Project 52: Weeks 12 to 16

Frailty. March started off with me helping a good friend fulfill her new year’s resolution — to lose weight. So the theme of the first half of the month pretty much revolved around goading her into eating right and getting plenty of exercise. While my drawing has nothing to do with getting fit, it does depict a very thin and fragile woman. The idea stemmed from my numerous conversations with my friend regarding body weight perceptions as she went on a diet that required her to cut down on carbs and restricted her meat consumption to just chicken and fish — an incredibly difficult feat because we LOVE food. I guess I now have a whole new-found respect for people who strictly adhere to a certain diet and really commit to it. I originally named this “Anorexia” but decided to settle for “Frailty” instead, since the latter is more apt.

Week 12: Frailty

Week 12: Frailty

Moon Worship. I have always paid attention to the moon’s waxing and waning, and the particular full moon on the week of March 29 got me to draw this. I was driving home from grabbing a quick coffee when I noticed the huge moon tinged with a faint orange. While continuing to work on a painting that same night, I decided to watch “Practical Magic” for the umpteenth time, which happens to be my all-time favorite romcom. Sally Owen’s romaticizing the moon in her letter to her sister Gillian combined with the beautiful image of the moon I saw prompted me to come up with this.

“Sometimes I feel like there’s a hole inside of me, an emptiness that at times seems to burn. I think if you lifted my heart to your ear, you could probably hear the ocean. The moon tonight, there’s a circle around it. Sign of trouble not far behind. I have this dream of being whole. Of not going to sleep each night, wanting. But still sometimes, when the wind is warm or the crickets sing, I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for. I just want someone to love me. I want to be seen. I don’t know. Maybe I had my happiness. I don’t want to believe it but, there is no man, Gilly. Only that moon.”

The result: Three Wiccans under a full moon. Cue in Toploader’s “Dancing in the Moonlight.”

Week 13: Moon Worship

Week 13: Moon Worship

Wallflower. The week I drew this, I was craving for a Hainanese chicken fix at Wee Nam Kee. And this was inspired by a wallpaper in that said restaurant. Craving satisfied, weekly drawing assignment accomplished.

Week 14: Wallflower

Week 14: Wallflower

Leona and Castora. This was a requested drawing by my friend Emiliana Kampilan, the artist behind the web comic Dead Balagtas. If you haven’t heard of it, I urge you to check it out. It has been listed in Spot.ph’s 5 New Komiks Artists Worth Following with its retelling of events in Philippine history backed with insight and intelligent humor. Anyway, Emiliana asked me to draw her favorite heroine, Leona Florentino, in time for the latter’s natal day last April 19.

A brief background: Leona Florentino is the Mother of Filipino Female Literature and (essentially) Feminism. A statue of hers sits proudly at the center of the historic town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur, her hometown.

“Her poems, which are widely quoted, were characterized by their originality of thought and elegance of expression on topics such as the glory of Filipino womanhood, and the romanticism of her nation.

According to her biography: ‘Passages from her works were quoted profusely in the theaters, in daily conversation and by suitors seeking the favors of their fair ladies.’

It was the same poems she dedicated to her fellow Ilocanos that were exhibited in the Exposicion General de Filipinas in Madrid in 1887 and in the International Exposicion in Paris in 1889. It won fame for the Philippines and her works were included in the Encyclopedia Internationale des Oeuvres des Femmes (International Encyclopedia of Women’s Works) in 1889.” Read more here.

Castora, on the other hand, is Leona’s wine seller and muse. Most of the latter’s love poems were dedicated to her. So in celebration of the Ilocana heroine’s birthday, I decided to draw her in a gentle moment with her unattainable Castora.

Week 15: Leona and Castora

Week 15: Leona and Castora

Sierva Maria. In honor of one of my favorite authors, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Drawn a couple of days after his death, this is based on his book “Of Love and Other Demons,” which, aside from being my favorite next to “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” has a wonderful cover art I consider one of the most beautiful ones I’ve seen. The cover features the protagonist Sierva Maria holding a bunch of white flowers almost entangled in her cascading copper locks, arms covered with beaded bracelets.

Week 16: Sierva Maria

Week 16: Sierva Maria

“When I stand and contemplate my fate and see the path along which you have led me, I reach my end, for artless I surrendered to one who is my undoing and my end.” — Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Of Love and Other Demons

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Project 52: Weeks 7 to 11

In an effort to not make my blog too saturated with Project 52-related entries, I’ve decided to post them in digest form. This endeavour started out as a way for me to put down ideas for possible future paintings on paper. But aside from being a creative exercise, this project has evolved lately into something reflective of what transpired in a week — sort of a visual diary, so to speak. But that doesn’t apply to all drawings of course, and I can’t be expected to specifically point out which ones visually encapsulate events that made such an impression on me or just sudden realizations and thoughts that struck me enough to make me want to draw about them. When a special occasion falls on a certain week, say for example Women’s Day, then my drawing would be something timely for it. So without further ado, here are five weeks’ worth of drawings, which I only found time to scan and add dashes of color to just now. This is the first of two parts. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Butterflies in my Stomach. Drawn for Valentine’s Day. You know what they say in life, love, and everything else – “No guts, no glory.” Literally.

Week 7: Butterflies in my Stomach

Week 7: Butterflies in my Stomach

Strength. It’s when they have crushed and burned every last inch of you that you discover how strong you truly are.

Week 8: Strength

Week 8: Strength

Chasing My Own Shadows (while I’m running away from them). I was listening to Matilda, my favorite all-female local band, when I thought of drawing this. This was inspired by a track from their 2003 EP called “I n Me,” a powerful song that has always spoken to me. Put your headphones on, play it at full blast, and do check out the lyrics. A side note: I had to incorporate a couple of Wayang Kulit in there since I was talking about shadows.

“Oh this is endless perplexity
Unless I understand me
Unless I forgive me
Unless I see, hear, feel, touch, heal
Unless I claim me”

Week 9: Chasing My Own Shadows (while I'm running away from them)

Week 9: Chasing My Own Shadows (while I’m running away from them)

Exit Wounds. Sometimes our best products are born out of our darkest moments. A drawing for International Women’s Day.

Week 11: Exit Wounds

Week 11: Exit Wounds

Sea Witch. I recently found my collection of children’s books while spring cleaning, and was reminded of how beautiful the illustrations are on the Ladybird Well Loved Tales series. “The Little Mermaid” was my favorite. Thanks to a friend (because I couldn’t find it in the book’s insert and I’m bad at Googling information), I learned that the artist was Brian Price Thomas. I must note that the Ladybird classics stand out for their appealing, non-saccharine, almost realistic but still whimsical illustrations. So yes, mermaids — can’t get enough of them. And this is my version of the sea witch, seated on her throne with an anglerfish for a companion just to show how deep within the ocean she resides.

Week 11: Sea Witch

Week 11: Sea Witch

Dabbling in Cooking and Bento Making

There are four items in my bucket list I’ve been meaning to tick off since last year, but only had the opportunity and energy to really do this first quarter of 2014:
1. Ride a big bike.
2. Surf.
3. Learn how to swim.
4. Cook and make bento.

These are arranged in ascending level of difficulty. And with item #1 almost out of the way (I’ve been practicing on a regular one; not a big bike just yet), you’d think I had moved on to either items 2 or 3, but no. I once believed that cooking was a skill that was next to impossible for me to learn. I was an exemption to Auguste Gusteau’s motto, “Anyone can cook” — yes, that chef from Pixar’s “Ratatouille.” Coming from an all-girls school where we were taught to be domesticated in Home Economics (a subject in which I sucketh muchly), cooking was my Waterloo. I switched roles with whoever was assigned as the dishwasher whenever it was my turn to cook, which they would readily agree to. The one time I was asked to do a cooking demo in front of the class, a sort of a practical quiz because I was never seen cooking, I wore pot holders on both hands and wielded the frying pan lid like a shield, and the spatula like a sword; I was just frying bacon.

Fast-forward to present day. Thanks to a growing penchant for bento box aesthetics, I mustered enough courage to actually try to — wait for it — make scrambled eggs just to get things started. Believe me, that was the first edible thing I made, not counting the panda cake I helped my friend design. After that, I leveled up my meager cooking skills by making my first bento — a Rilakumma Omurice.Β  The use of ketchup rice was limited only to Rilakumma’s body parts. It has a ham and cheese omelette for a pillow, and garnished with flower sausages, carrots cut into flowers and butterflies, and broccoli. I was able to find a bunny-shaped nori punch in Daiso which I generously used to design the scrambled egg blanket.
kpallon_rilakumabento

Before I proceed, note that I’m not about to list my ingredients and step-by-step procedures as these can be found online. You just need to make a few adjustments on the recipe to suit your taste buds. For instance, I discovered I like adding more sake and/or mirin to meat courses I’ve been cooking lately.

Next up was a Doraemon bento. I particularly got the recipe for this one from Ochikeron and followed it down to a tee, substituting the meat dish that came with it to simmered chicken in grated potato topped with shiraga negi. Yes, it wasn’t enough that I just learned how to steam and fry eggs and pieces of meat to include in my bento box creations — I needed to learn how to REALLY cook. Side dishes include baked beans, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and butterfly-shaped carrot slices. I also made tamagoyaki for this one just for Doraemon’s bell. As a side note in making tamagoyaki, you may use a mixture of sugar and soy sauce in place of Shiro Dashi.
kpallon_doraemon

The latest I made was a Hello Kitty bento consisting of apples made of red peppers stuffed with ground beef and onions, cores made of cheese with nori sheet for seeds; strawberries made of fish sausage, black sesame seeds, and edamame; and a flower sausage. This came with a matching bento box with two salmon onigiri, tamagoyaki and sausage flowers, a couple of the aforementioned strawberries, and an extra stuffed red pepper.
kpallon_bentoset kpallon_hellokitty kpallon_onigiri

But it wasn’t just bento I made within the first four months of this year. Sometime in February, I made Pho Hai San (Vietnamese seafood pho) with lots of basil and a sprinkling of lemon. A week before I made the Hello Kitty bento, I decided to try cooking okonomiyaki. I was lucky enough to find nagaimo at nearby New Hatchin, one of my go-to Japanese grocery stores along with Yamazaki in Little Tokyo. Slathered in homemade sauce (no okono sauce was in stock at that time), it has a layer of strips of bacon on top, and is sprinkled with aonori and katsuobushi.
kpallon_seafoodpho kpallon_okonomiyaki

So there, achievement unlocked! I’ve been cooking whenever I feel like it during painting breaks these days or when I’m not training, which is a huge and rewarding accomplishment for me. As for surfing and swimming, we’ll see about that on June. But for now, I’m taking my bento making seriously.

Addendum: I’ve been asked a lot of times where I get my bento boxes. The answer — Daiso. They have bento boxes in all shapes and sizes for just Php 80. It’s also where I bought my veggie cutters and tamago non-stick skillet. If you’re lucky, you might find oddly-shaped nori punchers and onigiri molds in there as well (although I would encourage getting creative in shaping rice balls yourself).