A Conversation with watercolourist Glensie Hombrebueno
Text by Chad Osorio, NL
Photos and illustrations courtesy of Glensie
“Babaeng Nakaperlas” is currently on feature at the internationally-renowned Mauritshuis Museum in the Hague, Netherlands. Inspired by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” it provides a unique Filipino take on this world-famous classic.
Roots & Wings interviewed its artist, Filipina engineer Maria Glensie Hombrebueno, who is currently based in the Netherlands, to ask her about her creative process, her artistic influences, and her advice to aspiring artists.
You're an engineer. How do you combine your work in engineering with your art, or are they two separate parts of your life?
Honestly, I don't. They belong to two different sides of me. While I very much enjoy the accuracy and the calculated world that is engineering, painting is my escape from all of it. Watercolour painting is fascinating and unpredictable, it's relaxing to let the paint flow wherever it wants to go without control—earning its reputation of being the most difficult medium to master.
Could you share your creative process with us? How do you approach a new painting, from the initial concept to the final artwork?
They enter my thoughts in unexpected times, like a eureka moment. I don't follow a fixed process as well, so it's a little different every time. I sometimes sketch the idea on a separate piece of paper and do some colour swatches to finalize a palette, but there are times when I just wing it and start without proper planning.
Are there any specific artists or art movements that have influenced your style or approach to painting?
Thomas Schaller, Reina Yamada, and Inge Si De are my top three watercolour artists.
As your work gains recognition internationally, how has this impacted your artistic journey and your perspective on your own work?
My journey remains the same, and that's to continue painting whatever inspires me. I'm very grateful for having been recognized, but for an amateur artist like me who irregularly paints, this didn't really change much. I'm still happily painting at every spare time I get. The only difference now is, this time it is with underlying glee knowing that there are people all over the world that appreciate what I create.
What role does your being Filipino play in your work, and how does it contribute to your artistic voice?
Some, but not all of my artworks do have some Filipino-ness in them, just like how my rendition of Vermeer's pointing was. It's not the theme I paint about the most, but I do find myself subconsciously thinking of painting Philippine sceneries that I grew up enjoying.
Are there any upcoming projects or exhibitions that you're particularly excited about?
I currently have a project I wish to finish late this year or early 2024. I aim to paint 52 dog portraits and turn them into a deck of playing cards. All dog subjects are real pets of people all over the world who either submitted a photo of their pets when I did an open call for it, or are commissioned works. I'm down to 16 dog portraits before I finalize the layout and proceed with the production of a hundred card decks. These cards will be for sale, and so far about 40 decks are reserved. Other than that, I'm accepting commissioned works, pet portraits, and other special projects.
That sounds both amazing and inspiring. What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are just starting their artistic journey and hoping to gain recognition in the international art community?
This will sound cliché but my advice to aspiring artists is to never stop creating. Every piece made is a step closer to your goal. Also, make art because it feels right for you. The best works aren't done under pressure.
Chad Osorio is a lawyer-economist currently based in the Netherlands. He is a PhD candidate for Environmental Economics and Natural Resources (ENR) and LAW at Wageningen University. As a photographer, he has exhibited at Harvard in the US, the United Nations University in Bonn, Germany, and the British Council, among others. As an author, poet, and artist, he seeks to promote international collaboration and creativity through the synergy of various fields and perspectives.
Check out Glensie's other art projects, and follow her on Instagram at witai.art.