“Childhood” oil on canvas, 24×30 by : Jeques B. Jamora, 2009
Art museums and galleries are the places I often visit, and the Art Institute of Chicago is my favorite. It is like the secluded dusty paths I used to trod when I was a child pulling my carts to endless directions in circles that my young mind then imagined.
I am naturally solitary.
There are things that I grew up doing alone, and they are what I really love to do. Against all odds, I silently fought for these things and from where I stand now, I look back to claim my rewards from my little triumphs.
In one of my quiet strolls in the museum communing with the spirits of the artists gone and living, I observed young students in a group sketch session. I was deeply moved, I felt envious and sad. Some thoughts dawned in me: I always do my arts alone, closed doors, dettached from the world. My father was highly critical of my early works, he is the first battle I fought to shield my natural gift from the many forces that discouraged me and my early pursuits in finding my voice as an artist and my soul in my works.
Watching this young students brought me back to my sketching sessions as a kid. Any empty paper and writing tools are my art materials then – give me anything I could sketch on and I could survive long hours alone away from people. I envy these kids doing there arts in the company of their classmates, enjoying art moments with their friends. When they are my age years from now, and they would stroll through this quiet room, these paintings in the wall would remind them of this moment, but more than that, the walls would echo their whispered giggles that would bring back happy memories.
As they weave their memories unaware, I went back to my own. I visited my solitary self struggling to find meaning in what seemed to be senseless dots and lines I put together to create images that was so insignificant then. Little did I know that those dots and lines would bring me to this point, to look back and find the trails I left to guide me back to how and where my journey started.
I started sketching when I was about 3 years old before I learned how to write, when my grip was strong enough to control a pencil or a pen. The moment I first held a pencil, I knew it in my heart that this is something that I would love to do for a lifetime. And that is how my romance with the arts started, like a-love-at-first-grip kind of thing. I remember my mother was my first teacher and our first subject were flowers. She stopped teaching me when my flower sketches look nicer than the ones she taught me. I outgrew the art lessons my mother gave me quick. And then she became my first admirer, my first fan, my first follower and collector of my works. My first art exhibit was in her store as she show my drawings in the pages of her record notebook to friends. That was my version of an art institute.
“flowers” #1 pen and pencil on paper by : Jeques B. Jamora, 2009
But there was a negative energy, too, my first critic: my father. He thought my works were insignificant and told me to do other things. I think the hardest thing he did was when he forced me to use my right hand ~ I was born left handed ~ and at 16, when I was so sure of my decission to take up fine arts, he put me to a nursing school.
I was caught in the middle trying to keep my balance early on: between my encouraging, nourishing, consenting mother and my highly critical, discouraging, tormenting father.
I never had formal education in the arts. The gift is ingrained, I was born with the passion, not even my father was able to control from florishing. So in my room, close doors, alone, I had my sketching session as a kid. It was lonely. There was only one person I would seek every time I finish a piece: my mother. Her sincere appreciation of my works nourished me to keep going. But I have to admit all these years, I seek for the approval of my father which he never gave. After my father died in 2008, I thought I’m free now. I always was!
“The mind and the heart and the soul, like the birds, are meant to soar, set it free. Allow your spirit to fly!”
I walk fast many more group of young kids in drawing sessions while I brouse through the paintings on the walls that flood me with mulititude of thoughts from the past, present and future. Nothing has changed in me much, I still am the kid and art is still a solitary life for me and perhaps I would spend it that way for the rest of my life. I have come to terms with myself and solitude has become a bliss.
I, too, am still that kid who would seek my mother’s appreciation everytime I finish an art piece to get her nod and nourishing words of encouragement for me to go on. Only now I seek that appreciation from people who would chance upon my works, like my mother’s friend in the store she would show my drawings of flowers as a kid.
I still am that kid who fear the criticism of my father that made me rip many pages of my sketches, and toss away many works unfinished. Deep in my heart, I have to admit I still seek for his approval that he was so selfish to give.
I see my father’s image in people who thought my works are insignificant, I find courage in people who tell me otherwise. I still am struggling to find that balance from this opposing forces.
Deep inside this heart, ingrained, is a gift that I’m entrusted to nurture alone, close doors, away from people. I remain that waif inside my room as a child connecting senseless dots and lines to create images hoping that people would find them significant, so I could finally find my grown up version of an art institute, my home, your heart.
and like a desolate soul a lonely waif
I await for you to find me.
May your travels not take you long,
Come fast and love me ~
“Waif” oil on canvas 18×18 by : Jeques B. Jamora