Blog, Self

Individuality through painting

Key Takeaway: The arts are one of the best ways for us to showcase our individuality and uniqueness. And this is not to be ashamed of if your work is considered inferior to another, for that’s a standard by men. Using your talents with all your heart for the glory of God is invaluable, no matter the result.

The more traditional visual arts are something I’ve often been intrigued by, but admittedly have not been able to appreciate as properly as I should have. Like music, they have their esteemed position in history, and perhaps of all the visual arts, painting is the most colorful one (pun completely intended).

Starry Night over the Rhone - 1888
Starry Night Over the Rhône (1888) by Vincent van Gogh is my favorite painting.

It’s quite rare for me to come across someone in my society who really enjoys painting, whether it be doing the actual painting or appreciating already-painted works, especially those by the great masters. But when I do encounter one – like my best friend – we can’t stop raving about it.

My favorite painting is van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhône, although he was a post-Impressionist painter. Impressionism is my favorite movement in general, and the man synonymous with Impressionism, Claude Monet, holds a special place in my heart. It might have been a placebo effect, but Kevin Kern’s 1998 album Summer Daydreams describes his music “as luminous and intimate as a Monet painting”, and in fact, Impressionist paintings particularly by Monet and Berthe Morisot reflect this. In particular, I enjoy most Monet’s Woman in a Garden, but enough about historical paintings.

Woman in a Garden (1867) by Claude Monet is my favorite Monet - and Impressionist - painting.
Woman in a Garden (1867) by Claude Monet is my favorite Monet – and Impressionist – painting.

Last Valentine’s Day, my 二哥 (èrgē) and I joined our relatives on our father’s side for a wonderfully-cultured afternoon at the restaurant of several of those cousins, Spätzle (in Shangri-La Plaza Mall’s East Wing), a lovely, quaint Swiss-German-Italian restaurant and café. They’d partnered with the painting studio Sip & Gogh for the day, and had invited the entire clan plus their friends to join an event called Plates & Palettes. It was called so, similar to the name “Sip & Gogh”, because the program would be on painting and food would be served. Apparently, my cousin and her mother, my 姑姑, like painting, and it was the former’s idea for this event.

A little pricey though it was (Php1,500.00 or about US$40.00 inclusive of a dish per person, materials, and fees), we decided to join for the experience and the company of our relatives. Each of us would have our own canvas, brushes, aprons, and paints provided, although only the canvas with the painting would be ours at the end of the day. While our snacks were served, a staff member from Sip & Gogh would walk us through what we were to paint, while several others would rove around and repeat the instructions to those who either could not hear it (it was conducted outside the restaurant, in the hallways of the mall) or were behind.

We were to paint a painting of the Eiffel Tower at night. I can’t find the original painting on the Internet – the name isn’t on the S&G site either – so if you know the original name and who painted it, do comment below!


Beautiful, isn’t it? Well, I decided that I wouldn’t conform to how they painted it, and that I would do so my own way. Naturally, if I were to paint, I’d do it the Impressionist way – if only I knew how to. So I searched up on how Impressionists painted, and when we were walked through the production of the painting, I tried to “Impressionisize” it, unless a miracle occurred and I really made an Impressionist painting. Knowing that they use short and thin but visible strokes, I tried to do the same – note the emphasis on tried – and this was the result:

Painting by Allister Roy S. Chua (2015)
Painting by Allister Roy S. Chua (2015)

Reactions from my family were mixed. My aunt said it looked like a horror still but said I did have my own art – which is very true for all of us. My cousins liked it, I think. My mother, that night, said, “Very nice.” in her mock-affectionate (but not sarcastic) tone.

My aunt’s words are something we should live by is we are to recognize our individualities as granted by God. We may be weak in this area but strong in another – and God made it that way intentionally because He has a purpose for each of us. My sense of art might be unappealing to one but appealing to another – and all of us are like that. My “Monet-Monet-han” efforts (in slang Filipino, we repeat the word then add the suffix -(h)an to affectionately mock the subject – therefore, I am a mock Monet), I can say, paid off, because I think I did achieve some form of Impressionist look, but it could still be better. Nevertheless, I am extremely proud of my first painting, which sits on a ledge facing me in my room today.

Similarly, my boss, who paints for stress relief, insists his paintings are terrible. I am sure that if – or when – I see them, I would appreciate them as fine art. When done from the heart and with all your mind and soul, art is at its finest quality, despite what critics would say. What would be considered a dreadful painting, or song for that matter, done with one’s entire being is in God’s eyes infinitely better than a work considered of immense quality but not done with love and the desire to glorify Him.

And since God gave us all the gift of uniqueness, me at my best is vastly different from you at your best and she at her best. All for His glory, each is as valuable as the last one. That is the magic of community.

Happy weekend!

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