In an ongoing series of interviews with interesting personalities, I would like to introduce you to artist Czarina Danielle Yap. I initially knew her when we both worked at a resort and spa in Boracay Island, Philippines. Years later, I saw her paintings on her Facebook page and decided to interview her because I also love art and would like to promote her work to the world.
What sparked your interest in painting?
My late mom was my influence; she was a painter and a member of the Hubon Madiaas Art group back in the 80s in Iloilo City. Seeing her paint and being in the Museo Iloilo most of the time for art exhibits sparked my interest in painting. As a kid, I thought to myself, “Wow! Colors! Wow, I’d love to do that, too!”
When did you realize this is a great opportunity for you to make a living out of it?
I knew back then that this a great opportunity to make a living. However, I didn’t know where to start since I lived in the province, and I only knew a few people who can help me back then. It just happened that the opportunities and the people I needed came my way. That’s when it became easier for me to “navigate the waters.”
Did you take art classes, or did you simply learn along the way?
I used to watch my mom and her friends paint. During high school, I attended Drafting classes. In the year 2000, I joined a summer class. I believe these helped me a lot.
Did you have a mentor who helped guide you? Who was that mentor and how did he or she guide you?
After my mom passed away, I had Tito Benjie Belgica, he was there since day one. He was my mom’s bestfriend. He used to bring me along with him when he and my god-sister Bibi Belgica would go to art exhibits. He helped in exposing me to different art styles. He would occasionally give me tips and always invited me to join art exhibits he had organized at the Atelier Banucci, when he was still in Iloilo City.
How many hours you spend painting each day?
Usually, if I’m really in the mood it could be up to 13 hours, with some breaks in between. Because you know, I can’t sleep if I don’t put it on canvas.
What are your inspirations for your paintings? I notice that slippers or sandals is one of your favorite topics to paint.
Yes, slippers. They have a lot of meanings to me. One is, being true to your self. There’s this qoute that said something like, “No matter how expensive and pretty the shoes you wore the whole day, at the end of the day you come home and wear your slippers.” Or it could also be: No matter how situations tear people apart, if they are meant to be they will always be.
Aside from slippers, beaches and anything about it are also my inspiration. I like the sound of the waves and the relaxation it gives while you are there. Plus, that was how I met my best friend Tina. She was a German intern in the Philippines. She was the one who took me with her to go surfing and we were on the beach almost every weekends. So the beach is a special place to me.
What are your other interests, if any, aside from your paintings?
Aside from painting, I make copperwire and beaded accessories. I design and make handmade wallets and other fancy things. I make amazing pizza and some sweet treats that I also sell. There was a time my friends from work used to called me the “Racket Engineer” because I always had a sideline business. And I like surfing at the beach, not just the internet! Haha!
How does painting make you feel? What feelings and emotions are brought out every time you paint?
It calms me. It brings out what I’m longing for. It could be a long overdue beach holiday or some things that I can’t express through words.
Any recognitions and awards you’ve received so far?
For awards, back in 2002, I won honorable mention for the Sail Poster Competition that was held in Boracay by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources or DENR in the Philippines. It was a National Competition. Also I had a Special Award for designing the official school logo of my alma mater, La Salle Affiliate College in Roxas City, Capiz in 2004.
If someone local or from overseas would like to purchase paintings, wallets, or accessories, how can they reach you?
Any advice to readers who would like to pursue what they are curious or interested in?
Well, always, always follow your heart. Don’t worry about how things will look like after the first execution. What matters is how it made you feel while you were doing it. It kinda gives you a world of your own.
Here are other photos of the paintings she made over the years. All provided by Czarina.