Pen and Inks to Kick-Start 2013

The first exhibit I joined this year was a group show called A Third Helping of Instant Doodles. It was a huge exhibition held at My Little Art Place in San Juan, Manila participated in by as many as 50 artists spearheaded by Piaget Martelino. Considering I’ve been preparing for another solo painting exhibit on April, working on my pieces for this show was a big break from using brushes and tubes of oil paint since last year as I opted to go with pen and ink, my secondary weapon of choice.


10.5 inches x 10.5 inches
Pen & ink on paper

Meet Me In Hoi An

Meet Me In Hoi An
10.5 inches x 10.5 inches
Pen & ink on paper

Consider them teasers of some sort for the April exhibit – ao dais, lanterns, overlapping patterns. My imagery is constantly changing; I’d hate to see stagnancy in my works. And yes, I’m still pretty much brimming with inspiration from my trips to Laos and Vietnam late last year. With that said, hints of Lao aesthetic are also to be expected. I think I’ve collected enough photographs of textile patterns and decorative art in temples from my short stay in Luang Prabang to serve as references.

I remember a short conversation on Facebook with my oracle extraordinaire friend Abbee. She had shared “Blossoming” on her Wall having found it freakishly resonating. Asked what is her interpretation of it, her answer was, “Getting in touch with your Divine/Sacred Feminine.” While that wasn’t the concept I had in mind when I drew it, it occurred to me that it rung true for me to a large extent. Note the use of past participle.

That’s what I love about not spoonfeeding my audience with information regarding my works. I have always found it interesting to hear people’s take on my paintings, especially the ones that they could actually relate to. That room for interpretation that could even lead to self-discoveries is priceless.

The illustration features a girl disrobing to reveal a single flower blooming from her chest that has been cut open. She is in a trance; you could say in a state of feverish ecstasy. To say the least, “Blossoming” is about new beginnings, of overwhelming positive changes, of spontaneous and necessary transformations. Something is growing.

Meanwhile, “Meet Me in Hoi An” is my mini tribute piece to a place I fell in love with last December. It is a quaint heritage town in the Quang Nam province of Vietnam filled with lanterns, and architecture that is a mix of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese. I could go about describing what I love about it in this entry, but I’m saving that for a travel post solely dedicated to that town.

Surrounded by cranes representing auspiciousness, a girl wearing a nón lá (conical hat) stands waiting quite impatiently. Lanterns hang on branches of magnolias and apple blossoms at the background. Is it related to “Blossoming?” The answer is yes.



Santa Muerte: Baring My Soul
121.9 cm x 121.9 cm
Oil on canvas

I had my second solo painting exhibition last December 1-16, 2012 at JIV Manila Art Gallery. The concept was not what I originally planned after my first one back in 2008, but I’d say it was a timely one after almost 4 years of dabbling and participating in group shows. While my former series of paintings were a mix of my own stories, of friends’, and those taken from fairytales and folklore, the pieces I mounted for this show were very personal – inspirations and thoughts distilled, filtered, and controlled just the way I like it. Ultimately, the process of creating the exhibit pieces was a catharsis of some sort. And yes, the show was aptly entitled “Resurgence.”

Human experiences often overwhelm us like the night obscuring the light of the soul. In the exhibit of Katrina Pallon, women posed in equanimity are set against stark colors of flora. Ephemeral emotions shine through the backdrop of flowers that frame women’s bodies and gazes that display mostly nonchalance, perhaps referencing how the artist had dealt with life during her trying times.

Katrina Pallon’s dream-like images draw from the melancholy of the past and a contemporary Pan-Asian style to rise above these emotions that have long beset her. Albert Goldbarth once articulated that “The night may be long but it passes, marking the transitory nature of pain.”

The artworks reference the grief that one normally feels after a breakdown – contained in its two-dimensional form, yet transcending the affective reach with its sensation of vivid colors and fluid lines – like the crimson stirring in one’s sorrow. These are some of the emotions that overwhelmed the artist when her grandfather passed away. One’s sense of loss upon the death of a loved one, melancholia, and acceptance through time are thus embodied in her artworks. Affect that is otherwise grim and dreary, is instead converted to beauty that arrests the viewer’s sensorium of images. The paintings radiate a psychedelic feel that immerses us in a labyrinth of sensations that leads us into the artist’s embodied thoughts and feelings, where some are sporadic and spontaneous as her world is. One can therefore learn to embrace the impermanence that surrounds us as we transcend our interstitial states of being. Within the endless dialectic of thought and emotion, the exhibit offers a glimpse of the artist’s soul, her path to recovery and rediscovery, as she tries to build her life again. Indeed, the resurgence of one’s self.

(Words by curator Kevin Tabora)

IMG_5327(min) IMG_5332(min)Santa Muerte was intended to be part of a different exhibit. I started working on it back in June of 2012 but had to discontinue due to unfortunate circumstances that were beyond my control. Four months later, I found myself rehashing the concept, erasing old pencil work, and continuing the painting for my solo show. Having been able to finish a piece I’ve abandoned for some time proved to be fulfilling, especially one that I didn’t think I’d manage or bring myself to complete.
IMG_5329(min) IMG_5326(min) IMG_5321(min)The original idea was to paint her as how she is normally portrayed – a skeletal female figure clad in robes, sort of a dark Virgin of Guadalupe with a globe in one hand and a scythe in the other. I felt that this cold depiction of hers does not sit well with my exhibit theme, so I decided to humanize her, giving her flesh and a skull for a mask with the eyes and nose remaining hollow. A stem of orchids flourishes from her heart, while huge cattleyas, dahlias, and more orchids bloom in the background.

Behind the cut are a few photos from the exhibit opening.

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Daughters of the Sea


Daughters of the Sea
91.4 cm x 121.9 cm
Oil on canvas

Fresh from a trip from Indonesia back in March of 2012, I was inspired to make a painting based on the myth of Nyai Roro Kidul, who was one of the favorite painting subjects in galleries we visited around Yogyakarta and Bali. Known as the “Queen of the Southern Sea of Java” or “Queen of the South Sea,” she is a legendary spirit depicted as a mermaid with a lower part of the body of a snake. She dwells in the heart of the sea and is said to control the violent waves of the Indian Ocean, taking the souls of anything or anyone she wished for.

I had conceptualized a series of paintings based on my friends’ tattoos during the early part of 2012, but never got to put them all together in one show. For this particular Indonesian myth-inspired painting, I decided that my friends Gab and Noelle would be the perfect muses – Gab has an octopus tattoo on the upper right side of her back, while Noelle has a jellyfish tattoo on her right chest.
No Indonesian-inspired painting is complete without batik patterns. It was actually fun copying ornate patterns on scarves and purses I purchased during my trip.
Instead of giving them lower bodies of snakes, I decided to place octopus tentacles since the warm colour of which suits the vibrant batik patterns. Balinese floral headdresses complete their look.

Cranes and Art Prints

The Crane Wife
61cm x 91.4cm
Acrylic on canvas

Faery tales and myths from different cultures have always been my main sources of inspiration for my works, may it be for paintings and illustrations or conceptual photos. This particular piece was exhibited at an all-women artists show called “Dream, Paper, Dream” on March 2011 at Vinyl on Vinyl, the opening of which coincided with last year’s International Women’s Day. The only requirement was that we incorporate an origami crane in our work, thus, I decided to come up with a painting based on an old Japanese folk tale of The Crane Wife with five paper cranes suspended from the top of the canvas.

The tale tells of a poor young man who wished for a wife to spend the rest of his days happily with. In another version of this story, the man is a lonely sail maker who lived on a hilltop high above the sea, and he would spend his days watching cranes resting and flying on the salt marsh below his house. In any case, he found an injured crane in the woods one autumn evening. Being a kind soul, he tended to its wounds until it was well enough to fly with the other cranes.

A few days after he set it free, a beautiful woman came knocking on his door, and they fell in love and were married over time. But because the young man was poor, he began to run out of money to feed them both. His wife offered that she would weave a fine piece of cloth that they could sell for a handsome price. She also requested that a workroom be built on the condition that her husband should promise never to watch her weave. True enough, she produced wondrous pieces of cloth of unmatched quality that they were able to sell for prices that allowed them to live comfortably. No longer able to contain his curiosity one day, the young man broke his promise and peeked in. Instead of his wife, he saw a crane plucking its own feathers and weaving them into the loom. Having been revealed, the crane wife flew away and never returned, leaving behind a half finished cloth as a reminder of the time they had together.

I painted the crane wife dressed in an intricately embroidered red kimono holding a cloth she has woven. While the actual painting has already been sold, I am selling my first edition archival giclee print of it on along with prints of 11 more of my works.
Recently, I have been receiving inquiries about my art prints, so this post should be able to answer those questions. I am currently under an exclusive contract with until early November, so purchases will have to made through them. Do check out my available works by visiting my shop, and buy yourself a print if you fancy my work. 🙂

Mask Art on Skin

My back piece officially turned a year old last August 13. And yes, it is my first tattoo.

I have always wanted to get one since college, but I was never able to make up my mind on what design I want to have permanently inked on me back then. A couple of options I have considered were a bunch of art nouveau roses and irises on my upper arm, and a huge dragonfly with its intricate wings spread across my back.

Then one February morning in 2011, I woke up knowing exactly what design I wanted – a Venetian mask with a peacock for an ornament, entrenched with roses, peonies, and paisley prints with two dragonflies hovering over one side. Basically, it is a hodgepodge of some of my favorite things, organized into one cohesive piece. I immediately started drawing the design on a 1/4 illustration board, then contacted Ram Marual of Psyko Studio Tattoos Cavite to schedule an appointment.

On the 5th of March 2011, I finally got my first tattoo. My first session took a total of 9 hours straight with a 15-minute dinner break, Led Zeppelin blasting from the speakers the entire day.

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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.

February Projects in Retrospect: Postura Project Art Wall & Picket Lines

Dalawang Maria
Watercolor and ink on paper

While most of February was spent preparing for 2 exhibitions (“Women on Women” and “Tattoo My Colors”), I was able to squeeze in a couple of projects sometime towards the end of the month. One of which was an illustration for Postura Project’s Platform Event.

Postura Project is a movement started by four fashionalism advocates, namely Knox Balbastro, Sarah Meier, Arriane Serafico, and David Guison. It aims to inspire and get Filipinos to patronize local brands and to incorporate something Filipino into one’s everyday outfit. And how do they aim to do that? By starting a blog that documented themselves wearing a piece of Filipino fashion for 30 days which went on from mid-February up to the later part of March.

The four Postura fashion advocates posing on the art wall I illustrated (L-R): Arriane Serafico, Knox Balbastro, David Guison, and Sarah Meier.

The Platform Show was the culmination to the 30-day fashion challenge. It was a huge youth culture convention held at the Ronac Art Center last March 18 that showcased the works of young designers, retailers, and entrepreneurs. The art wall I illustrated was put up on that event along with the works of 4 other artists. I was in Jogjakarta at that time, so I unfortunately had to miss out on it.

My design for the art wall was my first foray into fashion illustration, and seeing photos of it made me feel like a proud momma. Plus, it was a refreshing experience to suddenly shift back to watercolor and ink, given that I was working with oil for a couple of months before I accepted the project. It gave me an opportunity to come up with a Filipino-themed piece – something I’m now considering in developing into a series of paintings for a future exhibit. I took “posturang postura,” a local expression used to refer to someone who looks very well dressed, as an inspiration for the concept and translated it into an illustration of two Filipinas, looking poised and regal in traditional gowns.

One other project that kept me busy last February was shooting portraits for Kooky Tuason‘s upcoming coffee table book called Picket Lines. Yep, I got to put my camera into good use again. As much as I want to post samples of my work for the book, I’m not allowed to do that until the book gets launched. But I am, however, allowed to post this:

Model: Roxanne Barcelo
Make-up and Styling: Gab Lopez

Note that this is just a teaser and not the actual photo that was chosen for the book. Anyway, it’s an amazing project I’m really happy to be part of. I worked with a really hardworking all-women crew that managed to make our working environment a fun and healthy one no matter how stressful some days may be.  And most importantly, I got to take portraits of awesome women, all experts in their respective fields. Picket Lines is set to be launched this merry month of May! The sales of which will go to the Women’s Crisis Center.