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Filipino Watercolor Artists in Toulouse

by Rio Sebastian

For more than a year now, a group of Filipino watercolorists in Toulouse have been meeting once a month for painting sessions. The sessions are held over tea/coffee/merienda/gouter at one of the members’ house, or at a coffee shop, or more recently, at a park for want of a more open space to allow for social distancing.

Let’s get to know each and every one of them, and find out more about their art works…

Gemma and her original art works

The monthly meet-up was founded by Gemma, a businesswoman and a mother of four. She has been painting in watercolor for almost two years now. She has been successfully selling her art works online while also using them as décors, or gifting them to friends. Just recently, she has acquired a business permit to sell her paintings under the shop name, mhai_little_arts. The process of including the sales of her delicious Filipino baked goodies in her business permit is currently in the works, and we are all very excited for her.

Rio (that’s moi, and yes, I love referring to myself in the third person) fell in-love with watercolor more than two years ago. Her social media posts inspired her friends to try out the medium, and they have all been enjoying this therapeutic form of art ever since. Her style tends to exploit the looseness and transparency of watercolor, using loose and expressive strokes verging on the abstract. She uses watercolor mainly for therapy and for personal pleasure. Her line of work is in Information Technology but she dabbles into photography, portrait drawing, blogging, playing the piano, yoga, gardening, and baking. She uses art as an inspiration in her daily life, as a means of self-expression, and even as personal philosophy, and overall manner of being. Art should not be limited to what you can see on canvas or paper. It is something that is deeply ingrained in the psyche. Ursula K. Leguin once said, “The creative adult is the child who survived“.

Tina, a student at Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Toulouse, had been painting mostly in oil before starting out with watercolor. A graduate of Bachelor of Fine Arts at College of the Holy Spirit back in the Philippines, and a graphic artist by profession, she has been working in France as an e-Learning Developer. A certified plantita and a cat person, she enjoys painting her makulit cat, Bento, and prefers the abstract and loose style in paintings.

Marj, in her own exact words, “uses mixed media on paper, canvas and found objects. One of her passions is reviving the use of baybayin and the promotion of Filipino culture in France and beyond. Baybayin is the writing system of pre-colonial Filipinos. Aside from original pieces, she also sells stickers and household accessories printed with her artwork featuring all things Filipino: fruits, vegetables, dishes, places, you name it. When not painting, she moonlights as a photographer, writer, and unlicensed (even unsolicited) therapist.”

Back when she was in the Philippines, Kat was a fashion designer and stylist with Filipino celebrities for clients. She was also active in media advertising. She had her masters in Fashion Management in Paris, and later became a student at Ecole des Beaux Arts in Toulouse where she started exploring painting. She has recently become a mother to little Sofiah, but before that she has long been a mom to her plants and her two lovable cats, Cloclo and Yuki. She currently practices her newfound interest in social media management promoting her love of animals and her pets via instagram: @cloclo_et _yuki.

Charry, the newest member of the group is a stay-at-home mother adjusting to her new life in France with her family. During her free time, she enjoys taking walks in the park, watching Netflix movies, or just driving to the nearest mall to do some window shopping. A former hotelier in Sales, and an entrepreneur back in the Philippines, she’s mostly into traveling for work and leisure. Barely a year after moving to France, she found her passion for watercolor when Gemma invited her to one of the group’s monthly sessions, and the rest as they say is history. Currently, she’s into turning her black thumb into a green one and hopes to join the elite plantita club soon.

If you would like to enjoy the pleasure of our company over art works and tea (and chismis on the side), you may visit our facebook page for details. You may also click on the links in this article to access the web sites and instagram pages of each artist to contact them directly.

Finally, let’s all remember to live life to the fullest. And let us never forget that “life is short but art is long” (ars longa, vita brevis).


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