Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept
Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept | Foto: Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept

Francis Marte For Business Concept

Por: Diego Cerón

9, November, 2022 en Business Concept

Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling by Timothy Diao

The elusive call of a new beginning can be daunting to many. The fear of uncertainty and leaving behind an established set of plans and expectations is paralyzing. But over that hurdle of fear and doubts is a greener pasture built on hard work and passion.

Filipino-Canadian watercolor artist Francis Marte is familiar with starting anew in the name of unsung callings and dreams. He spent most of his adult life in the hospitality industry (a career decided on practicality and stability) instead of his dream to create beauty with his own hands. After six years at The Peninsula Manila, Francis chose to pursue a creative path in interior design. He graduated from the Philippine School of Interior Design in 2002. His background in hospitality and new-found profession landed him a resort and restaurant project in Boracay and eventually more restaurant and residential projects in Metro Manila.

Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept
Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept

Though happy in his burgeoning career as an interior designer, Francis came across an opportunity to migrate and work overseas in 2007. He moved to Canada to start anew, but the call for paints and brushes came when he needed them most. He was going through a significant change in his personal life and realized that it was the right time to live his life genuinely to his passions.

Then, in 2015 Francis reunited with his creative side and explored a new career path as a watercolor artist. While working full-time, he enrolled in art classes and attended local art events. Through this inspiring artist community, he grows and excels in his work. They share their knowledge, resources, opportunities, and friendship.

Francis’ work explores the delicate balance between precision and fluidity. His approach to watercolor realism combines reality and imagination through hyperrealistic images rendered with intricacy and control, juxtaposed with a medium known for taking its own shape and direction.

“Being a watercolorist is rewarding. Watercolor has unique qualities and behaves quite differently from other brush-applied mediums. It dries very quickly, various pigments behave differently, and those that granulate beautifully are fascinating to see,” Francis shares of the medium.

He meticulously studies how each element in his work reacts with one another to capture the exact likeness he sees in a subject. Whether it’s a commissioned portrait or a still-life painting, his vision and technique bring his works to life.

Since reigniting the artist in him, Francis’ paintings have been displayed in various exhibits and recognized in competitions across Canada. He participated in his most recent shows as part of the Federation of Canadian Artists since becoming a member in 2020 and winning awards for his Indian Head Farmer (January 2021) and Almost Fall in Gastown (November 2021) paintings.

Aside from finishing commission and competition pieces, Francis also spends his time teaching watercolor painting and working for the provincial government. We sat down with the Edmonton-based artist to talk about finding new beginnings, honoring one’s passions, and the importance of community in the art industry.

Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept
Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept

Were you creative when you were younger?

I always excelled in drawing and creative homework since preschool. No one taught me how to draw, but I always saw things differently. I always enjoyed sketching and coloring. I like looking for the beauty in things and figuring out what I could pick up for my paintings.

There are people with God-given talents in music and performing, but I express my abilities with visual art.

How did your career as an artist begin?

I always wanted to work as a creative because I excelled at it, but I did not come from a well-off family. I was discouraged to pursue art because it is not a stable line of work in the Philippines. I worked in the hospitality sector instead; I worked at The Peninsula Manila for six and a half years.

After my stint in the hospitality industry, I studied interior design at the Philippine School of Interior Design. When I graduated in 2002, I started taking on design projects in Boracay. A friend of mine owned a small resort and restaurant on the island, and I helped with the design. It was a great fit since I had a background in hospitality. The opening night was well attended and my design was quite well praised. I built my early connections there. Eventually, I also worked on more restaurants in Metro Manila, as well as residential and other commercial spaces.

In 2007, I came across an opportunity to work in Canada, though that meant I had to restart my career and put interior design on the back burner. One of my goals is to again work in the design or creative industry.

Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept
Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept

How did your journey back to art happen?

I was beginning a career with the provincial government here in Canada when I took night classes in watercolor painting. At the time, I was also going through a difficult end to a relationship and felt the need to keep myself busy. It was therapeutic. I needed an avenue to be creative. That was how I went back to studying art and painting.

I told myself I had to move swiftly if this was to become a second career. I always wanted to become an artist. Amongst all the art classes I signed up for, I mostly enjoyed working with watercolor.

I also began attending small artist gatherings in the city. I felt so much at home with other creatives. Artists are very accepting people. I can comfortably say from experience that artists see another artist through their shared passion for art, regardless of other qualities.

During one of these artist events, I met an artist who was in the process of curating a new art gallery. She asked me to be part of their first exhibition. One of my pieces got sold. It felt so rewarding. From then I continued to participate in more exhibitions.

It was also at this time when Facebook and Instagram were exploding. These platforms became effective tools to showcase my work. I connected with more and more people and had an avenue to show my art to the world.

I continued to paint, while always thinking about how to gain a wider audience. Joining art groups on Facebook helped a lot. There are groups that encourage you to post your work in exchange for feedback from other artists. I also became friends with watercolor artists from different parts of the United States, Canada, and Europe. I learned that they regularly participated in renowned painting competitions, mostly prestigious ones. I told myself “I can do that too.” It was a lot of work, but my paintings did get juried in a number of international exhibitions and I won several awards. Joining competitions pushed me to excel in my work, as I competed with the best watercolorists from around the world. I also got featured in several art magazines and websites—The Art of Watercolour, Watercolor Artist, and Artist Network, to name a few.

What was your first exposure to art and painting? What drew you to watercolor as a medium?

We used watercolor in interior design school. I discovered I’m good at it and received perfect marks for my projects. Fast forward to living in Canada, I signed up for evening art classes. I was curious to know if I still had the knack for it.

Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept
Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept

Did pursuing art feel like a new beginning for you?

Definitely! Art is my first love. I knew my skill level. It felt like food for the soul once I again realized the thrill of creating a painting, even after not touching a brush for more than a decade. I knew pursuing art was a risk as I started rather late, but I felt myself being drawn much more so. I was confident that I can continuously produce good work even in a relatively short period of time.

Leaving my full-time job was not an option, so art became my second career. Aside from creating paintings as often as I can, I currently have my office job and also teach painting. I enjoy it tremendously. My goal is to be painting until I’m not physically able to. I live by a phrase on a T-shirt I own: ‘Til Death, We Do Art’.

How did you realize that this could be a viable career path?

In North America, there is a clear chance to progress and succeed in whatever passions you have if you work hard. Oftentimes, in Manila, you would need certain types of connections, a little bit of luck, and being in the right place at the right time.

I live in a city where we have a small artist community. We are supportive of each other. It was fellow artists who recommended that I teach painting.

What do you love most about art and being an artist?

I would say the creativity aspect is the most fascinating to me. There is an incomparable thrill during and after creating a painting. It’s rewarding to continue to learn new techniques, to push yourself, and to paint various subjects. It’s gratifying to see how people admire your hard work.

I love going to art galleries. I love learning from other artists. I feel that I visualize things a little differently. It’s a gift and privilege to be able to have that perspective.

Being a watercolorist is rewarding. Watercolor has unique qualities and behaves quite differently from other brush-applied mediums. It dries very quickly, the pigments behave differently and some granulate beautifully which is so fascinating to see. This sets watercolor apart from other mediums.

Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept
Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept

How does your background as an interior designer affect your process as an artist?

In interior design school, we do a lot of illustrations and were taught about perspective in architecture. In drawings you learn about vanishing points, planning your composition, and focal points, amongst others. Those technical aspects are also essential to producing winning works of art.

Aside from portraits, your work consists of still-life paintings. How do you determine which subjects to paint?

Glass, ceramics, and wood. I am good at painting different textures. Currently, I am into painting rust. I like painting menial objects, like a leaf on a dirty cobblestone road or a rusting truck. I want to turn these types of mundane subjects into beautiful paintings. I also take inspiration from my travels—beautifully plated food, an interesting reflection, a glowing sunset, it’s limitless.

You mentioned your community and fellow artists. How important is having that base to you?

It is very important to me. I had to work fast to make this career shift and that support helped me navigate the industry. They recommend art supplies, art organizations and competitions, and beautiful locations. I also appreciate them simply as being good friends. In Edmonton, the artist community is small. We are not competitive with each other. It’s nice to see various styles, mediums, and personalities. The skill level is exceptional.

It is also a great way to grow in your craft. I sign up for online classes taught by artist friends in the US. Those classes can often include private consultations and some form of mentoring.

What got you into teaching yourself? And how has your art style developed since becoming an instructor?

I was recommended to teach by other artists at The Paint Spot, the store where I get my supplies. Initially, I had hesitations. Now I find it enjoyable. I have been teaching for four years now.

I also learn from my students. Many of them are passionate and I also discover new techniques and tricks from them. They are hobbyists and budding artists alike. I teach mostly the basics but students show their spin in the process. Witnessing my students’ artworks grow and improve is gratifying. I love teaching now as much as painting on my own.

Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept
Francis Marte Honors His Creative Calling For Business Concept

What could artists and people in the art industry do to make it an encouraging space for young artists and growing talents?

I think we can be a bigger community, and continue to share our knowledge and resources, especially with younger artists. We improve so much more as artists when we feel supported and are influenced by other creatives.

What advice would you give a young artist?

Great work requires time. Keep practicing. Devote a good amount of your time and energy. Life is too short. Utilize your creative gifts as often as you can. Do not be afraid to commit to a style that you feel comfortable with and what feels good for you.

Be kind to yourself. When you encounter an artist’s block, take a rest.
Being in the right mood is essential. Also, It is never too late to reignite or start being an artist, just like I did.