Friday, January 2, 2015

Two Mouths to Speak With

Art is a means to communicate... Blah blah blah... It is a means by which certain skills can be manifested to achieve creative expression... Blah blah blah... and unfortunately for this piece, the same can be said about writing.

As I write about this current work, I feel as if am relieving whatever creative tension that has built up in my mind. It feels as if I'm exhausting what energy I have to push the piece closer to completion in a day by writing a predicate to the subject, instead of laying a paint stroke to solidify a highlight.

The last paragraph was a few hours ago. I am now passing the time at a carwash, sipping coffee, and contemplating what wax to apply to the car, and why writing about a current artwork can be counterproductive.

I haven't quite wrapped my head around that question. Perhaps I shouldn't put too much effort in figuring out what is the better way to approach this conundrum of speaking one thing with two mouths.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Drawings for Faw

I made these as gifts for Faw for her birthday.  I made her guess what "it" was with these clues:

1) Starts with the letter "W" and has the letter "A" in it (Works of Art)
2) Has 10 letters
3) She'll love it
4) Her mom would love it too
5) It has the color red and white in it
6) It's 100% recyclable
7) Somewhere in it lies a right angle

Well, she guessed it (only she didn't know then) but I did tell her I won't confirm or deny her guesses, but that didn't stop her from trying to convince me to give her another clue. She'd claim she already guessed it and challenge me to guess what I thought her guess what. Yeah right. This baiting and guessing went on for a month. Rightly so, because it took about that much time to make these and have it framed.

Once I've given her the drawings (all framed and neat), she asked why the large red dot on one of the pieces.

I told her I just had to put it there.  Sometimes, when creating or making anything, it pays to take heed of your impulses.

Of course I have my reasons but this time, I'll keep it to myself.

The drawings were a fine demonstration on how the brain once taught to treat a mark or symbol as "something" then it will keep to that rule as long as the mark or symbol is applied consistently as well.  I mean, come on, how can you accept squiggly lines as shading in the first place?  That was my theory when I decided to doodle in the figure 8 all over the drawings and I was surprised how nicely it worked.

The whole exercise got me thinking about stylizing some elements in a painting and passing it off as modelling.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Stating the Obvious

It has been forever (almost) since I last made an entry in this blog. Every now and then, I visit this place on the internet, to reminisce about the past, and sometimes see what someone would refer to in a conversation about something they saw or read in my old blogs.

The brushes have hardened and turned brittle, the paints had gone stiff inside their tubes, and the turps have evaporated from their loosely sealed bottles.

Fine, the past is the past. We all grow out of certain useless endevours and things as we grow old.

But just recently, I had to come up with gifts for my partner. Christmas was easy - I got her jewelry. Her birthday, which was was just a couple of days after Christmas was slightly more problematic when it comes to chosing a gift for the occasion. I had to give something that wont seem anti-climactic in relation to the Christmas gift I gave. Well, I could have given her a ticket to "Wicked" but I've heard the songs during a Cebu Pacific flight and to tell you the truth, I'm not a fan.

So I decided to come up with something handmade. I've thought of making a bead bracelet but that seems... well... gay. If anything, I'm suppose to highlight my masculinity. Macho is the word of the day.

So I came up with a few drawings. Well, it might not be as macho as macho would go, but it's a better alternative to all the other handmade items I could think of.

This is not it of course.  This is just a preliminary sketch.  I'd post the finish drawings after I give the final pieces to her.

Doing artsy stuff ain't so bad. It's kinda therapeutic. I should however, make sure it doesn't interfere with the other things that I do. I tend to lose focus on important things in favor of a sketch or painting.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tug o' War


"To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim..." - Oscar Wilde's preface to "The Picture of Dorian Gray"

There is a constant tug of war going on whenever I grab hold of a brush. On one side, the familiar persona of a craftsman wishing to attain technical perfection, and on the other a somewhat boisterous character that glides and whips across brushes without a care in the world.

Lately, I've been enticing the boisterous character to come out and paint. This character silences all other voices and dominates the night air with wild brush strokes and forceful lunges. It lures shadows and highlights out effortlessly onto the canvas, and it tells its story by swiping out emphatic lines that will emotions out onto a flat surface.

Almost like a spectator, I watch my images appear before my bewildered eyes.

I still have no understanding how the process works, but it seems painting "large" frees up this persona, whereas painting detailed sections forces the boisterous character to retreat, giving way to the craftsman.

Like any loaded weapon, a mind must direct it for it to be of any use. The boisterous persona needs to be pointed like a gun. I always plan and contemplate on my paintings before I even start. I've visualized and pondered how my paintings should eventually look like when finished. I might revise midway, but essentially, what I've visualized early on is what I ended up with.

I've allowed myself to run freely away without a clear plan before, and the result was disastrous - and wasteful. This possibility, this risk, is always at the back of my mind whenever I start a work. It's no different with this 36x60in composition I have in mind.


I've thought about the appropriateness of the subject matter in relation to the size of the canvas. I've considered how immature it might seem like, or even how uncreative or cliched it may seem to others, but the image begs to be painted. I can easily choose to paint my Binangonan or even Bulacan compositions in this huge canvas, but still, the virtual cries of the image above will be an incessant noise in my mind if I don't get it done.

I try to reassure myself that the color scheme will be fresh, that the faded and seemingly cubist "male" will be interesting to watch, and that a projected shadow on everything will add another dimension to an otherwise flat composition. If anything else, that fantastically long hair tying everything down longitudinally will be a defining element - the appreciation of which will justify the work.

It begs to be painted, and it begs to be painted "that" large.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tearing Off a Canvas and Falling Asleep

I should have seen it, but I didn't.  The “Lechon” in the quadtych was too small in proportion to the other panels.  I tore it off the stretcher (well, it was not as dramatic as what you might think) and tried flipping it but I couldn't stretch the creases out of the painting surface.  Good thing I had a length of canvas lying around.  That erroneous “Lechon” would be my second canvas that a trashed.  Frankly, I should do that more often.  It might be a tad wasteful but you can't go wrong with quality control.

I've started on the underpainting for the quadtych and was amazed that I can actually paint while sleeping.  I was trying to pull off an all nighter, fell asleep while painting and... well, woke up with this in front of me:

I don't know how much of it was done while I was asleep – or half asleep.  Heck, I don't even know how I loaded the brush.

These other ones were done while I was fully awake:

I enjoy underpainting.  I feel lost most of the time, but it is really a very liberating exercise.  It feels almost mindless.  Which brings me to lament how I wish I could paint portraits in a very painterly manner.  I don't know if I actually could paint technically acceptable portraits but I think my patience will run out before I even get halfway.  Nonetheless, I've been “studying” a collection of fine portraits from other artists over at Artbreak.  Been re-reading books on Renoir and Manet as well.

Roofscape... hell, I'm fighting for every inch of it.  I think I'll revisit it after a few days.  Besides, I still need reference materials for the boy leaning on the dome structure.

Friday, October 28, 2011


How far can you push something before it starts looking silly?

These are my canvas sketches for the three panel in the Quadtych.  I like these sketches.  I kind of ran away with it, forgetting it will get painted over anyway.  In any case, establishing my major lines is a good thing to do.  I've blundered in the placements of my elements before, for which I noticed the error only after applying layers of paint. It's better to finalize everything at the primer layer.

They are not caricatures.  I've worked my hardest to avoid that while forcing expressions out of these faces.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


One of my aunts recalled that when she found out she had cancer, at what seemed to be the lowest moment in her life, an apparition appeared - a young boy who approached the foot of her bed.  She stared at the apparition, not knowing what to think or do next.  Eventually, she shooed away the apparition by invoking the name of Jesus; she was "born again" you see.  Eventually, she succumbed to cancer.

My mother, when she was engaged in her last pitched battle with cancer, confronted a male apparition only she could see.  Catholics around her would like to believe it was Jesus, of course.  And of course, I wished it was.

I wonder what my apparition will look like?  I need to know for me to paint a vision of it, and more importantly, for me to work on a highly subjective, mostly non-figurative subject matter.  I would like to work on atmosphere this time around - no more hard edges, except of course the one needed on the gnarled covetous hand of the apparition.

I also have a composition in my head that can be likened to a spatial puzzle of sort.  I'm trying to make a voluptuous woman take the form of an ovoid, while trying to make her gestures a bit more pronounced.  Yes, I have a feeling this composition will sit in my head for a whole lot longer.