The enduring art of Maestro Rafael Maniago

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

MAESTRO Rafael "Paeng" Maniago lives a prolific and colorful life with his art at the center of everything that he does, that he literally breathes and lives his art day after day.
Considered as the best among the best painters and arguably the best portrait artist of his generation, Maniago is sought by art lovers, collectors and students alike. 

His works today are hot commodities that adorn educational and government institutions, the private collections of rich art collectors and in the homes of ordinary people and friends both here and in the United States.

It is in the United States where Maniago earns a living as painter and art teacher. There, he maintains a home-based studio in Southern California where rich and middle-class Americans would have portraits and scene paintings commissioned.


“I also teach painting classes to retirees, women and foreigners from other countries residing in the US.  That takes much of my time aside from the painting commissions,” Maniago said. 

Maniago goes home to the Philippines every year to accommodate local projects and to give free painting session to indigent locals who are willing to learn his style and techniques. 

Maniago Art

Maniago is a 65-year-old painter who became a teacher to Victor Ramos -- the painter of the Betis Ceiling during the 1970s. This same ceiling painting is one of the many art attractions inside the Betis Church in Guagua.

Victor Ramos was 20 years older than him at that time.

Maniago was also the painter of the 15 portrait paintings of the past governors of Pampanga, which can be seen at the Provincial Capitol and is the painter of majority of the portraits of majority of the presidents of Holy Angel University.

Maniago has been drawing since childhood. He attended the University of the East in Manila where he studied Fine Arts and Commercial Advertisement. For 20 years, he operated his own gallery in the Philippines and in 1989 he decided to come to the United States. His passion for learning continued as he studied at the Pasadena Art Center.

He has painted over 1,000 portraits, many of which were of the Philippine leaders of Commerce, Industry and Politics.

Aside from conducting workshops throughout Southern California for years, he is also a member of Portrait Society of America, American Society of Portrait Artists, California Art Club, and Laguna Plain Air Painter Association and a winner of different art contests in the United States.

Build-up method

One amazing technique that is most evident in Maniago’s artworks is his use of his own build-up technique in portrait painting.  He mainly uses three to four colors and with meticulous mixing of hues he creates images that seemed to have been painted using dozens of colors.

“Limiting the number of colors used makes you more attentive to color. 

You will never go wrong in the process since you are only limited to a few colors. I would just add up a few other colors during the finishing stage, mostly as background color for the portraits to add up life or in some instances some light to the portraits,” Maniago said.

Maniago is also an abstract and classical master painter.  He draws inspiration from both Fernando Amorsolo and Botong Francisco.  This is evident in colors of his abstracts and fine old master style paintings that are done in the style that is unique to him.

Hi plays were surrealism, hyperrealism and abstract depending upon his whim but every artwork would surely turn up as a masterpiece.

Coming Home
Maniago said he and his wife would soon settle permanently in Pampanga in a couple of years.  But even during short visits, Maniago makes the best of it by hosting painting sessions with friends and novice painters at his home studio in Barangay Dolores in the City of San Fernando selflessly teaching what he knows among willing learners.

Maniago is a member of a group of local poets in Pampanga and a staunch advocate of art events.  He never fails to attend art exhibits of other artists and support similar events organized by art groups.

“I believe that I have a responsibility to people who are into the arts in Pampanga.  One must share what one can. Knowing that I have made people even more interested in pursuing painting makes me feel fulfilled,” Maniago said.


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Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 29, 2012.


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