When did you first become interested in art?
As far back as my memory can recall, I was already drawing and sketching heavily as early as 4 years old. TV shows that captured my attention, like the Land of the Lost, would inspire me to draw dinosaurs. Other shows would also rouse me to get a piece of paper and a pencil and draw whatever I see in the show like animals, cars, and people. If there were no paper available, the walls of our house sufficed. This of course, I found out the hard way, was not a pretty good idea. I used to make my own comic books when I was 12 years old. I rented them out and sold a few to friends. After settling in as museum curator for the past 8 years, I decided to give art a serious professional chance.
What style of art do you use most?
My style is eclectic. I mix and match impressionism with pop, low brow, fauvism, and cubism. You can see that sometimes my backgrounds are impressionist, my light and composition is cubist but my characters are always pop and cartoonish in nature. Most galleries will label my work as naïve art.
A Meal Without Rice – Rice is so important in Asia that there are many proverbs that centers on the crop. What does the painting tell you? A meal without rice is like a beautiful woman with only one eye. This is a Chinese proverb.
Has your style changed from when you first began as an artist?
I’m pretty new as a serious artist but have developed my style very early. I was deliberating in becoming an impressionist landscape artist or someone who has highly identifiable works. I chose the latter but still do impressionist landscapes from time to time. I simply love the freedom that impressionism provides. As I make new art works I feel that my art is still changing even if not easily noticeable. More in more the impressionist air creeps into my more developed pop surrealism style.
What medium do you use?
I am pretty much an acrylic artist now. When I was younger I used water color, ink and graphite.
What made you choose that medium?
I work fast and in layers. Working in oil would have been difficult for me with my pace. I need a layer to dry quickly before putting on another coat of paint.
Do your ideas come from life or imagination?
Much of my ideas come from experiences and knowledge that I have so you could pretty much say that they are from life. But as much as possible, I do not like copying images. I try to make them up. I don’t use photos to compose my paintings. I could paint realistically but then a lot of artists are into that already and I wanted to create my own style.
88X – In Japan, the word rice in Kanji is synonymous to the number 88. They say that rice is so important that once you die your soul will come back and pick up each rice grain that you wasted in your lifetime 88 times! In the Philippines, I recall that you only need to pick each one once. That is still a lot of work since we have been eating rice all our lives. There is a story in the painting. Question: How many dead persons are in the painting?
How do you choose your images and colours?
I develop my own images and use a very bright palette. I use complementary colors heavily and like most artists follow the moods such as cool or warm as a guiding principle for my color selection. But I rarely use black. I use deep violet instead.
Do you work in a studio?
I live in a rented apartment and my studio is our dining/kitchen area. For the moment it works but of course I would like to have a studio of my own someday. Perhaps in 3 years time when I have bought my own house I can build my studio too.
Who is your favourite artist?
From the masters it would be Van Gogh. For modern artists, it would be Philippine National Artist Vicente Manansala and the enigmatic Filipino painter Marcel Antonio.
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
My favorite piece is always the latest one that I created. From the lot Tutong Tree would be my latest one.
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
For a 24” by 30” painting it would take me around 18 to 24 hours to finish working 2 to 3 hours per day. I have an 8 to 5 day job and normally paint early in the morning only.
How well do you take criticism?
For my art quite well I think. I handle it with utmost diplomacy. You won’t hear any scathing retort from me. I would listen to criticisms and try to filter out what is good and what is totally nonsense for me. As artists, we have a way of looking at things that others may not agree with. But that is art – it’s very subjective. What is beautiful to one is utterly hideous to another.
Bugaw – This painting is about two subjects. One subject is about the environment. Notice the slingshot on the boy’s pocket? He elected not to hurt or kill any of the birds.
Also, if you can feel the way I feel about the painting, don’t you get the impression that they are rejoicing? The 2 kid’s raised arms are in celebration of an impending good harvest.
What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?
Rest then regroup. A fresh mind and body usually gives me better or new perspectives.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
It’s never easy but since I do studies and sketches beforehand, I know when it’s almost done and only minor refinements would be necessary.
Have you had exhibits in galleries?
In a gallery none so far but I have had two exhibitions in 2 government institutions. Coming up is an exhibit in a very popular mall and a Thanksgiving group exhibit in a hotel.
Compl(i_e)mentary Coffee – An exploration of how to use complementary colors in a painting using coffee cups/mugs as a subject.
Have you any exhibits in galleries planned for the future?
I have two solo shows already planned for the next two years. Both would be in gallery that represents me. I can’t share the details just yet.
What are you currently working on?
I have finished 12 artworks with 8 more to go for an exhibit entitled “Kapag Palay na ang Lumapit sa Manok”. This is translated as “When it’s the Rice that comes to the Chicken”. The exhibit title’s meaning is similar to “When opportunity knocks at your door”. But locally this has been heavily used as a reference to women who make advances on men romantically.
The exhibit is a collection of artworks based on the influence of rice on culture by way of proverbs, superstitions, beliefs, symbols and cinematic lines. The pictures attached are some of the paintings that I will use in the show.
Hmmm… Amoy Pinipig – This painting was inspired by a cinematic line by a popular Filipino actor who compares the sweet creamy fragrance of women to toasted rice crispies .
What are your plans for the future?
I have a 5 year plan to do one solo exhibit per year plus join in as much group exhibits that I can enter in. I’ll be joining annual national art competitions here in the Philippines and hope to bag an award somehow.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Develop your own style so that you can be easily recognizable in the art community.
What advice would you give new artists?
Paint. Paint. Paint! The more you paint the closer you get to developing your art to a style that is entirely your own.
Have you done any courses to help you?
None. I have not done any courses but have read a lot and viewed a lot of videos online. It would be great to do an art course if only I can find the time.
Marami Ka Pang Kakaining Bigas – Translation (loosely): You still need to eat a lot of rice.
Rice symbolizes ambition and hard work. A little girl dreams to become like her military general father. Its hard enough to become a general but to become a lady general in a male dominated profession is doubly hard to do.
What do you do to market your work?
I have a permanent display of some works in a local coffee shop plus a gallery represents me in the city. I live in a class one municipality. It’s one step away from being declared as a city.
I try to post my latest art on Facebook and also joined some online sites that sell art prints. I also have my own website.
Some of my works will be published as calendars and in another piece (impressionist landscape) will be in a environment-themed coffee table book.
Joining national art competitions would also allow a piece to get printed in a catalogue or a coffee table book depending on what the publisher or art contest organizer decides.
I don’t really push people to buy my art – if they like it then ok. If they don’t, it’s ok too. I don’t want “cheapening” my art by forcing it down people’s throat. In fact, if people ask if my art on display at the coffee shop is for sale, I tell staff there to say “No” but they can call me up to inquire if I’d be willing to sell them.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
Sorry, I use Facebook to connect to friends and family only. I’ve yet to open a fan page. Maybe soon.
Ang Kwento ng Tayabak – ..and then she told me the sad story of the endangered “Tayabak” or Jade Vine. The Jade Vine is native to the Philippines and its flowers are of a very unique brilliant blue-green color with flowers clustered up to 3 feet long. Much of its natural habitat has been destroyed and its natural pollinators have also decreased. It grows well near streams or water sources. It’s very rare to see one in the wild. I haven’t even seen a real one. Saw my first one only on the internet. That is also why you will barely see it in this painting. If you know what you are looking for, you’ll find it.
Are you available for work (commissions)?
Yes, I am available and in my website you can get the details. Please click on The Art of Paul Hilario_Commission an Artwork
Have you got hobbies?
Hobbies? Painting is my hobby! I used to join triathlons heavily before but since I got into painting seriously, I hardly join today. I play football every now in then. I once played in a band playing rhythm guitar but only play now for personal enjoyment. I also do creative writing from time to time.
Where are you based?
I am based in Los Baños, Laguna the Philippines. It’s not a hotbed for art since the country is Third World but then, there are quite a few international artists that have made it big in the auction houses lately. I hope someday somebody would bid for my art. Hopefully I am still alive by then.