Introducing Jansen Chow, Watercolor Artist

We are delighted to introduce DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Artist, Jansen Chow! Jansen will take us step-by-step through his process for making a watercolor portrait. All Daniel Smith Watercolors, Sets, and Grounds are on sale for 40% off during the month of March – so now is the perfect time to test out some colors, treat yourself to that set you’ve been eyeing, and/or experiment with new techniques!

To demonstrate the DANIEL SMITH watercolor paints and my appreciation and understanding of their characteristics, I have used my favourite 18 colors from the DANIEL SMITH Watercolour collection [see Jansen’s Dot Card colors and list further below] to complete this painting. The title of this artwork is “Tinkus dancer at the Oruro Carnival”. This painting was completed to participate in an International Exhibition organized by the Bolivia Watercolor Society. I chose a colour theme that can represent the National colors of Bolivia.

Jansen Chow’s DANIEL SMITH Artist Dot Card with Watercolor tubes with “Tinkus Dancer at the Oruro Canival” painting

Today, I will share my creative process of how I created this painting in 6 simple steps:

Step 1. Drawing or sketch for Tinkus Dancer at the Oruro Carnival

Step 1 : Drawing / Sketching

I have a lot of ways to start my paintings. Sometimes I like to use a pencil to sketch out the details, other times I start with just a general pencil sketch, and occasionally I paint directly with a brush. I wanted this painting to appear more realistic, so I drew the face very carefully with pencil, but only a few strokes for the background as I wanted it to have a more carefree simple background.  

Step 2. Mixing the colors directly on the paper for Tinkus Dancer at the Oruro Carnival

Step 2: Mixing the colors directly on the paper

I personally do not like to mix the colors too much on the color palette but prefer to mix the colors directly on the paper.  I first freely applied the DANIEL SMITH paint from my palette directly on the paper to add color to the face of the character and the hat with the colorful feathers, with a combination of thick and thin colour application. 

Step 3. Completing the main subject for Tinkus Dancer at the Oruro Carnival

Step 3: Completing the main subject 

My usual technique is to leave the highlights of the main subject white, to capture the reflecting light rays. I then slowly painted the important portions of the main subject and applied more details to about 80% of completion of my artwork.  Often artists will focus on completing the main subject to about 100%, but for me, I usually focus on completing it up to 70-80% of the whole artwork, so that there is room to add in more colors and strokes as the overall work is nearing 100% completion.

Step 4. Application of the background for Tinkus Dancer at the Oruro Carnival

Step 4: Application of the background

I used a single color, Payne’s Gray, to color the background in an easy and free way with the brush and water spray technique. The grey background contrasts sharply with the main subjects’ vibrant and fresh colors! During this process, I pay attention to the space treatment and try to complete the background in an interesting manner during the application of colors by keeping some white spaces.

Step 5. Gradients of the background for Tinkus Dancer at the Oruro Carnival

Step 5: Gradients of the background

I gradually added my favorite 18 colors both carefully and freely through lighter brush strokes. The usage of brushes at this stage is very important! You must use a softer brushstroke with the right pressure and direction to show greater space contrast between the background and the main subject.

Step 6. “Tinkus Dancer at the Oruro Carnival” by Jansen Chow.

Step 6: The Finish 

In addition to the strong light illuminating the part of the main body through the white space left earlier, I used watercolor brushes of different sizes and design to apply all the colors on my palette with different strokes, from treating the light to dark areas, to applying bright to dark colors for the details and background of the main subject. Upon completion, you will see that this piece has a strong sense of music surrounding the main subject, because of the colors chosen and the brush strokes applied. The overall feeling of this painting is warm and happy! This really achieves the emotion that I want to express through this painting – that the world is beautiful!

I am very honored and happy to be able to share with you the creative process of my work. I hope you liked it. Thank you!

–Jansen Chow
Jansen Chow in front of his watercolor painting of Machu Picchu

I have always liked painting this beautiful and colorful world with rich texture and colors, and DANIEL SMITH paints make it very easy for me to achieve that effect in my artwork. For me, DANIEL SMITH Watercolors are beautifully made, colorful and offer lots of choices. Most importantly, unlike other brands of paint, the richness and vibrancy of the colours assist me in capturing the beauty I see in this world and express that in my paintings. 

My 18 Favourite DANIEL SMITH Watercolors on my Dot Card and used in this step by step article

Lemon Yellow

Indian Yellow

Cadmium Yellow Deep Hue

Permanent Red Deep

Alizarin Crimson

Permanent Orange

Cerulean Blue

Ultramarine Blue


Permanent Green

Cobalt Teal Blue

Cobalt Violet Deep

Cobalt Violet

Payne’s Gray

Indian Red

Yellow Ochre

Opera Pink


Jansen Chow is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society (AWS) and National Watercolor Society (NWS).  He won an art scholarship and studied in The Art Students League of New York, New York from 1994-1996, and he was a student of Mario Cooper, a great American Watercolor Master.  Jansen has held 18 solo art exhibitions and took part in more than 350 National and International watercolor exhibitions since 1992. He has won more than 60 National and International awards in watercolor, oil, etching and photography since 1988, including receiving 1st place 9 times in watercolor competitions in USA, Canada, Turkey and Malaysia. Recently he was the IWS Malaysia Country Head, FabrianoInAcqurello Malaysia Country Leader, and the curator of “1st Malaysia International Watercolor Biennale 2018”. 

Jansen Chow lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Top 10 Art Exhibits To See in 2019?

For art lovers, 2019 promises a dazzling array of museum exhibitions, truly an embarrassment of riches. From London to Los Angeles and everywhere in-between and beyond, there are a lot of shows to look forward to. If we could use someone else’s air miles to jet to these cities, here are some of the shows we’d like to see:

Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice at the National Gallery of Art

Jacopo Tintoretto, The Madonna of the Treasurers, 1567.
Courtesy of the Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

March 10  July 7
Jacopo Tintoretto has never had a retrospective in North America. As if to make up for that, this show involves almost 50 paintings plus a dozen drawings that have never been seen before in the U.S. Hopefully the show will prove worthy of this master painter. We’re hearing this show might be postponed because of the Trump shutdown, furloughed employees had to work without pay to take down the previous show.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Oscar Rejlander: Artist Photographer at the Getty Center

Oscar Gustave Rejlander,The Participles or Grammar for Little Boys: Caught, 1857.
Courtesy of The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

March 12 – June 9
This exhibition of 150 works from Swedish born, U.K.-based Oscar Rejlander (1813- 1875) include his masterpiece, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), which he created by exposing 30 negatives then collaging them together to print a single picture. Rejlander helped change the perception of photographers, elevating them from mere camera operators to that of artists.
J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA

Early Rubens at the Legion of Honor Museum

Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Daniel in the Lions’ Den, c. 1614/1616.
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

April 6  Sept. 8
Peter Paul Rubens was a superstar almost right out of the gate. By his early 30s he’d already racked up patrons from the European aristocracy, and created a body of work that would solidify his place in the art world. This Legion of Honor Museum show has more than 30 paintings and 20 works on paper, including some of Rubens’ notable large-scale, life-size paintings, on loan from institutions across Europe and the U.S.
The Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA

Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern at the Museum of Modern Art

Walker Evans’ portrait of Lincoln Kirstein, c. 1931.
 2018 Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

March 17 – June 30
Most people have never heard of Lincoln Kirstein, curator, collector, and writer. Though this show, perhaps you can know Kirstein through his friends – this show has works from Walker Evans, paintings by Pavel Tchelitchew, costume designs by Paul Cadmus for ballets he commissioned, and Latin American art that Kirstein acquired for MoMA, including works by Antonio Berni and Raquel Forner. Fun fact: Kirstein co-founded the New York City Ballet and was one of the “monuments men” who went into Europe to save Nazi-confiscated art.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

Garry Winogrand: Color at the Brooklyn Museum

Garry Winogrand, Untitled (New York), 1960.
 The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

May 3  Aug. 18
Winogrand (1928–1984) is famous for his black and white snapshots of midcentury New York, but his color photography of the same subjects—commuters, teens, high society, and everything in-between—is more obscure. The Brooklyn Museum is putting on the first ever dedicated exhibition of Winogrand’s color photography, which hasn’t been exhibited significantly since 1967, with more than 450 images displayed as slide projections. 
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Venice Biennale’s 58th International Art Exhibition

The German pavilion seen at the Biennale in Venice, Italy, 06 May 2015. 
Photographer: Picture Alliance

May 11 – Nov. 24
Ah, the Biennale. Where every two years much of the art world congregates for what’s been called a World’s Fair for the art scene. In the city’s formal gardens, countries fill their pavilions with contemporary art in a showy display of national prestige. So which way is the Freedonia pavilion?
The Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy

Manet and Modern Beauty at the Art Institute of Chicago

Édouard Manet, Woman Reading,  1879- 1880.
Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection

May 26 – Sept. 8
First, we love the Art Institute. Second, Edouard Manet is probably the greatest portraitist of the 19th century (don’t @ me). The Art Institute is putting on a show of his works, with 54 paintings and 90 works in total, drawn in part from its permanent collection. The art will be supplemented with letters Manet sent to friends, which he illustrated with pictures of fruit and flowers. Third, we love any excuse to visit and eat our way through Chicago.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Nam June Paik: The Future is Now at the Tate Modern

Nam June Paik ​​​​​​,​TV Garden, 1974-7 (2002) 
 Estate of Nam June Paik

Oct. 17 – February 9, 2020
An exhibition devoted to video art might not have the popular appeal of, say, a Michelangelo blockbuster, but Nam June Paik, the so-called father of the medium, knew how to put on a show. His art isn’t just videos on screens. It’s often sculptures—weird, confusing, occasionally very large sculptures, including a room-sized installation—in which videos and televisions feature heavily. Much of Paik’s art is half a century old, but visitors will discover that almost all of it feels surprisingly current.
The Tate Modern, London, UK

What did we miss? What exhibitions are you looking forward to seeing in 2019?