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.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dr. Shari's Mission (Meme na, Anak) painting

Meme Na Anak, 2011
8"x10" watercolor on paper
Watercolor by jojo sabalvaro tan
Commissioned by Dr. Shari L. Sabalvaro

My cousin, a doctor in the Philippines made it her mission and advocacy to promote breastfeeding in the Philippines. she traveled North and South, East and West to every region in the Philippines to train mothers about the benefits and techniques of breastfeeding. She requested that I paint a mother breastfeeding to display in her office. This is the painting I created for her.

Many have asked me how long it takes me to paint a piece. This particular piece took me two days, from the time I laid pencil to paper and signed the work. It was done on Strathmore 140# weight watercolor paper using my medium of choice nowadays, watercolor. What took long, is the preparation prior to when I make a mark on the paper for the painting. I puzzled at whether the painting should be in the renaissance or medieval themes I am normally drawn to or try something different. In the end, I decided on a Filipino ethnic theme, an Ifugao mother breastfeeding her child. I looked through numerous breastfeeding photos on the Internet for inspiration.

On a side note, during my research I found out that many photos and artwork of women breastfeeding have been banned as obscene from some sites on the Internet, including Facebook, Just to avoid all the rigamarole and hoopla, I will not be sharing this particular blogpost on Facebook or any other social networking sites. I will share it with my friends via email. You are welcome to share this post with others, but please consult 'Prudence' first (trying to be funny here...ha..ha) so as not to offend some folks' sensibilities.

Finally, after several weeks of mulling, I was ready to sketch. I would have several ideas for paintings percolating in my brain for weeks or even years. I made several small sketches until I had one that I liked enough to use. On these sketches, I play with values and sometimes test out colors. I prepare a cartoon of my final drawing either on drawing paper, tracing paper or vellum. This cartoon will be the actual size of the painting. I tried painting this on Yupo, a synthetic paper made of 100% polypropylene, but was unsuccessful as I was unaccustomed to using this type of surface. So I restarted using watercolor paper.

I try to size my paintings to fit ready-made mats and frames, if possible. This saves money eventually, as you do not need to have custom mats and frames which tend to be costly.

From Wikipedea:
A cartoon (from the Italian "cartone" and Dutch word "karton", meaning strong, heavy paper or pasteboard) is a full-size drawing made on sturdy paper as a study or modello for a painting, stained glass or tapestry. Cartoons were typically used in the production of frescoes, to accurately link the component parts of the composition when painted on damp plaster over a series of days (giornate).Such cartoons often have pinpricks along the outlines of the design; a bag of soot was then patted or "pounced" over the cartoon, held against the wall to leave black dots on the plaster ("pouncing").

I remember employing this early method of transfer during my childhood in order to transfer embroidery designs unto cloth. Back then, instead of soot, we used starch tinted with a bluing agent. The blue pin pricks disappear in the first wash. These days, I transfer my drawing from the cartoon to the watercolor paper using Saran transfer paper and when done lightly it also disappears almost completely as you paint. I then make appropriate adjustments to the drawing itself prior to applying any paint.

I finished the baby on the first day and the mother, the next. When I first started painting, the first application of paint is the hardest as to me it foretells if a painting will be successful or not. But with time and practice, I came to realize that many mistakes turn into happy opportunities and sometimes is the one thing that makes the painting more interesting. For example, on my original sketch, the mother's left arm was exposed but as I was painting the mother's skin, I was unhappy with how it was turning out, so to avoid painting more skin, I decided to cover up the arm with a depiction of an Ifugao woven cloth. I think it made for a better composition and painting.

Hope you like it, Shari. Now, how do I get this to the Philippines?

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. Wow! thank you very much for a very wonderful piece! I will have it printed and hang it on my wall!The picture is very filipino!The way you did it is like breastmilk...fresh fast and fabulous!!!Thanks!!!

  2. Interesting subject.

  3. Wonderful painting

  4. what a beautiful piece as always! the easiest way to let it get to your cousin is for you to bring it yourself hehehe........kidding aside, didnt we really time reunion so you and kuya ruds could join the class? food for thought........maybe one day soon, we will also merit a beautiful painting hehehe.........

  5. Delicate and balanced.

  6. Hi Dr. Shari. My mom, sister and I saw you in television today promoting breastfeeding in the Phils. We are so proud of you. Tita Sonia (your mom) is the best friend of my mom (Tita Miniang Gamboa). My mama is turning 80 this year. Papa Jaime Gamboa passed away in Nov 2010. Keep up the good work and God bless. Chi Gamboa - Hope you remember me...your playmate.

  7. Hi Chi,
    So nice to hear from you!Yes, I still remember you!How's Tita Miniang? I am on Facebook Shari Ludovina Ladaw Sabalvaro.or slls_0414@yahoo.com....see you there!Thanks for watching, lets meet soon!Regards to Tita Miniang!