Hues of Hope: The 4th National Watercolor Convention and Juried Members Exhibition

I joined the Philippine Guild of Watercolorists this year.

I was a member of the Facebook group even before I officially joined the organization so I had a feel of what the organization is like. There were many demos and paint along activities all geared towards the improvement of one’s skill. I like that.

When they had call for submission of artwork for a juried exhibit, I wanted to join. The deadline seemed achievable for me so I started planning my piece. The theme was “Hues of Hope” and it is open for artist interpretation.

We all need a tiny speck of hope in this pandemic. I am partial to botanical subjects so I tried to recall what sparked hope for me. I remember my cousin, Azenith, who is still actively working in the frontline in fight against COVID-19. At the beginning of the pandemic, she was stationed at the city’s command center. It was a bare hall since it was setup just for what seemed like a temporary space for emergencies. The mood was somber with looming uncertainty in the atmosphere. She started to bring flower arrangements from our garden to brighten the space. I asked her to send me as many photos as she can for future reference photos. This was in 2020. Little did I know that I would use her photos as inspiration for the exhibit.

These are some of the photos she sent me.

So I created my artwork based of her photos.

I am a tight painter and I do not like spaces. Ha! So the 15″X22″ were filled with pigments.

This is the piece I submitted.

It was a juried exhibit and there were only 55 paintings chosen for the physical exhibit. I am happy that my painting was chosen!

I was thrilled.

The exhibit opened on September 2, 2021 at LRI Design Plaza in Makati City. The opening program was done online due to quarantine restrictions.

This is my first physical exhibit and I won’t be able to visit. I requested my friend to visit the physical exhibit and he sent me these photos.

Hues of Hope is not just a juried exhibit. It is also a watercolor convention. The organizers had lined up a month-long activities-filled calendar. I registered as a participant to get access to the valuable content that would improve my watercolor skills.

I purposely availed of the access that expires by the end of September to force myself to be present in every activity.

No regrets. All the the activities are worth more than the convention fee I paid. I learned a lot and I am excited to apply them to my future art pieces.

Here are the things I learned:

1. I paint with too many strokes. As a tight painter, I am fond using size 2 brushes even with a full sheet watercolor paper. I would take me a week to finish a piece. Imagine my relief to finish a still life painting in 3 hours. This was my output for an on-the-spot still life painting activity. I should try harder to showcase the transparency of watercolor.

2. I can let loose. This is my first paint-along output with Mr Gejo Jimenez doing the demo.

3. I need angle brushes. Ha! It is amazing how Mr Emmanuel Silva did his brush strokes effortlessly and the result was realistic florals. He was using angle brushes. I was following his strokes and mine did not turn out as good. As a botanical painter, I always use small round brushes to get it right. I should practice more.

4. It feels good to be around likeminded individuals who share your interests. Whenever I could, I would join the group zoom activity. These were the on-the-spot painting contests. Even if I did not have a chance winning against these people, it was the fun atmosphere of painting with others that drew me to the activity.

5. I should not be afraid of painting figures. I always choose botanicals for subjects because figures scare me. The demo from Mr Art Cunanan helped me ease through subjects that I avoided. As long as an activity does not affect personal safety and health, it is always good to try something new.

6. I should not be afraid to commit mistakes. In the demo by Sir Uhky-Uhky Estremos, he talked about telling your story, knowing your intentions, not to fear mistakes, to feel good and be happy.

7. I can paint with my left hand. In one fun on-the-spot painting contest, we were all required to paint with our non-dominant hand. The organizers made sure that the non-dominant hand was used by checking them beforehand. We were made to write with our left and right hands and masking tape was placed on our non-dominant hand so that it can easily be identified in the video that we are using it all the time. I even signed with my left hand. Thus, the wobbly signature.

8. I can try to be spontaneous. It is amazing to see how fast Ms Yuko Nagayama worked on her piece! She said that arranging the composition took 60% of her time since she paints using real objects in front of her as reference.

I can relate with Ms Yuko when it comes to not cleaning the palette.  This is my palette.  Much of the green was from the large piece I did last month.

9. Familiarize the subject I am painting. Mr Jayson Yeoh said that the shortcut to being good at what you do is practice, practice, practice. Practice does not really end. His strokes were quick and I saw the abstraction but his whole piece magically transformed before my eyes. Honestly, I thought I wasted my paper trying to follow his style but I am glad I did not give up so easily. I am happy with my output.

10. I must try painting portraits again and again. I watched Mr Dino Pajao and Mr Gilbert Miraflor’s demo but I always avoid painting people. Finally, I tried Mr Dan Macapugay’s demo.  I hope I remember  tips on color combinations for skin tone and leaving whites. I need to practice, practice, practice the drawing part. This output does not look like the reference photo. Ha!

There were a lot more demo artists and talks other than those I mentioned above. I love how the artists talked about their art process as well as the life lessons on being happy, sharing your talent, continuously learning, telling stories, knowing your intentions, being spontaneous, knowing yourself and a lot more. I love how humble they all are. They do not rest on their laurels. They do not shove their achievements to your face. Instead, they let their works speak for them. It is truly inspiring to hear them speak and observe them work. I hope to apply everything I learned to my work and in my life.

I am truly grateful for this convention. The convention activities came at the perfect time. I had something to keep me at home and keep my mind off the rising COVID statistics in my city. Hospitals were full. Oxygen supply was scarce and I was waiting for the 2nd dose of my Sputnik vaccine to arrive. (I got fully vaccinated on September 27!) The convention was my saving grace- Hues of Hope, indeed! Thank you to all those who worked hard to make this convention a success. I felt like I found my kind of people. Thank you for the new Facebook friends, art inspirations and life lessons! My heart is full!

The convention ended today, September 30, but the physical exhibit is still ongoing until October 31, 2021!

And in case you want to join us in PGW,  this is the link: https://phguildofwatercolorists.com/register/membership/

 

How I Did Three Versions of One Painting

There is always a story behind every artwork I do. Sometimes, the story would be “I just like to paint this” and sometimes the story presents itself like this piece.

My friend wanted something to put on her wall so that she has painting as a background for her Zoom meetings. I think this request came last year and I only fulfilled it this year. I saw how she set this up in her office. I guess it was no longer for Zoom work-from-home background. Oops, I delivered too late.

Her instruction was to paint something nationalistic. She also wanted something she can readily mount on her wall. This means that I have to paint on a canvas using acrylics. Acrylic is not really my first choice of medium. I am primarily a watercolor artist. I had to rely on what I think would work with my acrylic painting skills. I had to plan what would represent a nationalistic painting given the limited subjects I have done before.

Planning this painting required much thought. There is a theme I need to convey: nationalism. This made me think about the history and culture lessons in school. Ha! So this was my thought process:

1. There must be flowers. I like painting flowers. Maybe, I should paint sampaguita.

2. How about the Philippine flag? Why should I paint a Philippine flag when she can actually hang one on her wall? Ha!

3. How about animals? Carabao, tamaraw, tarsiers, Philippine eagle, perhaps?

4. If I put flowers and animals, is that nationalistic enough? I should put a person with hand on the chest to show respect for flag.

This is what I initially came up with: a field of plants strategically positioned to look like a Philippine flag with Mt. Mayapay in the background. I pushed to paint a person with hand on the chest. I browsed through my friend’s Facebook photos and decided to put a woman with the same dress as her. I added the sash because I saw in one event of her office that they used sash for their honored guests. The woman in the painting does not look like my friend though. I just painted a random face that is formed from my brushstrokes. I figured that she may not want her face in a painting that could be seen in a Zoom call. I added the Philippine eagle because I wanted to fill the space with different subjects.

The red plants are mayanas which supposed to be bounded by a fence made of T’nalak weave of the T’boli. I had trouble replicating the pattern using acrylic so I made a decision to change it to green plants, adding dark blue as shadows. I added white fence as border to make the color pop. On the foreground, I painted white orchids.

It was supposed to be a field of sampaguita but I have not seen a field of sampaguita ever. I do not think it will look like an all-white field. I think it would be patches of greens with specks of whites for the flowers.

I showed the progress of the painting to my friend to check if this is what she had in mind.

She was kind of uncomfortable with the woman I painted because she identifies with her even if the painting did not look like her. (“I think that is me.”) I understand how she might feel awkward because it would seem like she displayed a portrait of herself in her office- a government office, that is. She said she does not mind changing the person into a painting of her son.

So I changed it to a boy in a barong.

But I am not happy with the way I painted her son. The advantage of using acrylic is that I can change and correct it by adding layers of paint. So I changed it again to a woman with her back turned and facing the views.

I think it is nationalistic to nurture and be proud of the beauty of our country.

And that is the story of this painting that has layers of paint underneath. The textures produced on the surface became the visible proof of the heart and soul I put into it. Cheesy much? Ha! The painting was already sealed with a fixative. This is the final piece.

That ends my short art talk. Hehehe! Till next time!

My COVID Stories*: The Past Five Months

(*Stories of what happened to me during the COVID-19 pandemic)

I have not posted anything in this blog for 5 months now. Just like the past posts, this is a life update so that my future self has something to look back.

The COVID-19 delta variant has now become the dominant variant in the Philippines. I used to be alarmed whenever the COVID-19 cases in my city reach 500. As of September 18, there are 1,524 active cases in my city. Now I live in fear. If can delay going out and doing the grocery, I delay them. I try do all my errands for the week in one day. I stay home the rest of the week. This is one of the many privileges I have as a freelancer. Not everyone is as lucky as I am so I try my best not to get the virus. I have that advantage of staying at home.

Glad I was able to meet up with friends and family before the COVID cases increased.

I met friends for dinner when many of them came home to visit family.

I was able to spend time at the beach even in the middle of a typhoon! hahaha Talk about bad timing but we had fun anyway.

We spent some time in the “mountains” even if I was on the look out on those amphibians that I feared most.

I was able to attend the wedding of a good friend.

There were quick meetups just to catch up a bit.

I spent time with family.

I have been vaccinated for the 1st dose only because I got the rarest vaccine of them all- Sputnik V. Ha! There was difficulty in the production and delivery of the second dose. I try to see the positive side of the situation. Not having the 2nd dose yet made me a lot more careful. I take comfort at the reports that more antibodies are produced at longer vaccine intervals.

Then cases started rising so I stayed at home.

I made my stay-at-home time as pleasant as possible.

I spent time with my furry friends.

I joined my high school alumni online games. I placed 5th against these super smart people. Wohoo!

I continued to be a plantita. Nah, I just took photos with the plants of my tita. hahaha

I did more art. ( I will write about these more in the separate blog posts)

I watched more K-dramas, listened to podcasts and chatted with friends and family to constantly keep in touch.

Oh, I spent another pandemic birthday at home. Actually, I like spending birthdays quietly. The best birthdays are the ones where I do not have to fuss about preparing and hosting well-wishers. I wanted the chill kind of birthday so I just ordered Jollibee for breakfast and Mang Inasal for lunch and ate leftovers for dinner.

My very thoughtful friend, Gail, all the way from Pasay, made an effort to search for Butuan cake supplier on Facebook and ordered this awesome cake. She contacted Maxim and had this cake delivered to my house. Since I have been wanting to go to the beach, she brought the beach to my cake! The Katriona name was an inside joke (now made public hahaha). A few years ago, I made a Tiktok dub with Catriona’s winning answer in Miss Universe.

My friends, Mitzi and Erns, dropped by to give me their gifts. I am blessed with thoughtful friends.

I got videocalls, Facebook posts and greetings that day. I feel loved especially that they remembered my birthday even when I deactivated birthday notifications on Facebook.

This is my 44-year-old self. I need lighting to blur out the fine lines. hahahaha

Till the next life update!



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