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OFW newbie painters impress in art exhibit

07 November 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

At first glance, some of the artworks looked like attempts at impressionism, others at abstract art, while the rest were simply a beginner’s dabbling in painting.

The 20 Filipina domestic workers who undertook arts classes under Grace P. Camacho (in dark green, center), open their art exhibit at the Consulate’s Sentro Rizal.

The five-day exhibit of works by 20 Filipina domestic workers that opened on Oct 28 at the Consulate’s Sentro Rizal nonetheless takes the viewer on a journey through the thoughts of women who toil for long hours to support families back home.

To these budding artists, home is across the sea beyond the hills, an airplane ride away, where the family is sometimes complete with Tatay looking after the kids while Nanay, the artist, strains her tired muscles to earn meager dough for them.

Sometimes the family is just Nanay or Ate and a toddler with a blank stare, perhaps anticipating the return of the breadwinner—the single mom.

Some of the acrylic paintings on canvass are expressions of the artist’s dreams: having a home by the sea, a ricefield, a flower garden, enjoying a relaxing rural sunset or, simply, kissing and hugging her baby.

There were 20 who joined the workshop when it started six months ago, workshop organizer and Pitter Painter art instructor Grace P. Camacho said in an interview before the exhibit opening. But three didn’t make it until the end because they were fired from their jobs.

“Nakakalungkot, yung iba hindi natapos. Umuwi sila. Na-terminate,” Camacho said. Even then, they finished one or two paintings before they left Hong Kong and these works are also in the exhibition, she said.

Even though they missed the once-a-month, three-hour Sunday morning painting sessions that started in May, the three still communicated with the rest of their colleagues via Whatsup, said Camacho.

She conceived the workshop, dubbed “Silid Sining: Unlocking Pinay Creativity,” proposed it the Consulate and the project was sealed in half an hour, she said. The workshop was not meant for those who were born artists, so to speak, but for beginners.

“Nakakatuwa kasi nang nagsimula, silang lahat hindi nagpi-paint. By the end, nagpi-paint na silang mag-isa sa bahay,” Camacho said with satisfaction that her students have gained something from the workshop. “That is a way that they can relax, that they can express themselves.”

She said some of the new artists showed they were self-driven, retouching their works when they got home.

The workshop had six sessions. In the first three sessions, each of the participants completed one painting, and in the last session they painted the big artwork.

Camacho said that the first workshop was about the basics of painting. In the first session, she taught painting still life to expose them to the different genres; the second session, landscape; and the third, figure, to expose them to the basic kinds of painting.

She said for the last project, the size of the canvass was larger and the artists were asked to depict the theme “women heroes”.

In the fourth painting, the artists combined everything they learned to make a painting that embodied their own ideas, Camacho said.

The results were Gemma Lauraya’s colorful impression of a teacher that reflected her profession before she came to work in Hong Kong, Myrna Guevarra’s farmers trading their produce, and Gigi Legaya’s Madonna against a yellow background.   

Camacho said this was her first workshop for Filipino helpers and that she is planning a second, which would focus on works inspired by the masters. In that workshop, one session would be painting in the style of Van Gogh, the succeeding ones using the styles of various masters.

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