Self-Portrait of the Artist: In Words
Jesus “Jeques” B. Jamora, 41
Case Manager/BSN/Registered Nurse/Self-taught Artist/Poet
“Dots and lines on the right place is Art” ~ Jeques
My romance with art is a-love-at-first-grip kind of thing. The moment I first held a pencil, I knew it in my heart that it is something I would love to do for the rest of my life.
I started to draw when I was around 3 years old: creating dots, connected them with lines and then my mother taught me my first art lesson to form the dots and lines to flowers: my first subject. She stopped teaching me when I drew better flowers than she did; outgrowing her art lessons quick. She advanced and became my first fan and art collector. My first art exhibit was in her convenient store when she would show my drawings to her clients. That was my childhood version of an art gallery. My earliest art portfolio was my mother’s record books lost to time, but never in my memory.
My first art critic was my father. He thought my works were insignificant and told me to do other things. The hardest thing he asked me to do was to use my right hand, I was born left handed. It was a subtle way to suppress my gift, and then he put me in the seminary where I had my first rejection at 13 when I was expelled. I drifted like a waif, then he decided the nursing course for me, ignoring my pleas to put me in an art school in college. I could not blame him though, I was born in a third world country, the Philippines; we need to choose a career that could bring food on the table instead of joy to the heart.
I was caught in the middle trying to balance early on: between my nurturing mother and my highly critical father. I never had formal education in the art. Alone in my room, close doors, is my childhood version of an art institute where I had my art classes 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. The gift is ingrained. I was born with the passion that not even my father was able to control from flourishing.
Somebody encouraged me to join my first painting contest in college and won every competition that followed. It was a tiny spark that kept the torch of my dream lighted in my passage through the dark gorge of dormancy. It put my inner compass back to place to follow the direction that my destiny would take me.
I trod many paths from that point, connected directions that my journey took me. I arrived in Chicago, autumn of 2006 as a nurse, but my solitude nurtured and awakened the dormant artist in me sleeping for a very long time. My first attempts were paintings in words through poetry, but my inner itch intensified and found myself buying materials that my nursing profession made me afford and just started painting.
I am still that kid who would seek my mother’s appreciation every time I finish an art piece to get her nod 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, too, still am the kid who feared the criticisms of my father that made me rip many pages of my sketches, and toss away many of my earlier works unfinished. I see my father’s image in people who thought my works are insignificant. I find courage in people who tell me otherwise. But deep in my heart, I have to admit I still seek for his approval that he was so selfish to give. He died in 2008, and I thought I’m free now, I always was!
I had since come to terms with my resentments to my father. I thank him for being distant, for it brought me closer to myself, to my soul. And for that, he taught me to fight a good fight. Wherever he may be right now, I wish he look down to see I found my way.
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 gallery, a home ~ your hearts.
And like a desolate soul a lonely waif
I wait for you to find me.
May your travels not take you long,
Come fast and love me.
Through my works, I would like to represent the displaced artists in different fields for some reasons, becoming like waifs, that I am, searching for home. I share the sentiments of artists unable to do their arts, caged in the jobs that are far from what their hearts purely desire to do. I aim as an artist to speak to that audience, to inspire them through my works and to make a statement that it is possible. Every art piece I finish is a struggle, but each is a step closer to home.
My paintings are conceived from my poems. In poetry, the words are my brushstrokes to create imageries in those times when I still can’t afford the painting materials back in the Philippines. Poetry still serves me well now in my study for painting subjects. All my paintings are titled because they are clear in my mind’s senses before they took form on canvas. Many of my paintings complete the circle becoming poems. My brushstrokes are the words I use to conjure imagery in the mind’s senses.
And when I think of it ~ this circle of my poems becoming paintings, and the paintings’ metamorphosis to poetry ~ I am enlightened that there’s really no single strand that separates them. Sketches and drawings are my scribbling: my drafts. Each completed painting is a finished poetry.
It is my commitment to my craft to achieve such seamless fusion of my paintings and poetry, for both are conceived and born from my heart.
I wish you well.