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.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Painting a Field of Flowers vs Doctors & Hospitals

Ah, why do the practical stuff in life such as doctors and hospitals interfere with one's pursuit of being a polymath. Anyway, the one year anniversary of my open heart surgery is fast approaching so my doctors are eager to see how I am doing... In the last few days, I had appointments with both my internist who ordered a battery of blood tests ("Cholesterol levels ok but could use improvement.") and my cardiologist ("I'm happy with your progress, just continue whatever you are doing.") The cardiologist has also ordered another liver function test ("We need to watch your liver enzymes.") and a stress test ("Happy One Year Anniversary.") And, of course, the comment I always wait for from all my doctors, any time, any day.... all together now - "Eat Less, Exercise More." Overall, both doctors are pleased with my progress, so I am happy.

Just as things on the medical front are quieting down, my brother returned from his doctor's appointment the other day needing another angiogram (his third!). So it was another whole day spent at the hospital while my brother was having his procedure done. It gets bad when the nurses and aides start to recognize you, and you are not even the patient. Thankfully, we got the best news possible, everything is ok with my brother's heart.

Well, all of these doctors and hospital time took away from my painting time. Again, I wish I could have done another field of flowers painting to submit for this week's critique. I should just be thankful that I can call this painting finished. The instructor may not think so, but isn't art in the eyes of the beholder?

Check out the "before" version on my April 23, 2010 post.
The critique of my Field of Flowers did not turn out too bad as I was the only one in class who did a fair amount of negative painting, which was the teaching objective of this particular painting, apparently. But, I did get busted for submitting a still wet painting. Oh, well.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Boise Cascade Office Products Friendship Quilt

I thought, I'd share with you this quilt that I made after I retired from Boise Cascade Office Products (now OfficeMax) after completing 28 years of service.

After I retired, I joined the Jo's Little Women Club at A Touch of Amish, a quilt shop in Barrington, Illinois. It was a combination quilt and Civil War history class. We made quilts using Civil War reproduction fabrics and patterns by quilt and fabric designer Jo Morton. My quilt consisted of 16 six inch blocks of various muted color floral print fabrics and a light beige print center for signatures. I always use 100% cotton fabrics and I did not pre-wash since this quilt will be a wall hanging.

Since I only had 16 blocks to work with, the most difficult part is deciding who among my friends at Boise Cascade Office Products should be included in the quilt. I decided that I should choose the ones that represented the highlights of my career and life at the company.

I constructed all the blocks first. I had fun with this process since the memories just came flooding in as I was sewing the pieces together and thinking about the persons who would be signing the blocks. After I completed all the blocks, I then mailed it to my friends across the country, along with the permanent brown ink fabric marker and illustrated instructions on where and how to sign the block. I also provided a SASE so they can return the signed blocks to me.

I received all the blocks in no time. Not only did they sign it but they each also added a meaningful sentiment. I put the blocks together separated and bordered by 1 1/2 inch sashing of green floral material. I framed the sashed blocks with a wide border using a muted coral print fabric. I then added the cotton batting and a backing of the same fabric I used as the wide border. Then I hand quilted the blocks and free motion machine quilted the wide border in a meandering pattern. After quilting, I bound the quilt with the green print fabric I used for the sashing. Binding is actually my 2nd favorite of all the steps in making a quilt since it signals I am almost done. My favorite step is picking out the fabrics. I love how the quilt turned out and the memories it brings.

You may be able to find the original pattern for this quilt from Jo Morton - Prairies Hands Pattern at: http://www.jomortonquilts.com/

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Christening and Tapas

Gianna Gutierrez was baptized today. She is in the third generation of a Filipino-American immigrant family which originated in Rosario and Taysan Batangas, Philippines. Her family is part of my extended family here in Chicago. Let's see if I can explain the relationship. She is the daughter of my brother's wife's sister's son.

The dramatic christening ceremony, officiated by Gianna's uncle Father Mario, was held at Visitation Church in Elmhurst and was followed by a reception at Guava's, a Latin-style tapas restaurant in Westmont. The food and service was great. I would definitely come back and recommend this place to others. We had the following:

Calamari Frita with peppers and smoked tomato salsa
Baby Green & Goat Cheese salad with dried cherries and spicy candied pecans
Shrimp Ceviche with avocado
Steak Churrasco with chimichurri sauce
Mexican-StyIe Corn
Steamed Mussels with spanish chorizo and saffron butter
Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

My favorite was the shrimp ceviche. It inspired me to try to make ceviche here at home. I think I will make looking for the best ceviche recipe my next culinary quest.

For those interested to find out more about Guava, here is a link to their site:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Afternoon Tea Party

An afternoon tea party is one of my favorite parties to give. There is a certain traditional casual elegance to it that really appeals to me. And I love how it inspires conversation among the partakers. At one point, a long time ago, I wanted to go into the afternoon tea business, catering to bridal showers and other celebrations. Over the years, I have collected quite a cache of tea party paraphanelia - a lot, I received as gifts from friends and family who appreciate my love for tea parties.

Today, I had one of those tea parties here at home for my girlfriends from my former workplace, Boise Cascade Office Products (now OfficeMax). It surprised us how much we remembered of old co-workers even going back to the mid-70s. We had quite a laugh about how different things were when we first started at Boise in 1976 - it was the time of IBM punch cards, columnar pads, cigarette smoking in the office and free health insurance.

Any way, back to the tea party. I find tea parties simple to prepare. For this one, I served two kinds of tea - Peach and Berry Nice. I use loose tea so I provided tea strainers. I used my mom's old Royal Albert Flowers of the Month tea set with the month on the cups corresponding to the birth month of my guests. They all thought this was a nice touch.

I made my scones from an old recipe and kept it plain - served with Devonshire cream, lemon curd and cherry preserves. For sandwiches I made, cheese pimento, ham and pepper jack cheese with thin slices of red radish, chicken salad with thin slices of tomato, egg salad on pumpernickle bread and an open faced shrimp sandwich.

Open-faced Shrimp Sandwich Recipe


Slice of French Bread
Olive-Pimento cream cheese spread (soften cream cheese, add chopped olives and chopped pimento, salt and pepper to taste)
Thinly sliced tomatoes
Cooked shrimp, small
Lemon zest
Fresh lemon juice
Tabasco sauce
Parsley leaf

Spread olive-pimento cream cheese spread on a slice of French bread, top with thinly sliced tomato, put a small dollop of mayonnaise on top of tomato, pile shrimp on top, garnish with capers, lemon zest and parsley. Add a drop of Tabasco sauce and lemon juice to enhance flavor.

I ordered a variety of mini pastries and butter cookies from a bakery in Geneva, Illinois called Cocoa Bean . Check them out at http://www.cocoabeangeneva.com/. To round it off, I also served some Godiva chocolates and sparkling pomegranate wine.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Field of flowers, hopefully

Here is my work as I came out of class. I finished all the underpainting in class and will work on the overpainting and details before the next class rolls along. We are supposed to paint a field of flowers. Hopefully, it does not turn into a pile of mud by the time I am done. Mr. Perez, our gardener, just planted a bunch of pansies in our front garden. That should inspire me although I won't be able to work on painting until Monday. This weekend, on Saturday, I'm throwing a tea party here at home for some friends and we will be attending a baptism on Sunday. We'll probably get in a round or two of mahjong with the family in there too. The weekend promises to be busy but fun, very much unlike last week where we had a funeral and a one year death anniversary celebration for two of our dear departed friends, Rico Vallejera and Kiko Almeida.

A remembrance:

I am dedicating the newly planted bed of pansies in our garden to my classmate, Emma de la Pena who passed away last Tuesday from breast cancer. I am also dedicating the pansies to all my love ones who died of breast cancer, my mom, my Auntie Emang, my cousin Nancy and my sister-in-law Remmee. May they all be resting in peace.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - a Book Review

I just started reading this book last night and I love it..... I do not think that it will end up in the the realm of English classics written by the Brontes and Jane Austen but it is immensely entertaining and heartwarming so far. I know this may be a little too early to give an opinion on a book since I have only read 107 out of 290 pages but I am really enjoying it. The story, mostly about the German occupation of the Island of Guernsey, is told in a collection of letters from members of an impulsively formed literary society to an author in London. I wish I could have been a member but I really would not have wanted to be in the midst of a conquering army's occupied area. These folks made the most of an unpleasant situation, maintained their sense of humor and endured through their developed love of books and each other. There is quote in the book that I really liked. I googled it and discovered that it is a verse from a poem by Matthew Arnold (1822-1888).

Is it so small a thing
To have enjoy'd the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done;
To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes;

My answer to that is a resounding, "No!" I'm going back to my book now and get more pages in before I leave for my watercolor class.

If you'd like to learn more about the book check out this site: http://books.google.com/books?id=eK0SnBnpkA8C&lpg=PP1&dq=The%20Guernsey%20Literary%20and


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Watercolor Journal

One of my goals is to create a travel journal in watercolor. I decided to start out by going back to our previous trips and peruse our old albums. It turned out to be a great process since KRuds and I are able to reminisce about our trips and remember the feeling of actually being there again. The journal page shown is of our trip to Beijing in 1999. Here I painted KRuds with the Great Wall in the background, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Good Harvest. On my next journal, I will go for heavier weight paper to avoid buckling with the washes. This one is 6"x 12", 130lbs and spiral bound. I thought I would not have a problem with buckling since the paintings are small. Surprisingly, it held up to using a scrubber. I use a large bulldog clip to hold down the pages.

A word on 1999:
1999 was a special year since I got to see many UP Prep '65 classmates for the first time in almost 30 years or more - in LA while visiting Daddie Albaladejo Matic during one of my business trips and in NY for the first official function of our classmate, Linglingay Fonacier Lacanlale, as Consul General. It is definitely one of the more memorable years in my life.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hello to Finding Art - Passport to Creativity

On a regular basis, I will be sharing my creative endeavors. Today, I am looking at my watercolor class project (shown on the right) from last week to see if I need to make any changes. Every week, our instructor gives us a picture to paint. Seldom do we complete the work in class, so most of the painting is done at home. Then, it is critiqued at the start of the next class the following week. I did not really don't have time to do any more painting because I  now have to tackle mundane tasks such as cleaning the house, in preparation for the tea party, On Saturday,  I'm throwing  for some girlfriends from my former company. So I will be submitting this project as it is. But, I did still find time to create this new blog site today. I think I will enjoy blogging.