Watercolor Magic: The Unpublished Prologue

Luis Llarina’s “Two Chicks”

It has been a few months since I have written volume one of Different Strokes. The book was actually launched in the GSIS Museum, and in spite of some clerical and technical errors, it was warmly embraced, not only by the artists who are included in the book, but also by art enthusiasts and patrons as well.


Writing a coffee table book was a very challenging task since it is hard to describe in just a few words the beauty and the essence of the works of the visual artists included in that volume.

There are times that I felt that my words are not powerful enough to be at par with the power of the paintings and sculptures that were featured in the pages of that book. And now, I am struggling to write Volume 2.


Unlike Volume 1, this volume of Different Strokes is solely dedicated to watercolor and it has tried to feature the works of the best, if not the greatest, watercolorists in the country.

I have opted to title this volume “Watercolor Magic: The Works of the Best Watercolor ‘Magicians’ of the Pearl of the Orient Seas” for two reasons:

First, watercolor is not as friendly as oil, acrylic, or pastel as a medium.

During the process, the artist will become a snake charmer, that through the music playing in the artist’s mind, heart, and soul, he will try to allure the colors to dance beautifully in canvas or in paper or whatever “container” that will hold the face, the place, or the scene that the watercolorist wants to draw.

An anonymous writer (or artist?) once said, “Watercolor is a swim in the metaphysics of life… a mirror of one’s own character. Let it be unpredictable and colorful.”

Just like the tides and the flow of the streams, watercolor is unpredictable, making it the most difficult medium to use in a painting.

In watercolor painting, there are no rooms for mistake; and even if you have committed a blunder, it should be “right”. It should be right in the sense that it would add up to the uniqueness of the painting.

The other reason for the title is, watercolor is teaching the painter the art and science of precision and exact calculation.

Popular Italian watercolorist, Adriana Buggino had exclaimed:

“Perhaps watercolour is more art than acrylics or oil, because the opportunity to correct errors is very limited as the colours are transparent… The sun, wind and temperature influences water-pigment-paper!! Everything flows, painting with watercolors!”

Through watercolor painting, the painter is transforming himself as an engineer and a mathematician of some sort since there’s an utmost need of precision and accuracy when doing an art piece.

Just like I have mentioned before, in watercolor, there are no rooms for mistakes and if you will make a mistake, make sure that it would be a very beautiful, very wonderful, and very awesome mistake.

In our world, God had made everything précised, accurate. As A.W. Tozer in his “And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings from the Gospel of John” said:

“All nature has come to expect from God a sense of orderliness. Whatever God does carries with it His fingerprint. And in the world around us His fingerprint of orderliness is evident to anybody who is honest with the facts. If you look at nature, you will discover a mathematical exactness. Without this precision, the entire world would be in utter confusion. One plus one always equals two no matter what part of the universe you happen to be in. And the laws of nature operate in beautiful harmony, a harmony that is ordered by God Himself.”

And this is watercolor painting is all about.

Moreover, watercolor painting will teach you not only about the science and art of being précised, but it will also teach you about self-discipline, which will eventually bring you to mastery of the medium.


While precision is needed in watercolor, the medium can also give some leeway to the artist on how he or she would render her subjects.

“There’s so much versatility in watercolour. You allow the paint to roll around, and then drop in some colour, just one that takes your fancy, and watch it explode into a shape that morphs into something else… lots of fun,” says the Canadian painter, Karen Phinney.

After the painstaking conception of the idea, and putting it into the canvas, paper, or whatever material that the painter chooses to be the “bed” of his or her ideas, seeing the work done does not only bring joy but also a deep satisfaction. It’s deep satisfaction in the sense that the artist had had in his hand the fruit of his sleepless nights and long hours staring at his blank canvas, and now it is ready to be shared to the world for the audience to appreciate, to savor, and to enjoy.


All I can say, this volume is not that different just like the last; although it has a character of its own.

It is not different for this is another attempt to write about creative men and women, young and young-at-heart and their beautiful, exhilarating, and life-changing works.

Note: The last words were not an exaggeration for I have experienced some changes whenever I look at the works in hand, and whenever I start writing about them. And all I can say, they are good changes.

Let me borrow the words from another watercolor magician, the great Joseph Rafaell as to end this essay:

“Watercolor is an alchemical medium – colors mixing with water, joining with it, being extended by it – creating new life where none had been before.”

And I know that when you see their works, you will feel the power of the modern alchemists known as watercolorists, and they are from the Republic of the Philippines, the Lupang Hinirang, the Perlas ng Silanganan…

Noel Sales Barcelona
Sct. Borromeo St., Brgy. South Triangle, Quezon City
8 February 2016

This is supposedly the introduction of the book that I have written about watercolorists in the Philippines. It has been replaced by a better introduction written by the highly-esteemed critic and artist, Cid Reyes.









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