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!

My COVID Stories: Home Repairs and Spring Cleaning

For more than ten years, I have been using a toilet and bath that has a defective flush, uncovered shower drain and leaking sink. Our toilet flushed so well when it worked before because Papa, the mechanical engineer, configured the toilet system with vent pipes. He explained the configuration to me before when I asked why our toilet flushed better than the other house but I forgot the science behind it. Don’t ask me the details. The problem with ours then was that we needed to change the toilet bowl itself. Rust developed and the tank could no longer carry water for flushing. So, for more than ten years, I was using a pail of water to flush my toilet. Yes, more than ten years.

Family and friends who stayed overnight in my house knew this. I had family and friends from first world countries who had to contend with my lousy toilet. They endured the inconvenience and I never heard them say anything bad about their stay. You know you have friends for keeps when they remained friends even after subjecting them to a primitive toilet system.

Finally, I decided to do something about it this year. Since I have been living with an ugly toilet for years, I went beyond the bare minimum and decided to really make it beautiful. I was not aiming for just a repair. I wanted a makeover.

This was day 1 of my toilet renovation. Workers removed everything and started working on the floor and walls. I did not take a “before” photo because that would ruin whatever good reputation I have. Makadaot ug dungog! Hahaha. It was that bad.

I have a 1.8 meter by 1.5 meter toilet and bathroom space. It is fairly small but the space is enough for me. Without further adieu, this is my finished bathroom.

toilet

I bought a pre-fabricated enclosure from a hardware store so I do not have to scout for suppliers or contractors for the enclosures.

shower enclosure

I also chose a narrow sink to save space. The sink is so narrow that I had to gingerly wash my face. Bawal malaki ulo sa sink ko, guys. Hahaha I also found a narrow cabinet from a home store for my toiletries and towels.

bathroom

And I now have a manual bidet. Tabo no more!

toilet

I kept our old louvered door but opted to turn it to sliding one to save space.

louvers

My toiletries are very minimal.

shower

While the workers are still available, I took advantage of tapping them for the minor repairs in my house. I had my leaking roof fixed and some parts in the ceiling had to be replaced. I also had the cabinets in my parents’ room repaired. The house was infested with termites years ago and the damages on the cabinets are still there so I had them fixed.

Fixing the cabinets meant I had to unload everything in it. I still have some of my parents’ things. It has been more than 10 years since they have passed away.

spring cleaning

These are the interesting things I found and each piece has a story to tell of the life we lived.

I found my toy train and letters from friends.

toy train

I remember Papa asking me what I wanted him to buy in Cebu. He and my cousin, Kuya Edwin, went to Cebu to buy materials for the construction of my aunt’s house. I told him that I wanted a toy train since the impressionable child in me saw in a book an illustration of children playing with trains. Papa, the educator, had to chime in that the men on the moon went to Cebu to buy me a toy train. (Papa’s name is Neil. Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, gets?)

I live in Butuan City but I spent my high school in Davao. During summer vacations, I wrote letters to friends to keep in touch with what was happening with their lives. In these letters specifically, they wrote about where they would be enrolling for college.

Speaking of college, I found some IDs I had in college. The library of the UP College of Science then went digital. Library cards were replaced with Borrower’s ID with bar code. And I used to have a student’s discount card for Philippine Airlines. Plane fares are expensive. I only used this a few times when I traveled alone. I usually traveled by ship if I had someone to accompany me.

IDs

I also found my ballet costume. I had ballet lessons for a year and it was supposed to train me to have a better posture. Indeed, I had a better posture when I dance. I could do the pirouettes, plies, arabesque, jete and others. I was told I was a graceful dancer but when I am not dancing, I am back with my bad posture. Ha!

ballet

This is my aunt’s maid of honor dress that she used during my parent’s wedding. The little girl is my cousin who will be turning 50 soon. (I will not identify who she is. In real life, she looks way younger for her age. )

maid of honor

This is my Mama’s wedding gown and Papa’s coat. My parents would have celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary this coming May.

wedding

I also found my father’s job acceptance letter. I was 5 months old when he got a new job at a match company. He was paid Php 950 a month then. I hope it was enough to feed an infant who drank milk like it was water. I was an S26 (milk brand) baby.

letter

I also found a few of their old passbooks. My parents always had a bank account even if their savings were minimal.

passbook

Owning a refrigerator then was a big deal. They were issued with a Certificate of Ownership.

refrigerator

Owning a stereo system required a deed of sale. Wow.

deed of sale

I still have that unit but the different parts are now used as a tables.

stereo

The stuff I found gave a glimpse of how my parents took good care of their things.

I am lucky to inherit their things.

This was my mama’s dresser even before she got married.

dresser

I replaced the mirror, changed the knobs and repainted it. I am now using it in my bedroom.

dresser

There were also things I needed to let go.

This was my parent’s bed. It had been my bed since birth. (I slept in their room until my father’s death. Papa had a separate bed in the room).

bed

This used to be our setup. Mama and I slept in the big bed;Papa in the small one. (My Mama had separation anxiety when it came to me. I was away for school for 8 years.) When Mama died, I slept in the big bed alone and Papa still slept in his bed.

When my father died, I moved to my room but I brought with me the top mattress of the bed.

That is the only bed I had …until recently. The springs were already poking me. Before tetanus kills me, I decided to replace the bed.

I had the carpenter customize the bed for me. I wanted lots of storage space…

bed

…and an upholstered headboard. Voila!

room

Since I wanted a makeover, I decided to rearrange things.

This was how my bedroom used to look which, I think, was already cozy.

my room

This is now my new bedroom with my new bed and mama’s dresser. It is more functional this time around. I painted the artwork so that I have my own art in my own room. I moved my photos over my bed to a different area in the room. The photos still need to be updated. I have new nieces and new dog.

room wide lens

As a postscript to all these stories of repairs and spring cleaning, I also found the house plans that my father kept.

My father had these plans made when he and mama planned to buy a lot in a good subdivision here. They were not able to buy the lot because the money they saved for it was used to help my grandparents redeem their pawned property.

This was supposed to be our house.

house plan

I am kilig that they labeled it “daughter’s bedroom”. My room!

plan

My parents acquired another lot in another subdivision and Papa also had a plan drafted.

 

And there’s the daughter’s bedroom again. Excluding their planned walk-in closet, my room is bigger than theirs. Awww.

plan

I have always wanted a bedroom on the second floor.

But life is what happened when we are busy making other plans.

We did not live in a subdivision. My parents already sold that subdivision lot. We live in a small house in a small barangay. My bedroom is not on the second floor but I would not trade our house for another house. This is home. This will be my home for as long as God allows me.


Oh, I realized my father did build me a second floor bedroom even though I do not live there. I was even part of the planning. I even made a layout using Sketchup. This was the last project I did with Papa.

sketchup

This is my backup home for the zombie apocalypse. hahaha

house

I wish my parents lived longer. We could have done a lot of cool stuff together.

I should go back to cleaning before I get sentimental and bawl over these memories. Grief, they say, is love persevering. Something like that. Writing this post is my excuse for taking a break from cleaning.

I can do this. Aja!

My COVID Stories: Life Goes On

How’s your 2021 so far? It is my 14th month into this pandemic and I thank God for His graces. I wish I can be a prolific blogger and write as often as my neurons transmit information to other cells in my body but the middle-aged woman in me just wanted to feed my brain with lots of sleep, carbohydrates and k-drama. When it comes to art and this blog, I follow no deadline. So here I am going through my photos and trying to tell a story of what happened in the last 108 days.

My anxiety meter comes from the Butuan City PIO Facebook Page. This is where my city posts its COVID statistics. I am a numbers person so I am hyper-aware when I see figures.

Mid-January statistics was okay.

So I found myself making up for lost time. We went to visit my family’s ‘mausoleum’. I have not visited my parents’ tomb in more than a year.

I went to see my nephew and niece. My niece was sweet that day. She was giving hugs and I needed lots of it.

I went to another niece’s birthday after.

The week after, I met my cousins for a trip to the mountain to feel some cool breeze.

Then, COVID hits the family.  Two of my cousins tested positive for COVID-19.

This was my scared face as I was on videocall while Azenith was inside the ambulance en route to the hospital. She spent most of her February in quarantine.

Looking at my anxiety meter, there were lots of cases in February.

So I stayed home and pretended I was vacationing somewhere and this was the hotel lobby. Ha!

In reality, this is my aunt’s garage floor.

Feeling helpless over what was happening, I found a way to make meaningful contribution with just a little effort. There was this call for donations and I qualified since my hair was untreated and long.

I cut my hair short and donated it to Makati Med.

I only went out to buy essentials. Yes, potato chips are essential.

And even in my house clothes, color coordination is essential. Kidding!

Valentine’s came and it was a surprising one for me. My friend, Teram, sent three of us, her single friends, this cake. The english translation of the message on the cake is ” No boyfriend but loved by many”. It was a ribbing to my singlehood and I love it! Who does not love a free cake?

I spent most of my February painting.

By March, the number of cases dropped and my anxiety waned also.

We went to the beach to celebrate the healing of my cousins. Thank you, God, for their lives.

I pray for the people who lost their lives and I personally knew quite a few and it was heartbreaking.

There is something about being in an open space that calms my nerves.

I also went to see my teacher friends.  Three are getting married, two bought new cars and two moved to their new home.  What an impressive bunch!

My couple friends live in this awesome tiny house. I am so proud of them for building their first house.

I also found the part of the fence that my father donated when he still taught in this school. I think it was more than 50 years ago- way before I was born.

For the first time in my 43 years, I attended a debut. Finally, my friends’ daughter was able to celebrate her debut which was postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

Congrats to my friend, Cez, for successfully organizing the event.

It has been awhile since I last used my DSLR and my skills are a little bit rusty. My rusty skills are better than not having any photos taken so I said yes to shoot my friend’s sister’s wedding.

Holy week was fast approaching and cases in Metro Manila were rising and so was my anxiety. I stayed home for the Holy Week and did some spring cleaning (which I think needs a separate blog entry).

I celebrated Easter with a few of my relatives.

Oh, I went to my friend’s house blessing.  Bam built a pad for her and her mother in her brother’s compound so that they can have their own space. We visited this space in November but I was not able to take pictures with me in it because we came from walking. My sweaty self was not camera-ready. I took pictures of our breakfast then and the cozy space.  Look at that! You’d think I downloaded the photos from a magazine. So beautiful! I am so happy for Bam and Nanay.

Fast forward to 5 months after, I was able to finally pose for pictures in this awesome space.

I spent much of the first week of April cleaning.  I still am not done but there are silver linings. My room is clean and organized. I got myself a new bed.

I finally renovated my toilet.  I will write about the renovation soon.

The cases are rising in my city.  It looks scary.

I got my new bed and new toilet. I will stay at home. With fervent prayers, I will be okay.  Life goes on.

Sending you love,

Kat



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