Art Exchange Exhibit and Holbein Clester Watercolor Pad Review

Joined the Art Exchange exhibit last April 18 to 25 where the theme was World Map. The exhibit was held in Greenbelt 5 and organized by The Craft Central. I was pretty excited to get my invite to the exhibit before my trip to Japan. I actually used the Clester watercolor pad I got from Sekaido for the painting since it was the biggest paper I have. More of my thoughts on Clester after a little back story of how I came up with the exhibit concept.

The theme itself was a challenge since the first thing that came to mind for maps was earth and I’m no expert on landscapes and scenery. It took a while for an idea to form that would meet my illustrative style and the theme of maps/earth. The look and feel is quite like a children’s book – because I imagined that this kind of painting to be hung in a bedroom of someone who dreams of travelling. Another challenge was deciding whether to frame it or not, I decided to find a ready-made frame that would be acceptable for the exhibit, instead of customizing since the latter cost a lot.

On to the short paper review…

Clester watercolor pad is acid free, 50% pulp and 50% cotton block sheets. It has a bit of texture which I like. The size I have is 12.5 x 16.3″ and it comes in 24 sheets. I’ve had a good experience with Holbein Albireo which my uncle got me in Sekaido as well. So I wanted to try Clester and got the biggest (?) size. I like that it comes in a non-wired binding and has a ribbon on the side so I can tie it to close. I removed a page off the Clester to work on the exhibit painting so I can tape the edges. However, when I’m working on the Albireo I don’t tear the paper off the pad to paint, so I would assume that this Clester’s paper does not easily rip too. I know there’s a Clester that is 100% cotton and I would like to try that out next time. ūüôā

Here are some BTS photos of how the painting came to be:

Using the Faber Castel watercolor pencils I bought from Sekaido!
Worked on this little by little after my regular job and during weekends. I cannot remember how many hours was it exactly.

Here’s some photos of the Art Exchange exhibit. I was distracted by so many things to see so these are only some of them, but I tried to find the paintings of everyone I knew! I’ve placed their¬†IG handle as well.

Knew immediately this was by Chesun Ong! (@chesun_ong)
By Patty Py (@pattypy)
By Alexis herself! (@inkscribbler) Imagine having to organize Art Exchange AND having the time to paint for the exhibit!

Mine! ‚ô•

I’m so happy to take part in this activity and also got to see how much the art community is expanding its reach to share our crafts to others. It’s never too late to start to get into arts and learn a craft or two. Our world today is different with social media, there’s so many communities ready to help and teach you the skills. A lot of us are self-taught for many years because we all thought art was just some fancy hobby nobody can make a business out of. But thanks to the courage of people like Alexis who put up The Craft Central to make handmade crafts, arts and workshops easily accessible; I believe that art is starting to be more prevalent in people’s lives.

Sekaido: An Artist’s Heaven

I wasn’t mentally prepared for Sekaido.


Just like what people who’ve been there told me, it was an artist’s heaven. Sorry for the lack of photos because I was given only 1 hour to roam the entire building and shop, else my family will leave me. *panics* Sekaido is nearest from¬†Shinjuku station. There’s a tourist information center when you get¬†out of the station and they kindly pointed me to the right direction. The tourist information center is near 3 cherry blossom trees so that’s the landmark!
I think 15 minutes was spent being overwhelmed with so many things to see.¬†If it’s your first time in Sekaido, I suggest to have a checklist of stuff you want to find. I already know what I want to look for so that’s the sections I went to. 3rd floor is all about watercolor so I spent my time there but made sure to quickly visit all the floors. There are A LOT of options to choose from for a particular item so I guess that’s where the (happy) problem lies.


I wanted to buy more paper (not usually found in the Philippines) but I’ve yet to use my stash of watercolor pads¬†from Fullybooked, which I got from my last workshop. I was looking for a stamp to have my chinese initials engraved but didn’t find anybody to do the engraving. ūüôĀ They have plenty of the marble stamp sticks (so gorgeous!) and the engraving equipment though.
I was thisclose to buying gold powder in a ziplock – but have no idea if they will dissolve in water. Most items have Japanese labels so I didn’t want to risk it.Some brands I saw: Holbein, Kuretake gansai tambi, Maimeri, Faber-Castell, Schmicke, Canson, Daler-Rowney, Steadlter, Pentel, Tombow, and many many more!

My haul from Sekaido:
Holbein Clester watercolor paper block (Was to supposed to get the Albireo but I still have some papers left so opted for a different one.)
Brush (L)
Holbein paint tubes (5ml)
Gold paint
Faber-Castell art grip watercolor pencils – an impulse buy, but I’m definitely seeing a lot of use in this!
My family was shocked when I came out with only a bag hahahaha! I have to use up my existing materials first. ūüėČ One day, hopefully I can return to Japan and to Sekaido. It’s definitely a recommended shop for art enthusiasts and hobbyists (but make sure you come prepared!)!

My Watercolor Materials

Following through my previous post about what to buy when you want to start watercolor, I thought of¬†writing about¬†my¬†stash of watercolor paints. I’ve never documented what I have and I think this post would be something I would return to after a year or so.

  1. Winsor and Netwon Cotman 45 Half Pans Studio Set


My uncle got me¬†a beautiful set of Winsor and Newton Cotman watercolor pans, and it is my favorite among all my materials!¬†For a student grade, the colors are¬†wonderfully pigmented as you can see here and here. It also comes with a mixing palette¬†that I usually detach because my table is too narrow¬†to spread it out. I am not sure if this is sold in the Philippines as I’ve yet to see this exact set¬†in National Bookstore or online. However, there are other Cotman sets and paint tubes that are being sold in those shops. My concern for this set¬†is that it contains 45 half pans which makes it heavy and¬†bulky to travel with. Granted I rarely paint outside the comforts of my home, but there are occasions that I like to bring my paints with me. So when Kar (of the popular¬†OOTDraw in IG) offered to buy travel sets in Sekaido Japan, I immediately reserved one for myself. Which leads me to my¬†next set…

2. Winsor and Newton Cotman Pocket Plus 12 Half Pans


I got a pocket size version of the Cotman! It comes with 12 half pans, a tiny brush and 2¬†mixing palettes. The case is gorgeous and compact. The very next day when I got this set I brought it to the office and in my excitement, I showed it to a¬†guy officemate who looked offended as he thought I was going to show¬†him a makeup compact. Hahaha! I haven’t used the half pans that comes with it though since I have the exact colors in my big Cotman set. I just removed my most used colors in big Cotman and placed it the¬†tiny¬†Cotman. Handy eh?¬†Kindly check National Bookstore if they still have¬†this available, as I have seen it being sold there before.

3. Prang 16 Colors


My first watercolor set – the beloved Prang! I don’t use it as much these days but I whip it out when I get invited to host art sessions with kids. It holds a lot of memories for me as many of my earlier paintings especially the fashion illustrations are painted using¬†this set. Available in National Bookstore.

4. Kuretake Gansai Tambi 12 Colors (see link for 18 colors)


I must confess this is an impulse buy from¬†Craft Carrot in St. James Bazaar last year. I haven’t used much of it in my illustrations due to a lame excuse of having no mixing palette at that time. I did a few florals with it but I can’t make a judgement yet of the colors until I have really used it. I am secretly eyeing the Gansai Tambi Starry Colors but I’m still debating whether adding some gold¬†to my paintings would work or it’s¬†just me attracted to anything sparkly.¬†It’s also available in National Bookstore.

5. Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle Fine Student Travel Box 12 Tubes


I got my first watercolor tubes in¬†Craft Central’s PR party. I now use it in tandem with my Cotman colors, as the pigments in this Sennelier aren’t as good as the Cotman. I love the Permanent Rose and Deep Green in this set though! I recommend it¬†for beginners.


So far that’s what I got. I noticed that there are certain colors that I gravitate to in any set so my paintings follow that same color¬†schemes. But I am challenging myself to experiment more, mix and match and take a risk. Eventually I would like to mix a different media to watercolor.¬†Documenting my watercolor sets is¬†making me itch to go back to painting. There are so many possibilities in one watercolor box and I can’t possibly use all of these up in my lifetime (but I sure hell will try)! If you have your own watercolor materials list, please do share in the comments. I like looking into new materials and reading how they are being used.

How to Start a Watercolor Hobby

I get a lot of questions on which materials to buy when you want¬†to start¬†watercolor as a hobby. Unlike years back when I was starting, I could only rely on National Bookstore for my supplies. Now, there are so¬†many options. Several art supplies shops have popped up online that target hobbyist and full-fledged artists with various¬†watercolor brands hailing from France, Japan, Korea, etc. It makes choosing much more difficult and consequently makes¬†hoarding a lot easier! I’ve seen artists who has as much as 20 brushes and several pans and tubes of paints and I’m astounded how¬†they can figure out which one to use (Is there a designated brush set when doing florals? Or a brand best suited for landscape or¬†portrait perhaps?). But like everything else in life, please take things in moderation. That life lesson includes buying art supplies.

So if you want to give watercolor a try but is afraid to commit, here are some options you can purchase without breaking the bank.


Prang is wonderful brand to start with because it is the best among all the budget friendly options. I started with Prang and as you can see my set is used and abused countless times.¬†If you need more convincing about this set, check out my work here and here that showcase Prang’s vibrant colors.


For those who prefers tubes instead of pans, try Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle Fine Student travel box. The set¬†comes with 12 tubes of basic colors (less pigmented because it’s a student grade) and a mixing¬†tray. But you can do like me and buy a separate palette for more mixing convenience. Tubes last longer than pans so this is a good investment. For sample work using this Sennelier, check this out.¬†Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle Fine Student travel box¬†and mixing palette are available in The Craft Central¬†located in Greenbelt 5, Makati.


For brushes, I recommend only getting 1 big and 1 medium to small round brush. I like round brushes as oppose to flat ones because I can do wash and details with them.¬†You don’t need an arsenal of brushes to start out and you don’t need to get expensive brushes with real hair. Synthetic brushes work just fine and sometimes they work even better, in my opinion. Princeton, Martol and Best Buy brushes are available in National Bookstore and¬†Campus brush set of 3 from artnebulaph. Careful not to buy brushes that have falling hair or those that are too stiff (ala walis tingting hair), as I’ve seen them in NBS as well.


Ok this is the last one in the list – paper! There is paper made for watercolor so don’t use bond, oslo, cartolina, canvas, construction or tracing paper! The most cost friendly and beginner friendly brand would always be Canson and it’s available in National Bookstore (if it’s not sold out which is happening more often)! For beginners, please use 300gsm paper as it is thicker, can absorb more water and will enable you to easily lift colors. Canson Montval pad is a good choice with price ranging from 400-700 pesos, depending on the size. I also put in The Lettering Progress Keeper by Abbey Sy (also by Canson) as it’s a good pad to practice with, despite being 200gsm.

Alright, that’s all you need to start watercoloring! Oh yeah, you also need a jar of clean water, a load of paper towels (Starbucks have really absorbent paper towels haha shhhhhh…), lots of patience and super¬†zen-like aura! Watercoloring should be fun so take it easy. Purchasing the right materials will certainly help you get started, but it is the person’s perseverance and desire for learning that will make the painting truly shine.

The Craft Central

Hello I’m back to blogging!

I actually started blogging first before posting my creations and paintings online, so I really miss this! My blog now would probably be a lot¬†different than what I’ve done before, which is just writing whatever comes to my mind and even personal funny experiences. For my new direction I’m thinking…art videos, writing about my experiments, creation process and how to stay creative despite having a day job and being stuck in traffic each day? Hahaha! No I’m not kidding. I’m also¬†reading up on inspiring articles to help me move towards this new direction. Let me know if this sounds interesting!

Speaking of interesting, crafters and artists would be happy to know that inkscribbler‘s brainchild The Craft Central has opened in Greenbelt 5! *throws confetti* I was invited to the PR party last September 21 and I didn’t hesitate to go, despite it being a work day. Who can say no to arts and crafts right?


The Craft Central has a space for conducting workshops. Will definitely consider holding my next workshop here!


The shop contains a lot of artisan products like handmade perfumes, soap, pouches, stationary, stamps, stickers and supplies for¬†watercolor and calligraphy. I think this will be my go-to place to look for gifts for friends. ūüôā



Sennelier La Petit Aquarelle fine student travel box (1,790.00), Mixing palette (180.00) from The Craft Central, Watson postcard book (out of stock at Wildwood store)

The Craft Central is located at the 3rd floor, Greenbelt 5. They have prepared several activities for the opening weekend so be sure not to miss out!