Tuesday, March 30, 2004

I went to OMF Bookstore yesterday looking for two books (Jesus On Trial and The Murder of Jesus) that would make a nice souvenir for my friends Jorge and Sheila after watching the premiere of The Passion of the Christ last Sunday. While going around the bookstore I chanced upon this lone ring-bound illustrated Stories from the Bible lying on a stack of books. It was the same Bible I got when I was a kid way, way back when we were still living in our old house in Guadalupe, Makati City. If I'm not mistaken I was around 4-5 years old at the time when there was a birthday party for my eldest brother. Everybody was busy preparing for the party, when I chanced upon the arrival of my Aunt and other relatives at the gate. She handed the Bible to me and I never let it go fascinated as I was with the painted scenes. The only difference was I don't remember it being written in Tagalog. But ever since that day whenever the incident comes to mind, I think that the Bible was intended as a gift for my brother.

Queen Esther approaching King Xerxes for a favor

But those illustrations were part of the foundation that started me on my career as an artist (the other being the original mecha anime wave of the 1970s). I was so much taken with the colors, the drama, the vivid expressions on the faces of the characters, and the folds on the clothes that I started copying them before moving on to copying the paintings of saints I see in stampitas and encyclopedias in my elementary years. Eventually the appeal of the subject themselves were slowly eclipsed by the challenge of copying as realistically as possible the complicated folds on their cloaks (more on that later). So you can imagine the excitement I felt when I discovered a lost treasure from my past, which I thought would only exist in my imagination.

You might be thinking right now where did I go wrong and turned from copying serious artworks to doing cartoon characters and comic strips. Was all that an exercise in futility? Nah! I realized that it now made its way to how I pay close attention to details and coloring.

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