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.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Poinsettia Painting

For the summer, I decided to sign up for a watercolor class on flowers. This is definitely one area where I really need improvement. Somehow, my flowers always come out downright ugly. Unfortunately, the class was cancelled due to low enrollment. I decided to look up the teacher and contacted her to see if I can have private classes with her. We made an appointment to meet and I was to bring my portfolio so she can assess my level of work. She put me to work right away. My first project was a painting of a poinsettia.

My new mentor, Maritza Bermudez, is a Puerto Rican artist who works with watercolors, acrylics and collage. She has lived in the US for many years. She is exhibited in a number of galleries and has received top awards for her work both locally and internationally.

Here is my painting of the poinsettia based on an original by Maritza.

Euphorbia pulcherrima, commonly known as poinsettia, is a species of flowering plant indigenous to Mexico and Central America. The name "poinsettia" is after Joel Roberts Poinsett,[1] the first United States Minister to Mexico,[2] who introduced the plant into the US in 1828. It is also called the Atatürk flower.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Quest for the Perfect IPad Case

Being a person who is a self-confessed accessory addict, I happily embarked on a search for the perfect case for my IPad. You have to understand that I am the person who plays golf occasionally but has to have the outfit, the matching shoes, the latest clubs, etc....same with my other occasional activities like skiing, bowling, just plain exercising and it is especially so with my regular creative hobbies, such as quilting and painting, I have to have the best sewing machine, all kinds of threads, needles, scissors, books, brushes, paints, and every innocuous items that I may remotely need just in case. But most of all, I have to have the bags and cases to carry all these things in style. So with my IPad, it is no different.

When my IPad arrived, I quickly ran to the Apple store to find accessories. I ended up buying the keyboard dock, a car charger, a microfiber cleaning cloth and earphones. I also ordered a Pogo Sketch stylus and had a Zagg Invisible Shield screen protector applied. But my search for a case was not easy. I found most of the stock boring and pedestrian. The neoprene cases, although they came in many colors are what has been seen on many a laptop today. I spent hours searching the Internet but I really am a person who has to actually see and touch a product before I buy. I resisted the official Apple IPad case because it was black. But, since I did not find anything as functional, I bought one. It had a built in stand and seemed very sturdy and did not add very much weight or bulk to my IPad. The case cleaned up like new with a soft damp cloth. One of my biggest complaints is that I have to take the IPad out of the case every time I have to put it in the keyboard dock. And taking the Ipad out and putting it back in the case is a struggle especially if you have arthritis. The IPad fits extremely snugly in the case which is good thing but also a bad thing when you have to take it in and out of the case. I found that now with the repeated ins and outs that it is a little looser, but just so.

The other thing I would have added to the case is a strap or something that will hold it close. I carry my IPad in my purse. Of course, I bought a new one that fits it with the rest of the stuff I carry on a day to day basis. I find that the case opens up in the purse and the IPad is exposed to dirt and scratches, etc. I tried to find a sleeve but none of them fit my IPad with the case and the ones for the net books are tad too big. So, I experimented with making a custom sleeve for my IPad. I made two prototypes so far. I used three different Japanese inspired prints for the first one

and on the second, I used a shiny waterproof vinyl material for the outside and lined the inside with ultra suede and bound the whole thing with a contrasting Japanese print as an accent.

I liked how they turned out and most of my friends who have seen them have requested that I make them one also.

This does not stop my quest by any means. I just saw that Louis Vuitton is releasing a case next year. I think I have to have that one.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Victorian Farm House Painting

This is one of our last projects in my watercolor workshop with world-reknowned watercolor artist, Dick Shipley.We resume classes again in the fall. We were given the reference material for the Victorian Farmhouse in sepia tones and were instructed to reproduce it using only three colors from our palette. I chose cadmium red, quinacridone gold and French ultramarine for my colors, knowing that with this basically primary color grouping I will be able to reproduce many of the colors and shades I wanted. I did a light wash of quinacridone gold on the entire painting and that came out a pale yellow. Then, I dropped in all the darkest values in French Ultramarine, using the cadmium red to even darken the values. For the foliage, I mixed the gold and the blue in varying proportions to get the greens. I used the cadmium red on the roof and touched it with both the quinacridone gold and French ultramarine to vary the color and value. I also used the red and some golds as accent. You will find them in the eaves among other places.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Songs of My Life

A high school classmate of mine was here a couple of weeks ago visiting from the Philippines and we went on a road trip from Chicago to Orlando, Florida. I lent him my IPod to amuse him on the long trip. I had about 3000 songs in it and during the trip we had lots of discussions about my choice of music. We shared memories that some of the songs brought back, especially from our high school and college days. It led me to thinking about what my top favorites are. It was hard to narrow down until I decided to concentrate on which one evokes the memories that I hold most dear in my life.

Here goes: (Double click on html to see video of song. To go back to my blog just hit arrow back.)

I Love You More Today Than Yesterday by the Spiral Starecase - This song is my husband's and my theme song. When we were dating we used to play it all the time on the 8 track player in his green Mercedes Benz 200. The summer of 1970 was especially memorable, we were happy, carefree, in love with each other and with life even in the midst of the rising storm of the student activists movement.

I Love You More Today Than Yesterday

Blue Moon by The Marcels is a song we sang in our Glee Club in my first year of high school and has since become the theme song of my freshman homeroom, Everlasting. To this day we sing it whenever a group of us get together. Nobody really recalls why this song caught on to being our class song but we all feel very nostalgic about it. This year we celebrate our 45th high school graduation anniversary and I am sure it will be a feature in the reunion. I am even writing a novella entitled Blue Moon as a tribute to my classmates on the occasion of our 45th graduation anniversary and almost 50 years of friendship.

Blue Moon

American Pie by Don McLean - This song and Ain't No Sunshine by Bill Withers always remind me of the cross country road trips we used to take in the 1970s.These played constantly on the car radio that my mom thought they were broken records since American Pie is epic and especially when Bill Withers starts singing the coda on Ain't No Sunshine - "And I know, I know, I know, I know, I know , I know ...." almost in perpetuity. Everytime we hear these songs, we laugh and reminisce about those days when we started our journey to discover North America. Although, for the sake of time, I must admit that we travel more by air now, we still try to schedule a road trip to the different States and Canada at least once a year, even revisiting many of our favorite areas.

American Pie

Bayan Ko by Freddie Aguilar always brings tears to my eyes, It is considered by many Filipinos as the second national anthem of the Philippines. My dad loved this song and had us singing it at the piano when we gather together (which is often!) especially during the martial law days in the Philippines. The song was originally written in 1929 as a protest song against American occupation of the Philippines and became more meaningful in the 1970s and 1980s during the Marcos dictatorship years when basic rights and liberties were taken away from the Filipino people.

Bayan Ko


Once I Loved and other songs by Astrud Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim, along with the music of Sergio Mendez, The Brazil 66 and Santana, introduced me to Latin jazz rhythms that I now love. This genre is my number one favorite. My love for this type of music has expanded to Afro-Latino rhythms and dance. I enjoy dancing to lively latin music, particularly the merengue, salsa and mambo.

Once I Loved


Cherish by the Associations will always remind me of my college years, my fickle heart then and all the boys I had crushes on. I can't remember most of their names now but I vividly recall the feeling of happiness from just a glimpse or a word from the boy du jour and the dejection when they don't even know I exists. This song never fails to tug at my heartstrings and bring back those feelings.



Somewhere from The West Side Story - I love Broadway plays and this song may be the first one that introduced me to that genre. I now have many, many more favorite show tunes, including those from movies. Somehow, this particular song is the one that I burst into when I just feel like belting out a song anytime, anywhere. It must just be swirling in my head waiting for the moment of release. I must sing it a lot unconsciously because when one of my admin assistants who came directly from India was asked during a team building exercise what song is constantly in her head, she sang, "There's a place for us......" Do you have a song like that?


I Saw Her Standing There by the Beatles - My first favorite Beatles song and the one that made me a fan, I remember dancing , more like bouncing, to the 45 rpm playing on my little portable turntable with my cousins and friends. We felt very carefree, a gift, I believe, the Beatles gave our generation. Thank you, John, Paul, George and Ringo.

I Saw Her Standing There


Fur Elise by Beethoven is the first piece where I formally became aware of classical music. The piano teacher played it to inspire me to pursue piano lessons. I tried, but I guess I can not corner the market on talent. Of course, what I did not know as a child is that classical music was everywhere. It has since opened for me the world of opera and the beautiful arias that I enjoy so much today. My current classical favorite composer is Puccini.

Fur Elise

On Eagle's Wings (Church Hymn). This song is based on Psalm 91 and is a sad one for me as it reminds me of the death and funeral services of my mommy and daddy. It was sang at their services. I started to cross stitch the lyrics of the song after my mother's death and finished it right after my father's demise 10 years later.
On Eagle's Wings

I invite you to come up with a similar list.