Live Painting with Malalison Island Kids

It was very hot to swim on an afternoon in Malalison Island, Antique. We arrived around lunchtime after a quick tour in Seco Island, three long hours away from where we were at. The heat was too harsh on our skin that the shade of the trees and huts became our only shield. Yes, excruciatingly hot.

Inside my backpack were my snorkeling gear, extra clothes, and a set of watercolor tubes just in case. I don’t normally plan on painting on the spot because as a fan of traveling, I would rather go around and explore a place than plant my butt under the shade of a tree and blot some paint onto paper.

Then again, nature commanded me to stay put and do something else aside from sleeping and burning my skin on a sweltering afternoon. So, I did what I thought was appropriate that time – paint!

Initial watercolor setup under the shade of a Talisay tree.

Initial watercolor setup under the shade of a Talisay tree.

Good thing there was this log under the tree where I could comfortably sit on and in a way use it as a table to hold my things in place. The setup is very convenient on my part as I have everything I need in front of me – perfect subject, beautiful background, drinking water (which doubles as a source of my water wash – lol), mixing plate, tissue paper, and a tin cup for cleaning my brush.

“Ahh. Time to put the basic gradient wash!” I said confidently.

While dabbling a splash of paint here and there, I noticed some shadows popping all over my paper. I thought it was just the leaves dancing above me. Turns out I had an audience while I did my work. I paused for a while and talked to these island kids asking them if they know how to paint.

“Sa school.” One small girl with an innocent smile said.

I gave them my widest smile and continued on, adding the blues and greens of the seascape before me. Minutes later, more and more kids swarmed around me, curious and excited all at the same time as I could hear their little talks and arguments as to what color I was using on the side.

Look up! (Photo by Nathan Allen)

Look up! (Photo by Nathan Allen)

Then, Nathan, author of I Dreamed of This, came over with his camera and asked us all to look up. So, we did.

Glancing once more on the background, the colors changed at an instant. The indigo shade of the mountain turned grey, the green portion of the sea turned aquamarine, the clouds dimmed for a bit, and the shadow of the boat moved a few degrees to the left.

“Oh no!”

I quickly mixed some paint in order to match the current view, applied it onto the work, and just when I was about to blend it, a kid’s saliva trickled over the watercolor paper.

“Whaaaaaat?!” I chuckled.

It’s not everyday you get to mix human saliva onto the artwork. Seems disgusting but hey, that’s how it rolls – biologically, it’s still 99.5% water. The child apologized but I just laughed at him. In turn, I asked him to pose for me once I finish the painting.

Yep, he shyly did.

Still shy but still posing with the finished artwork!

Still shy but still posing with the finished artwork!

The feeling was immeasurable after declaring that the work is finally done. It was only my second time to have an audience see me do my thing. But it’s fun to have children witness how quirky you are when you paint – makes me feel like a child again.

I could still recall the first time I painted with an audience. I was in Alubijod, Guimaras where I did mini monochromatic paintings using a Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer watercolor pencil on the coast (that time, under a coconut tree – lol). A Chinese couple strolling along the shore stopped and interviewed me as I was painting. It felt quite uncomfortable, though.

Seeing these children’s eyes light up when they saw me mixing red and blue to get purple inspired me a lot. It even urged me to do more live painting sessions practically everywhere I will go. The children that I have met in Malalison Island taught me to see things from their perspective – to be carefree and to just let my imagination flow.

I hope to do another painting session with them when I get back to the island (Update: I just did!). It’s so much fun to paint with kids than to paint all by myself locked inside a studio. Haha!


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