Saturday, December 04, 2021

From yoga mat to art canvas


YOGA has been literally a welcome breather for the spirited ladies of Fit and Fab.

Through the years, their bond went beyond wellness with regular lunch dates and other passion projects strengthening their friendships even further.

Now, some in their close-knit group like Maybelle Marquez-Yu, Vanessa Patiño-Ong, and Benjie Tan-Yu rekindled their love for the arts. The talented trio is proudly part of the ongoing Mindanao Art 2021, one of the country’s most prestigious and biggest art events, held at the Poblacion Market Central.

Meet these budding mommy artists as they share their inspiring journey of self-expression, affirming that it is never too late to create.

When did you discover your talent for the arts?

Maybelle: “I started painting at the end of 2020 when my husband and I took interest in acquiring some art pieces for our home. I never truly took it seriously as to create an art piece and it was more like making art for school projects.”

Vanessa: “My parents used to enroll me in painting workshops during summer breaks. After I graduated from college, I worked as a designer, so I was exposed to art a lot.”

Benjie: “As far as I can remember, I began drawing as early as 4 years old. In school, I was excited when it came to art as a subject. I loved to color and draw.”

How did you hone your talent in painting?

Maybelle: “When we started acquiring art, I had a lot of time on my hands. There were also a lot of paint materials available so I thought I would enjoy a bit of painting. I joined some online classes too.”

Vanessa: “During college, we rendered our plates using watercolor. Then, in 2016, my mentor Lito Pepito taught and encouraged me to paint again. I became a part of the Davao Watercolor Society which used to have Tuesday art afternoon meetups at Basti’s Brew. I have participated in previous exhibits in Davao and Manila and had my first solo exhibit in Davao last April 4, 2021.”

Benjie: “I started to study painting last 2016 and it lasted for years. I am grateful that through events in my life like joining yoga and Ikebana, I was able to meet my fine arts teacher Teacher Rey Bollozos.”

What kind of joy does creating give you?

Maybelle: “Just looking at colors gliding on canvas makes me happy. It’s like putting the icing on the cake. And finishing an art piece is just sheer joy. Knowing that the Lord has equipped us differently and has enabled us to actually use it is indescribable.”

Vanessa: “Painting sparks joy. While I was battling with cancer, it gave me hope. It relaxed me and became an outlet for me to stay positive and have happy vibes.”

Benjie: “I love to give details on my painting because it is like nurturing my soul.”

What are your favorite subjects?

Maybelle: “Vintage items and roses. And eventually, everything else under the sun.”

Vanessa: “My Ikebana arrangements, flora and fauna, birds, butterflies, and travel scenes. I usually take photos and paint them.”

Benjie: “I love water drops and bubbles because there is something about them that is so relatable in my life that I can’t figure out yet.”

Which medium are you most comfortable with? Why?

Maybelle: “During this time that I rediscovered painting, I immediately took a liking to


Vanessa: “Watercolor. I find it very challenging. It is the hardest medium but not the most sought after. And better for me, health-wise.”

Benjie: “Acrylic because I love its vibrant colors.”

How did painting help you cope with the pandemic?

Maybelle: “Well, it has occupied my time.”

Vanessa: “The pandemic really made me practice more which enabled me to hold my first solo exhibit. Right now, I am doing a series that I hope to show in a gallery in Cebu, my hometown.”

Benjie: “It helped me create something artistically for the people who are mentally and emotionally challenged especially during this pandemic.”

How do you feel about being part of Mindanao Art 2021?

Maybelle: “Actually, it was Kublai Millan who invited me, but I was not confident yet and said I will just join next time. Then, Benjie just outright convinced me to just dive right in and go. I am so happy just being able to put my work out there.”

Vanessa: “It is always a blessing to join again. This year, I joined the Ahon Mindanao Watercolor Group. We are 18 watercolorists in one booth with 2 paintings each. I am glad that our group leader is so organized. We have videos, catalogues as well as artist profiles.”

Benjie: “Exposing my artwork to a large audience is like baring my soul and my inner life. It makes me uncomfortable. But I realized that opportunities like Mindanao Art 2021 helped to remind me not to waste time. Exhibits like these give me a venue to express my creative imagination. I believe that doing what I love is a life well-lived.”

Advice for those who are interested to create but never find the time

Maybelle: “If you are blessed with the interest but feel you don’t have the time, still, make the time even if it’s just an hour a day. Use a small space in a corner you get to visit often. One stroke a day will finish an artwork one day.”

Vanessa: “It’s all about time management. If you are really interested and find your heart and passion in it, you will make time for your hobbies and interests. You can find your “me” time.”

Benjie: “Time does not own me. I own my time. So, everything is a choice. I made a choice. That is, I will grow old as an artist.”

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