Take me home

But where is home?  

10 years ago, the answer came so easily, like it was the simplest, most natural thing in the world.  It’s like my name or my birthday.  The answer was always the same.  Then, like most Filipinos yearning for a better pay, I moved to Singapore in 2007, and for the first time, left the home that I had known since I was born.

Soon came the classic signs of homesickness.  Regret, sadness, a lot of self-doubt. 

“Did I do the right thing?”

“Why did I come here?  It wasn’t so bad back home.  I was ok, I had a car, I can buy Starbucks coffee.”

“I promise I would just save a lot of money and then go back home.”

“I miss my parents and my brothers.”

“I missed my brother’s graduation.”

I missed a lot more family events afterwards.  And then 1 year became 2…then 5…then 10.

So where is home?  I am not so sure anymore.

This is a painting of the Merlion, a symbol of Singapore.  I painted this, as a tribute to Singapore on her 51st birthday last August 9.  Looking back, I realized I didn’t think to do one for June 12.

Out of style

So how do you know what is your style?  How does it manifest itself?  It’s such a mystery to me.  Is it something you purposely do, or something that just comes out naturally?  Do you define it, or does it define you?

I’m not sure if I’ll ever develop my own.  And I have long stopped trying to invent one for myself.  For now, I’ll just carry on until I find my footing, hoping that when I look back, I will find something (hey, that rhymes!).

This is a painting of black birds which are very common in Singapore.  They are everywhere, and I mean everywhere.  I even found two of these in my kitchen once.

Drawing them out

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So for someone who does not possess the talent to draw from imagination, what do I draw?  Well, since I can’t draw what’s in my head, I just draw what I see.  And I mean I really just draw what I see.  If I cannot do a live sketch, I take photos to capture a fleeting image and work on it when I get home.  I take photos of anything that catches my interest-flowers, trees, shadows, windows, doors, staircases, people.  I don’t really have a deep message to convey through my drawings.  I don’t have a cause.  I just draw images that I find pretty and interesting and hopefully one day get to sell them.

This painting shows the trees against the afternoon sun, viewed from a bus window along PIE, Changi area.

Drawing from a photograph

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This has been one of my biggest insecurities as a struggling artist.  For the longest time, I did not quite know what is it that I have.  Is it real talent?  a skill?  a good eye for detail?

Ever since I started this hobby, I often get praises from my family and friends, telling me how good I was in this and not to go back to IT anymore and just turn it into a business.  Well, to that I say, you are my family and friends so I’m not really surprised you would say that.  The truth is, I cannot muster the confidence to turn this into a business.  You see, I cannot draw without a reference.  Let me say that again, I cannot draw without a reference.  I need a photograph or a live model in order to draw.  I was in self-denial about it for a long time, and I forced myself to draw human figures from memory, telling myself it just takes practice.  Sadly, I just can’t.  And so for a long time, I have been struggling with the question “Am I really an artist, or a copyist?”

I am not really a trained artist by profession.  I am, or was, a network engineer (and I can say a really good one) before I embarked on this creative journey.  But formally trained or not, I always thought that real artists have that raw talent to create scenes and characters from imagination.  I don’t have that.  Maybe that’s the reason why I never pushed through with my dream to take up an art course in college.  I didn’t feel like I have the real thing.

Whenever I share this sentiment with people I know, they would respond with the usual “ano ka ba, ang ganda-ganda nga ng mga drawings mo no!”.  Although I am grateful for the compliment, I also feel sad that I cannot get the message across.  This is not me showing false modesty.  This is me being honest about my insecurity.

So I’m calling this blog “Unsettled”, because that’s what I am, that’s how I feel about all this.  Am I on the right track?  Should I carry on?  Am I the only one feeling this way?

My First Post-The Castle on the Hill

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Hello world!  As the blog name suggests, this is an art journal.  It’s not my first one since I also maintain instagram and tumblr accounts.  I used to work in the IT industry before I quit last year to become a full-time mom and housewife.  I’ve taken up drawing as a hobby and I’ve been posting my work in my instagram and tumblr accounts.  I decided to start this wordpress blog to post my thoughts since I did not want to flood my instagram/tumblr feed with my ramblings.  I will most likely use this blog to post my works along with some thoughts.

Well, I’m itching to start on another illustration but I’m out of ideas.  This is the latest one.  In case he’s not recognizable to you, he’s Ed Sheeran.  Or rather, my version of Ed Sheeran.  I can’t get his “Castle on the Hill” song out of my head and I was even humming it while working on this.  My husband says it’s a little bit creepy (my harshest critic ever).  I used to feel really down whenever he says that about my drawings, and I would spend days pondering if I should just quit drawing if it makes me so sad when it’s supposed to relax me.  Lately though, it  doesn’t get me down anymore because I kind of accepted that I can only come up with creepy illustrations.  I don’t really aim for “creepy” whenever I draw.  In fact, I WANTED so badly to come up with happy, warm, cute, whimsical drawings.  I combed through a lot of artists’ Instagram feeds for inspiration, and I really tried to tone down the creepiness factor which is apparently so plain for him to see, but always escapes me.  I thought it was cute!  Gusto ko cute!  I experimented with different media, tried a cartoony, less realistic style, but I eventually stopped because I felt like I was just trying too hard.  I felt so fake.  Truth is, although I like happy drawings, I’m very much drawn to dark, moody illustrations like those of Angela Barret’s.  Her “Anne Frank” and “Beauty and the Beast” illustrations are so wonderful I would buy them all if I could.

Creepy is a word that I never thought would be used to describe my work, but what I can do, maybe deep inside that’s just who I am, yes?  So I will embrace my inner creepiness and continue to draw and paint as long as I could!