Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Watercolor Painting - T'Boli Mother and Child 2018

T'Boli Mother and Child 2018
by jojo sabalvaro tan
watercolor on paper
Here is another one of my T'Boli paintings in watercolor. I started it in December 2017 and did not complete it until February 2018. I enjoy painting the indigenous people of the Philippines and got more interested in the culture since I exhibited at the Chicago Public Library.  I received another invitation to show at the library again this year, I won't be able to do it since the logistics of living in Florida make it quite difficult. I will continue to paint the Philippine's colorful indigenous tribes such as the T'Boli's and Igorots to honor them and promote awareness of these groups and their culture. I am concerned that, like most of the Philippines, they have become victims of westernization, commercialism and tourism and are losing the intrinsic character, values and traditions that makes them unique. If these cultures are lost, Filipinos will be depleted of  their identity and heritage as a nation.

In the painting, the child wears a shirt made from a typical T'Boli woven cloth called T'nalak, made from abaca fibers. The mother is portrayed wearing the distinctive elaborate and colorful embroidered costume as well as a headdress and jewelry made from multicolored beads and accessorized with a belt made from little brass bells.

T'Boli Mother and Child Close-up (2018)
by jojo sabalvaro tan

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Watercolor Painting - Tsismis (Gossip)

Back in the early 2000, when I started painting in watercolors, I was experimenting a lot with paints, brushes, styles and techniques in my art.  To this date, I do not know if I have found my signature style yet since I keep changing my genre and approach based on whim, inspiration and feelings at the moment. Through the years,  I've painted a lot of religious art and Filipiniana subjects as well as travel sketches. So far, these have been the main stays of my art but I still love to experiment.

These paintings were done in 2008 and I wanted to share them with you this time.  Done in my favorite medium, watercolor, they are based on three friends getting together to gossip.  These paintings are a far cry from the style and theme of most of my paintings, They are more cartoon-like and a fun subject matter and were highly influenced by Filipino artist Emmanuel Garibay's BananaQ painting.

Tsismis 3 (At the Café) 2008
Watercolor on paper (10" x 8.5")
by jojo sabalvaro-tan

Tsismis (1) At the Beauty Shop) 2008
Watercolor on paper (9.5" x 7.5")
by jojo sabalvaro-tan

Tsismis 2 (At the Corner) 2008
Watercolor on Paper (7.5" x 9.5")
by jojo sabalvaro tan
 Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Folksy Religious Icon - St. Rose of Lima

Folk Art Icon of St. Rose of Lima 2017
Acrylics on Canvas Panel
by jojo sabalvaro-tan

The St. Rose of Lima Parish Church near us will be unveiling their newly constructed church soon. I wanted to make an icon that I can gift to the church. This time I decided to make a folk art style icon of St. Rose of Lima, who is the patron saint of the church and was also proclaimed patron saint of the South Americas, the Indies and the Philippines by Pope Clement X.

My influence for the icon is the Hispanic culture that is so prevalent in Florida. I used the bright and vivid colors present  in Latin America art, as well as the tree of life motif which is frequently found in art and culture since pre-Columbian times in  Mesoamerica. The tree of life was used as the backdrop for  St. Rose of Lima's representation. At the bottom of the tree, I added depictions of water, earth, mountains and skies. The branches of the tree have fishes, animals, flowers and birds to represent some of the living things found on earth. She would wear a crown of thorns which is often replaced by a crown of roses in depictions of her. The infant Jesus is also frequently present in paintings of St. Rose of Lima.  The spiritual guidance to create this icon is the same as any other I have done. It does seem a little rebellious but I believe it does not lose any of the sacred message that are imparted by traditional icons.

My process:

I had been contemplating  making an icon of St. Rose of Lima ever since I saw the new church under construction. It took me a while to figure out how I would approach it. Originally, I was going to make a traditional style-icon. Then all of a sudden another concept came through my mind. Why not make an icon with Hispanic influence. Once that idea got embedded in my mind, the process went fairly fast. This was completed in less than a week from the first sketch to the final application of paint. It still needs to be sealed to protect the paint and then framed.

Preliminary sketch

Drawing on canvas

Base Painting

Overpainting and details

About St. Rose of Lima:

St. Rose of Lima (born Isabel Flores de Oliva) is shown wearing a nun habit since she was a Dominican of the Third Order. St. Rose is the patroness of embroiderers, gardeners, florists, those who suffer ridicule for their piety and people who suffer family problems. For more about St. Rose of Lima, please visit http://www.catholic-saints.net/saints/st-rose-of-lima.php .

Quote from St. Rose of Lima:
"When we serve the poor and the sick we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus".

Chaplet of St. Rose

 Glorious St. Rose of Lima, you who knew what it was to love Jesus with such a fine a generous heart. You, whom since infancy, despised the world’s vanities in order to embrace His Cross.  You who loved with unfailing devotion our Heavenly Mother and professed a great tender dedication to the destitute, serving then the same way Jesus did. Teach us to imitate your greatest virtues, so that we, following your example, could enjoy your glorious protection in Heaven. For Our Lord, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns forever. Amen.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

More Igorot and T'Boli Watercolors

Part of the Chicago Public Library exhibition press release

On May 2017, I was invited to be a feature artist by the Chicago Public Library for their Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Art Exhibition

Along with some pieces that I exhibited before, here are some of my new watercolor paintings that were included in the exhibition:

Sibat (Spear) - T'Boli 2017
Watercolor by jojo sabalvaro tan

Payong (Umbrella) -T'Boli 2017
Watercolor by jojo sabalvaro tan

Mainit (Hot) - T'Boli 2017
Watercolor by jojo sabalvaro tan

Pipa (Pipe) -Igorot 2017
Watercolor by jojo sabalvaro tan

Sayaw (Dance) - Igorot 2017
Watercolor by jojo sabalvaro tan

Pahinga I (Rest I) - T'Boli 2017
Watercolor by jojo sabalvaro tan

Bundok (Mountain) - Igorot 2017
Watercolor by jojo sabalvaro tan

Pahinga II (Rest II) - Igorot 2017
Watercolor by jojo sabalvaro tan

Friday, October 27, 2017

Madonna and Child 2017 - Paper Mosaic

Madonna and Child 2017 8"x12"
by jojo sabalvaro tan
Paper Mosaic on artboard

I just completed my latest project, a paper mosaic icon of the Madonna and Child inspired by the Vatican Mosaic Studio piece that my first cousin received as a retirement gift which is a replica the Mater Ecclesiae or Mother of Church mosaic of our Lady and Jesus that graces a wall in St. Peter Square. It was commissioned by Pope John Paul II, who had immense devotion and affection for Our Lady, the Virgin Mary.  

The mosaic was installed in 1982, following the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981, as recognition of Virgin Mary’s role in saving the Pope’s life.  Gazing up at the image of our Lady in St. Peter Square reminds all Christians to pray to Mother Mary for the protection and safety of all children of. the church.
Mater Ecclesiae located at St. Peter Square
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vatikan_Apostolischer_Palast_Maria.JPG

The location of the Mater Ecclesiae Mosaic at the Vatican.
Photo provided by LeeAnn Gonzales Rodriguez

This mosaic of the Virgin Mary and the child Jesus is also often referred to as the Totus Tuus , for the words inscribed on the piece, as a tribute to Pope John Paul II’s apostolic motto Totus Tuus which translate as ‘totally thine.’ The motto was borrowed from a book by St. Louis de Montfort.

The complete text in Latin is:

"Totus tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria." ("I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart"

This mosaic image of the Mater Ecclesiae, in turn, was inspired by a restored fresco of the Madonna della Colonna (circa early 1400) found inside St. Peter’s Basilica. It was originally painted on a column in the atrium of the old St. Peter basilica from the reign of Emperor Constantine which has been demolished and replaced by the existing Basilica completed in 1626. This fresco was the only work saved and transferred to the new Basilica upon the completion of Michelangelo’s cupola.

Madonna della Colonna fresco in St. Peters Cathedral
Source: http://www.kofc.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=393:restauro-effigie-della-madonna-della-colonna&catid=37:restauri&Itemid=49

I began my mosaic on July 10,2017 and completed it on October 25, 2017. It does take a lot of time and patience but the process is simple and the materials are readily available and inexpensive. But most of all, it is fun, almost like paint by numbers with paper. Working with tiny pieces of paper seems tedious and slow but it is very rewarding. One tip: after you have decided on your color scheme and light, dark and medium tones, make a goal of working on your mosaic a little section at a time (such as just certain parts of the gown) each day, then it won't be overwhelming and you'll feel satisfied that you accomplished something. Soon enough, it will surprise you that you are done.

Whenever I create an icon, I always say a prayer to the Lord and the Saint I am working on to grant me spiritual guidance as I work on it. 

I normally start with the hands and faces

I traced the image using white transfer paper from a cartoon on a tracing paper to an art board. The face is the most difficult to work on, so I start there. If it doesn't come out the way I want it, I do not have to start the entire piece all over again.

then work on the clothes
When working on the robes, it is important to pay attention to your lights and darks for proper draping.

followed by the halo and crown
The halo is from cut up metallic gold paper stock. I added crystal glitter to the crowns to give them sparkle for added dimension and interest. 

and then the background.
I decided to be more arbitrary with the background and used tiny pieces of tesserae paper in light blue, pink, yellow and white which I mixed up and applied randomly.  I added some gold leaf on top of some of the tesserae. once the background was completed, I sealed the entire piece with gloss Mod Podge for protection. Once that dried, I added further embellishment to the crowns with rhinestones and pearls.

My usual materials for making a paper mosaic are:

·         Scissors

.         Tracing Paper

.         Transfer Paper

·         Art Board (preferably black)

·         All-purpose adhesive (I used Aleene’s)

·         Straight pin with a flower head (to make it easier to hold on to when positioning the tiny pieces of paper

·         A nylon round brush (#4) to apply the glue

·         Water to thin the glue and wash the brush

·         Pencil to draw the image on the board

·         Paper cutout from magazines (I prefer glossy fashion magazines). Instead of paint, the pages of the magazine are my palette. I would find just the right color or tone and cut the appropriate section into tiny paper mosaic pieces at about 2mm x 4mm pieces. Depending on the area I am working on, it could be even smaller than that
.           Mod Podge to seal and protect the paper pieces. It also gives it a gloss finish.

·         Optional: Rhinestones, mini pearls, glitter glue, gold leaf, metallic gold paper for embellishment

I will probably end up using this image for our 2017 Christmas card, as it seems to be my husband’s favorite.

The plan is to have this piece matted (a light blue mat will look lovely with it, I think) and then framed in an ornate gold frame. I will take a picture once it is completely framed and add it here. Then, I am also considering gifting this image for the opening of a new St. Rose of Lima Catholic Parish Church building here in our area.

Framed Mater Ecclesiae Paper Mosaic by jojo sabalvaro-tan

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Mother Teresa of Calcutta Painting

Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Calcuttan Baby (2016
watercolor with gold leaf on Arches 8" x 10" watercolor board
by jojo sabalvaro tan
Maria Teresa of Calcutta(d.1997) became a saint on September 4, 2016 joining a group of holy  men who were alive during my lifetime and became saints - Pope John XXIII (d.1963), Padre Pio Pietrelcina (d.1968), Jose Maria Escriva (d.1975)  and Pope John Paul II (d.2005). These individuals achieved a sort of celebrity when they were alive and they had made a big difference in people lives and even beliefs.

I decided to create a painting of Mother Teresa to celebrate her canonization. I wanted to depict her holding on to a child since it became her number one life mission to take care and shelter the poor and destitute children of Calcutta in India. I had to rely on the many photographs that were taken of her as reference for the painting. The one I adapted this painting from is from Getty Images  labeled ' Mother Teresa and the poor in Calcutta, India, October 1979.'

In the process of painting, I recited this prayer:

The Daily Prayer of Mother Teresa

Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. Amen.

 The progression of the painting:

Applying background colors and basecoating.

Adding detail to the habit and baby

Added gold leaf to background,

Adding detail to Mother Teresa's face and hands.

For the biography of Mother Teresa, here is an excerpt from Britannica.com.

Mother Teresa, in full Saint Teresa of Calcutta, also called Saint Mother Teresa, original name Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (baptized August 27, 1910, Skopje, Macedonia, Ottoman Empire [now in Republic of Macedonia]—died September 5, 1997, Calcutta [now Kolkata], India; canonized September 4, 2016) founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to the poor, particularly to the destitute of India. She was the recipient of numerous honours, including the 1979 Nobel Prize for Peace
The daughter of an ethnic Albanian grocer, she went to Ireland in 1928 to join the Sisters of Loretto at the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and sailed only six weeks later to India as a teacher. She taught for 17 years at the order’s school in Calcutta (Kolkata).
In 1946 Sister Teresa experienced her “call within a call,” which she considered divine inspiration to devote herself to caring for the sick and poor. She then moved into the slums she had observed while teaching. Municipal authorities, upon her petition, gave her a pilgrim hostel, near the sacred temple of Kali, where she founded her order in 1948. Sympathetic companions soon flocked to her aid. Dispensaries and outdoor schools were organized. Mother Teresa adopted Indian citizenship, and her Indian nuns all donned the sari as their habit. In 1950 her order received canonical sanction from Pope Pius XII, and in 1965 it became a pontifical congregation (subject only to the pope). In 1952 she established Nirmal Hriday (“Place for the Pure of Heart”), a hospice where the terminally ill could die with dignity. Her order also opened numerous centres serving the blind, the aged, and the disabled. Under Mother Teresa’s guidance, the Missionaries of Charity built a leper colony, called Shanti Nagar (“Town of Peace”), near Asansol, India.
In 1962 the Indian government awarded Mother Teresa the Padma Shri, one of its highest civilian honours, for her services to the people of India. She was summoned to Rome in 1968 to found a home there, staffed primarily with Indian nuns. In recognition of her apostolate, she was honoured on January 6, 1971, by Pope Paul, who awarded her the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize. In 1979 she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work, and the following year the Indian government conferred on her the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest honour.
In her later years Mother Teresa spoke out against divorce, contraception, and abortion. She also suffered ill health and had a heart attack in 1989. At the time of Mother Teresa’s death, her order included hundreds of centres in more than 90 countries with some 4,000 nuns and hundreds of thousands of lay workers. Within two years of her death, the process to declare her a saint was begun, and Pope John Paul II issued a special dispensation to expedite the process of canonization. She was beatified on October 19, 2003, reaching the ranks of the blessed in what was then the shortest time in the history of the church. She was canonized by Pope Francis I on September 4, 2016.
 "Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier."
Mother Teresa

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Pilgrimage to Berrima Shrine

Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, Penrose Park, NSW, Australia
Photo from: http://penrosepark.com.au/

While we were visiting family in Sydney, we received several invitations to visit the Berrima Shrine. We were finally able to go just a couple of days before we left. Located about 150 kilometers SW of Sydney, the drive there is pleasant, dotted with rolling hills, farmlands and eucalyptus trees. Catholics of different cultures and languages flock here. It is the melting pot of the Catholics in Sydney. The Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy was established in the mid 1970s in Penrose Park near Berrima. Here you will find Australia's only officially crowned icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Jasna Gora, also known as the Black Madonna. It was brought here from Poland in 1983 and is under the custodianship of the Pauline Fathers.

The Main Altar of the Church
The Crowned Icon of Our Lady of Jasna Gora

The area surrounding the church of Our Lady of Mercy has become a spiritual oasis for Catholics. Set in a typical Australian bush area are 43 chapels built by the different ethnic communities, featuring traditional architecture native to a particular country and dedicated to patron saints from these countries. Most of the chapels are the size of a small room with an altar, some offer seating, others a place to kneel, pray and contemplate. I particularly liked the Indian  Chapel with a life-size figure of Mother Teresa in prayer. For a virtual visit, here is a link to the International Shrines at Penrose Park - http://penrosepark.com.au/international_chapels/

Internatrional Chapels

The Chinese Chapel
The Vietnamese Madonna and Child
The Indonesian Chapel

When we were there, it was the feast day the Italian saint, San Gabriel  Dell'Addoralata also known as St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, who was born in Assisi and is the patron saint of Abruzzi, Italy.  There were hundreds of Italians celebrating, enjoying food and music in large tents set up for the feast. The site is also a very popular place to visit on the 13th day of each month where a procession, rosary prayers and mass is held for the devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. The procession from the church, while saying the rosary, leads up to a grotto, at the edge of the bush,  built atop a hill to replicate where the original miracle of our Lady occurred in Fatima, Portugal. At the bottom of the hill to the right is a re-creation of the tomb of Christ, similar to what we saw in Jerusalem. You can also follow the Stations of the Cross through the bush.

Our Lady of Fatima Grotto

Of course, we did not miss stopping and praying at the shrine built through the efforts of the Filipinos of the greater Sydney area dedicated to the first Filipino saint,  San Lorenzo Ruiz and also to the second Filipino saint, San Pedro Calungsod.

San Lorenzo Ruiz

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz is a Filipino saint venerated in the Roman Catholic Church. A Chinese-Filipino, he became the country's protomartyr after his execution in Japan by the Tokugawa Shogunate during its persecution of Japanese Christians in the 17th century.
Born: 1600 · Binondo, Philippines
  • Died: Sep 29, 1637 · Nagasaki, Japan
  • Spouse: Rosario Ruiz
  • From Wikipedea

    Prayer to San Lorenzo Ruiz
    O San Lorenzo Ruiz we come to you with confidence as our kin and brother. You have undergone misfortunes and tremendous pains, help us in our trials and frustrations to firmly trust in God's loving Providence and Fatherly goodness. Obtain for us the graces we need, especially: (choose one) 1) Peace and Harmony in the World, 2) Perseverance in our priestly and missionary vocation, 3) Courage and Strength to resist temptations, 4) Generosity in doing God's will and in responding to our seminary formation, 5) other urgent, important and relevant intention may be expressed).
    San Lorenzo Ruiz, we pray for the needs of the Church, for our country, for the peace of the world, and for our particular needs.
    Saint Pedro Calungsod, also known as Peter Calungsod and Pedro Calonsor, was a Roman Catholic Filipino migrant, sacristan and missionary catechist who, along with the Spanish Jesuit missionary Diego Luis de San Vitores, suffered religious persecution and martyrdom in Guam for their missionary work in 1672.
    From Wikipedia

    Prayer to San Pedro Calungsod

    San Pedro Calungsod student, catechist,

    young migrant, missionary, faithful friend, martyr,

    you inspire us by your fidelity in time of adversity;
    by your courage in teaching the Faith in the midst of hostility;
    and by your love in shedding your blood for the sake of the Gospel.
    Make our prayers your own
    (Pause to mention your intentions)  
    and intercede for us before the throne of Mercy and Grace
    so that, as we experience the help of Heaven,
    we may be encouraged to live and proclaim the Gospel here on earth.Amen

    A pilgrimage here to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, the international chapels, the Our Lady of Fatima Grotto and the Tomb of Christ is primarily a religious endeavor but it is also an act of recognition and understanding of different cultures connected spiritually and socially as one  celebrates being Catholic. Visiting the Shrine Of Our Lady of Mercy at Penrose Park is a testament that  different cultures, race, ethnicity and ages can come together in one faith .

    My husband and I in front of the Filipino Chapel
    We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Nani and Janet for taking us here. It was truly a very memorable day. By the way, if you get a chance to visit the shrine, try to allow time to visit the nearby historic town of Berrima and have some tea and scones at the Magpie Café.