On a Silent Art Retreat

This morning’s thunderstorm was a blessing: I’ve been dreading the onset of the dry season and hoping that April and May wouldn’t be as grueling as last year’s. While I have a week to spend in anticipation, I try to be as positive as an angel and remind myself often that *oh wow* I’m finally getting a break from waking up at 4 a.m. every weekday. What more, there’s a good chance that I can have more time for drawing and painting.

holy water angel 3Actually, I have been drawing and painting almost every day — on my art journals and on separate sheets of watercolor paper. My small project has been growing quite steadily as I try to work more consistently. I stay away from social media and blog hopping  if I can afford to and spend more time in my art nook instead. It’s a kind of “silent art retreat” that I have imposed on myself: a self-designed regimen that requires me to be still, be quiet and be productive. There won’t be any posting of WIPs or latest artworks for now. Maybe not until I’m done with everything that needs to be done. It’s obviously a huge challenge for me.

So far this withdrawal of sorts has been helping me keep up with my planned schedule. I find myself issuing a huge grin every time I cross off a task on my to-do list or count the number of items available for a certain theme/category. This art project isn’t much. It’s not going to be big, fancy or grand. It’s an important item in my bucket list that just needs to be carried out.

The small watercolor sketch that you see in this post is one that I made about 2 months ago. It’s one of those little angels that carry a basin of holy water in church. I painted on a 9×6 watercolor journal using Sakura Koi (+ a Cotman raw sienna in tube) and a medium Niji waterbrush.

This is all for now. I hope you’re having a creative day/night whatever kind of art you’re in to! :o)

Something Old. Something New.

I have been slowly discarding a few things from our bins, cupboards and closets as it is one of my usual activities during Lent. However symbolic the action, I do see some resolve. So I get on with it little by little depending on how much time I have for the day.

skirts photoYesterday I gave a few of my old office clothes to our weekend housekeeper. I told her she might want to wear something formal when she attends PTAs and other events at her kids’s school. Many of my old office clothes still look good as new ’cause I used to handwash them with mild soap. The sizes and cuts remain fashionable too: I don’t suppose they look like they’re old or borrowed. (Though I wouldn’t mind wearing something borrowed myself. Something borrowed is a trendy brand featuring affordable clothing, shoes, jewelry, and accessories.)

There’s still plenty of clothes to hand down and discard. I hope to make more space and storage soon. We often receive brand new clothes as gifts and pasalubong from family and friends. Next week I’ll be sorting through two boxes of new clothes that the girls can wear for the summer season. I don’t have a huge stash of new clothes in my closet, but I believe I have enough. I’ll probably be wearing skirts more often when the daily heat kicks in.

On Keeping Busy and Keeping Still

Sometimes the absence of blog posts doesn’t necessarily equate to writer’s block, but only to a life quietly observed and lived in a simple and joyful way. I’ve been documenting and processing recent events on my paper journal, many of them related to family and about my personal journeys (not that I have plenty). In some instances, these thoughts make their way to another friend who I journey with in various angles. And I just channel the words via text messaging as it seems more personal now than just starting a thread on Facebook or Twitter.

But, of course, I will always ‘come home’ to this Notebook when I’m online and feel compelled to share bits and pieces of my life. What have I been up to? Just a few things:

  • Keeping up with end-of-school-year activities. As another school year draws to a close, I find myself excited and anxious. I do get a lot of valuable assistance from my husband and my kids’ teachers. But oftentimes, I can’t help but feel overall responsible for the completion of my girls’ academic requirements, including those onstage/class performances that also entail immediate preparations. Candice is done with her stage performances and will just have to focus on the third term exams which will be given next week. Stella’s done with the last periodical exams but will still have to rehearse for a solo feat to be performed during their Moving Up ceremony. I’m ever proud of our girls and thankful that they continue to enjoy learning in both progressive and traditional school environment.IMG_20150306_141542
  • Discarding / giving away stuff we no longer need. I sometimes feel like I’ve been doing this for an eternity and in the worst Sisyphean fashion. Though I’m aware that many things in this house do actually get thrown away or handed down, I notice a consistent build-up of replacements. I know I’m part of the problem, too, so I’ve been trying to dispose of some items by passing them on to my daughters or to friends, or selling them online. By far, I have sold a lot of crafting magazines already and given away coloring materials. Next to go are a few large scrapbooking books that I got from my sister. And perhaps some art supplies that I don’t really use or like. Clothes and toys are to be coursed to our parish church as they are working on a huge dole-out program for the poor in time for Easter.Photo2816
  • Drawing, painting, conceptualizing. Yes, I feel so blessed to be doing things that I really love. Also thankful that my husband and kids support me and appreciate my renewed passion for drawing and painting. It’s been roughly 2 years since I officially plunged into this hobby, and I believe that I’m already taking it to another level. A few concrete plans are afoot, but I’d rather stay mum for now because I don’t want to officially announce something that isn’t really there yet. In the meantime, I continue drawing and painting and working on a series bit by bit; and experiment on a project or a two when schedule permits. I try to not give myself too much pressure just so I could keep up with others. My artistic journey is solely my own.

Thank you for reading through all this. I promise to be more succinct next time. Oops. Okay, maybe not. :o)

Summer Activities for Little Girls

We’re approaching the sunny season here in the Philippines, and for a good two and a half months the girls will have their time off from school. I’m intent on having Candice tutored by a piano teacher for at least 8 sessions, after which she may continue with her usual ballet lessons. Stella wants to sign up for a dance class: not ballet, but something like hip-hop or any modern dance.

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I’m hoping that the girls could each have 2 different lessons this summer, i.e. if our finances permit. While the months of April and May often provide us with additional income, there’s also the matter of tuition fees and school supplies to deal with. And, of course, not to forget the huge save-up that we’re doing for our Big Trip next year. But I’m ever thankful that our daughters get the chance to engage in non-school activities during this time when other kids simply prefer to just eat junk and stay glued to TV and other gadgets.

Anyway, in case you’re looking for some summer activities for your little girl and you happen to chance upon this post, you may want to consider some of these suggestions:

Art Lessons – I guess it’s not surprising that this should come first. I’m a huge art enthusiast and I often try my best to rub the enthusiasm on my daughters. Kids, in general, love to play with colors and to make their imagination work. Toddlers may be enrolled in simple crafting workshops that involve piecing items together or gluing big and small cut-outs. These activities will help them develop motor skills. Older girls, ages 4-7, can be signed up for basic watercolor workshop or beading workshop.

Dance Lessons – Aside from keeping your little girl fit, dancing also helps her maintain good posture and develop graceful movements. She will also learn to cooperate with fellow dancers and hopefully be more confident when performing in front of an audience. Ballet lessons are ideal for little girls – even toddlers – as long as they’re willing to follow the teacher and don all 3 basic clothing pieces (leotard, tights, and shoes) every time. Alternatively, they can be enrolled in folk dance or modern dance. I used to dance a lot as a young girl, and even entered and won a few dancing competitions. Yes, it’s kind of hard to believe that I was a dancer, especially since I hardly talk about dancing here in this blog or anywhere else. Sadly, I developed a very withdrawn personality when I reached my mid-teens and ditched the idea of becoming a dance diva.

Music Lessons – Other than art, this is one activity that I highly recommend. Learning to play an instrument can help your child develop discipline and resiliency. Ideally girls age 5 can already take music lessons. I first had my piano lessons at age 5. To this day I find it amusing that I first learned to read musical notes before I learned to read letters/words. (I learned to read at age 7.) Candice can already play a few piano pieces, having learned a few things from me and her Daddy, and she even composes some melodies on her own. I still guide her every now and then, but unfortunately I find that teaching your own child can be quite taxing and frustrating. I guess this is why my dad, despite being a brilliant pianist in his time, had us all tutored. It would’ve been different, of course, if I had been trained to teach music. So what types of music lessons are good? Piano is often the first choice for girls. But you can also consider voice lessons, flute, or guitar. With guitar, however, you may want to ask your daughter over and over if she’s sure about it. Because you can’t just shop now for a junior guitar and then ditch the lessons sooner or later, especially when your daughter’s fingertips begin to swell and bleed. (Again, I take this from my own experience, having been part of a rondalla for only a few weeks. Heh heh.)

Swimming Lessons – Lastly, I recommend this form of sport which can also help your child be fit and be game!! I regret not taking swimming lessons at an early age. I had a traumatic experience on the beach when I was 3 years old, and that kept me from enjoying the water as a sea otter would. I did take a swimming course in college and even learned how to dive. But another traumatic experience with a classmate made me not want to swim or dive again. I’m hoping that my daughters will take up swimming next summer when they’re both mature enough.
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Well, these are all that I can suggest. If you happen to have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. :)