Saturday, August 30, 2008

my wonderful toothache

27 august 08

'you are the first thought when i wake up,
the last before i sleep"

my search for the holy grail

bernadette de los santos
2 jan 08

. . .and there was this best selling book and movie, “The Da Vinci Code”. whether you’ve read it or not, you’ve probably heard about the legends that have evolved over centuries about the existence of the Holy Grail. what about the Harrison Ford movies “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? it’s fascinating to read and watch about such mystery that has endured through thousand of years and wonder if there really is a roseline that will lead to the Grail. i don’t know if I believe it exists but what strikes me most is the fervor of the faith that has carried the legend for over 2000 years and the stamina of those who pursued it in their lifetimes.

like many, i came to art in mid-life and pursued this new passion with zeal that surprised me.

i had no formal art training and like a woman on a crusade, diligently researched and pursued any avenue that would help me become an artist. i took classes in wildly different types of instructions, from acrylic to watercolor to jewelry-making to quilting. i didn’t pause long enough between any of these wildly disparate workshops to let the techniques sink in and interpret them with my own touch – i had to make up for lost time! i learned more and more new techniques, piling up supplies and books in a didactic overdrive to give myself the education i felt i sorely lacked.

by then, i knew all about all – a little of everything, i mean, on quilting. initially, i was thrilled to have a free hand, but after i began to see quilts bursting with creativity and style, i found myself afraid to touch them. i stared reproachfully at my fabrics until they have started to pale right before my very eyes. i’d stack them back with a heavy heart and wonder how and when i would ever discover my Holy Grail of Art and become the artist i want to be.

i understood the rudiments of how to paint. i could create a reasonable derivation of the work of the artist i saw in books and magazines. but faced with a blank page, i didn’t have an original idea in my head. surrounded by paints and ephemera and fabrics and beads, i was still waiting to discover the secret that everyone else knew.

my self-confidence in my newfound art talent deflated as quickly as a popped balloon. what did i know about making art? what did i want to say? i tried out the styles of popular artists and used their imagery and elements in my works. i tried to give my work meaning, feeling that my artwork needed to be about something universal, something with depth to all. when i sat down to work on my “green quilts”, i thought of global warming, climate change, of relations between countries. i even made an “Indian” quilt, using fabrics from India. i wanted to make something as significant as those things. i wanted my art to be worldly, sophisticated and significant. i wanted people to see my work and know it was mine.

i wanted it to be Art.

i still believe that there was some special technique, some look that i could “discover” that would make my work as distinctive as the artists i have idolized. instead of trying to find the roseline that led to the secrets of my own art heart, i found myself adopting all the other colorful, quirky and fun elements that i enjoyed in the artworks of popular artists.

i went to my “art room” again, with leaden feet. i had to do something with this “blank time” i have while i got it and that was it! i was never going to make art again.

i stared out the window then pulled art books and magazines. the books on the shelf above me fell over and a small sepia snapshot floated down and landed in front of me. it was an old photo of my great aunt “(abue)lita Baling”, posing in some portrait studio. she wore a full-length mestiza gown and her black hair coiffed, as was popular in those days. the photo always made me smile and i smiled back at her and put the photo back on the shelf, when it promptly fell down again. what? what do you want? i asked it, and then in my heart, i heard her voice say, “Quit looking out the window. it’s just right here.”

here? where?

all i saw around me was my “messy”, “noisy” house. there was nothing important going on around here, just the life i had created, a life that is three years old. and way too much clutter. i looked at the dusty shells from several summer trips to my “La Playa”, “arranged” on my living room table, at the books piled high on “(abue)lita Baling’s” bed, threatening to landslide soon. and at the old, chipped wooden statues, and Baao signages that i’ve rescued from last year’s super typhoon. i peeked at the piles of fabrics on my closet shelves, at the jumbled rolls of ribbons piled in a box and the baskets overflowing with old vintage wool fabrics. i turned and gazed at the albums of photographs of vacations and trips. i surveyed the black and white photographs of my grandparents, my great grandparents, my parents, and myself, and finally, finally, finally saw it all for what it was: my Holy Grail!

all along, my roseline had been under my own two feet and was pointing to right where i was standing. i was not going to be the precursor to a new movement, i had to leave to others the task of making art about global warming, or the melting ice cap. my art was small and personal but still a part of the world that contains all those important weighty matters.

my art would never be Art with a capital A. but it could be art full of love and whimsy, if i relied on my iconography pulled from the vivid particulars of my own small life.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

i love you

bernadette de los santos
10 august 08

i love you.

beyond words, gestures
beyond space, time
beyond norms,
beyond mores.

i love you.

more than the call of flesh
more than happiness

i love you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

i am ernst

with you,
i am a butterfly...
my wings of colors spread to take flight
i step out of my sanctuary...
with your gentle hands
holding me...
guiding me...
caressing me...

and letting me be...

with you,
i am just perfect...
my wrinkles
nestle my beautiful face...
my white hair
a milieu of my sad eyes
even my tears of sorrow...
they never make me less wonderful...

and you kiss me with deep affection
on my forehead...
teasing me fondly...

with you
i can never go wrong
i am faultless
with you I am perfect
am i?

bernadette de los santos
6 august 08

Sunday, August 3, 2008

for michael keegan

bernadette de los santos
01 July 08

must I turn my back
to evade
the enticing spell
that you cast on me,
must I allow
my eyes
to see your charms
my ears
to hear your whispers
my lips
to utter the entangled language
that only your heart
can unravel,
how can silence remain smothered
when only your love can silence
my restless heart,
just how can I face
my empty world
when days pass on
like empty dreams
without you,
would you conquer
the stillness
of my aching heart?

tell me,
i’ll listen.