Cyril and the Grain - (more at www.rabblebooy.com)
Secret Garden 2. A companion to this one.
OMG THIS IS ADORABLE
A little project, in process.
Possibly my favorite picture ever and I can’t even explain why I like it so much.
What Feeds the Flowers
A doodle I made over a cup of green tea and green tea cake while hanging out with a good friend.
This afternoon, I had a private audience with one of the Philippines most well-known traditional painters, Araceli Limcaco Dans. Mentored by the late, great Philippine painter, Fernando Amorsolo himself, “Tita Cheloi” started out in portraiture but came to be well known for her highly realistic still-life paintings that incorporate calado. Calado is an extremely delicate, intricately embroidered fabric made from fibres of the pineapple plant, usually used in wedding dressed, vestments, and veils. Tita Cheloi can paint a calado in that difficult to master medium, watercolor, with an insane amount of detail.
“The details, I always do last”, she says. “They’re the cherry on top!”
I first became aware of tita Cheloi’s work at the home of Joy Virata, my friend’s grandma. She had a beautiful watercolor painting in her house of soft, filmy folds of calado hanging from a clothesline. I thought it was such an enticing painting and I found myself staring at it each time I’d visit.
It was only later on in life that I knew it was painted by Araceli Dans, and that she happened to be a friend of my parents for 2 reasons: she was my dad’s art teacher when he was a young’un, and she’s the mother of the manager of my dad’s band, The Apo Hiking Society! Small world.
Last month, I was looking through a coffee table book of her work because I’ve had an ongoing obsession with Philippine lace, and patterns in Philippine embroidery.
I met her in person last night, at my dad’s concert, no less. She is an elegant woman of 80 with striking white hair, and such fabulous skin you’d think she was 20 years younger than her actual age.
Being the gracious artist that she is, she invited me to drop by and see her home and studio. This was an opportunity I knew I couldn’t miss.
I spent about an hour with the lovely tita Cheloi this afternoon. I relish seeing artists work place, as they tend to fill it with their favorite things. Her home was a sprawling 1960s dwelling, with her paintings hanging on every wall. Her bedroom had a lot of old wood, sepia photographs and wooden carvings of animals that seemed to come from all over the Philippines.
She showed me all her paintings, her still lifes and portraits, painted on canvas, and on slabs of slate stone. She plained to me how she she liked to work, how she mixed her paints and on how she liked to put together he calado paintings. She gave me some useful trips on handling acrylic, and some tips on portraiture.
I learned that she got into art because of the need to provide for herself and used to sell her portraits for 25 pesos (now they go for a million), and how she wen she was a student under Amorsolo, she wasn’t aware of how great he’d become and thought of him as just one of her teachers. He now has entire wings of art museums dedicated to him, a street in the Manila CBD named after him, with a bronze statue commemorating him. She also told of how Amorsolo used to pass on some of his portrait commissions to her.
As she spoke, her passion for Philippine culture was evident. I especially enjoyed hearing of her trip to Batanes, that hard-to-reach northerly part of the Philippines, where the houses there are 14th Century structures, made of thick stone walls that have withstood Batanes’ storms for 400 years. “They were built by people with no formal knowledge of architecture”, she explained, “and when you look between the stones at the mortar, you’ll see fossils.”
“The Philippine culture is so, so rich”, she said. “You should travel the Philippines more.”
It was a lovely afternoon, capped off with Pizza Hut, and Sarsi.
I wasn’t able to take any photos, but below is a recent portrait she’s done of a model, incorporating the calado she is so famous for.
I saw her exhibit earlier this year, she’s amazing! And her grandson is my very kooky blocmate. We call him ‘Dans’.