by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com
There are some artists who are content to just hone their craft to perfection. Then, there are some, who improve not just their craft but the art itself. FilAm painter Brian Pacana belongs to the latter. To honor his exceptional talent, Lancaster’s 23rd Annual Juried All Media Art Exhibition picked Pacana’s “The Debut” as it stood out among a field of 154 artists and 296 pieces of art.
Although the award earned for Pacana, a virtually negligible amount, the win for 32-year-old Pacana signifies more than the money or bragging rights. This was the first exhibit where he introduced an entry utilizing a painting technique called “Blockwash.”
“I believe this technique has the best potential of being adopted by the mainstream art establishment the way scumbling was developed by the Venetian school of painters, the way gouache did for watercolor, or the way encaustic and tempera were used in Byzantine era art,” said Pacana.
“There has never been anything like this in the history of art. Winning top honors the first time it was ever introduced further validates this statement. Welcome to the start of something new.”
Blockwash is an innovative painting process that requires an artist to create a piece of work using pure pigment (paint in its raw form), varnish, and then water to douse the unprotected layers of pigments away.
The work has a different texture. The varnished parts appear shiny and glossy to the viewer.
“It’s an exciting new process that I am sure will be of great interest in the years to come. Hopefully, it will become a viable new art technique that will catch on many other artists,” he said. “I believe Blockwash will hold its own and become a true art movement that started right here in Southern California by a Pinoy no less.”
If it seems that Pacana is a little overexcited about his newfound technique, there’s a reason. Pacana has been developing Blockwash for the past five years. He actually discovered the technique by accident. Several years ago, he accidentally spilled varnish onto a drawing that was done on pastel. In order to correct it, he tried to clean it up by dousing water on the painting. The mistake was Pacana’s eureka moment.
“It just gave me this wonderful idea,” he said. “For the past few years, I’ve been really honing my skill to apply the varnish and the technique into my work.”
However, it’s also a risky technique.
“What artist in their right mind would take a hose to their painting?” said Pacana.
Pacana immigrated from the Philippines with his family in 1982 when he was only seven years old. His talent for drawing was evident at an early age. His fellow students and teachers would often rely on Pacana to create school brochures, flyers and posters.
School administrators saw his penchant for drawing and placed him in the gifted program. His parents later decided to hone their son’s skill and enrolled him in private art classes at the AV School of Fine Arts in Lancaster.
Pacana said he appreciated his parents for sacrificing their time and money to cultivate his talent.
“I encourage every parent who has a child that has an interest in the arts to enroll them in private classes whether it be music, acting, or painting,” he said. “That experience will follow them for the rest of their lives.”
After graduating high school, he was accepted to the School of Fine Arts Institute of Chicago. The school is not only one of the top art academic universities in the world but also serves as a world-class museum.
He describes attending school there to like “heaven.” He studied painting and would get inspired just by looking at the works of legendary artists like Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Picasso and more.
“I would often stop to admire them just walking between classes,” he said. “Professors and art teachers can only teach you so much. At the museum, it is the artwork that teaches you. As a student here, you can’t help but feel inspired and blown away standing in front of an original painting by these artists.”
Pacana finished his formal education at the university in 1998. He soon realized what many artists realize when they hit the real world – art is not for the weak of heart.
He found himself struggling. His paintings – mostly abstract with religious overtones – were not selling. He wanted to work in animation but Disney during that time was laying off workers. For a while he abandoned his artistic ventures just to stay afloat.
“I took any job I could,” he said.
After a few years bouncing around from job-to-job, Pacana could not hold in his artistic desires any longer. He began to paint and get his work out there.
He entered the same art contest in Lancaster three years ago. He submitted three works done in oil and acrylic on canvas. His work was not even considered.
“They didn’t like my work,” he recalls.
Almost losing hope in his artistic goals, it was at this time he discovered his new painting technique. Blockwash is his baby. The process rejuvenated him. He found a new way to express himself and share his technique to his fellow colleagues.
He kept his work under wraps until finally he decided to enter this year’s art contest.
Pacana hopes to one day have his first one-man-show to display his “revolutionary” artwork. He said he’s developing several more pieces.
Like many artists, he hopes his work can stand the test of time. He wants people to remember his dedication to painting and his craft so that maybe one day some awe-inspired kid roaming around a museum can stop and admire his work.
“That would be nice,” he said. “But I’m going to leave it up to God and let the artwork speak for itself. I’m sure it will stand on it’s own.”