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.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Being Creative Everyday

Today, on occasion of the 45th graduation anniversary, I am featuring an article written by my friend and high school classmate at UP Preparatory School, Felice Prudente-Sta. Maria as a guest speaker at an ArtPetron challenge. She is an award winner writer of articles and books, mostly Filipiniana. Her most recent book, The Governor-General's Kitchen, won the awards both in the Philippines and internationally.

I've added translation to Pilipino/Tagalog words used for the benefit of those readers who are not versed in the language or dialect.

A Quest to Perfect the Spirit of Our Humanity

By: Felice Prudente Sta. Maria

The theme this year challenged our young visual artists to look into the Philippines’ many traditional expressions of creativity. Our Manlilikhang Bayan or National Folk Artists Award shows how wide the range of traditional applied creativity can be: gold filigree from Paracale; pottery from Vigan; brass casting from the Maranaw;Mangyan poetry written in ancient, pre-colonial script. In addition there is palm-leaf mat weaving or what we call banig (mat)-making, basketry, and ikat or tie-dye weaving, as well as pinya (pineapple) fabric weaving that integrates intricate sinuksuk. And let us not forget the dexterity in playing native instruments, nor the memorization skills and regimented performing customs required of chants like the Ifugao hudhud, which by the way is on the UNESCO list of intangible treasures so valuable to the culture of the entire world.

An Ifugao living in Hapao Valley was the first Filipino sculptor. His name was Wigan, a rice farmernamed after the principal Ifugao god. One day Wigan the god looked down on the rice terraces and noticed that something was missing from the ritual paraphernalia to place in the granary. There was the rice wine. There was the ritual box. But where was the bulol? The farmer had no idea what a bulol was. So Wigan the god came down from the heavens, walked into the bewildered man’s yard, and took him for ride on the blade of his magical spear. Over the mountains they flew, alighting in Nayun forest. There Wigan the god called upon the Thunderer of the Skyworld to show them an amugawon tree. After it sprang up, Wigan thegod pulled on his thumb and it became an axe. He pulled on his middle finger and it became a big knife. He pulled on his little finger and it became a small very pointed knife for doing fine work. With that amazing hand, the god cut a slice of tree trunk, and worked it till it had a head, eyes, a nose, a mouth, and a body to which he attached legs and arms. Handing over the statue to his namesake,Wigan the god decreed: Give this bulol important role in your ceremony. Put one in every granary, and humbly ask Downstream River Gods to dwell in thestatue and guard your grain. So from the mythical beginning of time, Filipinos valued the making of sculpture.

Petron has inspired competitive photographers and painters to research and rediscover how well rooted they are in a way of life where creativity matters, in a society that values the making of things we can hold or touch and things we grasp only in our minds.

The first painter in the archipelago was a Maranaw from the community’s leading family. His name was Tomingamam sa Rogong. Tomingaman happened to look up at a rainbow and exclaimed, “How I wish those beautiful colors of heaven could be copied in my village.” His twin brother who lived in heaven heard the wish, thought it a marvelous idea, and showed Tomingaman how to make green coloring from kamote (sweet potato) leaves, yellow from turmeric roots, and other colors from other plants, flowers, and ground rock. The first thing Tomingaman sa Rogong painted was the carved prow of his wooden boat used whenever he went fishing or visiting. As his neighbors saw the rainbow colors come to earth, they learned how to paint the panoplong of their houses, the handles of their water scoopers, their tobacco containers and so many other everyday objects. Color added a touch of heaven on earth. And the Maranaw give thanks to their divine ancestor with a ritual that seeks blessings on their brushes and paints before they start work. So even painting traces back to our ancient, mythic Philippine time.

Notice that there is a connection between the mortal and the heavenly in sculpting and in painting, in cultivating the earth and in fishing the waters. In mythic time and space people are not to forget their relation with the divine, and their responsibility to live a divinely-inspired life. For every act of making, every act of creating emulates the divine creation.

It may just be ancient myth from days of animism that we are recalling now. But as we seek a worldwith the highest standard of living for all, should we not also seek the highest quality of being? Should we not reach deep into our hearts and way up into our higher consciousness so that whatever we make is a means towards the perfection of humanity… towards the perfection of what we Filipinos call our pagkatao (humanity)?

Apolinario Mabini -- that brilliant lawyer of the Philippine Revolution who was General Emilio Aguinaldo’s principal thinker on the cabinet --reminded in the True Decalogue: Do not depart from the path of goodness and justice in order to attain thy own perfection and thus contribute to the progress of humanity. The teenage law student Emilio Jacinto -- adviser to Andres Bonifacio who inspired by Jose Rizal and the La Liga Filipina, became the principal spirit behind the secret Katipunan that sparked the Revolution --wrote in the Kartilla: Ang may taas na kalooban inuuna ang puri kaysa pagpipita sa sarili. One who has a high inner spirit puts honor, goodness and virtue before self-interest. In contrast he said, whoever has a lowly or a base inner spirit puts self-interest before honor, goodness and virtue.

As we make, as we create our lives everyday and the things and the ideas, the initiatives with foresight and the responses with clear judgement… may we create with high inner spirit… with honor, goodness and virtue. That is why creativity is so fundamental to civilization. We must nurture creativity because as we make our way of life everyday, as we respond to challenges simple and terrifying, as we live our lives dealing with others we remember that we must “make” inspired by perfection… we must live inspired by our highest humanity… we must create solely seeking to ennoble everything in our everyday.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Galapagos Green Sea Turtle

Here is my painting from this week's workshop. It is of a Galapagos Sea Turtle. The instructor had suggested that we were going to paint a Koala bear for one of our class projects. And I asked if we can do a sea turtle. He found a great image of a sea turtle in www.gettyimage.com. It was so beautuful and colorful. During our entire class, we discussed color and all the possible ways we can add texture and dimension to the painting. There was sea salt and common table salt, spritzing with water, scraping with the palette knife, saran wrap, sponging, sanding with sand paper and many more. My classmates and I were all intimidated to start the painting since it is turning out to be quite complicated. I got a lot of ribbing for suggesting the subject matter.

At home, once I got started with my painting, I really enjoyed it. It was fun working with the colors of the turtle and trying out all the different techniques. If I paint another one, I will use deeper values on my turtle colors. All the class paintings turned out great and got great critiques. Everyone tried a different technique of texturing on their painting. I used salt and some spritzing and the scrub brush. The instructor even used a plastic bread wrapper - crumbs and all. I think this was our best painting week as a group.We were all pretty pleased with the results including the instuctor. We are all looking forward to seeing our turtles on display in the gallery's front window in November.

Some information about the GALAPAGOS SEA TURTLE from Wikipidea

The Galápagos Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas agassisi) is a subspecies of the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas). It is endemic to the tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific Ocean, They are often categorized as one population of the east Pacific Green Turtle. This title is shared with the other Green Sea Turtle nesting populations inhabiting the Pacific Ocean. More specifically they are referred to as the Black Sea Turtle due to their unique dark pigmentation. The Galápagos Green Turtle is the only population of Green Sea Turtle to nest on the beaches of the Galápagos Islands and this fact is the derivative of their name.

It has been difficult for researchers to obtain valid information on the lifestyles of the Galápagos Green Turtle due to their continuous migrations and submergence in the ocean. The Galápagos Green Turtle, along with all other population of Green Sea Turtle, is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. All populations are still suffering reductions in numbers despite the many conservation efforts being practiced

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Ceviche Recipe Quest

After I tasted the shrimp ceviche at Guava's Restaurant in Westmont, Illinois (see my 4/25/2010 post), I decided to go on a quest for the best shrimp ceviche recipe. I looked through my collection of cookbooks and then through a number of websites with many variations on the recipe. I ended up combining several recipes for the final one that I used to make the shrimp ceviche for Mother's Day. It was a definite hit!

Shrimp Ceviche

2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 quarts water
4 tbsps Kosher salt, plus a dash or two for final seasoning
1 c fresh lime juice
1 c fresh lemon juice, plus juice of one lemon for final seasoning
1/2 c fresh orange juice
2 cups finely chopped red onion
2 c cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/4 in pieces
4 Serrano chiles, seeded and finely chopped
2 c tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 Haas Avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1/2 in pieces
3/4 c chopped cilantro leaves, plus some whole leaves for garnish

In a large pot, bring to a boil 4 quarts of water, salted with 4 tablespoons Kosher salt. Once the water comes to a boil, add the shrimp to the pot and cook for 1 minute to 2 minutes max and immediately turn off the heat. Let the shrimp sit until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove shrimp from the water with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Once completely cooled, drain the shrimp. Cut each piece of shrimp in half, place shrimp in a large stainless steel bowl. Add lemon, lime and orange juices. Cover and refrigerate for a half hour.

Stir in red onions, cucumber and chiles. Refrigerate for at least another hour.

Prior to serving, peel, seed and cube the avocado into 1/2 pieces and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon on it. Stir in the diced tomatoes, avocado, cilantro into the shrimp mixture. Add the juice of 1 lemon and a salt to taste as final seasoning. Garnish with whole cilantro leaves.

I served the ceviche in a large decorative bowl and martini glasses for the guest to help themselves to their individual servings. I've also used shot glasses for smaller servings.

This recipe serves 16 and more, if using shot glasses.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My First Art Exhibition

I just came from the Bartlett Village Hall Gallery to pick up two of my artworks that was on exhibit there. It is the first official exhibition of any of my works. I've had a few pieces that was auctioned and raffled at charity fund raisers before but not formally exhibited. One of my quilts collected more than $2000 for the Red Cross 911 fund. A basket with a painted box lid was auctioned at a breast cancer cure fund raising event.

Back to the exhibit. The exhibit was sponsored by Arts in Bartlett, an organization that promotes the appreciation of the arts in Bartlett and the surrounding towns. This was a members only exhibit and they have a major juried exhibition where all artists are invited to participate. This occurs in the summer. For more information on Arts in Bartlett, please visit their site at: http://artsinbartlett.org/

The Exhibition Program

Here are the pieces I exhibited:

Village of Bartlett Box, acrylic on wood

Mother and Child, 2008, watercolor (This was the artwork I used on my 2008 Christmas card)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It Must Be Color

It must be color that inspires me to create. I just love playing with color. That is why my favorite hobbies have involved the use of lots of color. I've always enjoyed sewing because of all the myriad of colors present in fabric and thread. In the early part of my home making, I made some of my own clothes and items for our house such as curtains and bed spreads.

I also love what is called the needle arts. I did crewel embroidery and cross stitch for years until it became difficult for me to see the charts. This hobby was especially convenient for me when I was working since I can take whatever project I was working on and supplies, fabric, thread, chart, scissors, with me in a small pouch whenever I travelled on business. I learned to crochet afghans from a co-worker at a bank I worked for. We had Wednedays off and a group of us would gather at her house to crochet. I also fairly recently learned how to knit. Again, the colorful yarn calls to me. I found this yarn shop in Chicago's Gold Coast area where the rich and famous women gathered around a table in the shop to knit. Oh, the stories you hear. Whenever I was at our condo downtown, I would join these ladies at the table and consequently, learned how to knit.

I learned how to quilt after visiting a quilt store in Wisconsin and seeing a quilt on display that I liked. I had never quilted before that and the store owner assured me I can do it and helped me pick out fabrics and supplies. Once I got home,with instructions in hand, I tackled the project with gusto once and relished in completing block after block. Now that I know about all the quilting rules, I'm surprised that I ever finished that quilt. I really enjoyed making it and so I enrolled in local quilt classes. I must have made more than 30 quilts to date and have many more UFO (unfinished objects) which are on my list of things to do. I love quilting mostly because I enjoy picking out the fabrics that will go into it.

First Quilt - Log Cabin Angel

I also made cloth and porcelain dolls and their clothes. I found this wonderful lady near my house who taught me to make reproductions of antique German and French porcelain dolls.

One of the porcelain dolls I made. I also made the dress and hat.

The most difficult part to paint are the eyelashes. We used liner brushes with just 2 or 3 hairs on them.
I also did ceramics. It was fun to transform green clay into something very colorful and useful or decorative. I made many ceramic pieces some of which I still use to this day. I am most proud of a 30 piece Nativity set that I set out on display on Christmas holidays.

One of my newest hobbies is jewelry making. Here again I like working with all the colorful beads and findings. Part of what I enjoy the most is the hunt for beads and accessories to put in the piece I am designing. I learned to bead by chance also. My husband and I were walking around the quaint shops in Geneva, Illinois and happened upon a small bead store. I was immediately smitten by all the colorful beads. Since there was no other customer, the owner of the shop sat me down and showed me how to make jewelry. I finished a necklace right there and then.

When I was in high school, my father taught me how to make paper mosaics for an art project. My piece won a ribbon and happens to be my first art work that I sold. Our art teacher purchased it. My passion for making paper mosaics was reignited by my last visit to Italy and seeing the wonderful mosaics in churches especially the Vatican. The paper for my mosaics come from pages of magazines. I sometimes go through 10 or more magazines just looking for the right hue and value of a color.

"Let There Be Peace on Earth", one of my mosaic pieces.

I've painted for as long as I can remember. I had more formal training in watercolor painting in college as we made washes on our architectural drawing plates. Like many, I was inspired by instructional TV artists and taught myself to oil paint with some guidance from my Daddy, who is an artist.

"Ballerina"- one of my early oil paintings

I also painted in acrylics, mostly folk art Americana stuff on wood. I took acrylic painting lessons at a place called Banbury Fair located nearby. It is a quaint store in downtown Bartlett. Other than my watercolor painting, this is where I became most prolific. I painted many a wood piece in acrylics like the one shown below:
A Halloween Box

Nowadays, I've devoted most of my free time to watercolor painting and started taking lessons with well known artists in the Chicago area. I still do some knitting, quilting, jewelry making and acrylic painting but, for now, I enjoy watercolor painting the most.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ode to a New Love

April is Poetry Month and in the spirit, I wrote this poem to a new love I just met yesterday.

Ode to a New Love

I am greeted by this new love I seek
His sexy dark looks and body so sleek
To my utter delight
I am breathless at his sight

Everywhere I go
He will be my constant companion I know
I will love having this dazzling young thing in tow
People won't be able to help but say 'Whoa!"

His only aim will be to please me
With fresh eyes I will clearly see
He'll give me the world at the flick of my finger
With him I will always want to linger.

Together we'll visit with family and friends
And learn about the latest trends
He'll take me to movies and concerts
And romantic tropical resorts.

He'll sing to me songs old and new
Tell me stories as if on cue
On playing games we will be hooked
But often, we'll just quietly sit and read our favorite books

Even now, my every wish is his command
He’s quick to deliver my every demand
Oh gee, oh gee, oh gee
I truly love my new IPad Wi-Fi 3G.


My IPad was delivered yesterday and it is a beaut. I pre-ordered it on March 11 and was lucky enough to be among the first to receive the IPad WiFi-3G on its first day of release. The IPad, a tablet computer, is the newest device from Apple. I did a little 'painting' on it using the Sketchbook Pro apps. I will post it as soon as I figure out how. Soon, I hope.

Still another postscript:

Here is a picture of my first attempt at 'painting' on my IPad.... Rivals Matisse, don't you think? Just kidding.