FOR the past six years, except one, the Chan Lim Family and Students come over to show their Chinese paintings and spread the love for watercolor through an afternoon workshop for kids and adults alike.
Being a "special student", having been mentored by Dr. Alex Chan Lim online because I was pesky enough to learn more than that one afternoon six years ago, I've been asked to "teach" in the most recent three exhibits, including the one ongoing at SM Lanang Premier.
I'm not good, but I know the strokes for the four gentlemen of Chinese painting and that is good enough to teach beginners.
The four gentlemen are the plum, the bamboo, the orchid, and the chrysanthemum. As the Chan Lim website reads: "It is generally admitted that the technique of 'Four Gentlemen' painting is the foundation of Chinese ink painting. If you know how to draw a Plum tree you may do all other trees, and the Orchid and Bamboo provide a good foundation for drawing all sort of leaves. The Chrysanthemum is a good example for flower painting, for it has clean simple petals and symmetrical leaves."
Having attended the first two workshops as a learner, I knew how difficult it is to wield a Chinese brush for the first time and draw that bamboo stalk. It becomes and even more difficult to get that bamboo leaf right. But having a modicum of the discipline involved, there was confidence of being able to teach at least the bamboo.
Until I met my students.
In the atrium full of willing learners of all ages, I got the youngest of the lot. A whole long table of children aged 5-7, very young such that one boy (aged 5 going 6, with a stress on the going 6 apparently to convince me that he's already a big boy) couldn't muster enough interest and let his father do the learning instead. (In fairness, the father was interested and quickly learned how to draw plum blossoms).
There were more than 20 other teachers, all of whom flew in just for the exhibit and workshop, attending to a long table each. From the patriarch Jose Chan Lim to Dr. Alex and their students in their weekend workshop in Pasig City.
Pressure was rising as my fellow teacher at the next table, Sharon Tan, was already showing the adults and students assigned to her how to mix water into the paint and create the consistency for Chinese painting while I cannot even make the kids hold their brushes properly much less convince them not to use the paint straight out of the tube.
"Listen up. You can't use the paint that way because it will not flow," I coaxed them small group per small group. I got uncomprehending stares in reply.
"This is paint from the tube, when you dip your brush into it, it's like puppy poo! You have to put a little water and mix, so you can come up with Nestle Cream not puppy poo."
That worked for some, it didn't for others, and that's because Nestle Cream wasn't familiar to all. I mixed the paints for them instead saying, "thick milk not puppy poo".
I finally got all their attention and interest when I taught them how to double-load a brush and paint a two-toned flower petal with just one stroke. It was like magic, and they learned how to wield magic from their brushes by making thick milk not puppy poo and loading two colors in the brush. From then on, they were double-loading brushes and painting flowers and rainbows and for me, that was enough.
The four gentlemen can wait.
The day before, elementary and high school students made watercolor paintings for a contest that won them gifts from SM Lanang Premier.
Winners from the more than 20 who joined in the below 12 years old category were: First place - Kian Sashame Cortes of Ford Academy, Second place - Martina Audrey Uyboco of Davao Christian High School, and Third place - Margaret Megrino of Davao Chong Hua High School.
Winners for the 12-17 years old category of the more than 50 who joined were: First place - Ysa Beliree Brillantes of the Philippine Women's College ofDavao (PWC), Second place - Rafael David Westran of PWC, and Third place - Arianne Michelle Mintal of Christian Colleges of Southeast Asia.
Aside from the gift from SM Lanang, the children's works are also displayed at the Chan Lim Family and Students Mid-Autumn Art Festival exhibit at the atrium. The exhibit runs until September 16, 2017.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on September 10, 2017.
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