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Experiments: Building up with light and color

The other day I posted in the Kidlit Artists Blog about building up with light and color.
I thought I’d share the post here as well, hope you enjoy! You can also see the original post here
Many artists start creating their pieces building up from light to dark. It can be a great way to gain depth and go step by step into the details, but in this post I want to talk about the opposite practice: building up with light and color. 
In some ways this method can be similar to a few printmaking techniques, where the artist creates the white areas from within a black canvas.
Playing with acrylics and positive/negative
One of my favorite children’s book artists is the Italian Simona Mulazzani, illustrator of picture books such as “I wish I had…” and “The Big Book of Slumber”.
She starts with a black background; slowly blocking shapes from black to light. Thanks to this black contrast her compositions are also full of vivid rich colors which enhance the beautiful fantasy in her images.
Page from Mulazzani’s article “The Creation of an Illustrated Book” in “Le Immagini della Fantasia” Catalogue 2008, Sarmede, Italy
There are many other fun ways of creating pieces with lighter tones, such as using darker tones on top of an already dry surface with bright and colorful tones and drawing its surface with a dry (and often pointy) object while it’s still wet. 
If you’re using a surface harder than paper (such as wood) you can always use a knife for that.
Details from some paintings for the show “Animaginary Landscapes” at Tr!ckster Gallery, Berkeley, 2015
Playing with scratchboards and positive/negative
One of my favorite techniques for playing with the brighter tones is to create your own scratchboard. This process emulates printmaking without having to use a press.
Some amazing illustrators that use scratchboards are Remi Saillard (who taught me the beauty and fun of scratchboards), Beth KrommesThomas Ott,  and evenShaun Tan in “Tales from Outer Suburbia”
Illustration from “O Corbeau” by Marcus Malte, illustrated by Remi Saillard, Syros 2010
Illustration by Remi Saillard
Illustration from “Cinema Panopticum” by Thomas Ott, Edition Moderne, 2005
“The House in the Night” by Susan Marie Swanson illustrated by Beth Krommes (2009 Randolph Caldecott Medal), Houghton Mifflin, 2008
Illustration from “Tales from Outer Suburbia” by Shaun Tan, Arthur A.Levine Books, 2009
Scratchboards can be bought, although I would recommend making them by hand. That way you can play and experiment with different colors and ideas.
Not too long ago I experimented with the following process:
1. I projected the final sketches in illustration boards
2. Then I painted with very liquid acrylic paints, creating liquid textures using colors of choice
3. I filled all the surface with oil pastels or crayons of the according color
4. After that I covered the greasy surface with Indian ink or airbrush ink
5. and once it was wet, I scratched it off with a good knife (Olfa is the best, it feels like butter).

Illustrations and process for the pieces in “Case” written by Chiara Di Palma, Il Gioco Di Leggere Edizioni, 2012

You can also check out Beth Krommes’ process for scratchboard hereLately I’ve been experimenting with watercolors and inks in the scratchboards. It’s lots of fun! My process is very similar to what I previously described, but it feels more spontaneous:
1. First use a cold press board/cold press stretched paper, draw the general lines of the piece
2. Then go crazy creating washes with watercolor and inks (Dr. Ph. Martin’s, Winsor and Newton, Ecoline)
3. Cover all the part you want to scratch with a white crayon (I like using the Caran d’Ache crayon, but any greasy crayon will do)

4. Paint the dark shapes with Indian ink or airbrush ink, playing with positive and negative.
5. Scratch the parts where you want to have some details, patterns, etc.
When you’re not planning exactly which color will be, some unexpected and fun surprises come in the way!
Illustration for Mandalah Mexico

To me is more natural to create dark shapes and build up with light, since I love to have bright and vivid colors in my illustrations. What do you enjoy the most? Dark on light or light on dark? How do you have fun with light and color?
I hope this little post gives you some ideas on how to create, play and overall, to have fun!
Thanks for stopping by!

“Art of the Costume” Show – Italian Cultural Institute

I am very happy to find out today that I have some pieces at the show “Art of the Costume” at the Italian Cultural Institute, with some really amazing artists, come check it out!
The show will be up until January 9.

The show includes beautiful art from some amazing artists such as Lisa BerretWilliam MaughanGeorge Cwirko-Godycki, Thomas GronbuktSarah Barrie Fenton, Loy Bouttamy and Farid Hussein



Alternative Press Expo & Calavera Sketchbooks

This year I had the great pleasure to have a table at the Alternative Press Expo (APE)
in San Francisco with the awesome illustrators Jean Kim and Rebecca M. Huang !

Thank you so much to everyone who came to see us, as well as Jean and Rebecca, it was an amazing experience!

Here is a picture of some of the things I had on the table, lately I’ve been drawing lots of calaveras!


If you are interested in buying a calavera sketchbook, please contact me at


Thanks for stopping by!


SCBWI LA Conference!

I’ve been wanting to share this post for a long time! This past August I went to my first SCBWI LA Conference.
It was amazing! I left in awe of everything that I experienced, greatly inspired and grateful for the generosity of all of the talented people that I met.

I also had the honor of being awarded the Mentorship Award for my portfolio along with 5 other brilliant artists Jeslyn Kate CantrellSuzanne KaufmanKathryn Ault NobleDorothia Rohner  and Robin Rosenthal !!
The amazing artists from KidLitArtists also interviewed each of us, welcoming us to the blog. Check out my interview here!

Check out the other mentee’s work in the blog, they have really inspiring artworks!


Thanks for stopping by!


Puentek Project @ NASA

The illustrator Daniel Walker invited the talented Hsiao-Chi “Alice”Yu DaiJavier Avendaño and me to paint a school bus that he designed for Puentek’s itinerant techonology education project “Don’t teach, let them discover” at Singularity University, NASA, Montain View.






 It was an amazing experience to meet people who want to make the world a better place. Check out Puentek’s website for more info!
Also check out Daniel Walker’s website and enjoy his amazing art here!
Huge thanks to Daniel and the Puentek team for this experience!

You can also see this video the Puentek team put together of the whole project, including the painting of the bus.



Here are some drawings I did during a brainstorming session.

Thanks for stopping by

Expo avec Joe Rage! Galerie 59 Rivoli, Paris

Pour les amis qui sont à Paris venez voir l’expo des collectifs Joe Rage et The Outsider
qui aura lieu du 17 au 22 décembre à la Galerie 59 Rivoli !
J’aurais quelques affiches exposées avec des artistes très talentueux !

For the friends who are in Paris come visit the exhibition from the collectives Joe Rage and The Outsider
from December 17 until 22nd in the Galerie 59 Rivoli! 
I will be showing some prints with very talented artists!


Vous pouvez trouver aussi quelques affiches comme celui-ci !

You can find some of these prints too! 


Thanks for stopping by!