If art were…

If art were a basketball team and I was the water boy– and I was given the reward of making my one, own wish come true (because I always kept the water and towels clean and readily available), then my wish would be to assemble a group of twelve players that will comprise my own “Dream Team.” So, here goes:

Leonardo da Vinci____________________________Center
Michelangelo Buonarroti_______________________Center
Rembrandt van Rijn___________________________Power Forward
Jackson Pollock______________________________Power Forward
Arshile Gorky________________________________Power Forward
Georges Rouault______________________________Power Forward/Sixth Man
Vincent van Gogh_____________________________Small Forward
Cesar Legaspi________________________________Small Forward
Willem de Kooning____________________________Shooting Guard
Jack Hamm__________________________________Shooting Guard
Pablo Picasso________________________________Point Guard
Wassily Kandinsky____________________________Point Guard

Giotto di Bondone____________________________Head Coach

My starting five would be Picasso, de Kooning, Rembrandt, van Gogh and da Vinci. And I would love my “first five” to play against any powerhouse first team composed of– maybe– Cezanne, Matisse, Raphael, Sargent and Dürer.  Wow! That game is surely going to be a blast, perhaps enough to pass as the ultimate dream match– with flying colors! Woohoo!!! (Somehow, I can hear some people asking, “What about Degas, Monet, Vermeer, Klee and Doré?…or Renoir, Klimt, Rubens, Schiele and Velázquez?”…Beats me!)

Why I like them:

Leonardo da Vinci – he is a tower of power, no doubt! I cannot imagine a team without him because he just dominates the paint area without equal!  As the last line of defense, nothing gets past his meticulous eye, and his ambidexterity enables him to block the ball from virtually any direction– a new kind of defensive approach called “the cross-hatch maneuver.”

Michelangelo Buonarroti – the same qualities as da Vinci’s, although Michelangelo’s much bigger, sculpted body gets in the way of his agility sometimes. He is a master of the “skyhook,” a hook shot so elegantly done it’s almost like watching an artist paint a fresco on a ceiling!

Rembrandt van Rijn – this guy can do almost anything. He is the current slam-dunk champion, and he can play the shaded area and the rainbow area with equal mastery. He is what I call a “chiaroscuro” player, “light” and “dark,”  finesse and power rolled into one.

Jackson Pollock – a real offensive threat, he can dribble around his defenders on the hardcourt much like an action painter drips paints on his canvas.

Arshile Gorky –  a pure shooter with tremendous post-up skills.

Georges Rouault – he is my sixth man and Mr. Instant Offense. He can guard the big guys and his offensive rebounding skill is unmatched. He is called “The Old King” by his teammates because of his mastery of the age-old skill of boxing out his opponents for the rebound.

Vincent van Gogh – known as the nut case of the team, he practically reinvented the ball game. His colorful antics off the court are overshadowed only by his prodigious output on the floor. He cuts the lane in so many different ways and drives to the hoop acrobatically, evading even a triple-team defense! His uncanny, creative ways of drawing foul every time he drives to the basket earned him the nickname “the artist.” And when he’s not making those easy twos, he’s painting the rainbow area with his three-point shots.

Cesar Legaspi – the first Filipino import to play in the big league, he hasn’t disappointed everyone with his offensive prowess, especially his fade-away three-point shots.

Willem de Kooning – arguably the best shooting guard in the league, he is essentially a shorter version of Gorky with an excellent dribbling ability to boot. When playing alongside Gorky, they constitute the best pick and roll tandem in the league.

Jack Hamm – one of the quickest guards in the league, he is the master of the “give and go” offensive play. And as the only player in the league with a perfect free-throw percentage, he is given the monicker “Mr. Charity”–  for all the free (charity) shots he made without miss.

Pablo Picasso – the ultimate point guard, he is by far the fastest player in the league. His court generalship is legendary in that his blind passes, crossover dribbling and bounce passes have yet to be telegraphed by any opposing team. Built like a 100-meter sprinter, his size is far bigger than the typical point guard, making it difficult for his defender(s) to overpower him.

Wassily Kandinsky – probably the only point guard that can match the versatility of Picasso in distributing the ball. He has the best defensive skills among all the point guards and leads the league in  steals. He can read the moves of the player he’s guarding much like reading into his opponent’s mind– earning him the nickname “Abstract.”

Giotto di Bondone – the head coach of the team, he is also known by his monicker, “Seven,” because he is the only player in the league’s history to have played all the positions during his career:  point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, center, sixth man, and now, as head coach. Back during his playing days, he was known as “Mr. Perspective” because of his overall command in every aspect of the game. His natural position as a player was as a power forward.

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High School Art

high on art

high on art

When I started this blog, I only have one field of interest that I really felt comfortable writing about. And that is, of course, art– most specifically, the visual arts like drawing, painting, cartooning, calligraphy, sculpture, and the like. The reason is because it is the only thing that I think I have an idea of– at least to my own personal knowledge. Although I never had any formal art training, I always felt– even at an early age– that I could draw. And like most children, I started with stick drawings of people, things (like balloons, tanks and houses) and animals (like dogs and roosters). While most people stopped drawing these stick figures as they matured, I did not– well, not completely (playing with toy soldiers and cars always took away most of my time when I was a kid, and– as I grew older– daydreaming about pretty girls). The attraction with the visual image, I believe, is what got me hooked in art all my life.
There were no artists by profession in my family. So any interest out of the ordinary would have to be sustained by something, either by encouragement or a doggone-persistent personal dedication, for it to last until adulthood. I had more of the former. My family, seeing that I like to draw a lot as a kid, gave me the art materials I needed (pencils, paper, markers, paints, inks, etc.) and a lot of time of my own to experiment with my imagination. This served as my first art education: time alone on my own to play with marks on paper and dabble with creativity.
But the most significant art experiences that I’d never forget were the four years of my high school! In fact, those years were probably the best actual experiences that I had to ever put my artistic skills to good use! And I’m crediting it to my science adviser at that time, Mrs. Alicia O. Maza (GOD Bless her for this!) This humble teacher saw that I could draw so she always fielded me in poster-making and painting competitions in all of the four years of my high school. Because of that, I had the privilege– and blessing– of meeting, and competing against, the best young artists in the country! Looking back, I can say that I’d seen a lot of them with talents way, way better than mine and even far ahead of their time! And although I would feel humbled by their artistic proficiency, I would also feel challenged and encouraged to improve on my own skills. It was a time of experiences and lessons being learned.
Not only did my adviser, Mrs. Alicia O. Maza, give me these invaluable personal experiences at art competitions, but that she essentially trained me as well! She made me artist of our science newsletter and she made me do all the letterings on the welcome board in our school every time there’s an important occasion. All these for four years! (See, if you have no actual art teacher supervising your work, there’s only one way to learn and deal with it: by trial and error! In time, you would learn what worked and what didn’t work– aesthetically!) The only other remarkable event in my young life aside from my art development was my relationship with my first girlfriend in high school. That, of course, is a different experience, although both are rooted in beauty and self-expression!
So, even if I didn’t take up fine arts or any related art major in college (I took up engineering), I already had the affinity for art early on in my life. Ahh, those four years in high school…! I will never forget them! Those were the years upon which all my confidence in art was built! And all this is not complete without me giving my heartfelt, sincerest thanks and gratitude to my science adviser, Mrs. Alicia O. Maza, who saw what gift I had as a young man and showed me what I can do with it! Thank you, Ma’am Maza, from the bottom of my heart and GOD Bless you always!!!

Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes

Tree, 11"x9", pen and ink on medium-weight white paper

Tree, 11"x9", pen and ink on medium-weight white paper

I drew this tree with one inspiration in mind: Bill Watterson. To anyone who reads the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, he/she will know what I’m talking about. And of course I’m referring to trees. Bill Watterson’s drawings of trees, for me, are the most simply drawn, yet, the most charming and most beautiful trees I’ve ever seen on a comic strip! And for a certain period in my life, I was drawing nothing but trees, trying to emulate the kind of artistic mastery Watterson had on trees with just a few strokes of ink! Needless to say, I couldn’t hack it! And only years later would I realize that the answer lies in the entire illustration, not just in any individual tree. Watterson’s composition, mastery of facial expression and gestures, use of negative space, choice of colors (in the case of his Sunday strips), and command of the ink medium all worked together to give each drawn figure the charm and beauty it possessed.
Bill Watterson’s strip lasted only ten years (from 1985 to 1995). But in those ten years, the world was mighty fortunate to laugh at the humor on his strips and marvel at the beauty of his art! And the reason why we don’t see any Calvin and Hobbes mugs, t-shirts, TV series, etc., is because Watterson refused to merchandise them, believing commercializing them would cheapen the value of his comic strip characters.
To date, I consider Calvin and Hobbes the funniest English-language comic strip ever published on newspapers (I said “English-language” because there is another comic strip in my mind that I think is also consistently, genuinely funny; and that is the Filipino comic strip Pugad Baboy by Pol Medina, Jr.)!
Calvin and Hobbes has the kind of unadulterated wit you can only get from a kid. Boy, I couldn’t even approximate the number of times I didn’t laugh at his strips– how about…”never”! Yes, it is that unbelievably funny! Reading his strips will not fail to strike a chord in either the parent in you or the child in you, making the comic’s appeal universal in scope. I’m not even sure if another comic strip can surpass, or even equal, the genuine humor of Calvin and Hobbes. To me, Bill Watterson’s combination of ideas and images is beyond brilliance! It is genius!

update: (Here’s a February, 2010 article about Bill Watterson not regretting stopping his strip at the height of its popularity.)

Below are a couple of my attempts at copying Bill Watterson’s drawings of trees.

Happy Birthday, Ynna!

Ynna, 14" x 11", Red pencil on white Strathmore paper

Ynna, 14" x 11", Red pencil on white Strathmore paper

Today is my sister Ynna’s birthday!

Hi, Ynna! I’m greeting you a most wonderful, blessed, HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
I hope that you’ll have a most enjoyable day and that your birthday wishes will come true!
GOD Bless you always, Ynna!!!
Happy Birthday to you again!!!
From all of us here: We love you!!!
Take care!!!

Give Change a Chance

kripi, 12"x9", ink and charcoal on Strathmore 400-series, 60-lb Sketch paper

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hellish effort, 12"x10", color pencil on Mead 75-lb drawing paper

the Unbearable Recurring Load seems massive but still I can raise it up and though i am sure it is heavy somehow i can tell it is being lifted yet the burden i am experiencing is leaden and even so i feel being elevated i do not understand it must be a hell of an effort to carry something i really have no grasp of

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she boom!

My tooth aches

triggeready

Celeritas

my hideaway

go, yeti!

out into the rain

These are some more pen-and-ink drawings that I did using the Rotring ArtPen. I do not use the ink in any of the original cartridges that came with the pen because it’s not permanent, waterproof and dense enough. Instead, I completely empty the ink in the provided cartridge first, or replace it altogether with a piston-fill converter. Either way, I can then just fill it up manually with Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph Ultradraw Waterproof Ink using a 5-ml syringe tipped with a 21-gauge needle. The ink is fluid enough to be used with a fountain-type drawing pen like the Rotring ArtPen because this is the same ink that draftsmen use in their more demanding and complicated technical pens.

All works are 11 inches by 9 inches in dimension and drawn on medium-weight white paper.