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.


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