"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
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.