Monthly Archives: September 2013

Aso’t Pusa

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I’m going to have an exhibit! 🙂 I’m re-posting the announcement from Beterinaryo sa Fort. Hope you can drop by and check out my works!

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Beterinaryo sa Fort Animal Clinic brings to you watercolor paintings of cats and dogs by artist Steph Palallos (http://stephpalallos.com/) right here at the BSF facility. All her works are for sale with a portion of the sales to be donated to our favorite animal welfare charities, CARA and PAWS.

The ASO’T PUSA exhibit opens on Friday, 27 September 2013 at 6PM with cocktails. This event will also introduce BSF’s new floor as we seek to provide better services to you and your fur kids in our improved facility.

The ASO’T PUSA exhibit will run through 31 October 2013. Please drop by the clinic to see Steph’s beautiful work and maybe take one home with you.

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Lesson in letting go

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I posted this picture on my Facebook page today. Jello looked like she was singing Miley’s “Wrecking Ball”! Hahahaha. At least in my eyes. ;o) She wasn’t really singing—duhh!!—but was chasing her hind leg. She loves to entertain herself by rolling around the ground, trying to catch her hind paw, and then biting it. Crazy. I love watching her do it, though. It’s quite amusing.

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So I posted these pics online and I got a few likes and something totally unexpected: a personal message from a High School batchmate saying that she was interested in adopting Jello. Okay, if you are new to this blog, here’ a backgrounder: I got Jello from a friend who was leaving the country for good. I found a home for her but the person backed out last minute so I had to take Jello in. I said I was going to only foster her, but I knew deep inside that I was going to keep her. I talked about it here. I made it official a couple of weeks ago when I gave in and gave her a collar with my contact details.

And now someone is interested in adopting her.

I have to say that I am really torn about this. On one hand I think this is a good thing—she’s been incessantly fighting with my two kitties (Twister and Wednesday) so life would be better around here when she’s gone. But on the other hand, I’ve grown attached to her. She may be a Crazy Cat from Hell, but she’s also sweet and funny. I am going to miss our morning snuggles. She usually sits on the kitchen counter beside the sink while I wash the dishes. I will miss her company, too. I know I have to do this for the good of all the kitties—I think she will be better off as a solo cat anyway—but I’m going to miss her. 😦 I know my friend can provide her a good and loving home (she loves cats but doesn’t have one in her apartment), but I’m really going to miss my little Jelly Belly. 😦

So how do you let go?

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Wednesday on a Wednesday: treat!

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Wednesday has a fetish for cotton buds. She loves to dig in my trash to look for some. Urgh. she doesn’t swallow it, but she will take a swat at it, lick, and chew on it. Like I said, URGH. That prompted me to change my waste basket in the room to a covered one and to just offer her an unused cotton bud as a treat when she behaves well. That’s more sanitary, right? 🙂 Here she is patiently waiting for one.

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How cardboard boxes saved the day

There has been tension between the kitties for some time now. I got Jello three months ago, plenty of time—I think—for Twister and Wednesday to get used to her, but they still haven’t completely taken her into the fold. The two sleep on my bed together (although they don’t cuddle), they eat side-by-side, and they often groom each other. They can share the same space with Jello, but they get prickly and hissy when she gets too close and vice versa. She’s not exactly a darling to them either. She can be a bully and start some of the fights, so I can’t blame them for not being totally cool with her.

I’ve been watching old episodes of Animal Planet’s “My Cat from Hell” (Season 1 & 2) to get an idea on how to make my purr babies get along. I’ve picked up a few tips from Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist and the host of the show, and have decided to catify my apartment more and make the place more enjoyable for the kitties. Maybe when they have a lot of things to play with Twister won’t see Jello as prey and Jello won’t see Wednesday as her punching bag (although Wednesday has started fighting back!). I’ve also increased their playtime. I normally do one-on-one sessions, but now I try to get the trio involved. They need to learn how to relax with each other!

This morning I put together a make-shift cat playhouse for them. I taped two cardboard boxes together and cut some holes in it. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but the three loved it! They sat with me while I constructed it and the whole time they were keeping a close, suspicious eye on each other, of course! And then when it was done, they took turns going in and out of the structure. The cardboard boxes have saved the day! 🙂 I think I’m going to get more and make more fun houses for them! I’m enjoying the whole creating thing as well. Yay! Maybe if I’M more relaxed and not worried about the things that go on around me or my personal situation, my cats would absorb my good vibes and be less jumpy and we could all be one big happy family. 🙂 We’ll see!

Happy Friday the 13th, world! Enjoy the weekend! 🙂

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Open

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my many years studying and practicing creativity it’s that you need a routine and a schedule to create. I know this makes it sound less romantic, more like a chore than magic, but that’s reality. One needs to have a solid structure to feel free to churn out drawings, paintings, poetry, or music. This business of creation takes a lot of time, patience, and, most of all, practice.

Routines are not set in stone, though. At least not for me. When I was studying in Barcelona, I woke up at 5:00AM, ate breakfast, showered, left the house at 6:00, and then started working at a mom and pop printmaking place at 6:30AM. I would stay there until 8:30 then head off to my first class at 9AM. We usually had a “warm-up” session on the first hour—sketching—then we proceeded to painting class or sculpture or photography, depending on what you were focusing on that term. We ended at 2PM and my classmates and I would have lunch nearby. After an hour I returned to school and would log in some time at my studio. From 6 to 9PM, I worked at the school’s office as the secretary of the Masters in Art Therapy Program. I would usually go home after that, but I would meet up with friends first for dinner and drinks near the apartment. Bedtime was about 11PM or 12MN and then the cycle would begin again the next day.

My routine was completely obliterated when I returned to Manila. I obviously did not have school anymore, no more studio to work at, and no more part time jobs to attend to. I must admit I floundered for a while and let darkness take over. I spent days without changing out of my pajamas and just dragged my feet around my parents’ house (yes, I had to move back with them since I had no job). After some time, I got in touch with old business contacts and started working again. I had a routine again alright, but it sucked my spirit dry and could not return to art making. I did manage to sporadically create again after a year or two.

Flash forward to the present. As a freelance graphic designer and a Spanish and art tutor, my schedule is pretty… malleable. My classes are rather regular so at least that part of my schedule is constant. Sometimes I’ll be working on 5 graphic design projects at the same time so I’ll have to juggle my time between those things plus my T-shirt business. On top of my classes. I am no spring chicken anymore, plus my chronic illness leaves me depleted at the end of the day so I have no time for making my own art.

There is something terribly wrong with this picture: no time for creating means I am not a happy camper most of the time. I am crabby and a horrible monster to the people around me and myself.

I think I cracked a couple of months back and have only started paying attention to myself again the past couple of weeks. The crack wasn’t enough to clear my head; I needed to be shattered to realize things were not working out no matter how good things were in terms of my projects and tutorial classes. I wasn’t making ART, damn it!!! Where are my sculptures? Where are my paintings? And where is that damn book I was supposed to write and illustrate? They were buried underneath my Spanish classes, books I had to design, and documents I had to translate. My soul was not malnourished; it flat-lined a while back and all I am now is a shell of the me that I wanted to be.

So I want to add to what I said earlier: sure, you need a schedule and structure to create, but you also need prioritize and say no to things that would not get you closer to your goal. What is my goal anyway? A one man show at an art gallery? So why do I spend so much time “Photoshopping” (no, it’s not a real verb!) images for brochures and magazines instead of painting? Why have I not cleared a spot in my schedule to just create art for myself?

I always share with my students this imagery of creativity that Psychologist Teresa Amabile created: that creativity is like a stew. First, your domain skills are your meat and vegetables; you cannot paint if you don’t know how to mix colors, you can’t create a song if you don’t understand how musical notes work. Albert Einstein would not have come up with his Theory of Relativity if he had zero knowledge of physics. Second, your “creative thinking skills” or your approach to solving problems and having the courage to experiment are your spices. Finally, you need passion. It is the fire that cooks the stew. It is your intrinsic motivation that keeps you on track. You do something because it makes you happy and not because of the extrinsic things that you get, such as money, accolades, and awards. These things are hunky-dory, but you need to do things because they are pleasurable and not because you have to do them to earn a living.

I have given up so much, been through a lot just to BE an artist, and yet I still find myself in this trap of losing my focus and working for extrinsic things. I don’t want to be a cliche and be a starving artist, so I work my ass off… and to what end? My fire has been extinguished for a long, long time, and I have not lifted a finger to revive it. Sure, I keep a journal and draw every single day, but that’s not enough. I have used that as an excuse to not do anything more because I’ve already done something. It’s still creative and I am honing my skills and gathering my thoughts, that’s what I say. But how long have I been doing that? When will I just jump and trust that I can create again?

Wow, when I started this entry I had no idea that this was how I was going to conclude the piece. Seems like a Eureka moment, no? But it hasn’t been all that bad, right? I have made some changes in the last month—cutting down on TV time, more reading, less “Facebooking” (another non-verb), and such, but I am still having a hard time buckling down and getting my hands dirty again. I think there’s another “issue” at the bottom of all of this, but I shall leave that for another entry. I think I’ve eviscerated myself enough for today. So until then, let’s see if I could stick to my plan and get myself back on track.

 

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Eyesight

Now that I am drawing and painting again, I am slowly tuning in to the present and focusing more. It seems easier for me, too, to resist the gravitational pull of the television and have cut down (a bit) on my social media time. I’m still exhausted and fatigued, but I never really expected art to be the magic cure for that! 🙂 I’m working around it, though, listening more to what my body needs at the moment.

Right now my eyes are telling me to rest. Now that I’m back on the art saddle, I’ve been abusing my eyes a bit. I look at my cats and I see them in colors. I look closely at Wednesday and she’s not just a black cat: she’s rust, gray, and streaks of white. I try to drink in all the details at once, and with my chronically fatigued eyes, it can be overwhelming at times. Maybe writing an entry in my blog was not what my eyes were clamoring for, but it’s soothing in a way. I am only staring at a white screen (with shades of yellow and blue here and there) and focusing on a non-moving and bland object seems to help. Besides, I can’t let another day pass by without logging in another entry! 🙂 I made a promise to myself, remember?

I will probably call it a night soon. There was a time in my life when I thought I was going to lose my eyesight, so I am extremely grateful that I can do this now, BUT I have to be careful, though, and should not overdo things. 🙂

So, good night, world! I’ll see you again tomorrow. 🙂

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Getting my groove back

I’ve been struggling to get my muse back for months now. No amount of pleading, heckling, and bribing could lure her back into my life. I feel spent and empty. Today I decided to take on a different approach: instead of hitting myself on the head, I followed the instructions I normally give to my students when they first start learning how to paint. I cleaned my room, set up my space, and tried my best to get into a creative mood.

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I did watercolor exercises the whole day to try to loosen up my brain. I used watercolor artist Lorraine Watry’s videos as a guide.

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Then I filled my Moleskine watercolor journal with images of my cat. I’ll share more when I feel more confident about them ;o)

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I still have a long way to go, but I think I’m on the road to getting my groove back. 🙂

Okay, break time is over! 🙂

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Pretty in Pink

I finally gave in today and got Jello a collar and a tag with my phone number. I’ve been looking for a forever home for her for a couple of months, and the more I spend time with her the more she relaxes and trusts me, and the more she endears herself to me. I guess she’s REALLY not a foster cat anymore! Sigh. I am weak! The other morning I woke up in pain because she was kneading my thigh. I let her continue because I didn’t want her to feel rejected. Like I said—I am a wimp! 🙂 Oh well.

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P.S. I think she will look good in tangerine. Maybe next year. ;o)

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