"These jewel-like paintings intuitively fuse different aesthetic traditions, folk art and old master, with natural grace and an uncanny quality that may be a species of magic." —American Arts Quarterly
“The Runaways” 40×30 inches, acrylic and watercolor on panel SOLD
The genesis for these came from some watercolor and gouache sketches (experiments rather) that I’ve been playing with for the last couple of years. See the drawing and in progress photos I took along the way…
“The Runaways” graphite on paper, 17×14 inches
in progress photos:
Pictured above is a watercolor box from Kremer Pigmente. I’d like to try out their pan watercolors in the future. Brushes are Escoda Perla and Trekell golden taklon. Paints are various brands including Winsor and Newton, Holbein Irodori Antique, Rublev Natural Pigments and Daniel Smith. Support is Ampersand 2-inch cradled aquabord. Acrylics are Golden Fluid Matte and varnish are Krylon UV Clear Acrylic Coating and Gamblin GamVar.
“A Long List of Offenses”
10×8 inches, oil on panel
Rubens closely guarded his drawings as studio secrets and never showed them to the public. He thought they revealed too much of his labor. My own drawings often show a multitude of offenses and corrections… all of which are a visual record of how I think and compose. Drawings expose the evolution of one’s thoughts. Here is the compositional drawing for “A Long List of Offenses”
Originality is a quality highly prized in art. How does one begin to be original? By learning the basics. When it comes to learning the craft of painting and drawing, I believe that there’s nothing more beneficial than copying and studying great works of art. It’s how I taught myself to draw and then to paint. My journey began quite by accident.
In 1987, I had arrived in the Texas from the Philippines and found myself swiftly enrolled in an American junior high. Slow in making friends and always bookish (yes, nerdy) I spent most of my lunch hour in the library. Small as it was, it had a nice collection of art books. Apart from poring over the artworks published on the back cover of my grandfather’s Reader’s Digest magazines, I had never seen many paintings in print – I had yet to see some in person, at that time. First, I discovered a book on Renoir (who became my first art love, he gave me the fondness for rounded forms). The librarian joked about the nudes. I was embarassed by the jokes but I was so happy. When I got home, I started copying what I saw, not because I thought it would be a good way to start drawing, but because I wanted to memorize those paintings. I remember the books that followed: Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Fragonard…I think it was “The World of Art” series, an encyclopedic collection of books about the great painters. I copied for pleasure and with such a passion that I made it part of my schoolwork. It was a simple and humble beginning to a lifelong education.
I still copy and study the works of other artists. One of my habits is to do daily quick compositional studies of master works. It’s how I learned to compose pictures, to learn visual rhythm. By learning from the past, I’ve come to a stronger sense of my own personal vision and style.
My inspiration for this is a small copper painting by Adam Elsheimer, “The Flight into Egypt.” Painted in 1609, it was the first painting of its kind which showed the biblical scene in a nocturnal forest, as described by Matthew (2:13). His contemporaries marveled at his rendering of the Milky Way, which has never been depicted before. I was struck by the lush quietness permeating this nocturnal scene. The moon in the picture reminded me of the many full moons which have taken my breath away. Few scenes elicit a mysterious mood as beautifully as a nocturne.
Here is a preliminary sketch. When I have an idea for a painting, I quickly scribble in the composition. Sometimes I go straight to the panel in oils with only a cursory plan, as I did with “In the Moonlight.”
My first landscape featuring the area around Santa Fe. In my painting studio I have a view of pinon trees on a hill. I witness ravens, rabbits, lizards and prairie dogs. This painting incorporates a lot of Santa Fe. My Santo Nino from the Philippines feels right at home in this land. I suppose my figures have a little of the “Santo” in them.
Young ravens apparently love shiny objects and have been found to steal them. They are also some of the most playful and intelligent birds. I’m not sure whetherthe bird on the left is expressing his joyful excitement at the game about to begin or his displeasure at the other one’s premature grasping of the ball: “Let’s play” or “Cheater! Cheater!”
An inspiration, a gift from my mother, a Philippine Santo…
This is the final painting. I released it and then took it back after awhile because there was something missing I thought. So in 2009 I revised it.
My creative process: from drawing to finished painting.
I love the little piggy in the foreground, scratching his side, completely unimpressed by the wondrous coronation next to him. I’ve documented the creative process below.
graphite drawing on lenox paper to scale. Note the diagonal lines of the compositional grid or the “armature of the rectangle” used to compose the picture’s elements (although it’s barely visible now).
The drawing is transferred to an Ampersand Hardbord panel primed with three layers of Gamblin Oil Ground. I use a grid for an accurate transfer. For underdrawings, I prefer to use a white charcoal pencil which shows up well on the transparent earth orange imprimatura.
Underpainting layer is laid in with white and Gamblin asphaltum and van dyck brown (excellent alternatives to umbers and the van dyck brown is a good warm brown-black). The background foliage is also roughly scumbled in with earth greens and yellows.
More of the background and foliage are painted in. I often scumble a rough couch of Williamsburg impasto medium with/or M.Graham walnut oil/alkyd medium. Also, I sometimes mix some white into this scumble, making a thin veil of transparent white over the entire painting. I like to work on a tinted couch – sort of a “make everything look wrong to get it right” eccentricity.
Blocking in the main colors. For the deep blue of the dress, I use a lighter layer to be later glazed with ultramarine blue. I use Michael Harding, Williamsburg, Old Holland and Gamblin oil colors.
More color is blocked in and some of the details are painted in as well. The rest of the painting will be finished in additional layers of refining details and glazing. Sometimes more layers are needed to pay for my pentimenti “repentances” – a nicer way of saying “oh, I changed my mind” or “ooohh…that was not a good idea.” I haven’t taken photographs of the following stages as I worked on the painting on and off in the course of three to four weeks from the drawing to finished work.
Below is the version I first released in 2008. It took me some months before I took it back and added what I thought were missing elements.
This is my usual painting process involving a detailed preparatory drawing transferred onto a panel. I also enjoy working directly on the panel with only a cursory sketch, preferring to see greater surprises in the process.