Courting inspiration

 

I'm currently in the midst of rearranging, realigning, and reprioritising.

Work, paintings, furniture, the closet, the toiletry cabinet, l i f e. I'm sooo close to organising all my camera’s photos from my recent trip to the US and I always stop mid-way. Thank god I've exported most but I can’t seem to get the other chores from my list done before I need to move on to the next pile of stuff to do. Clothes are piling up on my couch. There are too many empty bottles in the kitchen. I’ve run out of toilet paper. I can barely keep my head above water here.

And then, there's this blog.

It's been four years since I last added to it, and if I'm gonna be honest, I only thought to bring this back because I felt bad I was paying for a domain I barely even use.

 

Do people still blog?

Probably not. The way people consume media has changed drastically since the age of LiveJournal, Wordpress, and Tumblr. I even forgot about the RSS reader I used to scroll over on a regular basis. But long gone are the days of the 'blogpost.' Not actually sure why I opened my blog up again. Maybe a part of me is somehow desperate for inspiration; to maybe find the lost fervour I once had for painting. I used to finish piece after piece in a matter of days, and wrap-up two gargantuan works in a month. Now, I can barely finish ONE painting. It would come to a point where I would have to force myself to paint on some days. But I never end up with finished work. I'd either stop half-way, or suddenly decide I hate everything about my work and start maniacally painting over everything, then regretting doing so the morning after like a cliché one-night stand.

 

So, I figured I could start with my workplace.

Alright, my studio has never looked... tidy lol and it always takes me hours to rummage through my box of paints and organise a palette when I start work. I'm pretty notorious for procrastinating and I have to admit that staring into the mess I've made, while I'm taking a break from painting, actually discourages me to finish work. So, yes, therein lies my problem. I'm too. damn. messy. The changes I ought to make should hopefully get rid of that and my mind would probably cease to be messy if my studio (and apartment) isn't.

 

Here's the quote that shook me to my core and blatantly pointed out how incompetent I am as a creative professional lol it's amazing how a stranger's words can sum things up to a damn tee; I honestly felt personally attacked just shy off the first few pages haha 

 

When I lived in the back of my Chevy van, I had to dig my typewriter out from beneath layers of tire tools, dirty laundry, and moldering paperbacks. My truck was a nest, a hive, a hellhole on wheels whose sleeping surface I had to clear each night just to carve out a foxhole to snooze in.
The professional cannot live like that. He is on a mission. He will not tolerate disorder. He eliminates chaos from his world in order to banish it from his mind. He wants the carpet vacuumed and the threshold swept, so the Muse may enter and not soil her gown.
— Pressfield, Steven. (2002). The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle.

Easier said than done, Steven. I have been holding off fixing the heaping mess of a shithole that is my life, but organising my workplace does sound like a good place to start. I've started making changes, albeit very small. But hey, I really hope they bleed into all the other aspects of my life, and maybe, just maybe, help me lead my lazy ass out of this creative rut I've been in for the past few years.

 

The War of Art is a pretty interesting read, but I've yet to finish it and tell you all about it– and if it really does help wriggle one's way out the staunch grip of a creative rut, or as Pressfield poetically calls it: the Resistance.

I'll be back with a lengthy post filled with photos from my last trip to California soon~

 In the meantime, don't be a lazy-ass like me and go back to finishing whatever it was you were supposed to be doing before you clicked this blogpost!

Quick recap of things before CLOSER opens and a few thoughts

Isang tulugan nalang! 

Hello! As I’ve mentioned in my recent blogposts, I’ll be holding my second solo soon! CLOSER will open tomorrow at the Ishmael Bernal Gallery (UP Diliman), 6:30PM. It’ll be a semi-formal event, folks! So God forbid anyone arriving in pyjamas or something. And yes, (free) refreshments will be served! I hope that’s incentive enough for you to go, haha

Anyway, I’ve probably written too much about my upcoming exhibit.. This website was originally intended to be a repository of art updates and a portfolio to house all my finished works, but lately I’ve been thinking of other ways to put this blog portion of my website to good use. I mean, I’m not an eloquent writer but I’ll try sharing other stuff besides work-in-progress photos this time around. 

This blog post will make like an introduction of sorts (about why I paint the way I do, and why/how I chose to paint the way I do). So, hello! My name is Pamela Celeridad and I make hyperreal (or at least I like to think they’re hyperreal enough) paintings for a living.

How this (whatever it is) all started

If you met me around four years ago, you’d probably be surprised how I got from drawing digital, whimsical-looking (almost comic-book like) illustrations to making full-scale ‘fine-art’ paintings. In all honesty, I did more drawing and illustrating than actual painting around four years ago. So here’s how things went down:

It all started in high school.. Back then, I had this idea that you can never truly make it as an established artist (painter/designer/illustrator/what-have-you) until you’re known for a style unlike anyone else’s. They called this ‘finding your own voice.’  As soon as I started college, I set out to do just that: find my style. I made like a sponge, intently studying and taking in every drawing/illustrating style that appealed to me. But as soon as I approached second year college, I hit a wall. I’ve tried and tested a plethora of styles but I was never satisfied. There was no one style that I ever incorporated consistently. I’d jump from one style to the next (esp. when I see something I fancy) and since I could never decide on one style, I never moved forward. A perpetual experimental stage, if you will. Soon enough, I hit a tough dry spell and couldn’t make anything for a while. I sought out advice from professors, friends, classmates and professional artists alike and what got me back on track was a valuable piece of advice I got from a friend (who will, unfortunately, remain anonymous here as per requested haha):

“Don’t beat yourself up and worry about how it’ll look. Just make sure it says what you want it to say. A style will eventually follow." 

So I went back to square one. All that style-searching for nothing? Not exactly! I’ll never regret the time I spent studying these different drawing/illustrating styles and I would never say I wasted my time learning them. In a way, learning them actually helped me find out what art I wanted to churn out. Now, after I decided on an artist’s statement, I tried to figure out the best way to visually represent it. What I ended up doing at the time was recounting all my favourite forms of art and all the qualities that made me find them alluring:

  • Details captured in photography
  • The magnitude and interactive quality of murals and street art
  • The timelessness and one-of-a-kind quality of a painting

My current style is my attempt at marrying all these characteristics, and condensing them into one body of work. Painting takes the biggest portion in terms of form, but why? (I get this question a lot) Okay, I could try making a list of why I love painting (so much so that I decided to let it take up a huge chunk of my chosen medium) but that’ll probably be too difficult for me (as there are too many reasons) and too boring for you to read! But here’s a few: Somehow, I find the act of painting very intimate (in a painter-to-painting sort of way– if that makes any sense..). And I’ve grown to love paint. I love how vulnerable a medium it is and, like the white expanse of a blank canvas, the possibilities are ENDLESS.

So while my current works aren’t as perfectly hyperreal as I’d like them to be, I’d think this isn’t a bad start. I like the pace I’m going at; I’m learning a lot and hopefully I’ll get better!

In defence of Hyperrealism...

Now this is where things get a bit complicated. Everyone who’s familiar with Hyperrealism is probably aware of the amount of flak this movement has been receiving from critics, appreciators, and the general public. But to give you a little context, here’s what Wikipedia and the rest of the Internet have to say about this genre:

"Hyperrealism is a genre of painting and sculpture that resembles a high quality Photograph, It's the type of art that your mind might not accept it as a hand-made artwork. Hyperrealism is far more advanced than Photorealism by the methods used to create the resulting paintings or sculptures. The term is primarily applied to an independent art movement and art style in the United States and Europe that has developed since the early 2000s."

Now don’t worry, I won’t go as far as giving you a lesson in art history right here. Besides, if you want to know more about the genre from a general perspective, books, historians, professionals, and the Internet would be a better (if not, the best) solution. I mean, this is my blog after all. And this is just my two cents worth on the matter.

Take note that I come from a mindset that used to think 'style mattered.' And at that period in my life, I also used to think that having to draw from reference signified a lack of skill (lel silly Pam hahaha). But I was younger, I didn’t know any better, and I wasn’t as exposed to different genres and forms of art. One of the snidest remarks I’ve ever gotten from my style went a little something like this:

“Isn’t it all a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of thing? I don’t think you could call that art. Sure, it’s a pretty picture. But you just paint everyday things and scenes and you barely need as much imagination or creativity for that. I think you’re better off just taking a damn photo of whatever it is you’re painting."

I was taken aback and a little offended. I mean, I was ready to go all Introduction-to-Aesthetics-and-Visual-Communication on this person's ass but it was a personal opinion so I let it slide. I HATE preachy-preachy artists as much as the next guy so I decided that I’d ONLY say my peace about it when someone asked/really wanted to know why I paint the way I do. I thought it’d be better to put it down in words so I won’t have to repeat myself when the need arises, hence this blog entry. Plus, sometimes I’m tired of explaining to people why my art looks the way it is. So maybe writing it all down here would save me time and saliva. Lel. Okay, let’s get this ball rolling..

My first-ever encounter with Hyperrealism art was when I stumbled upon Linnea Strid’s work (do check her stuff out guys, they are AMAZING). Many of the best hyperrealist works are of the same high-level artistic craftsmanship that Linnea showcases. As soon as I laid eyes on her work, my mind was blown. Back then I never knew such skill could be humanly possible (I may be exaggerating a bit, but know it is because this was how amazed I felt when I first saw her work). Back then, I never understood why people painted this way. I’ve thought of this style a million times over in my head and the only conclusion I could think of was: BECAUSE IT LOOKS SO REAL HOLY SHIT THAT SKILL IS DA BOMB. This was how 16y/o-me felt about Hyperrealism. I’ve tried my hand at it for the first time around second year college and I failed (miserably) but I kept practicing. I kept painting this way without the faintest idea as to why I chose to. But the more I painted this way, the more I understood.

The attention to detail was what drew me to Linnea’s paintings and is the exact same characteristic that drives me mad when I paint (in a good way) to this day. This may sound weird, but what drew me the most to hyperrealism was the act of painting hyperrealistically itself. What fascinated me was the lengths I had to go through to achieve the semblance of whatever I was trying to simulate; the fixation, dedication and duration of time and romantic flare that went into painting hyperrealistically. I fell head over heels.

Now the process of painting hyperrealistically isn’t the only reason why I love it. In response to why I paint ordinary things; things that already exist in real life and things that need no imagination to conjure: I paint the ordinary because I see beauty in the ordinary. This may all sound cheesy, but I can think of no other way to say it. Some people may think that creating art is creating a world of your own, an escape from the real world. Something imaginary. But THAT IS what my art is. Sure, they’re things that you see everyday, but how I see it makes all the difference. I do use photographic references, but I don’t strictly follow whatever I see in the photograph. I put shadows where I want them to be and put light where I want light to shine. I utilize mundane subject matter to disorient people from what is real and make people think: Is what you see what you really get? 

In a way, my paintings are their own pure simulacrum.

I hope this blog entry clears out most of the blurred lines as to why I ‘art’ the way I ‘art’ :)

A little color

I've been on a stubborn black and white phase for months and it's kind of refreshing to work with a little bit of color after so long.

This new painting is one of three (possibly 6, but I'm not quite sure yet) off a series I've been working on! I've been mulling over a common theme for them and I think I've pinned down an idea from last night. I'll write about it soon after I finish the other two that have been gathering dust for the past few days..

Snail's pace

Been trying to catch up with work, albeit rather slowly.. But hey, slow progress is still progress! Hopefully I'll be wrapping these two up by Friday if I work fast enough. My portfolio page still feels bare and I need to churn more work out. 'Til next time!

Transient

Bali 2013

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Instagram snaps

I'm finishing up a few paintings and I've been publishing a lot of WIP photos over on Instagram; below are a few snaps from the lot. It'll take another week (hopefully) for me to finish the first layer of each painting before I add a little something to stir up the composition a bit.