Why I'm Feeling Blue

Blue square coastal abstract landscape painting.

Sapphire Shores, 36x36" oil/cold wax medium on panel


I love water.  I adore it in all its shades. Cerulean. Turquoise. Azure. Beryl. Teal. Indigo. Ultramarine. Seafoam. Sapphire.

Maybe it's because I've always lived near water. I grew up in the Philippines, a country of 7,100+ islands. We lived in Manila on the largest island of Luzon, but my family spent school breaks in Pangasinan province, four hours northwest. 
Here I am at age three (on right). A day of pure bliss.

Three kids and adults in the 60s enjoying the beach in the Philippines.
Bonuan Beach, Lingayen, Pangasinan


When I was five, my Dad became the province's governor and for four years, our defacto summer home was the second floor of the government offices on Lingayen Beach. For history buffs, Lingayen Gulf is where Gen. MacArthur landed when he fulfilled his promise to return.

Urduja, the governor's house, in the Pangasinan province, Philippines.

Urduja House, Governor's Office

Paradise Found
The building was fairly isolated at the time. We had no neighbors, and with nothing better to do other than terrorize the grown-ups in the offices below, my six siblings and I spent a great amount of time playing on the beach – building sandcastles, scribbling on the sand with a stick, flying kites and collecting seashells. I would trundle back home with the hem of my dress loaded with sand.

At least twice a year, we would take an excursion to Hundred Islands National Park, accessible via outrigger canoe. Back then, it was teeming with wildlife – starfish and other tropical fish in the most wonderful colors. The teal blue waters always took my breath away.

Hundred Islands in Alaminos province, PangasinanHundred Islands, Pangasinan, Philippines

After my Dad lost the elections when I was nine, the charmed life disappeared. The family purse strings tightened but still, there was always a beach to run to that guaranteed a good time.

Trading Places

Things changed dramatically when my family immigrated to Toronto, which sits on Lake Ontario. I was fifteen. After class when the weather was nice, I'd take a bus, transfer to a streetcar, and then walk the quarter-mile to the beach.

The boardwalk at the Beaches neighborhood in Toronto, Ontario.The Beaches neighborhood, Toronto

There was an alcove beneath the boardwalk, just outside the Olympic pool. It was my secret hiding spot, my quiet space. I would huddle inside this little nook, sit akimbo on the sand, and do my homework to the sound of the waves. Sometime after college, I moved into this neighborhood and made The Beaches my home.

Chicago beckoned in 2001 during my graphic designer days. Looking for a place to live, I was drawn to water once again and chose The Loop, a stone's throw away from Lake Michigan. 

Lake Chicago at Lakeshore Drive, birds-eye view.

Cycling along Lakeshore Drive in Chicago.
Bike path alongside Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

I have logged countless hours running and cycling along the lake, usually heading south past the Shedd Aquarium, continuing onto Hyde Park before turning around. It was my morning routine.

Life's a Beach (Not!)
Now I live in the Raleigh area, NC. It's full of trees, and I love trees, too, but it's not water. I miss the vast expanse of large bodies of water, the blues and greens, the skies that kiss the water's edge. So I visit the beach whenever I can, I swim year-round, and I paint water – mostly horizons but sometimes, closeups, too, in all shades of blue. 

If I ever won the lottery, you'll be sure to find me poolside or on the beach somewhere – maybe in the hot Caribbean countries I've learned to love, back "home" in the Philippines, or the gorgeous Muskoka Lakes north of Toronto – looking out over the horizon, beverage in hand, and listening to the sweet sounds of water.