Stretch, or the freedom(s) I long to have as an artist

I am sorry for neglecting this space for too long. Life does get in the way sometimes, but I assure you, May 2016 was a good kind of crazy. It was a month of stepping out of comfort zones, and even though I am entirely pleased with my output, I've learned a lot about my process, artistic direction, and motivation.

This past month, I said yes to three very challenging projects: to paint murals for a cafe, to hold a watercolor lettering demo in a mall, and to create something that will be permanently displayed in a park. I haven't done any of these things before, so to say I was terrified is a grave understatement. One project in particular taught me a lot of lessons, and that's Parkfest PH for Nayong Pilipino.

I was tasked to do a mural with a fellow letterer, June Digan (THE June Digan!), and when I first learned about it I didn't know whether I should rejoice or hide under a rock. It was an honor to be paired with a talented artist, but at the same time I grappled with a lot of self-doubt. Will I be able to deliver? Will I be able to create something worthy to be displayed in a public park alongside June's work? Will I be ready for this kind of challenge? And as with all things uncertain, my answer was a resounding yes.

The initial stages were a bit rough. We weren't able to paint on the first day because there was a problem with our primed canvas. We had to transfer and adjust to a bigger wall. We encountered intense heat and rain while working. It seemed like all of these factors mirrored the turmoil I was having inside. I kept on procrastinating and changing my design because I felt they weren't good enough, that I wasn't good enough. But eventually we finished and I was faced with this question: Ano ang inaasam mong kalayaan?

Roughly translated, this means "what kind of freedom are you longing for?"

Roughly translated, this means "what kind of freedom are you longing for?"

In our completed mural, we had three options: freedom of expression, freedom of choice, and freedom against judgment or discrimination. But I didn't long for any of them. I wish to have freedom from self-doubt, from feeling like whatever I come up with looks like trash. I wish to have the freedom from expectations, whether from the outside or self-imposed, so I can create whatever I want and experiment whenever I feel like it. I wish to have the freedom from negative self-talk so I can continue accepting projects like this and keep on stretching myself.

As I laid down the final brush strokes and fine details, I realized that the only person who can afford me the freedom I long for is myself. So from this point on, I will do my best not to get in my own way. I am going to continue to say yes to things that will help me grow.