For Filipino artist Eleinne Basa, winner of a $15,000 (roughly PHP 625,000) grand prize in an art competition in the United States this year, it takes more than just inspiration to create a masterpiece.
In an interview with GMA News Online, Basa said “It takes hard work to be successful at anything, art included, No talent can replace that."
Basa said she didn't expect to win the grand prize in the “Plein Air Salon” art contest in April this year.
“I didnt really believe it at first, being chosen from among the top landscape artists in the country,” she said.
She intends to use the prize money to “pay off some of the expenses I have incurred beng a full time artist and plan to travel to find more inspiring scenes to paint.”
For the contest sponsored by Plein Air Magazine, Basa submitted her artwork “Afternoon Light” which depicts an old cottage by the roadside.
“Plein Air Salon” is an online juried show where people's artworks are judged bimonthly.
For the March to April 2012 contest, there were around 150 to 200 submissions every month.
Basa said her inspiration for "Afternoon Light" came from her "hunger for inspiration."
“I paint plein air meaning outdoors, I am constantly looking for the play of light on the landscape and inspired by how light travels and affect the overall mood of a simple scene,” she said.
While painting “Afternoon Light,” Basa had to rush because of changing environmental conditions.
“I paint everyday , except most weekends, so it was just one of those paintings that I was doing but this was more hurried due to the quick changing light situation,” she said.
“I was not really thinking, I was just painting and just focused on putting down the right shapes and colors as quickly and as accurately as I could given the situation,” she added.
When she completed her work, she felt she accomplished something good but did not expect her artwork to be recognized.
“When it was finished, I knew I had a successful painting. I never imagined though it would get such recognition,” she said.
Basa was born in the Manila, Philippines in 1967 but grew up in Quezon City.
She graduated with a degree in Psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University but her heart had always embraced art.
Basa first started discovering her passion for art “as early as I can remember” and was mentored by multi-awarded painter-teacher Fernando Sena from age seven to 14.
“When I graduated, I took several different jobs in sales and realized I really want to be in the art field more than anything else. I decided to quit my job and found work in one of the art galleries in Manila as a gallery consultant,” she added.
She honed her skills through practice and experience.
“When I was just starting out I joined a group that goes outdoors every Monday, even thru winter, to paint outside,” she said.
“Then I had the courage to enter several outdoor painting competitions and met other artists doing plein air paintings and I sought out their advice, help and did some of their workshops to learn as much as I can,” she added.
What she misses in the Philippines
Basa and her family migrated to the US in 1994 when her husband received an assignment abroad.
Basa misses many things in the Philippines.
“The camaraderie between artists and the easily accessible galleries. The food, great beaches with warm tropical waters and great scenic areas that I think I took for granted when I was there,” she said.
When asked what differences she has observed between the US and the Philippines with regards to her art style she replied: “There is a big difference.”
"When I was there the colors are vivid and it showed in my early works and styles tend to be more contemporary and depict the culture and folk styles of Manila," she said.
"Here in the US, there is a resurgence of traditional classical art , where you actually have to really learn how to draw and turn form and how light travels across the form, wether it be a human body or a still life object or across the landscape," she said.
Her art style
Basa explained the secret of her art style.
“I am attracted to the realist - impressionistic look or natural look of things, the way I learned to draw when I was young, seeing the beauty in things and places and trying to put that in my work,” she said.
“Additionally as a visual artist, you are influenced not just by other artist around you but also visually by what you see and absorb everyday in your minds eye,” she added.
To aspiring artists, Basa said: "Never stop being a student.”
“Most of all I think artists should strive to bring back poetic beauty in what they do and always try to do the best they can everytime they step up to the easel,” she added. - VVP, GMA News