Underwater is the best place to swim.

I have a few small paintings for sale. These are A6 in size, roughly 4x6in, and are all watercolor works on handmade paper (Khadi paper). Send a message if you’re interested!

 

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I have also added some old and new-ish projects on my portfolio site. The latest one shows the biology posters I made for the Masungi Georeserve. I learned so much from the project, and although I had to work through last year’s holiday season, I enjoyed it very much.

FranAlvarez-Masungi-Birds_posterView more posters and learn more about the project here.


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I’ll be part of Light Grey Art Lab’s Camouflage exhibit, which opens on the 26th. I really wish I could go, because it opens alongside other nature-themed exhibit, and one of my inspirations Kelsey Oseid is going to have a show up! If you’re in the Minneapolis area, or will be during that time, do drop by and take some pictures, then show me~


Keeping myself productive and busy helps a lot with the anxiety. I’ve figured that personally, I feel more at ease at the end of the day when I know I’ve finished something (ANYTHING). As much as I can, I try to accomplish even really small tasks before going to bed. It could be something for work, or other things that aren’t really as urgent like writing a journal entry, mopping the room once, or labeling emails.

I’m also very thankful to be surrounded by supportive and level-headed individuals every day, at work and at home. It really helps me put things in perspective, and keeps me focused.

Sometimes it’s hard not to be affected by the world going haywire. I guess it’s good training for keeping your head above water, and for trying hard to make things better along with the rest of the population despite everything. Some days the silver lining’s there, some days you have to draw it yourself.

tout doucement

means “slowly” in French.

The Sunday Currently, and well, My Life Currently may be described in a bunch of gifs from the film Mood Indigo (dir. Gondry).

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mixed emotions, long bouts of sleep

I have been in an adjustment-transition-acceptance period these past couple of months (and counting). It is unfortunate that my rather unpleasant disposition has affected the people around me AND work, and I am trying  hard to make things right and not wear This Heavy Thing on my sleeve. If anything, I am learning how to be aware of my environment and not let it consume me, and to consciously make decisions to be a better person, especially now my enemy has a name and we have been properly introduced.

On this note, I will take this moment to encourage you all to keep yourselves properly hydrated, fed with enough vegetables, and exposed to healthy early-morning sunshine, for the benefit of your minds and bodies. These may not be entirely cures to illnesses, but they do help with powering through things, trust me.

If your work is also your hobby, like how drawing and design are mine, make time to take some time off. Working too late into the night and losing too much sleep is apparently now a carcinogen, according the WHO (just sharing trivia, no I do not have cancer). This feels indulgent advice to give out knowing of the list of deadlines that I myself have, but, say it with me, health is wealth.

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Everyday I am grateful that, well, I actually made it through the day before. That my shaky hands find others’ to hold and/or high-five, friends who understand, or who don’t but are constantly there for me anyway, a humble home with everything I need: family, home-cooked meals, a clean bed, and pets that are always crazy happy to see me come home every night (except maybe the cat but I know deep inside he loves me).

Slowly I am seeing that I am on this cute but wonky boat, and not an expedition ship like how my younger self might have envisioned older me to be on. In any case, I must learn to row and navigate, and sing a little (OR A LOT) while I’m at it.

The Sunday Currently, no. 3

Reading

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I finally (!) have a bit of time to read actual paper books and not audiobooks! I borrowed a few from Abi and family’s library. I first saw Jenny Saville’s work in 2015’s Art Basel HK. She’s so good! And before I left for the other year’s internship, Abi told me about Raymond Ching and his bird paintings. I love the context he paints his birds in. His lighting technique also reminds me of Durer.

Liza also lent me her Hamiltome. She and Jamie introduced me to Hamilton last year, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot, heh. It is a big, big regret of mine that I didn’t get into it when I was still in New York. I could’ve watched a show! Woe. (Another big regret is not getting to taste girl scout cookies which I have heard great things about, but that is a completely different story altogether.)

Listening
Andrew Bird’s “Echolocations: Canon” album, and also the Hamilton soundtrack, both the original cast version and the mixtape.

Watching
I am on Season 2 of Mind of a Chef.

Loving
-Semi-spicy spinach with oyster mushrooms, and turmeric fried rice. All ingredients found in your friendly neighborhood palengke (market).

nbnh-2017-6_zpsegzohvt9-These hand-illustrated ceramic cups from a Japan Surplus shop along Kamuning that Roja, who I know from INK, pointed out. For good measure, all the ceramic ware were half-price on the day I visited.

-Alsoooo my parents, who just left last week, and who I won’t be seeing until who-knows-when. It’s been ages since I’ve been with both of them at the same time for the holiday. In a span of the few weeks that we were together, I’d witnessed them fight, get along real well, and everything in between.That’s how I realized that A) I know nothing about love. Nothing. and B) My father is a very good man, and I am proud of him. I can only hope to marry someone as kind and patient someday.

nbnh-2017-0_zpswqspelaxHere is a sunset photo from Antipolo to cap off my cheesy sentiments.

-And lastly, I bought a shelf! We changed shelves in the office and I bought the old one we had. This is in my room, and currently houses reference books, some picture books, and graphic novels. So now all my paperbacks can live in the old shelf, where they will be properly stored and sorted instead of just being in piles on a table.

Manila Maker is awesome, check out their stuff and buy a shelf or ten.

Needing
To finish a couple more pending projects and I am officially deadline-free! The first time in more than a year. Lesson learned in not biting off more than you can chew, brought to you by the year 2016.

Also, I picked up my Bible recently and the cover started to disintegrate, hala.

Wanting
I want all these chaos-causing people in the government to just calm down and maybe, you know, go away………

Feeling
OK, at the moment.

Looking Forward To
-I ordered a planner and it’s supposed to arrive this coming week and it’s supposed to have really good paper and I’m excited.

-Along with a couple of Taiyou Matsumoto books that are also supposed to arrive in the mail reaaally soon.

-Getting my computer. I really dislike changing electronic devices and so I have been stalling. But! I’m in the process of checking out the stores where I’ll be getting the pieces of my Frankenstein system, and hopefully by next month, I will start a new chapter of my life wow haha.

-In the past week, I am proud to say that my semi-sedentary self did not pass out while lifting dumbbells and doing planks at home after work, so I’m kind of looking forward to getting through this coming week’s set. I’ve found that a bit of exercise helps me with my anxiety every day and puts me to sleep easily at nigt. I’m really trying to convince myself to just get on with it daily.


Here are some work things!

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Last week I wrapped up some illustrated posters for the Masungi Georeserve and their geotourism and conservation educ projects. I learned so much working on the posters, especially about which species of the animals and plants on the list are endemic to the Philippines, and what they looked like. For instance, the jade vine grows purple in the country, and our local wisteria grows white instead of lilac (European variety). The native impatiens are white, too, instead of the purple and pink ones that look more familiar. It astounds me to learn how much biodiversity can exist in such a small (well, compared to the rest of the country) space like Masungi.

A lot of things feel relatively insignificant compared to this. Nature projects have a very special place in my heart because they are humbling to work on, and they put things in perspective. Carl Sagan was right about the pale blue dot.

I’ll show you the final posters some other time, but here are some style studies. I wanted to render everything in paint, and was a couple of birds in when I saw the timeline, and decided to just draw everything digitally in the interest of time. I’m happy with the paintings, though, and will push through with the other birds someday.

It was my first time to try this realistic style, and I definitely learned a lot of new things about painting with new materials (hot pressed watercolor paper and acryl gouache, which is basically matte acrylic).

Here is a peek of the final drawings that made it to the posters.

nbnh-2017-4_zpsvu5ekmymAnd a peek of a picture book drawing. Not sure when this book comes out, though. Bleep bloop.

And lastly, Studio Dialogo’s latest collab with Prestige Papers is out. I helped work on the illustrations for the covers. I first drew the leaves digitally, then we printed them out, cut each leaf, and composed and mounted them in papercut art style. We had them photographed, then laid them out across the diff products. It was tedious but enjoyable!


Some holiday introspection has brought me to notice how much my life has…hushed. I sometimes find myself missing the more intrepid parts of my early 20s, maybe even wishing I had the stamina and social capabilities to still live like that, but! I also know that taking care of myself in a quiet way is what I have to do at the moment. I need to take deep breaths and sit still for a bit; the adventures can wait for a while longer.

Recently, I’ve learned a few things about how to calm myself down and/or distract myself from bad thoughts. Particularly useful ones that maybe you can use in times of anxiety too, include:
-taking longs breaks from social media
-only thinking of the people within a 100m radius
-consciously remembering good memories from people who genuinely care
-recalling kind things strangers have done for me and for others
-a bit of exercise every day
-and a personal favorite, food show/documentary binges on Netflix heh

A very happy new year to you all, and here’s to a productive and quietly content 2017. I know last year dragged us all by the teeth into the dirt, but as the Rilo Kiley song goes, our bruises are coming / but we will never fold.

The Sunday Currently, no. 2

2016-nov-1_zpso87d8adwHello friends.

Reading

Type has (once again?) been all the rage for the past few years and everyone’s been exploring it, but one of my favorite designers and letterers still remains to be Jessica Hische. Through the years I’ve been a fan of both the development of her work (from her early illustration days up to now when she’s made font systems already) and her perspective about work and life. It’s true what they say about excellent work standing out, no matter how many others do or try to do the same kind of work she does. At some point I went through this phase of getting sick of type because it got so popular that there came a point when it was being used way too much for everything. There had been a lot of work that looked nice but were out of context.

I borrowed this from Rommel, but I really want to get myself my own copy. I’ve enrolled in her Skillshare drop cap class years ago, and this book reminds me a lot of the things she taught there. The book has so much more insight, though, as she writes more extensively about her process and also about her daily life as a designer.

Jessica is always a source of joy for me as a designer because of how energetic and gung-ho, not to mention level-headed, she is about work and life in general. No pretentious gimmicks, just hard work and the eagerness to share and educate others, and the occasional hilarious anecdote.

Listening
More Jessica Hische!

Watching
No time to watch anything now, but I did start Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories on Netflix recently, and the first episode was pretty good.

Loving

Dinner is served. 😆 #steak Meat 24″ x 36″ designer paper Swathe X J. Pacena

A photo posted by Swathe (@swathe.manila) on Oct 29, 2016 at 3:07am PDT

Swathe Manila’s meat cuts pattern

Needing
Swiffer refills, AA batteries, Frontline flea spray for the cat #adulting

Wanting
The year to not end yet? Teka lang, ang dami pang hinahabol!

Feeling
So much better. Besides the fact that local and international current events have been driving everyone crazy these past weeks, I think most of my anxiety is just leftover quarter life crisis, and also brought about by all the deadlines. And…also the thought of turning 30 in a few years. But really, I could choose to A) fret about it and grow ever more wrinkly and grumpy before I even have to OR B) not let the weight of other people’s judgments burden me or dictate what I should do with my life and career. *triple bicep emojis*

Church has also helped. I know the higher powers aren’t exactly the most popular things in the world right now, which I completely understand. The world as we know it feels like it’s about to implode any time now, and it’s just a really miserable time for everyone. But after much thinking and questioning and all, I think I still do believe in God. I still have tons of questions but all the good things still very much outweigh all the doubt. It took me a while to get back in this state and I don’t think I want to let anyone or anything take away this feeling of peace from me.

The Sunday Currently is by Sidda Thonton

In other news!

  1. I have been told that all my zines (well, there were just a few, but still!) were sold out during day 1 of Komikon yesterday! This makes me so happy, thank you world. And extra special thanks with ice cream and leche flan on top to Eva and the rest of the table friends for carrying my zines!
  2. I tried to finish painting some old drawings yesterday as warm-up for real work.
  3. And here is a peek of some plant sketches for an ongoing conservation education project. The beautiful jade vine, locally known as tayabak , is native to the Philippines.
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Changing minds

Hello, it is I, arising from the hiatus. A little long weekend has allowed me a bit of time to stop and get myself together.

fruit picking _____ #illustration #waxpastel

A post shared by Fran Alvarez (@nobeesnohoney) on

Life lately has mostly been work, which is a good and bad thing at the same time. Good because I like the kind of work I do very much, but also a bit bad because I know that somehow, I thrive on activities that aren’t work / art / illustration / design related at all. This tail-end of the year requires me to shuffle harder than ever, however, because there are bills to be paid and a computer to be replaced. I need to suck it up extra until things are stable again.

It took me a while to admit this to myself but I have been struggling a bit with illustration recently. I’m not sure why but I’ve been rather unhappy with the things I’ve been making, and I keep on redoing them with the constant hope of coming up with something worthy of being put out there.

img_0806patch by Stay Home Club

This has got me to thinking about where I might have gone wrong in the process, and about how my work habits have changed over time. I really want to make the best work I can with my current skill level and insights, and being stuck in this slump is driving me mad haha. Work and life goes on though, graciously or mercilessly, weather weather lang. Despite my frustrations with myself, I am still grateful.

Maybe I need to change my mind about things.

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I remember a time when it was quiet in my head and in my work. That is where I hope to go back to.



The Sunday Currently, no. 1
dun dun dunnn

Reading
Cabinet of Natural Curiosities by Albertus Seba
It’s this wonderful book of illustrated forms and creatures from nature. Makes for an excellent reference book, but also it’s just really soothing to go through. I found it at the Interior Design section of a National Bookstore branch, just because it has “cabinet” in the title, woe.

Listening
Regina Spektor’s new album Remember Us To Life
Stellar. I love it so much. I’ve always been a fan, and this new album is such a treat. My favorite tracks are Bleeding Heart and Small Bill$. Additional fact: I made a Spektor-inspired rap song in college to join a songwriting competition of the Filipino Department. It was kind of a secret and only told just one friend about it. I didn’t win though I was secretly happy anyway haha. Ok, moving on…

Watching
Elementary Season 5, Ep2

Loving
These Pitt pens from Abi!
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Needing
Advil. I’ve been getting these headaches upon waking up from weekend naps, and thanks to Google, I now know that there are such things as sleep headaches. I get headaches because my body isn’t used to daytime sleep, and my bodily fluids get disoriented and won’t coordinate with everyone else. Me in the year 2016, resistant to change inside and out.

Wanting
Capital for new merch I want to produce. Dear God, help me get my act together, amen.

Feeling
Anxious but hopeful!

The Sunday Currently is by Sidda Thonton