Canvas Gallery

Taking a Line for a Walk

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I was invited to participate in a drawing exhibit at the University of the Philippines Vargas Museum. I don’t think I’ve ever drawn something this big. It was fun and liberating not having to worry about color.

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Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Writing Competition

Rommel Joson Contest Piece (Small)

The Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS) will be launching another edition of the Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Writing Competition this year. I’m honored to have my painting chosen as the contest piece for this edition of the competition. The contest uses artworks as the inspiration or basis for all story submissions. This time around, the stories will be based on my painting. When a story is chosen, I will be illustrating the entire book based on the winning entry.

CANVAS actively promotes Philippine art and culture through exhibitions and collaborations with contemporary artists. One of its chief advocacies is the promotion of reading and literary in the Philippines. The stories and children’s books published by CANVAS are eventually given for free to children of distressed communities around the Philippines. Its goal is to provide 1 million books for 1 million children, and with each new CANVAS book, the organization draws closer to that goal.

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CANVAS contest poster

The deadline for submission of entries is on October 16, 2015; Friday, 5:00 p.m. (Manila time). Details about the contest and how to enter can be found on Canvas’s blog or at their facebook page here. All inquiries should be directed at CANVAS since I’m only doing the paintings and I have no hand whatsoever with the rules.

Pictures and Words

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My friends and I gave a talk at the Philippine Literary Festival held at Raffles Makati last August 30, 2015. With me in the panel were Liza Flores, Ray Sunga, and Sergio Bumatay III. We were a bit surprised by the turnout; we actually expected maybe ten attendees tops.

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Liza Flores gave an introduction about our organization Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan and talked about her process for her recent book “My Big Sister Can See Dragons” written by Rocky Sanchez Tirona and published by Canvas. The book’s development underwent the usual process that a children’s book goes through in the Philippines, wherein a publisher commissions an illustrator to provide images for an existing story. Liza’s illustrations for the book were all large scale papercuts mounted on wood. During the book’s launch, the illustrations were exhibited at the University of the Philippines Vargas Museum.

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Sergio Bumatay talked about out his process for his book “May Darating na Trak Bukas” (literally translated as “a truck will arrive tomorrow”) written by National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario and published by Adarna House. Serj’s experience on the book was a bit different since it didn’t originate from a previously written text. Instead, Serj was asked to develop several studies that can serve as inspiration for a new story. From the studies, Adarna House chose one image for Virgilio Almario to base his text on.

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Ray Sunga narrated his personal experiences in being a children’s book illustrator, as well as his process, and his inspirations. He gave insights into what we as illustrators experience in the Philippines (notably how you can’t live on illustrating children’s books alone).

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I talked about my research on word and picture interactions in picture books as well as my learnings from a writers and illustrators workshop I attended in Bintan, Indonesia (more about this in a coming blog post). The point of my presentation was underscore our role as co-storytellers in picture books, a fact that many in the local industry may have glossed over because of the preeminence of the purely written text as primary sources of stories.


The idea of teaching visual storytelling and visual literacy in general seems to be in its nascent stages in the Philippines. Personally, I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that parents shy away from stories that are purely pictorial or at least with very few words. I don’t have the facts as to how visual literacy is being taught in Philippine schools nowadays, but I hope illustrators will have a greater role in shaping the conversation in the future.

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Silent Voices: Book Assemblages

Art Fair Philippines 2015 is happening in 9 days as I write this. I’m part of Canvas Gallery‘s Libro Exhibition, a group exhibit which features artworks inspired by books. I decided to make new book assemblages as my contribution to the show.

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I have eight new pieces ready for exhibition. Here are some works-in-progress.

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I sculpted different faces out of apoxie clay.

 Drawn elements on the faces.

Book Assemblage Work-in-Progress

Book Assemblage

Art Fair Philippines is happening on February 5-8, 2015 at The Link carpark, Makati Avenue, Makati City.

If Trees Could Talk

I’ll be participating in a group show organized by Canvas Gallery this September entitled “If Trees Could Talk”. The show opens on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 (4pm) at the Asian Center Museum, University of the Philippines, Diliman. The exhibit runs until Sept. 19, 2014.

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Here’s my work. 🙂

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“Tuktok”, 32 x 40 in. Oil on Canvas

The Lake

photo taken from the Canvas Gallery Facebook page

Photo taken from the Canvas Gallery Facebook page

I was lucky enough to be included in Canvas Gallery’s exhibit during the 2014 Art Fair Philippines which happened last February. It was my first time to participate in the Fair, and it was a little overwhelming seeing all the great work from other artists.

Canvas Gallery’s show was entitled “Paraluman” or muse. Sixteen artists created narrative pieces that, hopefully, could generate a host of crowd-sourced stories. The images were uploaded onto a website (http://canvasstories.com) where the audience can view the paintings and submit their own stories.

The painting I made was this:

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5 x 4 ft. Oil on Canvas


Years ago, I picked up a battered sale copy of Robert Bly’s book Iron John: A Book About Men for PhP 20 (USD 0.45). A summary of the book can be found in this site. Basically, the book is an exegesis of the Iron John story, included the Brothers Grimm collection of fairy tales. The story was interpreted as a journey of a boy through manhood with the help of the wild man.

The exegesis was rife with imagery and meaning, and the notion of some “wild man” as a guide to claiming true masculine energy seemed interesting to me from a visual standpoint. Anyway, I made several attempts to make a picture that was at least tangential to some of the ideas in the book, and I was only able to actually finish something this year (deadlines can be our friends). 

Though i never really set out to do a direct illustration of the Iron John story. Some elements in the painting touch on some of the concepts in the book while others grew out spontaneously from fleshing out the imagery. 

In all my previous studies and down to this final picture, there were always three constant characters and elements:

  • A body of water with a caged wild man
  • A seeker
  • An enlightened character (in this case, the lotus-head boy)

 

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For more about info Art Fair Philippines click here to visit their facebook and click here to visit Canvas Gallery’s facebook page.

Although a bit late, here are some articles about this year’s Art Fair:

 

Dreamtime

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I recently had a two-man show with Sergio Bumatay III at the Canvas Gallery, my first. I had previously joined group exhibitions with my organization, Ang INK but preparing several paintings in one go is a first for me. In the end, I finished five 4 x 3 ft. paintings.

It was an interesting experience. I don’t think “fun” is quite the word I’d use. More like “frantic stumbling along”, which I know isn’t a word.

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Deciding what to do, making studies, preparing surfaces and actually “negotiating” with the paint to create images that I was happy with was difficult. Nevertheless, it was extremely satisfying seeing the paintings finished and framed. Having these pictures arrayed in a gallery gave me a feeling that they existed apart from me, that other people could hold them and they weren’t just in my head. I only wish I could have been faster and actually finished more.

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I learned a lot from the experience and it’s something I want to keep on doing in the coming years. I often think to myself why I paint. I’ve worked in advertising for years and I work at a time when doing stuff digitally is a must for any workflow, but something about painting excites me and inspires me.

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I like looking at paintings. I like looking at other peoples paintings and it makes me want to paint more. I think I paint not because it’s “cutting-edge” or because it has “limitless possibilities”. Quite the contrary I think; I paint because it is limited and even “archaic”.

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Making marks on a surface is as old as the history of man. But I like the idea that with direct physical contact with a material, people can create different shades of meaning and emotion. And that, I think, is extremely satisfying.