Everytime I'm interviewed about my art, one question always come up. How did I became an artist?
Oftentimes I'm tempted to answer 'I was born as one'. But that won't be a justified reply. Although I believe my artistic talents have been bestowed since birth, it wasn't until a tragedy happened that I heeded to that artful calling.
'Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.', is one of my favorite quotes from Picasso. It hits home for me. As much as I enjoyed creating with my hands as a child, I set aside my penchant for art to pursue a more financially rewarding college degree. Dad said, if money isn't a problem, we'll have easier time pursuing other interests in life and even help others.
He was right on. Except for one thing. He missed the part that his sudden demise will leave such a gaping hole in our lives. At age forty-nine, on a Wednesday morning, he died of heart attack. We were supposed to go out that Sunday to celebrate Easter with my first paycheck from my first job. Instead, Easter became a day of mourning as we laid him to his final rest.
Standing there, I was so numb from the sudden pain of loss, from the disbelief that he's gone. No tears fell. It was only after every one who expressed their sympathy has gone home, did I gave in to that unbearable grief. I cried for days.
Life must go on, he would always urge us. From challenges come opportunity, he'd say when things in school or at work get rough, or friendships sour.
I took Mom out for a lunch date a week after, we talked about Dad and what he'd want us to do. Be strong, she said. 'I don't know how to', was all I can say. That's when a sign for a four-day art workshop at a local bookstore caught her eyes.
'Why not give it a try, you've always been artistic', Mom said. So I did. Two weeks after Easter, I finished my first oil painting of coconuts. After ten years and several more ambitious works of art, this one still hangs proudly in my mom's living room.
Reminding us that life is what you make out of it. Dad might have been gone, but his passing left me a gift that keeps on giving - To cherish life like never before.
So when life brings you hard coconuts to break, paint it.