Mooncake is the most recent painting I did and I wanted to share some thoughts and pictures of the process.

I had this sketch for a long time but I wasn’t ready for it. Sometimes you don’t feel confident enough to make something and that’s ok, as long as you continue to practice.


After I’ve made couple of mini paintings for an exhibit and with no day job, I thought it was the time. As always, I’ve started with the fun parts. I made the typo in gold and started the mooncake with colored pencils with washes of acrylics. It’s been a while I wanted to mix both. I’ve drawn most of the left cat with pencils at this point and try bits of cloud background.


I couldn’t push the inevitable any longer, the background. I hate doing backgrounds mostly because all my life I’ve focused on characters (maybe to avoid it). Now I feel like I’ve reached a point where I need to add some background to add more dimensions in my art. I just fear to fail it and be disappointed with what I’ve done. I’ve started to make an underpainting and contouring everything I’ve already done. Bad idea I know, I should have started with the background but hey, I had to make this mistake to understand! That’s why at some point, I’ve painting over the typo instead of contouring it. On the photo you can see the first layer. It took couples of layers and many tries to figure out how to paint these clouds.


On the next picture, you can see a comparison between the process. The first cat is only made with colored pencils and the other one is fully painted. I found it very helpful to have pencils before painting.


I chose to repaint the typo in cream instead of gold. I love gold but it never looks good in picture and it’s pretty deceiving when printed. At the last moment I added the word mooncake in chinese characters (thank god I haven’t misspelled it). I felt some corners were a bit empty and now it looks more like an advert poster which I love.

Now I can say I’m proud of this one and it helped me to gain some reassurance with paint. I may have reached a little step. It could have been a disappointment but it turns well so please guys, always keep practicing and enjoy every little success you get. Things come easier with time and that’s true for many things.


How I work with Yupo paper

It’s been almost a year since the last time I wrote a post. I’ve been overwhelmed by a day job giving me very few times to create. Let say blogging take much more time and effort than I first thought. I’ll do my best to be more consistent this time. 🙂

Last February I made the challenge of drawing a dessert a day created by @the.petite.planner and @bulletjournaljunkie on Instagram. It was the perfect challenge for me! I chose to use Yupo paper because I had much fun with it in October and the mabsdrawlloween challenge. Because I got many questions about it, I’ve took pictures of my process with Yupo paper. So it usually goes like this :

1- Very small doodle of an idea, I always draw a quick doodle when I got an idea and this one looks interesting enough to be developed.


2- I use translucent Yupo paper so I make the sketch already the good size. I draw some outlines to place the character and make proportions right. (This is why I work with a 4H pencil, I erase a lot and it leaves almost no trace)


3- Final sketch. Yupo paper doesn’t like to be erased. It alters the blackness of graphite so I make sure my sketch is good.


4- Tracing the drawing with a 0.3 pencil


5- When the tracing is done, I now work on a white sheet and complete the graphite part. I use a 0.5 pencil with a 2B graphite lead and draw a bigger outline and I put some shadows.


6- I put colored pencils on the verso. The colors are brights there but they will become soft on the recto side. Colored pencils work much better than markers on this paper. I often use a small piece of Yupo paper to test the colors.

7- To make colors pop out more, I block them with white acrylic. I usually put 2 or 3 layers.


8- In this one, I’ve drawn the cherry with a 4h pencil to guide me with color so I erased its outlines and tada! I usually take the picture of it on a white sheet and adjust colors in Photoshop. I don’t recommend varnishing the graphite part because it seems to ”stick” on the glass when framed so be just careful when manipulating it.


Are you curious about what tools others artists use? I am too and because some people ask me sometimes what tools I use, I’ll describe them and why I use them.

For sketches and works in graphite.

I always use a 4H graphite pencil when I work in my sketchbook. It is lighter and doesn’t leave a mark when I erase it. Very useful when I draw a final sketch, a bit less when I have to scan it…

3 types of erasers
– a mechanical eraser, very thin and so so helpful to erase details, I use it all the time!
– regular eraser
– kneadable eraser, useful to catch graphite dust

Mechanical pencils from Alvin Draft Matic, 0.3mm – 0,5 mm – 0,7 mm all HB
I use them for my works in graphite and the 0,3mm is so great for tiny details! I sometimes add a 6B for the darker part but they seems to not blend perfectly together. For the lighter part, I have a 8H.

Some tortillions for the gradient, a pencil extender and a good sharpener.


For the study in colors.

Small brush and acrylic gold for the border I add sometimes in my study

Same 3 erasers, the kneadable one so helpful to catch the color dust so I don’t stain the paper

I use a sharpener from Faber and Castell, This is the only one I found which sharpen the pencil very pointy.

For the colored pencils, I buy from Faber Castell and Prismacolors. These are my favorite brands, they go well together and Prismacolor have a range of light colors that I really love. Also a blender pencil frome Derwent, very useful to blend many colors.

I usually start my colored drawings with a base of markers from Promarker and Touch. And some Sharpie or Staedtler for the black parts and a 0.1mm pen for details.


But for good results with these tools, you need good papers and not every kind or brand will work well.

The papers for drawings and studies

Fabriano pad : Super smooth, heavy and very white. Perfect for work in graphite.

Ingres pad: comes in various colors, they are made for pastel but I use them for drawing in colors. The colors looks very bright on it.

Canson pad: this is the paper I use most of the time. They are made for pastel and the colors are very bright on it. You can add lighter colors and they really show up instead of others papers. They come in many colors and have a beautiful range of pastel shades.


Kraft paper sketchbook: colors look great on it but the paper fibers are more fragile, tends to break if you erase too much.

Toned grey skectbook: like the kraft paper sketcbook but in grey, the paper is a bit stronger.

Yupo paper: this one is very new for me. It is incredibly smooth, it’s like drawing on butter! And if you buy the translucent one, you can draw on both side. This a paper made in plastic so you can put everything you want on it. But colors will appear more lighter and I’m not a fan of how markers looks on it. I would suggest to work in graphite on top and add colors in the back for better results.

Transparent Vellum : If you like the translucent propriety from Yupo but want a bit more grip , I would suggest this. You can use it almost like the Yupo paper. But notice the paper tend to curl a bit and will need to be framed.


For the painting

Some of my favorite brushes, I don’t have a specific brand. I use anything for now and I wouldn’t make any recommendations since I’m still kind of new to acrylics.

I always kinda hated acrylics but since I’ve tried hi-flow acrylics from Golden, I love it! They are fluid like inks but high in pigments.

For the gold borders, I use fluid acrylics. They are just a bit more thick and gold is more opaque than its version in hi-flow.

I use mini bottles for some mixes of colors I do. And tooth picks to mix them.


Some soft body acrylics from Liquitex, I got them since a long time. I use it only to paint the side of my wood panel.

Gesso from Liquitex. Very opaque. I use it in my mixes to make it more opaque but also to recover old ugly paintings I can reuse.

Airbrush medium, very useful to thin your paint or for making some wash layers.

Acrylic retarder, when I want to keep my mix wet for a longer time. Don’t put to much of it, it could thin your colors.

And finally varnish and a sponge brush for the application. The result is more even than using a square hair brush. Just don’t forget to trim the border with scissors to have a smooth finish!

These are the tools I use most of the time. What are your favorite brand/tool?

Early Bird Coffee Sketch Wip

As I’m working on the painting, I thought to share with you how I made the sketch for it.

20170707_111638Everything starts with my sketchbooks. In the last year, I found it useful to work on 2 or 3 sketchbooks in the same time instead of turning pages. My sketch books are like my encyclopedia. Each time I do research or I’m looking for new ideas, I put everything in there. I take notes, translations of words, quick doodle of ideas or symbols. A small doodle of yesterday can become a painting in a couple of months. I always work with a 4H graphite pencil so sorry for the lack of contrast.


So this is a typical way I start brainstorming for an idea. I didn’t want to work on my quack medicine yet, I just wanted something simple. I found this page where I wrote a few notes a couple month ago. I felt inspired by doing something about coffee. So I start finding inspiration on Pinterest.



On another sketchbook I’ve started writing texts I could write on it and doodling some ideas. I quickly drew them with borders until I find something I like. Then I sketch the small border and refine it until it looks good.

Since I now have a good idea where I’m going, it’s time to make the final sketch. I start with characters because they are the heart of my paintings so they must be good.

Then I work on the borders with typos. While doing it, I keep looking in my image bank for inspiration and I try to not forget sizes of wood panel I have here. If it doesn’t fit exactly a wood panel, I’ll make some resizing later. I usually make the big typos by hand but the small ones are made with computer.


Now that I have everything I need, time to scan the sketches and to go in Illustrator and Photoshop! First I redo the borders and typos in Illustrator. This is easier to make a symmetrical border and I can find a perfect wood panel size and adjust it if needed. I prefer to work typos here because I can vectorise existing typos and play with them.


Now I import the lines in Photoshop and put the leaves and characters on it. These are the outlines I’ll use for my paintings. Sometimes when I’m not sure about what color palette to use, I make some color tests in Photoshop with this document and keep it as a guide.

So, this is how I always prepare my paintings. Unless if it’s a very small canvas I can trace on it, I always proceed like that. It may look tedious but when I start putting paint on a canvas, I need that everything is decided. I really hate the feeling of hating a work you’ve just done because it’s not centered or the proportions are wrong. Sometimes I would love to be like those artists who can start directly on canvas and just let things happen. I guess I’m too cartesian for it!

Early Bird CoffeeAnd here’s the results! You can see how much the painting looks like the color tests. Only the background have a blue tint in it. For the painting execution, the process is basically the same than the last post. I hope this post was helpful in any way and let me know if there’s some subjects you want me to post about! 🙂






Freunde fur Immer wip

Since I was young, I have been exploring many mediums. It is natural to me to mix medias together and I did it a lot when I did my first paintings. Because I had a lot of troubles doing great gradients with paint (especially with acrylics), I chose to use gouache and add layers of colored pencils on it. I eventually switched for acrylics years later. I worried about the longevity of the gouache and had interaction problems between mediums and varnishes.

Anyway I thought of sharing my process for a piece I did last year. For most of my paintings, I make a study I use as a guide. I made a lot of research about strawberry and its leaves and flowers. It helps me to place lights and choose colors. Actually I do a lot of research on everything and I keep the reference pictures in a personal image bank divided in a lot of folders. It mostly made of photos but sometimes I add pictures of other artists works.


Photoshop is very helpful to create the perfect layout for the painting. I have scanned the sketch outlines of my characters. I made the typo and scanned it too. Then I try different layout fitting with a size of wood panel I have in stock. In this case, a 18×12 in panel was the best. When the composition is looking good, I print the outline and transfer it on my panel. For this one, I wanted to color the background and keep the wood grain. Some artists would make washes of acrylics but I felt more comfortable using dry pastels. I used a cloth to smooth the pastel and remove the excess and then I put a layer of workable vanish.

I love putting gold o my artwork. And I always prefer doing the background before the characters. It helps to adjust colors and sometimes I feel intimidated by acrylics. I have this little fear that I may not be able to complete my work. This is a strange feeling which will disappear with time and experience. This is why doing background before helps me to approach slowly the work.

* for the borders, I used a gold ink because it is more opaque. The only problem with is I have to spray varnish on it because it is not permanent and it will dissolve when I’ll add acrylic varnish at the end. Now I use gold acrylic. I have to paint more layers to achieve the same opacity but it is stable.

Now the typo. There is no real trick for doing crisp typo. You need to have tight outlines, a tiny brush and a lot of patience. I love doing this part, I can let my mind to wander.

Now the characters. I always keep the hard work for the end. I put flat layers of colors on each part before building with lights and shadows. I work with hi flow acrylics so it feels like ink. That’s why I put flat layers of color before.

Then 2 or 3 layers of acrylics varnish and tada! I did a painting! So this is mostly how I do my paintings. Next post I’ll try to share my process for the step before painting, how I make my sketch ready for a painting.

Where I come from

Before posting about art, I think I should start with the beginning, presenting myself and a bit of my experience.

Like most children, I enjoyed drawing and crafting with everything I get my hands on. My father told that all I wanted as gift is colored pencils. As I grew up, I was the one who draw in my bunch of friends, it became my identity and never stop. But I didn’t wanted to do art as a profession later, I imagined I’ll get bored of it eventually. I finally took a graphic design class at college. I liked the logical way to work of it but illustration was the only matter I was good. (This is where I felt in love with Illustrator and vectors. It wasn’t easy at first but I loved how illustration was very crisp and sharp. And the gradient was perfect.) I thought maybe I just need to study design more to feel confident so I went at university and did a degree in design. Of course I took every single illustration classes I could.


(some examples of what I did during those years)

I always had a cartoonish style and one of my teachers told me if I want to succeed, I have to let down this style and try something else. I was a shock to me, especially because I had to start over and create something different. It is very hard to stop drawing in a way to draw in another way. Where do you start? What direction you choose? Did I chose well? Should I doing this instead of that? All these questions going on and on forever. I let it go vector illustration and I tried a couple of things but nothing feels right. Unfortunately, it was at the end of my degree so I quickly had to say goodbye to my teacher and had to figure it out by myself. I entered in a limbo for at least a year and a half, producing a piece once in a while.


(works made during limbo episode, it’s not bad, it’s just not me.)

Someday I start to shaking off myself by making a plush. Long ago I did a vector character that I love and I decided to make him live! It feels so good when you are starting to create again! I made more plushes based on the first one and thought that I could start selling these. This is how I open my Etsy shop in late 2009 with the help of a friend. At this point, I say to myself, fuck it I’m doing my characters even if it’s too cartoonish for the market or whatever! I liked my teacher and I appreciated what she tried to tell me but sometime you have to follow your heart.


From the moment I chose and accepted my work, I did more plushes and I started to draw again, mostly in vectors. With years, I explored a lot of themes, introduced a lot of new characters and I especially refined my lines and my work. But these years wasn’t really quiet. I got a lot of questions and doubts in my head. I even let down vector art for good and started to paint in acrylics (one of my worst enemy before). Like I said, I’m a person who questioning everything every time. Now I feel that I finally found my body of work after all these years. I resumed the last part very briefly, I don’t want to flood you because I could talk about this way too long. Anyway I’ll go deeper on some dark periods when it feels appropriate.


I created this blog because I have a need to share, to talk about a lot of things surrounding the art life and because I feel this is the best way to do it.

For a long time, I was alone, trying to understand how to be an artist, living a lot of struggles and no one to talk about it or nobody to rely onto. I wished so hard there was somewhere a book with every answers waiting for me. I always ask myself why established artists didn’t talk about their struggles, how to recover from a turmoil of questions and doubts. I guess it’s more appealing to focus only on the best parts. And some artists seems to flow easily in this universe almost instinctively. I am not this kind of person. I am the type of person questioning everything every time, asking myself if what I am doing is relevant, pertinent and necessary. I was and am still overwhelmed by all the possibilities or directions, styles or subjects. This is kind of exhausting sometimes.

Now I want to create a place where I’ll share these moments with you, good or bad, with humility and sincerity. I don’t pretend that I have the responses to every question. I only can share my personal experience, how I overcame them or how I dealt with struggles. I don’t know, maybe it could help a poor soul to find some answers and bit of peace.