It is said that the desire to create art, in a way, is the artist’s form of extending one’s self. Isang Ondon, who hails from Davao City, is doing just that. She creates art for art’s sake, embraces the process, and in turn, creates a niche for her work in the Philippine art scene.
Hers is a story typical of Filipino artists: there is an undeniable talent, there are school art competitions to participate in, and subjects are whatever they find interesting in their surroundings. (Read: Meet the 27yo Hair Artist Who Gives Free Haircuts to the Homeless)
“I have always liked to draw since I was young, and I used to draw a lot of cartoon characters. In school, I used to join drawing contests, and I remember some teachers would ask me to draw something to decorate the classroom,” Isang tells My Pope Philippines.
Like fellow artists, she also pocketed her talent to pursue other things until the artistic passion beckoned once more. “I was fond of arts, but I had not given it much thought. In 2016, I got hooked on reading Japanese comics (manga). I got so amazed with how they created every character and scene, so I actually ended up making my own comics.”
Trusting the Process
Isang admitted that while she loves art, it is always a challenging pursuit. In the past, she almost gave up. “It wasn’t easy. It was frustrating,” she says. (Read: We Asked Young Professionals: What Keeps You Going?)
However, a big part of her eventually decided to plod along. She worked again, little by little. “I tried using paints and bought my very first set of watercolors. It was the cheapest art material that I could afford at that time. So basically, I started drawing comic characters and explored until I get to where I am now.”
When asked about her preferred medium, Isang said she started with watercolor to challenge herself. But with constant experimentation, she was eventually led to using oil. “I was exploring other media, I started using oils and discovered that I am more comfortable with oil,” says Isang.
A quick look at Isang’s portfolio says so much about her love of women. “My favorite subject is obviously a female’s face because I believe in the beauty of women and that beauty is endless,” says Isang.
However, she didn’t want to paint just plain faces. “I love adding colorful backgrounds and design to it,” she insists. These all add to portraits of women who look ethereal yet powerful. (Read: Filipino Artists Draw the Most Iconic Women of Netflix)
In her artworks, Isang is inspired by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt whose work depicted women imbued with expressions of humanity. “His paintings attract me so much, and I want my audience to feel the same when they look at my paintings,” she says.
Art for Art’s Sake
When asked about the future of her artistic pursuit, Isang insisted on appreciating the present. “I just want to keep painting at my own pace,” she says. (Read: 5 Tips to Keep Yourself Motivated and Focused on Your Goals)
This way, Isang sees art more as an extension of herself, and not something she does for financial gain, fame, and recognition. For her, the beauty of art is in the doing. “When you love to paint and have been painting for years, even when you are frustrated and hopeless, you’ll eventually crave the feeling of stroking your brushes and mixing colors,” she says.