For the National History Month this February, motion design artist and animator Mark Cañega paid tribute to National Artist for Visual Arts Fernando Amorsolo by bringing to life one of the late master’s work using animation.
Like many artists in the Philippines, Cañega admires Amorsolo’s works, including the Couple Riding A Carabao During Sunset piece, originally painted by Amorsolo in 1940 in oil on canvas.
“(Amorsolo) is a guide for us artists. We were exposed to his works since our elementary days in textbooks and posters. Seeing and studying his works made me interested in art as I grew older,” Cañega told PhilSTAR L!fe.
He initially planned to do an animated series of Amorsolo’s works and make it into augmented reality, where viewers, while in the comforts of their own homes during the pandemic, would have an immersive experience with art. But due to the demands of his work, he had to scale down his idea.
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Amorsolo’s piece bears a scene of what he is known for—his illuminated pastoral Philippine landscapes. In the painting is a man and a woman, both holding their harvest for the day, sit atop a carabao in the middle of a rice field with a backdrop of a fiery sunset that kissed the mountains.
For Cañega to capture what the original painting was trying to convey, he put himself in the mind of Amorsolo “while he was painting the scene, what was he thinking of, how chill (the surrounding) is.”
Cañega painstakingly repainted each detail of the image digitally and made sure that he respected Amorsolo’s work by maintaining the painting’s traditional look in the animation as much as possible—from the movement of the grass to the blinking of the eye and swaying of the tail of the carabao.
Using at least three kinds of software, Cañega, who is a part-time professor at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s animation program (where he also graduated), finished the entire clip in three days, which he did during his free time in between his freelance projects.
For the clip, Cañega used the song Sa Sulyap Mo by the late kundiman crooner Diomedes Maturan, which he believes played a huge part on why his animated piece became a hit.
“One of the things why people liked the clip a lot is because of the nostalgic feeling it brings, especially during this pandemic. People need something to lift their soul, their mental health. This piece, even if it is just short, gave them something to reminisce the good ol’ memories,” says Cañega, who has been receiving messages from those who live as far as San Francisco, California because of his creation.
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Cañega devotes time to do his personal projects, as they are his stress reliever from the demands of his professional job. He posts his personal works on his social media accounts including a clip of an unchoked EDSA with sea creatures smoothly swimming in its expanse, or post-apocalyptic teasers, which he described as “challenging yet fulfilling.”
Are we going to see more of Cañega's works in the future? He shares he currently has some Amorsolo animation passion projects in the pipeline, including one that involves the painting Dalagang Bukid, which he intends to release on National Women’s Day in March. He also hopes to work on some of his favorite pieces by artist Juan Luna in the future.