself and I think that’s one of the best things that I’ve received from this year. Overall, I’m excited for what is to come.

Here’s to more adventures and challenges!

Onward to 2017!!!

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