You Are Worth the Time

This day – this post – marks the rebirth of my blog. I feel good about this. It feels like I’m reunited with a dear friend that has been gone for a while. We’re going to have so much fun again. And to kick things off, I’d like to share an old post from the archives – an inspirational video that will remind all of us about the importance of creating and motivate each one of us to produce our own magnum opus! xo

You are Worth the Time
by Jan Phillips

It’s not easy these days making time for our creative work. Voices call us from everywhere demanding our attention, our energy, our time. And many of us, somewhere along the path, got the message that making art was self-indulgent so we relegate it to the bottom of our list. It becomes the thing we get to when the laundry is done, the kids asleep, the groceries bought and put away. We get so caught up in the flurry of our lives that we forget the essential thing about art – that the act of creating is a healing gesture, as sacred as prayer, as essential to our spirit as food to our body. It is our creative work that reveals us to ourselves, allows us to transform our experience and imagination into new forms – forms that sing back to us in a language of symbol – who we are, what we are becoming, what it is we have loved and feared.

This is the alchemy of creation that as my energy fuses with the source of energy, a newness rises up in the shape of who I am and I myself am altered in the course of its release. I am never the same in the wake of this work. As I create, I come into my power and wisdom, into my deeper knowing, into that newness which becomes the gift which I share with the world. As a result of the time I spend at my work, there is more of me to give, more awareness, more joy, more depth. I become centered in the process, focused on the interior, attuned to the inner voice. Life is no longer about time, and demands, and errands. It is about the extraordinary metamorphosis of one thing into another. What begins as cocoon emerges a butterfly. What once was sorrow may now be a song.

As I am changed by the art that passes through me in the process of becoming, so am I changed by the creations of others. Having felt the truth of your cobalt blue, my red will remember and its voice will be clearer. In the turn of your phrase, the tenor of your voice, the pulse of your poem, I find fragments of myself I have long forgotten. It is to you I look to find myself. In your words I find the courage to write my own.

Making time for creative work is like making time for prayer. It is a healing act, a leave-taking from the chaos as we move from the choppy surface towards the stillness of the center. To be an artist it is not necessary to make a living from our creations, nor is it necessary to have work hanging in fine museums, or the praise of critics. It is not necessary that we are published or that famous people own our work. To be an artist, it is necessary to live with our eyes wide open, to breathe in colors of mountain and sky, to know the sound of leaves rustling, the smell of snow, the texture of bark. It is necessary to rub our hands all over life, to sing when and where we want, to take in every detail, and to jump when we get to the edge of a cliff. To be an artist is to notice every beautiful and tragic thing, to cry freely, to collect experience, and shape it into forms that others can use. It is not to whine about not having time but to be creative with every moment. To be an artist is not to wait for others to define us but to define ourselves, to claim our lives.

Our cities and towns are full of poets, playwrights, composers, and painters who drive buses, work in offices, wait on tables to pay the rent. Few of us are paid much for our creative work so we squeeze it into the hours we have left after working other jobs. We write our novels in the wee hours of the morning, work in our darkrooms through the night, write poetry on subway cars, finish essays in waiting rooms and parking lots. We rarely think of ourselves as artists, though it is our creative work that brings us to life, feeds our spirits, and sees us through the dark. We may feel alone but we are not alone. There are hundreds, thousands in the night doing as we do, trading this sacred time for the bliss of creating.

There are a lot of things we don’t have in life but time is not one of them. Time is all we have – one lifetime under this name to produce a body of work that says This is how I saw the world. Your work is worthy of whatever time it takes.


Behind the Scenes

While it’s been bitterly cold and snowing like crazy outside this past week, I stayed warm beside my griddle palette and kept busy creating new encaustic mixed media paintings in the studio. As much as I dislike the frigid temperature, winter is the best season for me to work with encaustics – and I’ve come to love that odd sensation I get when cold air from the open window mixes with the warm heat emanating from the griddle. (I have to open the window for ventilation.)

A lot of you have been curious about the process and setup involved with working with encaustics – so while I was waiting for some fused on wax to cool down, I took some snapshots so you can take a look (more of a peek really) at what’s on my worktable.

Here are some brushes that are kept warm on the griddle which I use as my palette and where I melt my wax. I use tin cans to hold melted wax, but I often mix colors straight on the griddle surface – which is sometimes a challenge because the surface is black so it’s hard to see the color straightaway.

Here you can see one of the paintings that I was working on. I have several pottery tools that I use for scraping off wax. And I line my work surface with freezer paper to keep the table clean.

Here are some natural dry pigments I use to color the wax. (Of course, I keep the jars tightly closed and only opened them like this to show you the gorgeous colors.)

I’ve also started filming for some online workshops that I’ll be offering soon. I’m really excited about that and deathly nervous since videos are way out of my comfort zone.

And I’m doing all these while I continue to homeschool my lovely youngest daughter who is growing up to be very witty and smart like her sister. (No wonder I drink a lot of coffee!)

How about you? What keeps you busy this winter?


Review of 2012: An Incredibly Wonderful Year

I’ve always been a very creative and artistic person. Anyone who has known me since childhood can attest to that. That’s why I became an architect – it was a good compromise between art and science. (And the science part, my parents would insist, was important because many believed that you can’t live on art alone.) Yet, I wasn’t satisfied. It didn’t feel fulfilling. I’ve since then wandered on a path of self-discovery until I made a bold and brave decision to focus on art alone as a life career. It was a great leap of courage – since, first of all, I needed to have a good grasp of who I am and genuinely believe in what I’m capable of doing before I can expect others to believe in my work. The year 2012 was the first year I seriously promoted myself as an artist. It was bone-chilling scary – to put art I have created from the soul out there for the world to see and judge. Fortunately and quite surprisingly, my works were well received by the public from the start. And for this I’m very grateful. Career-wise, it is a whole new industry for me and I still have a lot to learn in terms of the best ways to promote and market my art but I think I’m off to a good start. And I truly believe I am now doing what I’m born to do – and it is indeed very exciting!

2012 Art Exhibit at Wired Cafe in Rockford, IL

So here are some highlights of my activities in 2012:

Midwestern Exhibit at the Rockford Art Museum
This biennial juried exhibition surveys the breadth and depth of contemporary art in the Midwest. The 2012 show marked its 72nd presentation. Out of 674 works that were submitted by Midwest artists, 109 pieces were selected for the exhibit, including my encaustic painting.

Gallery Exhibits in California and New York
I can’t express enough how exciting it was to be included in a few internationally juried gallery shows in California and New York, including the Group Art Show at Gallery 207 in Santa Ana, CA (where out of 130 artists that applied, only 10 were selected to participate), ‘Works on Paper’ Exhibit at Jeffrey Leder Gallery in New York, and the ‘Paperworks 2012’ Exhibit at B.J. Spoke Gallery in New York.

Exhibit at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery in New York (left) and Group Art Show at Gallery 207 in California (right)

Indoor and Outdoor Art Shows
Aside from gallery and museum exhibits, I also participated in a few major juried outdoor art shows in northern Illinois (each with more than 100 participating artists) and received an award for each show.

  • Best of Show at the Long Grove Art Fair in Long Grove, IL
  • Honorable Mention at the Greenwich Village Art Fair in Rockford, IL
  • Third Place at the Galena Art Fair in Galena, IL
2012 Galena Art Fair in Galena, IL

I capped off the year by participating in the One of a Kind Show at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, IL where 600 of the best artists in the U.S. and Canada exhibited their high-end arts and crafts.

2012 One of a Kind Show in Chicago, IL
2012 One of a Kind Show in Chicago, IL

Some of my works were also published in Somerset Magazine and Art Portfolio Magazine and I received invitations to be included in two book publications. Unfortunately I declined the book publications since I was already overwhelmed with everything else that was going on. Hopefully this year I’ll learn to manage my time better. (If you will also remember, I’m still homeschooling my youngest daughter.) Oh and lastly, I was approached by a few art managers – but I’m also not ready for that yet.

Anyways, thanks so much to everybody who has supported me and continue to support me – by reading my blog, visiting my shows, buying my artwork. I feel really blessed. A special thanks to my husband Troy because I definitely cannot do the things I do without his encouragement and support.

As for 2013, I have a lot of exciting things planned for you. Stay tuned!


Here’s to a new year filled with everything wonderful!

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year celebration! Mine was a blast as Troy, Mica, Rinoa, and I spent the holidays with my brother and his family in Gig Harbor, WA where I also met the coolest group of Filipinos in the Pacific Northwest! Not only was I able to visit my family, but as you can see from the photos below, I got to hang out with these friendly and amazing Filipinos who love to party (No surprise there!) and their adorable but very restless kids who quickly became Rinoa’s new playmates. (Of course, Mica was bummed that there was no one in her age group. So sorry Mica!)

photo courtesy of Frenchy Dalumpines
photo courtesy of Jay Casiño
photo courtesy of Frenchy Dalumpines
photo courtesy of Frenchy Dalumpines

As a double bonus, my cousin Brit and his wife Sarah who live in Texas were able to drive up from Portland (where they were visiting family) to spend a Saturday with us. (And yes, Mica is taller than me now but just so you know, I’m overly slouching in the photo below – haha!)

photo courtesy of Jay Casiño

Here we are greeting the New Year with a small feast – after turning all the lights on in the house, hanging 12 grapes on the front door, and sprinkling coins by the front entrance.

photo courtesy of Jay Casiño

Nowadays, it’s extremely difficult to get my girls to pose with me for a decent photo – so I am extremely grateful for any snapshot my friends can take of us.

photo courtesy of Frenchy Dalumpines
photo courtesy of Frenchy Dalumpines
photo courtesy of Francis Mercado

And that’s my latest adventure. Now that I’m back home, I’m all fueled up for another year of life, love, and creativity. Expect lots of inspiring and exciting things from me this year.


Art Exhibit at the Wired Cafe

I’m super thrilled to be the featured artist this March at Wired Cafe in downtown Rockford, Illinois! Thanks to my very supportive husband for helping me hang my artworks on the walls last Thursday. I couldn’t have done it without him.

We had an opening night last Friday, but unfortunately, we experienced a snowstorm which prevented a lot of people from leaving their houses that night. Nevertheless, I thought it was a fun night, especially with Michael and Naomi providing the crowd with some relaxing jazz tunes.

So stop in the Wired Cafe anytime this month to check out my art exhibit and treat yourself to a delightful breakfast or lunch. Be sure to try their granola yogurt parfait – so good!

Art Exhibit at the Wired Cafe
March 2 to April 6, 2012
414 East State Street
Rockford, IL

Les Puces de Saint-Ouen {Part 3}

The last of my flea market photos. I bet you’re just itching to visit! Oh and I almost forgot, I found the fabric district in Paris. It’s at Montmartre, just to the right of Sacre Coeur Basilica (if you’re facing the church). Again, I was in heaven when I entered Tissus Reine – this huge fabric store! If you’re a kindred artist, I promise you you’ll love it! And beside it is this small store of fabric remnants in discounted prices. Worth taking a look as well!


Les Puces de Saint-Ouen {Part 2}

More photos from the flea market. This time on my second day there.


Les Puces de Saint-Ouen {Part 1}

This is the biggest antique/flea market in the world! Can you imagine how much I drooled when I went here? It covers 7 hectares (1 hectare is roughly the size of two football fields), has 2,000 vendors, and receives about 180,000 visitors each weekend! (It’s only open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I arrived Tuesday. So you see how I had to wait until the end of the week to go here!)

If you’re visiting Paris and want to check Puces St. Ouen, just take Metro Line 4 to Porte de Clignancourt, follow the crowd walking along the avenue towards the white bridge, and your destination will be just after the bridge. (If you’re after the vintage goodies, don’t waste your time looking at the clothing stalls along the way.)

I went here twice. Once by myself and the following day with my cousin’s family. The first time I went here, I totally lost my sense of direction and had a hard time finding my way out – lol! But every turn is definitely a feast for the eyes!

Dismembered dolls - they will either thrill you or creep you out!

All the photos here were taken from my first visit. I didn’t bring my camera just in case I have to load my bag up with goodies – but I couldn’t resist not taking photos so I used my phone! More coming up tomorrow!


From Paris, With Love {Part 2}

I think everyone who visits Paris should check out the Louvre – meet Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and all that. But once you had your fill of classical art, you should definitely head over to Musee d’Orsay for a pleasurable and more enjoyable day with the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists! Seeing the works of these 19th-century artists (Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir to name a few) with their expressive brushstrokes – and in the case of Vincent Van Gogh, very emotional swirls – was a very moving moment for me. I felt their souls transcend and peek through their art. It’s like meeting them in person and getting to know them intimately. And I wondered – will I be able to leave this kind of legacy?

I didn’t actually go in the Louvre Museum during my recent visit. (I had the pleasure of meeting Mona Lisa once before.) But I did explore the shops in the Carrousel du Louvre and I hung out in the Tuileries Gardens. One thing I’d like to mention – I hate the Louvre Metro stop. Lots of aggressive gypsies asking for donations. A few even followed me for a while and grabbed my arm to get my attention. Scary!

part of the Louvre Palace as seen from the Tuileries Gardens
Tuileries Gardens with Musee d'Orsay in the background
Tuileries Gardens

My cousin took me to Bois de Boulogne, a large park (which used to be a royal hunting ground in the Middle Ages) along the edge of the 16th arrondissement. Very interesting place! Lining the main entrance roads (even during the day) are transvestites and sleazy girls, half-naked and waiting for business. Obviously one of Paris’ red-light districts! Beyond that, I enjoyed a tranquil walk along the park’s lake.

Bois de Boulogne
Bois de Boulogne

Villa Santos-Dumont is this quiant village-like street in the 15th arrondisement which supposedly inspired some of the famous modern artists.

Villa Santos-Dumont
Rue Santos-Dumont

Here are a few more photos to share:

Notre Dame Cathedral
Passy Cemetery

On my next post, I’ll be sharing photos from Puces St. Ouen – the mother of all flea markets! See you then! (If you missed my first post about my recent visit to Paris, go here.)


From Paris, With Love {Part 1}

In exploring a foreign country, I find it a different and more pleasurable experience when I’m able to stay with local residents so that I may be able to better observe their life and culture. And I definitely learned a lot more visiting my cousin’s family than if I stayed in a hotel.

Their apartment is just a quick walk from the Trocadero where you get the best view of the Eiffel Tower. Imagine that? Being able to go to the Trocadero anytime you want to soak in the majestic view of the Eiffel Tower! I had a wonderful time just hanging out there and sketching to my heart’s content – with the pool and its exhibition fountains providing a refreshing atmosphere! I even enjoyed watching young teenagers do stunts on their skateboards and welcomed other tourists who requested that I take their pictures.

the Eiffel Tower as seen from the Trocadero
Les Invalides as seen from the Trocadero

The photo below is one of the many views from my cousin’s apartment – all of them very interesting! I’m not sure though if I’m ever going to be used to having to ride an elevator every time I want to go in and out of the apartment. I find it very cold and impersonal – of course, one can always use the stairs, all four flights! But how can one complain when every morning, it’s very easy to just go down to your local bakery and buy fresh croissants for breakfast and then move on to the flower shop next door for some fresh flowers to help brighten the day? The post office, bank, pharmacy, and grocery store are all also just a quick walk away! How convenient!

view from my cousin's apartment

Now I’ve often wondered about city-dwellers – how inconvenient is it to buy a week’s worth of groceries? My kitchen is just a few paces away from my garage and I still find it cumbersome to unload groceries! Well I found out that in major stores in Paris, if you buy at least 50€ worth of groceries, they will deliver your goods to your place for free! Awesome!

Here are more photos, most of which were taken at Boulevard Saint-Michel in the Latin Quarter of Paris – a lively and fun place to explore! If you’re into old books, definitely check out the bouqinistes along the banks of the Seine River near Saint-Michel. One thing though that discouraged me to explore these stalls as much as I would have loved to was that most of the old books were individually plastic-wrapped – kinda impossible to flip through the pages.

Oh this is also where I went with my cousin to buy school books for her kids. It is a 15-minute drive from her apartment but it took us 30 minutes to find parking! Crazy!

I got well-acquainted with the Paris Metro during my stay. And I discovered that lots of interesting things happen in the Metro. (As I posted on Facebook one time) I took the Metro one morning, and I usually sit near the door of the train so that when it gets crowded, I can easily get out. On the next stop, two guys in grey suits carrying a small amp walked in. After striking a pose for a few seconds, they started dancing – right in front of me! I thought that was awkward. But it got worse! They started stripping – just inches away from me! They were down to their boxers when I decided to jump out on the next stop even though it wasn’t my destination yet. And what do you know? When I took the next train, two guys with the same act went in with me! That’s all I’m saying – lol!

Anyways, these photos below are of one of the metro stops in the Franklin Roosevelt station and by far the best-looking I’ve encountered – really cool! Makes you want to dance!


Somerset Studio

My very first attempt at getting published lands me in Somerset Studio and Somerset Studio Gallery. Thank you Somerset :)


Happy Mother’s Day

Hi everyone! I hope all the mothers out there had a wonderful day yesterday. You all deserve it. Mine was definitely memorable. We had brunch at this newly found place, Cafe Belwah. Their food was delightful. And instead of flowers, I got this lovely bonsai tree from Troy and the girls. They said I needed a new hobby. Very funny! I love the tree – although it’s daunting to trim it. (It didn’t come pruned.) I’ve already taken several stems off of it but I’m still working on it. I’m taking it slowly – I’m letting it talk to me, it’ll say what shape it wants to be. I put it by the window in my new workspace (our unfinished basement) so that I can look at it everyday and be a great source of inspiration.

The girls also each made me a card. They asked if they can use whatever they want from my art supply and I said sure. (They’re always welcome to do so.) With Troy’s guidance, Rinoa made a face card using a roll of torn up fabric from an old shirt that she found in my yarn box for the hair. (Mommy, the hairclip I used on the card is real! Isn’t it pretty?) Troy said I look like Michael Jackson.

She’s been practicing both manuscript and cursive handwriting everyday and to showcase her handwriting skill, Troy made her write in cursive.

Mica, on the other hand, went to town with the punches – lol! She also came up with a lovely card that I’ll forever cherish.