ROMANCING THE CANVAS (autobigraphy series)
# 1 Taking Form: An Autobiography of my life with Arts
My earlier paintings displayed on the walls at home in the Philippines
There is no doubt now in my heart that what I’ve been through were essential in shaping me. I feel like a stone in a river molded by its currents, its rushing waters caress me like a passionate sculptor meticulously shaping me as I take form ~
God’s masterful hands leave imprints all over me.
Yes I’m taking form, for God molds me.
I’ve been drawing since I could remember. When I was a kid, I remember it was the most comforting thing for me to do alone. Everytime I visit my earliest memories, I would always see a child with a pencil and a paper drawing. I thought I was born to do arts and I’m naturally born with the gift.
But nobody really took notice of those earliest signs, nobody in the family took my gift seriously. I was left alone to find out for myself the reasons why I draw at such a young age and to understand that there’s such a thing as passion, that there is such a thing as a gift. It is not easy growing up feeling this itch inside you and not knowing how to cure or what to do with it. I feel the craving to feed my passion, I just don’t know how, nobody taught me, I don’t have the resources and I didn’t really understood.
I was born left handed, but when my father forced me to become right handed, it was also a subtle way to supress my artistry. And so I grew up the convetional way, a normal kid but inside is an itch, a craving, my soul hungers for something that it took me years to find out.
Pencil on Paper, by Jeques B. Jamora, 1998
I continue to draw, sketch, and progressed to water color in my own slow pace. I learned them myself as if they’re the most natural thing for me to do. The arts really didn’t leave me completely even if I was in a far away field of nursing ~ it was like being exiled in a territory not your own and your soul painfully longs for something you don’t really understand. The side spaces of my class notebooks are filled with sketches and they were instrumental for the most unexpected person to discover my gift and do something about it. He was not even my friend then, we were already 4th year college in Nursing. My closest friends knew that I draw, but it took years and for this one person that I didn’t even consider my friend to believe in what I do, to prod me to join a painting contest which I did, and to make me realize my potentials and with that, to him I am forever indebted.
I was a first timer in a painting contest, I was not really sure what I was doing but there was one voice in my head telling me I could paint – I could never forget Ronald – and that was enough to inspire me. I was a 3rd place in that competition, not bad for a first timer.
I thought it was just a beginners luck or something, that achievement wasn’t enough to convince me. I was just a 3rd placer anyway. But I didn’t know that that one-time thing could stir a rivalry that empowered me to fight a silent battle. The first placer from that contest(that’s his 3rd year win – unbeatable!) commented something about my work, and that I was not deserving. I was hurt in silence but I was challenged. And then there was another contest, which Ronald recommended me again to join, and I did. It was different this time, I became more competitive knowing that my rival was in that same contest. I was first place in “on the spot painting contest” category, while he won the “on the spot drawing contest” – I didn’t know we joined different categories but we were side by side during the awarding of prizes. I could sense a silent rivalry. At least now, I have proven my worth.
And then came the final battle, our school sponsored an inter-school poster making contest, with water color as medium and the only category. We both joined and the heat of the rivalry reached its peak. I was determined to win, but I was not sure how to do it. So I just painted my heart out. Our works was on display for 3 days before a decission was made for the winners. I viewed closely all the works, and study each against my piece and my rival’s. Days after, I received my treasured gold medal in a painting contest – I won first place. He got the bronze, a third placer, the spot I humbly took the first time I joined.
I won the silent battle.
My apartment is becoming the showroom for my paintings.
That was many years ago, I was just more than a child then. But that childish rivalry served as catalyst for me to take my gift seriously. If nobody does, then at least I should be and that is my obligation, my way of paying tribute to the true source of the gift: my creator and my God.
I didn’t stop. I continue to enrich myself, I am a self-taught artist. I remember when I arrived here, one of the first places I searched and visited was the Art Institute Of Chicago. I can’t stop my tears, I was crying watching all the artworks – now I understand what my soul is hungry for.
I started painting again in July 2007. and the first person I gave a painting many years after, is the person who made me believe I could win a painting competition back in college – We are grown ups now, away from home. But I always remember that at one point in my life, he unselfishly gave me such an encouraging push to convince me I could do wonders with my gift.
There are still so much to do and to hope for. My life with my Arts is a long road from here. This is an autobiography in progress. I live a pending life, a painting unfinished. As I move forth, romancing the canvas, images surface revealing their hues as I am taking form in my life’s canvas.
“Pending Life(unfinished)” Oil on canvas, 40×48(pending, nov, ‘07 to date) By: Jeques B. Jamora
# 2 Ingrained : An Autobiography of my life with Arts
“Childhood” oil on canvas, 24×30 by : Jeques B. Jamora, 2009
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the places I often visit since I came here, it became like the secluded dusty paths I used to take when I was a child pulling my carts to endless directions in circles that my young mind then could imagine.
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 thought I have somehow won those battles.
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. It dawned on me, I’ve always done 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: 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 the used to be senseless dots and lines I put together to create images that seem 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 am 36 years old. I started sketching perhaps 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. I remember my mother was my first teacher and our first subject was flowers. She stopped teaching me when my flower sketches look nicer than the ones she taught me. I’ve outgrown the art lessons of my mother 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 it 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. He died in 2008, and 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 on 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
I wish you well.