Oh Despicable June!

June was, in a positive light, challenging to say the least. Right, challenging would be a good way to put it. Being a type of person who lives in the present, I did savor every bit of the obstacles it hurled at me. Couldn’t have gone through it and survived the whole shebang in one piece without my friends and cousins.

Truthfully, it was a very unproductive month – the worst of its kind. It completely and mercilessly sucked out all of my creativity, which is a rare occurrence if you know me personally. I’ll be honest. I had to put on hold my 365 Women Project for the whole month, save for one exceptionally fine evening. Drawing felt like the most natural thing to do as I sat in a coffee shop, killing time on that evening of June 3rd – the calm before the storm. Call it an “epiphanic piece” because it really is that.

Day 149. Pouring My Heart Out. Drawn on a night of a Full Moon in Sagittarius.

They say full moons mark either the culmination or the beginning of things. That particular night of a Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius was a day for trusting instincts, taking leaps of faith, setting goals straight, breaking through barriers and limitations, and listening to the Universe. And THOSE were exactly what I did, and so much more! I can not even begin to explain the lengths I have gone to without a second of hesitation in the days and weeks that followed. Then again, some experiences are worth having, but not worth repeating. Let’s not get into the details.

June wasn’t all that bad. We, successfully, launched our four-women show towards the end of the month at Secret Fresh. A week later, a wonderful article was written about it by Ms. Elizabeth Lolarga, which came out on the Lifestyle section of The Philippine Daily Inquirer last July 1. (Read the article here.)

For the said exhibit, I tried my hand at designing a munny. It was the last piece I crammed for the show. But since I am used to designing masks, the whole thing took me about 2 hours to complete. It was such a fun experience that I’m sure this will not be the last time I designed one. While it is open for interpretation, one could say that this is my literal take on the Tagalog idiom “naiputan sa ulo.” Anyway, I have a lot of concepts in mind for munny designs. I just need to be able to find time to execute them in the coming months.

My first munny. I named her Vanessa.

In hindsight, I do so believe that June brought out the best in me despite being a horribly tough month. If there are some things it has left me with, those would be enduring lessons, tons of inspiration, and an EPIC story to tell.

So this July, I’m back with a vengeance! On the second day of the month, I got to tick one item off my bucket list, which is to learn Muay Thai. I’ve resumed working on my 365 Women Project and I’m doubling the effort for slacking off for the past month. Aside from that, I’ve started a new painting series – the darkest I’ve conceptualized so far. If that’s not snapping back into action, I don’t know what else is.

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Yet Another Ode to Alice

Down the Rabbit Hole
91.4cm x 121.9cm
Oil on canvas

This may not be my first work with Lewis Carroll’s Alice featured in it, but this is definitely my first oil on canvas painting after so long. Like any other kid, my first coloring material was an 8-piece box of crayons, which got upgraded to 16, then 32, then 48, then 64 – my getting the latter was one of my happiest childhood memories. It wasn’t until 4th grade that I had my first try at painting with oil on canvas for a summer art workshop sponsored by Nido; I was one of the representatives from our school.

I remember sitting quietly in one shaded corner in Fort Santiago (Intramuros, Manila) trying my best to copy one of the fort’s surviving brick walls with vines cascading from it. I, honestly, didn’t like the experience – I couldn’t quite achieve the consistency and textures I wanted, it was messy, and I had difficulty washing off the paint from my brushes. And that was my first and last foray into oil painting, until late last year.

Fast forward to 2011, after 4 years of producing watercolor paintings after college, I decided to finally heed an artist friend’s advice and start creating large works using oil. Down the Rabbit Hole was an experimental piece. I had no formal training in the medium, so I had to read through tutorials and watch videos on how to properly use it. The summer workshop I had 15 years back doesn’t count as I forgot most of, if not all, the basics that I was taught. It was quite frustrating at first especially when it came to rendering  the skin and hair, but it was through it that I developed a new found love for oil paint.

Entitled after the first chapter of Lewis Caroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the painting depicts the title character wearing a blue floral dress, fashionably falling into what seemed to her at first as an endless tunnel. Being a sucker for patterns, I just had to make the background match her dress so that she somehow blends into it.

Consequently, the phrase “to go down the rabbit hole” means to jump into a bizarre situation without considering first what you are doing. In a metaphorical sense, it is to “embark on an adventure of the unknown, or into an area of confusion or chaos.” Quite a fitting title for my first oil painting, wouldn’t you agree? The whole experience wasn’t anything near chaotic for me though, so I guess “messy” would be a more apt adjective for it. I found myself working on one painting to the next with me favoring the medium more than watercolor. If anything, this is one “adventure” I am relishing. And yes, I like my Alice better as a brunette.

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.