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.






Sunday, April 8, 2018

Waiting for the Paint to Dry Project

Waiting for the Paint to Dry Afghan Project 2018
crocheted by jojo sabalvaro tan 


Often, I have to have some other project going when I am painting. It could be reading a book, trying out a new recipe, sewing or doing needlework.  I get impatient waiting for the paint to dry when working with watercolors or acrylics that I start fiddling with my painting and end up ruining it. It's a lesson learned from many a painting that had to be trashed.

I wanted to share with you my latest "Waiting for the Paint to Dry' Project. It is a crocheted afghan based on an online crochet along called Frida's Flowers by Jane Crowfoot. The pattern is available on Ravelry and here is the link :Frida's Flowers.

I was not faithful to the yarn colors used in the pattern. Instead, I used Lion Brand Mandala yarn which comes in  an array  of different sets of variegated colors in each skein. You can take a look at the Mandala yarn collection in this link (http://www.lionbrand.com/mandala-yarn.html). With minor alterations to the pattern instructions, I used an entire skein  with all its different colors and then grabbed another skein which made the colors pretty random and serendipitous, It turned out like how a scrappy quilt would - colorful and fun. If you like just crocheting blocks without having to change colors on every round, this is the way to go. In many cases, the variegated yarn makes it look like you did change colors along the way and as a bonus, you  have less pesky joins and yarn ends to tuck in.


I still want to make this quilt again and follow the colors of the original faithfully since the original is beautiful. For now, I am happy and cozy with this 'waiting for the paint to dry' crochet afghan project.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Watercolor Painting - Inuman Boys



Inuman Boys 2018
by jojo sabalvaro tan
watercolor with ink on watercolor paper
(6 3/4" by 4 3/4")

I received a challenge from some of my classmates to depict the Inuman Boys in one of my paintings. The Inuman Boys (Drinking Boys) is a group of male classmates who met up regularly over beer mainly to talk about the good old days in high school and college, as well as life in general. It is also a time to catch up on what is going on in each others lives as well as news of other classmates and friends. Sometimes female classmates are invited to their get-together and I have had the honor to be included several times during my visits to Manila. The stories told are often very humorous, sometimes sad and always personal. Many of the stories can only be discussed within the group and everyone present know which ones to keep private. The Inuman Boys have met up as far back as high school and continue to do so to this day - that's at least 50 years of what we refer to in the Philippines as nilagang pulong (conversations that have been  rehashed over and over again but still enjoyed), Just like the female version of the group, referred to as The Barkada, they are admired by the rest of the class for their loyalty, solidarity, inclusiveness and love for the rest of the classmates.

This painting is small (6 3/4" x 4 3/4") and was done with watercolors with details defined in ink. I did not realize until I was almost done with the painting that I mistakenly used my non-artist grade practice paper for this painting. No wonder, it was a bit difficult to paint on, scrub out mistakes or even make corrections. Frustration with a capital 'F'.

Now, I am challenging back my classmates to make up a story surrounding this painting. I want to add it to this blog post. It would be fun to hear what stories they will attach to the painting. Though none of the figures are meant to look like any real person, a classmate already remarked, that our classmates have such vivid imagination that they can see several classmate's likenesses in the painting already.

As per the suggestion of one of my classmates, I re-did one of the figures since he appeared too Meztizo (a strong mix of Caucasian with Filipino blood). I think that now with mestizo replaced, the painting is a better representation of the Inuman Boys.

The original sketch on tracing paper
by jojo sabalvaro tan 2018


The original painting with the Mestizo in yellow shirt
by jojo sabalvaro tan 2018
Sophia Loren once said : "You have to enjoy life. Always be surrounded by people you like, people who have nice conversation."

And the Papa himself, Hemingway that is, remarked, "I drink to make other people interesting."


Long Live to the Inuman Boys! Proost!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Easter 2018 Meditation




The Lamb of God (2018 Crucifix Icon)
by jojo sabalvaro tan
on 9"x12" gessoed mesonite

Every year in observance of Lent, I try to create an artwork inspired by the passion of Jesus Christ to help me meditate during the Lenten season. This year, I painted a byzantine crucifix icon. It was painted on a gessoed mesonite board which I had in my art supplies stash. It has been there so long  that none of the paint I tried would adhere to its surface. I had to re-prime it with fresh gesso so I can use it.





I used both tempera and acrylics for this painting, as well as gold paint from Jo Sonja. After I sketched in the Byzantine cross, I covered the background with blue paint  for the sole purpose of creating a demarcation between the subject (the crucifix) and the rest of the board. I whitewashed the blue area for the final finish of the painting, an homage to the plaster surfaces of old buildings. I sketched in the figure of Jesus Christ and a rough idea of the ornamentation I would use.  In my original sketch, I had not thought of including the figures of St. Mary's and St. John but, I decided to add them as I progressed. Above the cross, which represents the plate placed on top of Jesus' cross, I added the words "Behold the King of Glory based on Greek tradition and following St. John's Gospel. Today, the most common inscription is INRI, a Latin acronym for Jesus Nazarene, King of the  Jews, A Byzantine crucifix will often represent the crucifixion scene and include people who witnessed this most momentous event in the life of Jesus Christ. The very foundation of Christianity rests on this ultimate sacrifice the Son of God made as the Saviour of the whole world (iJohn 4:14).






“The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29).

A Blessed Easter to all.






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
Source:https://www.chipublib.org/news/art-exhibit-by-jojo-tan-at-logan-square-branch/ 


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