Friday, December 24, 2010

Wishing is Powerful

Happy Holidays!

From the painting,
"Malayang Managinip"
acrylic and pencil on canvas

Available at canvas

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The style of a legend

This particular style is an offshoot from my book Naku, Nakuu, Nakuuu! The stories are legends, one of my favorite genre to illustrate. Ethnic textiles, patterns, fabric, and costumes inspired me to produce this. I can't wait to finish this book for Lampara. I hope to finish it soon! 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When I was Seven

"Mag-impok" (Sold)

"Malaya Ka"

"May Pag-asa" (Sold)

"When I was Seven" was a mini Ang INK group exhibit at the Gallery 7, now moved to The Chocolate Kiss along Roces Avenue corner Sct. Tobias in Quezon City. After visiting at the Tala Gallery along Sct. De Guia along Tomas Morato for Ang INK's Annual Exhibit, please drop by and enjoy these nice art and good food at The Chocolate Kiss.

My works are limited digital giclee print on textured box-type canvas with 10"x 10" size. 


Here's the original post and the story when I was seven years old.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ang INK jumps into the Imaginarium

"The Garden of Forgotten Happiness"

So, what is it like from under the sea of unseen creatures? or beyond the intergalactic space? perhaps it looks much better on the islands of blissfulness? 

Imaginary places are captured and will be sent off on September 19, 2010 signed and delivered through Ang INK's annual exhibit postmarked as "Postcards from Nowhere" to the uninspired mind. The exhibit will make brain waves cling to its vacation mode at the Tala Gallery along Tomas Morato in Quezon City. 

I'm going to leave you a sneak peak of my work, just a ticket to your imagination. Hope to see you there!

Illustration by Aldy Aguirre, poster design by Abby Dayacap

Looking forward to 2010 MIBF

"Gawin ang mga dapat Gawin Ngayon" (Accomplish as much as you can Today) Sold

"Nasa Isipan ang Suwerte" (Luck is only in our minds) Sold

"Magpasalamat sa mga Biyaya" (Be grateful with your Blessings) Sold

"Sulitin ang Oras" (Spend Time Wisely) Sold

It's that time once again to celebrate the most anticipated gathering of book lovers in the country. Going to the Manila International Book Fair is as exciting to hunt and cherish invaluable treasures. I'm glad I'll be taking part of the event at the SMX SM Mall of Asia once again and will be looking forward to meet and greet new people. The 31st book fair will start on wednesday, September 15 until the 19th and opens 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

My book signing schedules will be on the 18th, saturday at 4:00 p.m. at the Tahanan Books booth for my newest delightful book written by Reni Roxas entitled "Ay Naku!." And on the 19th, sunday at the Adarna House booth for my latest "National Artist" book entitled "Ang Tuta ni Noe" written by the National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario. Adarna House will have special contests and events for kids in celebration of their 30th anniversary at the book fair. You might like to encourage your kids to join, here's the link.

I will also have a limited, very reasonably priced artworks on sale at the Lampara Books booth. These eye-candy artworks are featured on this post. These are my latest works done in acrylic on wood, 24"x 32" x 0.8" perfect for visual affirmation, inspiration, and motivation companion.

I like making artworks that instill positive messages while enjoying whimsical art, these motivational words subliminally manifest in the subconscious mind thus empower us to be more productive and be successful in whatever field we pursue. If you are interested in these pieces, please leave a comment.

I hope to see you there and enjoy treasure hunting!

Leaving Something to the Imagination

Admitting myself to interviews is another way of getting to know myself more through introspection. I learn new things about myself and my profession along the way.

An interesting question came up recently had me reflecting about my processes in illustrating children's books. I ponder if I'm going too far interpreting abstract concepts or the viewer has just given up stretching their imagination.

It was a query about literal interpretation and felt I was on a hot seat. "Why were the words illustrated differently?" The question grilled me because I had to explain it in the most simple way, in spite of grappling with words. 

Like every artist/illustrator who's used to visual expression, to articulate your ideas verbally is a dreaded job. But in this information age, writing is a required skill. I opened this blog to practice my writing, as I learned that the only way to practice writing is to simply write. 

So I began remembering how I illustrated the story and fortunately came up with interesting explanations. Here's what I had to say for a page in my children's book, Tight Times, on why I usually illustrate differently from the way it was described:

"In a very technical explanation, depicting an entire sequences of a single, 'moving' scene in the words/texts can be limiting on a single page. Imagine an animated cartoon or movie--through movement and frames upon frames, every scene can be captured. On print or book however, you can only capture a single, 'freezed' frame of the most dramatic, creative, and interesting part of that 'moving' scene so that you can engage the reader to draw further within the story and stretch their imagination.

In the story, I wanted to portray the main character (the kid speaking) as a smart, creative, and sweet young person (in this case, an anthropomorphized mouse). As you observe in the entire book, creativity is the thematic key I used to illustrate and interpret the words/texts in the most 'unconventional' way without staying away much from the literal meaning. The traditional way of illustrating is being literal, my personal view of creating progressive illustrations is to go beyond the literal. Having said that, I illustrated the main character for that particular scene as if he didn't only drew pictures of her mother as read in the texts, but also creatively constructed a one-of-a-kind giant card/frame for her. By depicting this, I hope that the reader can tap on their boundless imaginative mind on what was happening in that moment while there could be lots of other 'moving' scenes going on."

Sometimes, I forget that I'm illustrating for a particular audience: of what we call pure critics disguising as kids. But I hope they can learn so much about art and illustration, young as they are, than merely get amused by them. 

If you are interested to know more about my processes in illustrating children's books, so that you can make the most of reading with children, there are a couple of interesting interviews we've made here:

Aesthetic sense and the toughest Critics

Many ask if the ideas and symbols revealed from my illustrations can be understood by children. Am I thinking and illustrating too much for a child's comprehension? Do kids really care about art and figurative meanings? In reality, symbolism and meanings doesn't matter. But by saying this, we have underestimated a child's imaginative potential. Besides, children are the toughest critics and the hardest to please.

[Update] Here's a wonderful glimpse of how kids process metaphors. Take note that a lot of studies mentioned in the article were done in the 60s. I believe children are much crazily smarter now :-)

Could we really know how children think or feel? As we mature and leave behind our innocence as a child, being an adult working for the young mind can be a challenge. How can you develop reading materials for children if you can't think and feel like a child anymore? Unless you are a child, or retrogress into childhood, we can never really perceive what goes on inside their mind. We can only observe, predict, and scientifically measure their capabilities and behaviors to know what's going on in their shoes. It is in this light that I believe there is no right or wrong way of writing, illustrating, or producing books for children. There are moral and social responsibilities, of course, but basically it runs a gamut of possibilities. 

How should an illustrator know then if his illustration is effective and appealing to children? Moreover, do children about 3 to 6 year olds already have their own aesthetic sense in choosing the books they'd like to read? or at least consider the images to be beautiful? A student who interviewed me posed a similar question: do I ever make a study on my illustrations and its effect on the young mind's aesthetic sensibilities?

Finding answers to this mind boggling inquiry can only begin with a reminiscence of my childhood from when did I first become aware of my aesthetic sense. Though a vague indicator of my early ideals of beauty, I can only recall about the first bag that I had in school. Not even close to choosing for myself but I liked it: it was a very dark brown knapsack with two packets. I can't remember the label but I took good care of it and loved for a couple of years. Until it disintegrated and was time to let go. A six-year-old first grader, I wasn't really keen on design aspects, but perhaps more concerned on the functionality of the bag. During that period I guess my idea of beauty is something treasured and kept: I like to have, that's why I collect. The joy of having first possessions: I like something because I can play and keep it, more than the object's possession of perfect color, proportion, or shape. 

The first book, as far as I can recall, that captured my amazement was a very thick coloring, story, and games book given as gift to my eldest brother. My interest got hyped when my aunt neatly colored one of the pages with crayons and then another page with watercolor! Then I remember this big activity/craft/storybook my aunt have in her shelf at Ilocos that she showed us whenever we spend summer there. The pencil and watercolor illustrations are so wonderful and engaging. The book kept me and my brothers and sisters creatively busy while enjoying our stay there.

I was very scared to explore different areas of our school because some of the teachers are uptight and discouraging. I was also hesitant to go to the library because our librarian was the stereotypical scary lady who always grow big eyes whenever she hears even just a bit of sound inside the library. She even raises her voice when the room gets crowded then lashes a stick on her desk.

I think it was when I'm a third grader that I became appreciative again of the illustrations from a book. My seatmate that time, who happens to be a bookworm and frequents the library, encouraged me to spend class breaks there too. I was very much interested in what he was reading: it was Herge's The Adventures of Tintin graphic novel series. The illustrations looked so good and the form of literature was different for me. I wasn't a fan of long reads unless there are, at least pictures whether beautiful or not, that complements it. I borrowed one Tintin book (I never thought I can borrow one that time, or it was due to borrower's age/grade limit) and read at home, until I realized there was no more title left of the series. 

Gauging from those childhood experiences, I can safely assume, for now, that exceptional works truly standout no matter what. If a child can appreciate beautiful sceneries from nature, a face, or a toy, then most probably he is also aware that what he is reading is something attractive. Through this recollection of childhood memories, it also made me realize that the enthusiasm or joy I had in perceiving wonderful objects or images as a child hasn't changed much until now. Except that perhaps it has developed into a more sophisticated, different, or "adult" level, the same feelings of innocent wonderment is still there. A good art will always be good art. 

If only children are given the license to write, illustrate, and publish their own children's book, that would be the perfect book for them. But in a not so perfect world, we can only guide and please them, and accomplishing that is always a challenge. 


Design on the Airwaves

I had the chance of speaking about book design on live radio. It was nerve-racking, although you can't be seen shaking, it shows through your voice. I just wish I did better, but I think it went pretty well, eventually. The Shelve It show at Jam 88.3 every thursdays at 2 p.m. is an entire hour well spent on book reviews with DJ Lana facilitating who also was very nice and accommodating.

I talked about the design inspirations and processes of our lovely book, Unfolding Half A Century: The Lopez Memorial Museum and Library. It was the perfect project given to me through ArtPost Asia that took merely almost a month to finish, just in time for the yuletide season last year. Just imagine how gruesome the production schedule was. The hard work was all worth it. The book is exquisite, I'm so proud of it.

The inspiration for the book was the museum itself. If you have been to the Lopez Museum in Ortigas, perhaps you have noticed that their charm and strength lie in the maximization of an ample space in one of the corners of the Benpres building. A spectacular wooden door with carvings by the National Artist Napoleon Abueva greets by the entrance. Though the reception hall is a simple business place, when you get deeper inside, more magical surprises await. As you pass through, an entirely new exhibit mounts in another space. As if you have gone through a time space warp in a flash.

That museum experience is exactly what I wanted the reader to feel in the book.

Surprises entice you to keep on reading and turn the pages from cover to cover. There's a narrative upon narrative: the story of the museum's glorious years and the objects and collections create curiosity throughout the book. I was very fortunate to have the privilege in designing the book with creative freedom. The museum staff was very accommodating and cooperative, that helps importantly in achieving the vision I had for the design.

The museum has been the forerunner in mounting cutting-edge exhibit concepts and design. They have a vast and very interesting art collections, rare books in the library, and the most advanced art conservation laboratory locally. This image of the museum has to be incorporated in the book. I had the chance to study their interesting collections and look closely among them. Since I love ephemera, vintage books and illustrations, and paintings by the masters, this is the project I surely love doing even when deprived of sleep. Every object is celebrated in the book, a sampling of what you can find in the museum. I think the design has achieved its edginess by curating the objects as if curating in a gallery, only this time it's done on the print. I stayed away from conventional layout and the grid and maximized the use of layering, sense of movement, and simplicity in the design.

I have attached a photo describing how the inside pages look like. But the actual print definitely looks much better - surely a visual feast. If you are interested to get a copy of the book, you may contact the Lopez museum through Fanny or Jane at (632) 631-2417 or

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Boxed Poetry

I got excited when I first read that the theme for this year's PBBY Prizes is on poetry. I've always wanted to illustrate a full children's book of poems, though I have illustrated stories in verse form. There are only a few materials locally and new titles could be an interesting addition. So, exhilarated by the theme, I couldn't wait to create my entry for the Alcala Illustrators Prize this year.

My strategy was to make an illustration entirely different from what I have done previously. I thought it was time to level it up by creating three-dimensional works. I got inspiration from amazing sculptural illustrators, including my fellow INKies Liza Flores and Pergylene Acuna who create delightful illustrations with layers of textured papers. Then the concept just fell everything into place: I wanted to make a visual that is encased within a box. There is something nostalgic and a childhood sense of curiosity that draws me in about boxes.


Personally, poetry for me is a paradox of precise arrangement of words limited by the syntax of a language and yet can create multiple interpretations in indefinite ways. That is exactly the effect I want to capture in my visual. So I made simple illustrations, stripped down to their essential forms and juxtapose them within a surreal composition to emit endless possible meanings. The figures, color scheme are greatly influenced by Pablo Picasso's theatrical mural composition, Guernica. I was moved by the painter's lyrical visual language and the mural's haunting meaning. Having the illustrations enclosed in a box is a visual metaphor for poetry's literal precision. It's like reading poetry, when you "open" it's meaning, either leave you perplexed or liberated. The meaning is left at the interpreter.

I wanted to introduce that concept of poetry to children, though I admit it was too much for their comprehension.

After seeing all the winners, I have to agree with the judges' pick for the top prize. Aldy Aguirre's winning colorful and whimsical interpretation precisely balanced the rhythmical tones of the poems. The visual elements are fluid and gently moving, as if dancing within the space. It was neither too deep nor too literal to grasp what's going on within the scene. Aldy's illustrations are just perfect to catch a child's interest in getting a head start into the wonderful genre of poetry.

My entry reaped an Honorable Mention at the 2010 PBBY Alcala Prize. I'm also happy that all of the winners are fellow INK members: Rommel Joson and Zeus Bascon's works are also commendable, each have their own unique vision. And I couldn't be happier that the awarding ceremony was filled with nicest friends and acquaintances.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why I love (an) Araw sa Palengke

Araw sa Palengke cover, story by May Tobias-Papa and illustrated by Isabel Roxas

When I was young, I remember my mother used to take me with her whenever she goes to the palengke (wet market). I knew that she wanted me to go with her because I was the only one who can carry her bayong (shopping bag) since I was the only strongest and most responsible boy yet in the family. I never liked going there, not only because I had to wake up very early but also her bag was so full and too heavy to carry. My hands tremblingly ache after. But I can't complain because we had to carry as much as we can because we are a very big family and buying there saves us a lot of money. As I grow older, she wanted me to come with her so I can be street smart and learn from her. Now, I realized it was more than that: I was grateful that going there has enriched my experience visually. A market is also a harvest place of inspiration: from slices of life to the exotic goods you can see around. I was positively influenced by pop culture.

That wonderful experience is very much captured in one of my favorite books, Araw sa Palengke (A day in the market), written by May Tobias Papa and illustrated by Isabel Roxas. The story is very simple, the illustrations very delightful, and yet that simplicity is what makes the book so lovable. Almost anyone can relate to it.

The literary style of the story can be likened to a Japanese verse: direct, short, and simple words fully describe the wonder of a child going to a market. Even if the main character is a girl, any child can probably relate with her as she's honest, smart, and quirky. This is probably the first local children's book I have read that mainly invests on the importance of emotional intelligence. It subtly teaches a child that being patient and disciplined yields to pleasant rewards, and the joys of receiving it through hard work and a little sacrifice are priceless. This is what kids need nowadays when the words "instant" and "push-buttons" are just a click away.

This is my favorite expression of the main character in the book.

The story is accompanied by very charming illustrations, just a warning: you won't stop looking at them. More importantly, the styling, patterns, and figures are very Filipino. The color scheme is splendid, the visual elements are coherent. Although it's a sanitized version of what you see in a real local wet market that is loud, cluttered, and shockingly bright, the toned-down renderings of each scene perfectly create an exotic ambiance. The main character's expressions are comical, the illustrator has masterfully achieved humor through their eyes.

The book is one of those few ones that you can't just put down even as an adult, I'm pretty sure a child will also truly love it at first sight. You'll probably read and look at the pages over and over again. It makes you crave for more.

Araw sa Palengke, published by Adarna House, is highly recommended to be part of your child's library. No wonder it is one of the six Best Reads of 2008 and 2009 in the first-ever National Children's Book Awards.

The illustrator has created an engaging image and achieved balance in rendering a supposedly dirty and cluttered place.


If you like this book review, please click on the ads to support my art projects. 

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I love July!

July is always an exciting month for me, despite the fact that it is the time when typhoons greet my country with awry. Whatever destructive Basyang or Ondoy devastate the land, the resilient Pinoy manages to recuperate easily. As for me, July is a happy month not only because summer is up on the other side of the globe but also because July is National Children's Book Month!

In line with this, I'm looking forward to celebrate this joyous occasion through series of events:

First up, I'll be at Fully Booked SM North Edsa on July 17, 2010 at around 5:30pm for a book signing of my books from Adarna House. It's actually a whole day of storytelling sessions and book-signing with authors and illustrators. The event is free and open to the public so please bring along your kids. For more information, you may contact Adarna through 3723548 loc 122 or

Next, my first full children's book with Tahanan Books, "Ay Naku!" written by Reni Roxas, will be finally launched along with other two new titles on July 19, 2010 Monday, 5pm at Mary Grace Cafe in Serendra Fort Bonifacio. I'm very excited about this book because we worked so hard for this and this is my first time to illustrate an almost wordless picture book. And whew! it wasn't that easy :-) Hope to see you for a good chat and book signing as well. RSVP call Fran or Josie at 813-7165 or email

Then finally, I will be attending the ceremonies of the 27th National Children's Book Day on July 20, 2010 Tuesday, 9am at the Museo Pambata in Roxas Blvd. I'm happy to attend not only because I will be receiving an honoroble mention certificate for my entry in the PBBY Alcala Prize, but most importantly I will be able to meet again illustrators, writers, publishers, and stakeholders in the most anticipated gathering in children's book publishing. You may download this wonderful poster for free at PBBY, print it and have your own collectible poster. The  poster was created by the awesome Ang INK member Ariel Santillan.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Seven years old

When I was seven years old, the most memorable event was the first People Power EDSA Revolution. Around that age, my mother already taught me to save money. I remember she brought me to a bank and opened me a junior account. That's how I started to learn the value of saving hard earned money and the financial freedom it entails.

I will be part of a group exhibit by Ang INK entitled "When I was Seven" on June 1-15, 2010 at the Gallery 7 Digital Studio, 3rd level Eastwood Mall in Libis.

My work is a digital print series of three, in a limited edition giclee print on textured canvas, size 10" x 10". If you like a copy, please visit Gallery 7, you may also find very interesting works by INK members.

Monday, May 10, 2010

3D is the future

Surprises, surprises everywhere. We sometimes don't know what's going to happen next. But a spark of hope always reminds us that's it's going to be ok.

Since 3d is the coolest thing today, here's another 3D Stereo Pair I made. If you want to know how to make Stereo Pairs, here's how.

It should look like this if you know how to view Stereo Pairs:
I will be posting how to make 3D Stereograms soon, so keep posted!


If you like this post, please click on the ads to support my art projects. 

Or gift yourself and loved ones with lovely goodies here
I'll appreciate it very much, thank you.

Plus, please check out my youtube videos and sub my channel:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Real heroes among ourselves

This is my painting for a very relevant group show, Everyday Filipino Heroes staged by The Center for Art, New Ventures, and Sustainable Development (CANVAS) opening this May 1, 2010 at the Vargas Museum of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, QC, and will run until May 31, 2010.

The original artworks will be exhibited at the Vargas museum, while an outdoor banner printed version will be seen at the scenic UP oval. I hope you can drop by and see all the meaningful works, while reflecting for the upcoming elections. 


Ang pagiging guro ay isang kabayanihan dahil ito ay isang pakipagsasapalaran hindi lamang sa paghubog ng kabutihan, karunungan at katapatan sa musmos na kaisipan kundi ang pagahon din sa mga hamon ng panahon.

Post-it Affirmation Art no. 5

This post-it is dedicated to the upcoming May 2010 National Elections.

"My Vote is sacred!"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reading books is a challenge

Getting kids interested to read books is becoming more challenging nowadays. Yes, more competition are catching the young mind's attention: gadgets, games, and stress from school activities, among others. These distractions leave them uninterested in reading, especially books. Poor children, if they only knew the benefits and magic of reading at an early age. Perhaps they will only appreciate that when they turn into adult monsters. LOL. Good thing there are still people, most especially parents and teachers, who have relentless dedication in enriching and promoting literature. Not only do they encourage the love for reading but also the traditions and culture that are closest to our hearts.

If you need great resources on children's literature and tips on how to make your children interested in reading, you can go to these inspiring and informative sites.


Asia in the Heart Blog

I have some interviews there to share my insights on children's book illustration. I hope you will also enjoy the world of children's literature as much as I am and encourage children to read more in spite of the challenges.