It all began on a mindless summer afternoon. I was a 9-year-old girl who’s starting to die out of boredom. I’ve scanned the bookshelf for the second time around hoping to catch an interesting title to read, but instead, my eyes landed on the strings of a queer looking book with Dragon Ball Z as the cover. I anticipated to find interesting drawings inside, only to be faced with blank pages. It was my first encounter with a sketch book. Though we may have melted crayons or blew watercolor droplets across pages during our elementary days, I can say that the seed of art was planted during the time that I held this sketchbook in my hands and discovered the joy of drawing.
The next minutes were spent copying young Goku from a poster. While the next days were spent convincing my brother and mother that I did not traced it, but copied it (hahaha there’s a huge difference you know). They wouldn’t believe me! They actually thought that I was lying. But when I repeated drawing another comic book character, they finally did. It was the height of afternoon anime, so the rest of the pages were filled with characters that I have grown to love. When you’re a 9 year-old, there’s a certain feeling that anything you draw can be considered as an art. It gave me the confidence I need to start joining poster making contests in school, eventually winning first and second place most of the time. It gave me hope that I have a future in pursuing this thing called art.
For my 10th birthday, father bought me two sketchbooks and a set of watercolor pencils. He tried to hide it, but I found out this gold two days before my birthday. I was ecstatic! There’s nothing like brand new pages to draw in. I continued this cycle of copying and coloring, sometimes venturing out on drawing my own characters. I even thought that I would end up being a Manga artist. I also tried submitting fan arts to W.I.T.C.H. magazine, yet it broke my heart month after month when I didn’t see my artwork there. After several submissions, I stopped sending them over and just kept them to myself.
I still have high hopes, until high school came.
I met batch mates who also knew how to draw, not only that – they also have their own styles. It slowly crept into me that maybe I was just a disillusioned girl, that whatever I was making cannot be considered worthy. I felt fake not being able to draw without copying. Comparison became the thief of my passion. A few weeks after school started, I gave it up. I shoved the colored pencils away and decided to be a studious student. Aside from the usual portfolio requirements, I cannot remember a time that I picked up a tool not because I want too, I did it just because it was a requirement that I needed to pass.
It was a 4 year long hiatus of neglecting my gift.
There’s nothing more to tell because I forgot it all.
Until the muse came with the flood.
Typhoon Ondoy broke out, we were stuck in the apartment for three days. Just like my 9-year-old-self, I was left with boredom to deal with. I was missing my school, missing being out of the house, and missing my new-found-college-friends. So, I drew them. It may be a cliché thing to say but the spark was ignited once again. It’s like there’s a part of myself that craved doing this for a long time.
By then, it was the era of doodles and Tumblr. Every now and then I doodle and draw a bit in my spare time. I also joined mini creative contests when I find the chance.
Art came back. Art is finally there once again. Whenever I was stressed, or plain happy, it was there. After so many years of being contained, it was starting to take its root on me. Friends were also encouraging enough to notice the talent that may have slipped my notice from a long time ago.
Still, I cannot pursue it as much as I want because my priority then was my studies, it was too late to shift courses anyway. It may be a weird thing to say, but another 4 years has passed.
Yes, art was there but it was on the sidelines.
The year 2013 was the real deal breaker from me. I graduated from college, got a job two months after, and without schoolwork I had a lot of time in my hands (in comparison when I was still a student who juggled 8 subjects with a lot of requirements). Opportunities to learn opened up. Earning my own money allowed me to buy colored pens that I couldn’t indulge with when I was still a student. I was able to carve budget to enroll in a calligraphy class, I discovered that there’s a thing called typography, and I can finally enhance my watercolor techniques that I learned from Valerie Chua’s class (it was the only art related thing I was able to attend to when during college).
You have reached this point of the story and might be wondering what the point of telling this is?
Well you see, art and me had a very long history. It was a long time coming before we finally saw each other in a different light. Looking back on all those years made me realize that I’ve wasted too much time. As I said earlier, comparison became a thief. It robbed me of time that I should have spent practicing, honing, and discovering the craft – the gift that I was given. It made me give up and forget it for a while.
This is the year that I embraced that art runs through my veins that I’ll probably bleed colors if I’m hurt.
This is the year that I am slowly letting go of my doubts that it might not amount to anything in the end.
This is the year that I am replacing my fear with faith.
It is with faith that I am continuing this path, knowing that the Greatest Artist of them all values art whether it be grand or small. No wonder he called us His creation.
In times when hesitation creeps up my sleeve, I hold on to these words:
“and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.” –Exodus 31: 3-5
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I hope that I don't have a single bit of talent left, and say, I used everything you gave me” –Erma Bombeck
Days of pondering has lead me up to my why: To use all the talent I’ve been given for His glory.
This is a reminder that when insecurities come in, my focus should be kept on Him. Not on what others can produce, but what I can do with what I’ve been given. The rest shall follow after. I’ve come to terms that it’s an added bonus if it can inspire and motivate others to push through their own capabilities.
The long sleep is over, it’s time to wake up and not neglect the gift that I’ve been given.