Monday, June 14, 2010

Cloisonne – The Beginning.

From being a watercolor purist and realist to incorporating acrylics, gessoes with watercolors and painting stylized florals, it all came about because of a gift. Actually, several gifts from my friend Rowena. On one of her visits to the country, she gave me a very beautiful painted silk scarf by the artist Haiying. She also gave me a gift set of silk paints, projects (silk squares with gutta drawn designs on it ready for the application of paint, the prepared projects also done by Haiying) and gutta paint. I must admit I had a bit of trouble trying on silk painting. It looked easy but the liquid paints proved hard to control as they spread by themselves with only the gutta holding them back. Inspired by Haiying’s work, I wanted to design my own scarf. Because I was still apprehensive about the new materials and really am just afraid of making mistakes, I felt I needed to do a preliminary drawing or design first before I would even dare touch the guttha. Of course, I would use the materials available to me which are watercolor paper and my watercolors. I had to go on a search and found gold poster paint from the local art/school supplies store to mimic the gutta on paper. The most difficulty I had was with the designing. I’m used to painting very realistically and am very meticulous with details. You can say I’m a bit of an obsessive compulsive when it comes to my floral paintings. But what looks natural and even impressive in a painting may not look so flattering in fabric. I had to adjust to seeing and painting things in their most basic or simpler but still recognizable forms and because I’ve earlier tried the silk paints, I knew the gold outlining would play a major role. My first attempt resulted in Passion Flower No.1.

Rowena liked it and requested I do more. So I explored other flowers and fruits too. Now the silk painting project is on hold because I’m having so much fun doing the paper version. Others who saw the cloissone paintings seemed to like it too. So now it seems this new style will be here to stay. For lack of a name to call the style, I started referring to it as faux cloissone as it reminded me a lot of works in cloissone. Later, after having learned that others have also painted in the same style and have used the term cloissone paintings, I dropped the faux before it. Everybody knew anyway it wasn’t real cloissone being made of paint and paper. The only changes I’ve made is replacing the gold poster paint with artist quality gold acrylic and using acrylic medium to make the gold outlining not only shinnier but more pronounced or embossed.
Below are earlier works in cloissone. These are not available anymore but which I included just to give you an idea on how it looked in the beginning.

Wild Vine 2.
Later, I would realize the plant/vine is actually a passion flower.

Sugar Apple or Atis.
My first try at painting fruits.

Red Flowers.
A few years ago, I took pics of a wild growing red flowered plant in the backyard. Never found out what it was called.

Close up of a passion flower.


This is the Filipino version of the rose. The plant has very fragrant blooms. Much stronger than those of the rose.

My plans for the future will include landscapes, portraits and still life in cloissone. But that may be a long way off still. I’m still doing studies at the moment and testing the lightfastness of the other metallic paints (copper, bronze).
Aside from cloissones, I will still paint in realistic watercolors.


  1. I love the gold outlines - these would make excellent greeting cards.
    So honored to have you on my FB page. It is artists like you that keep me going - pushing my limits,learning new things.
    Your art is breathtaking.

  2. Thank you very much Pam. I feel just as lucky and privileged to have you among my friends as well. I've overcome by fear of trying new things because of artists like you who are constantly reinventing themselves and making great art.
    I'm currently preparing fan skeletons. Project to come out soon.
    The gold outlining is something I would recommend. It is fun to do and adds fun to pieces. You should try it on your projects. I'm also going to go silver. But still on the lookout for one that has a chrome like sheen when it dries.