Saturday, August 9, 2014

How Far to Go to School

The humid summer of August is about to end. And things are getting interesting lately!

Recently I joined a contest for a children's book illustration based on one of the three featured short stories. Luckily, I am one of the honorable mentions on the result of the contest.

It was painted on plywood using acrylic.

The works are relatively small (again) each panel is about 8 x 12 inches so that I could carry them easily and slid into an envelope. And also I am lately working and experimenting my work in a smaller painting as you can see in my previous works here and here.

For the sky I used almost pure Prussian blue. This is the first time I used such color since the brand that I want for Prussian Blue is a bit expensive, and I guess it came out very good! That expensive paint suddenly reminds me of the expensive Lapiz Lazuli or the Ultramarine color of oil painting.

The work was based on Genaro Rojo Cruz' short story entitled "Gaano Ba Kalayo Patungong Paaralan?" (How Far o Go to School?). Unfortunately I only had a Tagalog version of the text so let me summarize them to you.

He, the narrator, and his brother were off to bed early so that they can go to school early when he asked how far is the school. He asks if "when they reached the pleasant garden of Aling Perla" but the older brother simply said no its not there yet.

And so the elder brother unravels his everyday long journey to school, where he cross rivers, vast rice fields, and various places.  

But the reality is less fairy tale. I thought about the poor children in our far flung and nearly-isolated provinces who are travelling miles and miles on harsh landscapes and perilous rivers just to attend their daily school.

Photograph by John Weinstein

This poor folks, who are often neglected by our government, are really determine to go to school no matter how hard their travel. Sadly enough, most people I knew take for granted of going to school. You could read John Weinstein's article about the rural education in the Philippines here.

So, I partially dedicated this small pieces of work of mine to them.

Lampara Publishing House offered me to illustrate Genaro's story for them, and so I gladly accepted! But this project will start by mid-September because they offered me another project based on another story which I will talk about to you later. and here's a sneak peak on them.

And for the next work, I will not show this to you yet until the recipient receive them. Its a small painting I made many months ago as part of my experiment with my relatively new color; Prussian blue. Ever since college I am quite interested with this new and foreign acrylic color.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Ship Maiden

I can feel this year will be a creative one (hopefully) since I have wonderful and adventurous plans for it, and be able to create things that might help my emerging artistic career. As you know, after my graduation, I have been in this kind of "struggle" to meet end's meets rather than to pursue what my personal desire to be a full time illustrator.

Photo by Teters Enrique

Photo by Teters Enrique

So I'm on a corporate world, where the world are mountains of steel and concrete rather than woods and leaves, computer screen and office papers instead of panels and brushes and trend-indulged, mainstream-oriented people rather than souls who are outsiders, art-and-crafts lovers and handmade enthusiasts.

Photo by Teters Enrique

Photo by Teters Enrique

But things are getting went well because of The Bunny who share my interests in umber, medieval, arts and crafts. We see ourselves as a very tiny patch of brown wood with rustic metalwork on a concrete (even polluted perhaps) gray, monotonous landscape.

But we still manage to gradually built our dreams by comparing and exchanging works and words and talk about our future plans and sometimes daydreaming about them. Among this work was the painting I am talking about earlier. A woman with ocean blue hair oaring her house in a boat. This is a painting for her, a dedication to her role as a woman in our artistic life.

The panel is most likely scrap wood (though I still bought it), which is I often wanted to explore on how they can be productive under my hands and mostly I get used to since I mostly use scrap materials since my childhood.

It took me almost a month to finish this, especially the finishing touches where I still have to master glazing in acrylic and finer details. What's interesting about glazing is that it really creates some sort of depth and illusion to the painting, and so far I am happy with its results (and The Bunny too!)

I am still stuck with the wonders of Northern Renaissance paintings, particularly, of course, Jan Van Eyck. But that will probably change course a little bit for a while on my next personal project, which involves impossible perspectives inspired by Iassen Ghiuselev and M.C. Escher 's works. I am about to quest another children's book illustration contest that I might get a chance to have a published work.

Postscript: My college friend, Teters, took the cityscape pictures from our trip to the old and neglected buildings in Manila. I will post some of our pictures soon.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Nearly Year Ender Post

Before the advent of the new year, I just wanted to show you some of my works and some of our adventures for the past 12 months. First, I wanted to show to you a poem in Tagalog language (our native tongue) which I read last February for a painting.

 Sino Ako? 
 By Eugene Evasco

Ibang-iba ang ang aking "ako."
Ako'y ako-
panganay na anak,
kauna-unahang apo,
kaibig-ibig na pamangkin,
makulit na pinsan,
at sabi ni Ma'am,
"ikaw ang aking paborito!"
Minsan, ako'y ako--ang lider sa takbuha't taguan,
ang may-alaga ng mga pusang-ligaw,

ang kaibigan ng mga tutubi't tipaklong,
at ang batay ng aming tagong paraiso
doon sa likod-bahay.
Lagi, nahihilo ako
sa pagkakaroon ng maraming "ako."
Nais ko lamang maging akong-ako:
nasa lilim ng isang puno,
kalaro ang sari-saring libro,
kaibigan ang samu't saring kuwento.

And this is a paining based on Eugene Evasco's poem Sino Ako? (Who am I?). Done in acrylic on watercolor paper. Although it took me relatively shorter than my usual painting  in terms of executing, creating its composition took me a long time.
But first let me translate for you (as accurate as possible) the poem since I have no right to literally translate them word per word. It is about a unique boy who thinks who he really is. He thinks himself a a teacher's pet, the first (and favorite) grandson, care taker of cats and dogs, and many more. but he is still confused who he really is. But he realized he just wanted to read some books and explore the stories (which he considers his friend) he read under a tree. And that makes him himself.


As you know, I just can't figure it out automatically the placing of the characters, the smoothness of the narrative, and the type of style to please the people since it's my application for one of the honored art organization in the Philippines.

With the help of the Bunny's advise to use a 0.1 chinese brush and a 0.0 sable brush, I managed to detail the smaller figures such as the cats and the facial expressions of the people, which also consumed most of my execution.

And there you go! Another new painting after a very very long time of corporate work. More post to come this coming year!

You can also visit this painting in my Behance portfolio site here!


My lovely girl, The Bunny, went to their boss' house to decorate it for the Halloween. He is a well-known attorney in our country and his father used to travel around the world collecting curious things his eyes caught on. and their house is filled with antique and odd things! From Pre-colonial artifacts and artworks to vintage cars and masks from different cultures.

What the bunny struct most is this antique chair from the province of Leyte in the Philippines. and not just an old chair but supposedly a royal chair where probably the Sultans of old used to sit on it.

What I like about them is the armchairs. It depicts and old man and a lady holding something. In our educated guess, the statues were copied by a Filipino native from a Spanish colonial statues and adopt them in their own folk stories, which were relatively common during that time they called now as Folk Christianity. 

The lady on the left armchair was holding some kind of decorated veil. We think it was a copy from St. Veronica and her veil which reveals the miraculous face of Christ.

St. Veronica with her Holy Kerchief , attributed to Robert Campin

There is another chair beside it! What it seems to be its twin chair, probably made for the Sultan's wife or his heir we are not sure. What we do know is the figures are different from the other chair. It depicts two men. one is probably a native and the other one is a foreigner, as seen in his western clothing. But the "foreigner", although he wears western clothing, is still bare naked, suggesting that he might be also a native in foreign clothing, or a mestizo

But another piece that really caught our attention. A mask! A folk healing or medicine mask from Sri Lanka.

We have no idea how to wear this mask, or how heavy it is due to its richly ornate wood carving. but probably it is made of light wood so that the wearer could easily carry it on his or her head. I saw a website that might help to bring more light about this piece since I am also intrigued by it.

But sadly, the younger generations didn't care about this precious things. they probably don't know the historical and cultural importance. The Bunny saw some of this priceless pieces as towel holders, that they used to hold the towels from their swimming pool.

We also had time to walk to our lovely school again, where the sun is bright and the December wind passes through the trees.

And lastly, a sneak peak of  a personal painting, done in acrylic on wood. I will show it to you next year tell you a story about it. Happy Christmas and a prosperous new year everyone!