Michael: Creating a Wild Rollercoaster of a Vivid Dream

Demise of the Blissful One
About the artist:

Michael Vincent Manalo is a digital-mixed-media artist born in Philippines to American father and Spanish mother. Having grown up in an international family with fascinating background, his artworks dramatically recreate every day life stories by illustrating his very own interpretations of emotions. Michael’s pieces have been used as album covers, book covers; exhibited in some major galleries and museums in America, Italy and Philippines. 

Light my Fire

Tales from the Door of Dreams
Michael creates his art through merging scenes in his mind with scenes that have been captured by hand to create the living space that his subconscious tries to convey – a living space of surrealism, the weird, and the paranormal. They are the extension of distant memories and nostalgia. Refused to be bound by the traditional painting process, Michael chose photo-manipulations, which as a result has given him unlimited possibilities to ‘recreate visceral levels contained within the vast assemblage of his spirit’. 

 Artist Statement:

The Storyteller

A Second Chance

 Life has always been a fascination to me: from those inevitable school fights during the elementary years to those wild days of puberty; from the lonesome people in the parks to the 8-inched mohawked people in concerts; from feeling someone else's warmth to dealing with the blackness within. There are always a lot of emotions in my works - pain, happiness, love and warmth, glory, success, failures, torture, jealousy, excitement, rage, pride. All these converged and met at a common point in time and space and created who I am, what I want to explore and what I hope to achieve.

A vast amount of images come to my mind every day as a result of the radical emotions that fill me in each heartbeat, which I try to recreate as soon as I could by combining photographs and techniques in illustration to illustrate the concepts of the mind. By forging those images I literally create pictures wherein the emotion delves, grows and inhabits. They hopefully then allow viewers to withdraw from the cruelty of reality and dig into a wild rollercoaster of a vivid dream. 

Tales from the Hidden Attic

The Earth Room

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My Beloved

..APRIL! My best friend, my rock, and the co-author of this blog.

I can't believe I never painted her before. So here, my first painting of the most beautiful bride ever. Also, my first vector art, faithfully followed Electra's tutorial on the subject. (I'm nowhere as good as she is, really :(.. April is much more gorgeous than depicted!!!)

Darling I hope you'll like it ;)

On a different note, I'll run the Race for Life 5km in Cambridge on 3rd of July. Join me! Cheer for me! And donate for Cancer Research UK online here! It's very secure, every pound counts and your money will be put forward to funding Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work into preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer. I'm going to start my training today. There's no quitting now as I already invested some major money in running shoes, socks, outfits, etc. We've got to run but we've got to LOOK GOOD while running too, yes? ;) I'll keep you all posted on my so-called training!

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Tried and Tasted!

I've just had my Saturday (vegetarian) grill - the recipe is brilliant: easy, time-saving, and super delicious. Try and you'll love it. Need not to mention how good colourful fruits and vegetables are for your being and digestion :)

Here it is: Basque grilled vegetable skewers with Lime chimichurri sauce!

You will need...
(serves 4)

3 peppers, sliced
2-3 Portobello mushrooms (my favourite!), quartered
2 courgettes or aubergines (or one each), sliced and halved
1 red onion, quartered.

All of them should be marinated in: salt and pepper, 1/2 tbsp chilli powder and 1 tbsp dried orange rind.

For the Basque-style green sauce:
6 garlic gloves
3 dried bay leaves
3 limes
1 green chilli, 1 red chilli
some parsley, oregano, basil and olive oil

Squeeze the limes and the rest goes into a blender until the paste is smooth. Its fragrant will make you fall in love instantly - guaranteed.

In the mean time, grilled the vegetables, cook some brown rice. Drizzle the sauce over when everything's done and voila, your meal is ready!

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All the Glittering

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Katie: Making Make-up into Art

Full face Sunset

Tree Lips
Hello! I’m Katie. I do artistic make-up for fun, but my real profession is actually a Graphic Designer! I went to school for it and I’ve just recently graduated. I’m just starting up my own freelancing company, 89 Design, I’m currently working on my website and business cards. I’m also working part time at a little print shop in my town. I got into graphic design because I loved photography and I loved incorporating my own photography into my work. What I’d love to do in the future is do fashion photography, doing my own make-up and also designing the editorials as well. Why hire a photographer, make-up artist and graphic designer separately when you’ve got all of that in one lovely little package? 

What I do, is make make-up into actual art. Instead of doing a few pretty colours and calling it a day, I like to make scenes. I have done a few where it’s just colours when I’m doodling, but for the most part I like to make it a landscape. 

City Eyes

Outer Space
When I first start a piece, I have to think of an idea. Some ideas I think are going to look amazing, turn out to be complete crap. So I have to sit down and plan it out. Sometimes I use reference pictures, but for the most part it’s just in my mind. I pull out everything I need and sit at my “make-up station” aka my bathroom. I have a high magnification mirror with lights on the side so that I can see every detail. I put down a base colour first. Or if it’s a gradient, I do that. Then I’ll put the images on top. For the small details, I use pins (carefully). It usually takes about an hour for the really complicated stuff. Sometimes it can only take about 20 minutes! That’s if I don’t screw anything up. The one that took the longest would probably be my full face sunset. It was really difficult trying to get the details on the side of my face when I can only turn my head so far in the mirror. It would have been a thousand times easier if I had done it on someone else, but I didn’t have anyone at the time.
I usually try to go for a fantasy theme. Make it look magical! 

Winter Eyes

Halloween Eyes
My dream project would probably be for me to do my work on someone else. I kind of suck at doing it on other people, mainly because they’re too twitchy. When you’re doing make-up on yourself, it’s easy, but when you’re doing it on someone else and they see that you’re bringing a very sharp pin to their face, they’re not happy!

There are quite a few artists that inspire me, but from an early age, these are the ones that have stuck with me: Ansel Adams, Jerry Uelsmann and my mother.

The best advice I was ever giver was “Don’t sit on your ass and think “Oh I can’t do it”, just keep trying and eventually you’ll master it.”

Here is a tutorial I did for beginners, which shows how I did it and what I used. 

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Johanna: A Story-teller

First thing first, HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR :) It's our New Year's Day today back home and there's this tradition called 'khai bút đầu xuân', which literally means 'picking up your pen [to write a poem, a sentence, etc.] at the beginning of spring'. Which is what I'm doing right this moment! :) 

To begin an exciting, and hopefully adventurous year, I'd like to introduce - to all of you invisible peeps -
Johanna, who I admire for her talent and wonderful illustration style. (First day of the new year seriously can't get any better than this..)

Tree of Possibilities
 Q: Please introduce yourself and what you do. A: Hi, my name is Johanna Bessière. I’m an animator and an illustrator. I’ve worked in the film industry for a couple of years, and I’m currently developping a few personal children books projects.

Q: A quick description of your artwork.A: I don’t know if I’ve got a proper « style ». I find it very hard to stick with one ! (and boring, too). Usually I do illustrations in various style and techniques, going from quite simple and stylised to realistic, as well as character and background design for animation, and pure animation drawings. I also enjoy life drawings and travel books.

Q: What is your process of producing a piece?A: For an illustration I usually start with a very sketchy thumbnail, then when I’ve got a basic idea of what the composition is going to be, I draw the line-art. Most of the time I do this in blue and then clean it in black, ink or pencil. Then I either paint it with acrylics or inks, or colour it digitally.

Q: How long does one take on average? Which of your masterpieces took the longest to produce?A: It really depends on the complexity of the piece and the technique I chose for it. It can go from a few hours for a simple digital or ink illustration (or less than an hour for a sketch), to a few days for a complex acrylic painting with lots of details. As an example, « The tree of possibilities » took me a long time, much longer than I expected ! All the little doors are full of details, and each one is cut by hand to show another painting behind. It took me two weeks of working everyday on it (though not full-time, thankfully) to finish it! That’s far too much!

Q: But it's brilliant! In your works, what theme do you pursue?A: I like to make drawings with symbols, subtext and several layers of interpretation, triggering the viewer’s imagination. I draw to tell stories. I can be inspired by a text, a book, an idea, or just a feeling and then I want to put a picture on it. Drawing is always showing a part of yourself, of what you believe in, of the way you see the world. This is why it’s so scary to show your art! But I believe that by accepting to be true to this and to be vulnerable somehow, your art improves, gets a deeper resonance. That’s what I’m trying to go toward in my most recent works, like « The tree… », « Wild one » and « Forest ».
Coming from the animation world, I’m also passionate about movement and characters’ emotions.

Wild One

Q: What do you like and dislike about your works?A: Hahaha, that’s a tricky question. I’m never completely satisfied with my work, I’m ultra-perfectionist. I think one of my qualities is that my drawings and characters are full of life and movement. As for the rest, I’ve got so many things to improve and to learn about! I still feel like a beginner.

Q: What is your dream project?A: To be able to convey themes and subjects that are dear to me in my work and to combine all the different aspects I love about art in my professional life, going from illustration to comics and animation. Changes and diversity make life more fun! I’d love to create workshop with kids too.

Aboriginal Art Inspiration

Q: Name three artists who inspire you.A: Three only is difficult ! As I was just talking about the different aspects I like in art, let’s get an inspiration for each one of them : one of the most amazing comics artists, for me, is Cyril Pedrosa. I love his lines, and he is such a talented story-teller ! (check out « Three shadows »!) For children illustration and writing, Gabrielle Vincent, the creator of Ernest and Celestine. There is so much humanity and tenderness in her work. And for animation, Hayao Miyazaki (of Studio Ghibli, who produced Spirited Away, etc.), whose talent is absolute in every way to me, and whose themes touch me deeply.

Q: What's the best piece of advice you've been given?A: I was given a lot of other great pieces of advice for different situations. One that was particularly helpful was to create a whole story in my head about the character and background I’m drawing, even if it’s not going to be told. Is there a book under one foot of the table because it was wobbly, what in the room reflects the hobbies of the one living in it, etc. It helped me to enjoy drawing backgrounds, when they had been « not fun » to me before, and put a lot more life and subtext into my illustrations.

Thank you Johanna.

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