Envisioned through Color: An Artist’s Perspective

by Crystal Estavillo | November 13, 2020

The Silver Lining

Taking up a new hobby isn’t always easy, but it can definitely be worth it. It may provide us a way to relax ourselves, an outlet to express our inner thoughts and feelings, and can even be for self-improvement through learning a new skill.

For some, art has become a safe haven, and a way to cope with the uncertainties of today. In this blog, Talent Acquisition Associate Tala Estavillo shares all about her passion in painting! In between handling tasks under recruitment and taking her MBA classes, Tala continues to splash color into her life through art.

The artist's tools

The First Stroke

Art has been my interest since I was a child. I can vividly remember that I loved drawing and making cards (for birthdays, appreciation, etc.) for my parents, as well as just about anything art-related at school. I have no certain artist in mind that inspires me to do this, but I love how free I get to feel when making art, how fun it is to play and mix colors, and how fulfilling it feels to be able to create something.

However, that passion died down when I entered college. I took a business course instead of taking Fine Arts because some did not support my love for it; we were also financially challenged, and taking an art course is quite expensive. I tried to join some organizations (e.g. Production Design) while studying, but I saw it more as a requirement, not as something I liked to do, so I decided to stop.

In 2019 (after loads and loads of thinking) I joined some online groups and saw people aging sixty and older watercolor painting for the first time. That made me ask myself, what’s stopping me? It’s never too late for me to learn and love it again.

Ice breaker - Tala's early works

The first step I took to start painting again was when I asked for a set of watercolors during RJPH’s Kris Kringle Event last December 2019.

My early works were something I did to break the ice, to be honest; I did not like the pieces. However, even though I did not feel that I liked the outcome, I am fulfilled to be back doing things I used to love. Then, people are also commending my work – which is funny, because I never thought people would even recognize them –  and some even asked for commissioned works. I guess somehow, I still have a knack for it.

However, painting while working and being a student is not easy. Aggravated by the situation this pandemic, my mental health is in constant battle every day. I guess since I committed to do it, I have to make time for it. When the WFH setup was implemented (we were also working 20 hours per week for a certain period), this paved a way for me to have more time to spare for learning the basics and techniques of watercolor and gouache painting.

The Bigger Picture

My chosen medium has three basic materials: paint, brush, and paper. In looking for art materials, I did my research and watched video recommendations from different artists. For beginners, there are lots of budget-friendly materials that can perform almost the same as expensive ones. I am using two media, watercolor and gouache, both of them water-based. Gouache is more opaque than watercolor, and you can paint from dark to light or light to dark colors. On the other hand, watercolors can only do light to dark. You can use both media to your advantage like using gouache for highlights, and watercolors for a blurry smoky effect.

For the sake of practice, I choose to buy inexpensive brands for my paints, as I feel that expensive paints will always have that sayang or tinitipid feeling when used. For brushes, synthetic and hair brushes will usually do the work. Natural hair brushes are quite expensive, though, and would need extra care, unlike synthetic brushes. I usually spare more budget when buying my brushes since this will affect the performance. I think of it as a weapon: a rusty, low quality sword is sure to doom a fighter, after all.

Warming up to it - Tala's more recent works

Watercolor papers are crucial to art a well. Since I am working with water-soluble media, I need thick enough paper to hold and absorb water, usually around 200-300 gsm. There are two kinds of watercolor paper which vary in texture: cold-pressed and hot pressed. Cold-pressed watercolor paper has a coarse surface, while hot pressed ones have a fine texture. Choosing the paper really depends on personal preference and technique.

Now when it comes to the actual subject of the painting, this would really depend on the artist. Before the pandemic happened, I was fond of watching classic anime films so I usually got my inspirations from some of my favorite scenes. I also practiced doing floral elements and the like. I rarely receive flowers so I created one for myself. Just kidding! I wanted to give a Mother’s Day card to my mom, and I figured flowers will be fitting as the motif. Some of the pieces that I painted are from pictures I took, like food and scenery, and some are from the internet. I usually keep them posted on my wall to see how my skills progress and to keep me inspired. Some of my works are in a watercolor mini journal.

Still a Work in Progress

Many of us are greatly challenged by the pandemic. Our normal routine was stripped off our daily lives, and we are pushed to cope with the situation. This is the first time that I experienced a WFH setup. The defining lines between work and personal life has become a blur.

By painting, I can do something out of the ordinary, and this helped me see the lines of work and personal life a bit clearer. When I am painting, I know that I am doing something out of my personal routine.  Also, as many of us have experienced (or are still experiencing), we are continuously bombarded by the noise of the world, and we can do nothing much but to stay at home, wash our hands, and be healthy.

Painting helps me relax; when you have been living in black and white, painting with colors might give life another perspective. When I paint, that’s the only time in a week or in a month that I can sit still, steady my thoughts, and focus on creating art pieces.

In her element

For those who are like me, people who are just starting out, just remember that learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby has no age limit. As long as you are willing and determined to do it, there is no such thing as too late. Building your art style will require some time, years even; for now, focus on mastering how to use your chosen media and its techniques.

Seek the materials that will work best for you. You can start with student-grade art supplies that you can play and experiment with, then invest in the expensive ones of higher quality afterwards. If you’d like to do commissioned works, the use of quality materials is a must.

Do not compare your output with other artists because they may be on a higher or lower skill level, and they most likely have different art styles. As long as you put in hard work, you will see progress in time.

Do not forget to enjoy what you are doing. Remember this in your victories, and during your art blocks as well.

Lastly, ask yourself now: what is stopping you from doing what you love?