TINY STORY NO. 3: AGAIN, WHY?

artsy fartsy, tiny stories

The second prompt for Summer of Sketching arrives on my mailbox, which brings with it an all too familiar question that we have asked ourselves, probably a thousand times already: Why? 

I have learned to love this one word question even before I answered it. My default response has arrived years ago, but it is good to be reminded every now and then. Humans as we are, we easily forget. As Eric said in his e-mail: it’s easy to get caught up with WHAT you’re doing or HOW you’re doing it. We lose sight of the most important part: WHY are you doing it in the first place?

Last Saturday, I attended an art appreciation talk for free (thankful as always for the Brew Your Best Year community for providing these opportunities). I love going to these kinds of events since they make me experience being in an art class – in flesh and blood. And since it was co-organized by The Coffee Bean, it also came with coffee (not gonna deny that I sometimes live for events with free coffee, I mean come on, they make events a hundred percent better. Coffee lovers would easily understand this).

But enough about the coffee, the event was centered on the works of Pablo Picasso and understanding Cubism. I concluded on that day that abstracted cubism paintings won’t be on my favorite list; Mr. Pita told us that they are characterized by not having any space left on the canvas. Every detail is connected into a one whole picture. The main feature of these paintings is something that my eyes doesn’t favor. They make me dizzy – distracted somehow.

Another interesting fact that I found out that day is that Picasso was a copier of works. It may not be an exact copy, sometimes a reversed image or a different pose but you can find the similarity if you look closer. I find it funny that one of the most famous painters started just like us, with no sense of originality or style.  We make a big fuss out of being original at times, that’s why I have always loved that Palahniuk quote: Everything is so far away, a copy of a copy of a copy. The character was talking about his insomnia episodes, but maybe we can say the same to art as well. Even the people we called masters are no exception.

The organizers were rounding up questions and one participant asked, “What was Picasso’s motive in creating these artworks? What legacy did he want to leave behind?” I was half listening, busy stirring my coffee, so these words are just a rephrased answer from Mr. Pita “His greatest motive was just to express himself, it was his outlet from the anxiety or depressive things happening in his life. He wasn’t actually aiming into what legacy he was leaving behind.”

That afternoon was quite comforting, knowing that art can still for art’s sake. There are times when our whys are geared into creating an impact for the world or the community. But there are times when your why is about letting yourself breath through colors, shapes, or figures. To simply create, without too much expectations attached to it.

Tiny Stories is inspired by the book curated by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (bearing the same title) that says: The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories. This is my attempt to compile mine, something to push me to write even if there’s not a lot of words for me to grasp.

SEEING THE SIGNS AND THE WONDERS

artsy fartsy, in my life, stories of faith

These words have been long overdue. They were repeatedly contained in my prayers, written on my journal, typed through posts in social media, and stored through locked notes in my phone. Not being a wordsmith makes it longer for me to piece them together, just like what I always say: bear with me, as I try to connect the stars that formed my constellation (okay, that was too poetic). But these made me sure of three things on the art universe:


1.  A COMPLIMENT CAN GO A LONG WAY AND WARM A PERSON’S HEART IF YOU SAY IT SINCERELY
(it’s easy to tell when it’s just lip service). Mine came last January 2015. We were busy doing our vision boards when Ms. Rhiza came to our table and said: You really have an eye for art.

Being the usual introvert that I am, I did not know how to stop turning into a mushy marshmallow while fully controlling myself from letting it go to my head. In return I gave her my sheepish smile and continued working on my piece.

Those words may be simple, but in that moment it was enough to spark my passion to create art once again. It made me think that maybe there’s beauty in what I make that others can see, something that I failed to notice. Yes, what an epiphany, but Ms. Rhiza’s words during that day gave me a different perspective.

If ever you know someone who’s striving to create their own art, don’t hold the compliments in. Don’t hesitate to give away words. Remember that 1 sincere word = 1 step away from the doubts and insecurities that artists are facing everyday.

2.  WHEN THE ART UNIVERSE CALLS, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ANSWER IT.

Woman, Create called for submissions last July 2016, I quickly gathered what I considered was worthy enough to be submitted and e-mailed it with these words:

As much as I want to say something melodramatic or touching, all I know right now is that you convinced me to submit my artworks with the lines that say “artistic souls – those who may not have the label of an artist or writer but have some pieces they’d like to put out, but don’t believe it’s worth it – it is!” I’m still shy on sending them to you. The scanner at the computer shop failed me, but if ever you decide to choose one from any of these, I’d be more than glad to send another high-res copy. Keep on empowering women to create.

Months passed and there was no reply. Okay, that scanner really did a crappy job, I thought. Maybe it’s just wasn’t the art they’re looking for. Not wanting to dive into a pit of disappointment, I pushed the thought of getting published out of my mind. But just before I was able to forget it completely, an e-mail came bearing a promise:

Hello, my wonders. How art you today?

If you’re wondering why you’re suddenly receiving this e-mail, surprise – the planner of wonders is coming out real soon, and your contributed works of 5 months ago made it into this book. I thank you for opening up portals to your universe through the works you have given me just for this planner to not be a source of my vanity (in terms of art, design etc.) It is truly a great privilege to get to know you a little bit more through art and poetry, made sincerely for whatever purpose you have wished it to serve back when you first created it.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
Poetry by my friend Val

Surreal. I re-read the it just to sure I wasn’t dreaming, that it was really happening. And it did happen. Another amazing this is that my friend’s poetry was chosen to be published too. We were both quiet about it, not wanting to spill anything unless we were included. We celebrated this milestone together, exclaiming how these was just a wish when we spent time on our Tumblrs. We were both astounded that at the right time, God honors even the littlest dreams, or the most silent of prayers. And this leads us to the last part of the story. This may seem like a cliché but that does not make it any less true:

3.  IT MAY TAKE A LONG TIME, BUT SOME DREAMS DO COME TRUE AND PRAYERS GET ANSWERED.  It may just be a page, and maybe a word or two but it was quite a big deal for us. It was a testimony in itself. There’s a note sitting on my phone for a long time now, partly confession but more of a realization.

WomanCreate_4


Poems x collage artworks by yours truly published in the Woman, Create planners.

The truth is, I felt small that time. Some artworks were placed on centerfold and whole pages, then there was mine…quietly waiting on the sidelines and would probably go unnoticed if you flip through it faster than a blink of an eye. Yet there was a quiet voice inside of me saying – you might feel tiny, but aren’t all universes made up of a billion stars to create galaxies so beautiful, to light up the dark night sky? And I knew. I knew that we were all stars, no matter how big or small our artworks were. No matter where our words were placed. We weren’t made to shine on our own, but rather be collectively put together to shine brighter.

These words are also my long note of thanks for the two women who greatly influenced me to keep on creating art– though they may not be aware of it that time. For Ms. Rhiza, whose words of encouragement made me see my art in a different light. And for Marika, who could have filled the book with her own artworks but was gracious enough to give space for other artists to grow. ❤


And oh, my art and I made it to the centerfold this time. Hihi :’)

To those who have bought/supported the creation of this planner, thank you. You didn’t buy just a mere book, but you’re carrying our hearts within those pages. It is our hopes and dreams translated through words and pictures. Let’s continue inspiring one another to leap into wonders everyday.

THE HISTORY OF ART AND ME

artsy fartsy, in my life

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.

There were ten of us in our college barkada back then, each of us had her own version. I guess this was my self-portrait. :) There were ten of us in our college barkada back then, each of us had her own version. I guess this was my self-portrait. 🙂

Early hand lettering pieces when I still have zero knowledge about it. Early hand lettering pieces when I still have zero knowledge about it.

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.