Arts and Culture

From Tagaytay To Tuscany: Eat, travel and paint

- Elaine O. Herbosa -

MANILA, Philippines - Happy surprises in life are indeed welcome!

Just arrived from a most enjoyable trip back in time to Vermont. Some 10 years back, I used to accompany my daughter Mia on her plein-air summer classes with her art mentor Frank Mason at The Art Students’ League of New York. These were probably the best summers I spent abroad. While Mia painted, my husband and I would walk through the winding bike trail, encountering rippling brooks, fish jumping from its waters, birds chirping all around, and the endless green mountain ranges (Mount Manchester the most majestic of all). Flowers just sprang from everywhere, even the most common yellow dandelions dancing in the breeze in fields of green were delightful. The air was crisp, fresh and clean.

And so it was déjà vu… and the bed and breakfast inns even seemed better this time around. Some had very modern facilities and even flat-screen TVs (a no-no in days of yore) defying the “simple and laid-back life” in the old-fashioned and authentic inns. I also indulged in some painting together with Mia and her eight-year-old daughter Lana. People were amused to see three generations painting together. Everything was done at a leisurely and pleasurable pace. No intentions whatsoever for a show in the near future.

I dreamt though that somewhere in time, I would be brave enough to have a mother/daughter show with Mia, these paintings included. Inspired by the Bennington Museum, I hoped that I would not be as old as Grandma Moses before this event happened. She started her prolific career at 78 and painted till the ripe old age of 102. A large area of the museum filled up the walls with her very charming paintings, classified as “primitive” and naïve yet lovely, as only Grandma Moses could portray them in her stylized manner.

To my surprise, an invitation came in from Ayala Museum in my last day in New York City for a show in the forthcoming month. I was in a quandary: Was there enough time for preps? Enough pieces? My first reaction was to turn down the invitation. But hey, this was a door opening for my atelier again, and it’s not like me to turn down this opportunity to share our art with an audience in this prestigious institution. So with bravura in my heart, I heartily accepted the challenge.

I gathered my thoughts and convinced Mia to share our minimal output from Vermont (but which for both of us were precious and intimate memories of our time there). Then I remembered all the plein air outings I recently had with my fellow artists at L’arc en Ciel. We had a treasure trove available!

A recent article featuring our atelier in Town and Country magazine (May issue) came to my mind and I asked the author permission to use its title (“A Rainbow Collection”) as the title for the show. Featured are recent works by the atelier’s senior artists: Ditas Dominguez, Miguel Buhay, Margie Villonco, Pilar Quiros, Stella Kim, Connie Quirino and Carla H. Jang Kim. A special intimate section will feature my recent Vermont mother/daughter paintings with Mia. It will somehow be just a sneak preview of the dream — the planned bigger show in the future.

In consonance with this travel theme, the whole show includes favorite destinations, both foreign and local, of the different artists including sceneries of Tagaytay, Sta. Rosa, Calatagan, and Baguio. Foreign landscapes include London, the South of France, Paris, Venice, Tuscany and the areas around Lake Como, where a few members of the group studied under impressionist master Jerry Fresia in the fall of 2009.

“Painting en plein air has given each and every one of us unending joy and pleasure and we would just like to share these experiences with you. To feel the beauty of light, air and nature just as we see it, is often difficult to express in words and so we hope the paintings will speak to you as no ordinary language can. Alla prima paintings are a direct means of communication and many times, the freshness of paint creates an intimate point of view revealing a sacred interaction between painter and nature revered,” says Mia.

“The Rainbow Collection – A Travelogue” at the Ayala Museum’s Artistspace runs from June 30 till July 13, 2011. For inquiries call or text 0917-890-1219.

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