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Painting while waiting for the journey home

A GRAPHIC artist sought relief from lockdown stress by turning to paints and palette knives while waiting for a chance to finally go home. The result? A hometown exhibit filled with a riot of colors.

After 14 years of working in Singapore, Leizel Lacsao-Dator was finally going to Bacolod City in March 2020, having decided to settle in her hometown for good. However, COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) struck and the world went into lockdown. She had to suspend her plans to come home for a year. Like most artists who had time on their hands while on lockdown, she turned to her canvases, paints, and palette knives.

Originally from Victoria City, Negros Occidental, she moved to Manila at the age of 16 to study and earned her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at the Far Eastern University (FEU) in 1999. She then pursued a career as a graphic artist, working for various companies in the capital, including BusinessWorld from 2004 to 2007. Spreading her wings, she moved to Singapore in 2007 and pursued a career as a senior graphic designer for an exhibition company. Her works were featured as part of the “PrintPack+Sign” 2019 exhibition at the Marina Bay Sands.

It was in Singapore that Ms. Lacsao-Dator revisited painting during her free time, first with watercolor and then transitioning to the use of palette knives in 2018.

“Using a palette knife is more challenging because it takes a lot of control and grip, especially if the subject is landscape with structures. Despite the difficulty, I pursued using it because of its texture that gives character to my pieces. Another reason is its uniqueness, and I was able to develop my signature style,” Ms. Lacsao-Dator told BusinessWorld through Messenger.

In 2019, she contacted The Good Art Gallery in Quezon City to show her paintings.

“I reached out to The Good Art Gallery through a private message. I showed my works to them. After checking the details, they posted my work on their social media platform. The first one sold right away,” Ms. Lacsao-Dator said. “Since then, I was able to gain patrons in Metro Manila through this gallery.”

When lockdown rules were finally relaxed, Ms. Lacsao-Dator returned to the Philippines in March this year. She did not waste any time looking for a place to show her work. Upon arrival in Bacolod, Ms. Lacsao-Dator visited that city’s Art District, a creative block of restaurants, bars, and art galleries including the Orange Project building.

“[In] July this year, I went to The Art District looking for a gallery that can help me showcase my works,” she said. “I went to Orange Project Gallery, and it just so happen that [visual artist and gallery’s co-founder] Charlie Co was there. I spoke to him for a while about my art pieces and showed him my coffee table book.

“[Mr. Co] asked me about the process of my works. I did mention to him my medium and the inspiration for it. He then introduced me to Mrs. Leah Divino-Samson, the President of the Art Association of Bacolod-Negros (AAB-N). After discussing my pieces with Mrs. Leah Divino-Samson, I decided to hold my first solo exhibit at AAB Gallery+Cafe.

“[The Good Art Gallery was] very supportive with my decision to do my first solo exhibition here [in Negros].”

“Art by LD” will open at the AAB Gallery + Cafe at the Art District in Bacolod City on Nov. 16. To be launched alongside the physical exhibit is her online platform,

The exhibit features 31 pieces ranging from Negros scenes, florals still lifes, landscapes, and seascapes. The Negros sites featured in her work include The Ruins, the Chapel of Cartwheels, and Punta Ballo beach. She also has scenes from Okinawa, Singapore, and Taiwan which were inspired by her travels.

“When I paint local sceneries, it’s nostalgic because it is part of my childhood,” she said. “For my florals, it’s all imagination,” she said. “When I do the florals, I don’t sketch. The image just flows.”

“Graphic design is work, but painting helps calm me down,” she said.

“Art by LD” will run until Dec. 7 at the AAB Gallery + Cafe at the Art District, Barangay Mandalagan, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. Safety and health protocols to be observed. The artworks can also be viewed at For more information, and commission inquiries, visit the artist’s Instagram page at (@art_byld). — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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