LONG BEACH, California—Filipino artist Rafael Maniago has summer treat for Filipino-Americans. The painter and poet, who was born in Mexico, Pampanga, has been giving free painting classes at the Filipino Migrant Center in this city.
Maniago, who is sought after by art lovers, collectors and students alike, made a name for himself in Pampanga, bagging the Pampanga international artist award in 2010 and most outstanding MOKA award five years ago. He has countless US art awards displayed in his Manila Studio.
His summer classes at FMC have brought out the skills of his students and given them confidence.
“This is nice! I never knew I’d be able to paint this good. Maybe I should quit being a DJ and become a painter,” states Eric Tandoc, an FMC staffer.
Another student of Maniago since 1993 humbly says, “Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned it from Raf and I’m still learning!”
One of his students, his son Enrico, has also become a well-known artist in the Los Angeles area, collaborating with fellow artists for comic book projects and murals.
“My father’s art lessons taught me to never give up and have fun,” says Enrico, who now enjoys collaborating with famous artists and with his own son.
A classical master painter who enjoys realistic portrait style, he has done the portraits of 15 past governors of Pampanga.
“Some of my highest earnings come from government official portraits,” he chuckles. “Sometimes they tell me, ‘Oh! I don’t have makeup!’ But I say to them ‘Don’t worry! I am a makeup artist and plastic surgeon! I can make you ten pounds lighter.’”
Maniago attended the University of the East in Manila, where he studied Fine Arts and Commercial Advertisement. He also does surrealism, hyperrealism and abstract depending on how he feels. But every art work becomes a masterpiece.
When Maniago immigrated to the United States he kept alive his dedication to his art. He’s a member of the Portrait Society of America, American Society of Portrait Artists, California Art Club, and Laguna Plein Air Painters Association.
His talent brought him to Disneyland in Southern California, where he once worked part time. While in the US, Maniago does individual or group lessons every Monday in his LA studio. He also works in his art gallery in the Philippines.
“Free hand is the best because it is not copying, it is the artist’s own style,” Maniago says.
“It’s best to start off with a few colors and then learn how to blend them together,” he adds.
Maniago’s technique starts off with three to four colors and with fast and meticulous mixing of hues he creates images that seemed to have been painted using dozens of colors making the audience wonder how he achieves magnificent photos with such simplicity.
“We are so brainwashed by society, so our artwork will look similar, like a Kodak picture,” states Maniago, “I try to embrace how the artist wants to draw and paint.”
He will be traveling to the Philippines to give free painting sessions to indigent locals, workshops and private painting appointments from August to September.