At that time, he was embarrassed about what had happened. But looking back at it now, he is amused. “I guess I was a prodigy then,” he says with a laugh.
Trinidad’s artistic talent is genetic. Two of his uncles, Jose Trinidad and Jerry Anastacio, were visual artists in the Philippines. Because they were always around, he could not help but observe them paint. He started painting and joining art exhibitions without any training. But it was when he was based in Vancouver that he found a teacher in the 1980s: SYM (Sofronio Y. Mendoza), an eminent visual artist way back in the Philippines and founder of Vancouver’s Dimasalang III International Artists Group. “Without SYM, I wouldn’t be where I’m now,” he explains. “Not only did he teach the fundamentals of painting, but he also gave each visual artist one-on-one attention, making everybody feel special.” He appreciates the camaraderie of the group, especially in helping and inspiring each other.
Trinidad makes sure that each of his paintings come from the heart. “If it does not come from the heart, then the artwork is empty,” he opines. A very spiritual person, he practices meditation to clear his mind. He finds inspiration by talking to other artists, analyzing masters’ paintings, reading books, and looking at people, objects, and nature. “Would you believe,” he tells me, “I find inspiration in a crooked pole because it has character?” Once he starts painting, he is focused, and he has the discipline to finish what he has started.
An impressionist, Trinidad loves the play of warm and cool colors. “Colors are always vibrating everywhere and in everything!” he rhapsodizes. “Each visual artist sees colors differently.”
Impressionism is very apparent in Bougainvilleas, where there is an interplay of red and green. In contrast, he uses gray to signify the shadow of leaves and flowers on a brick fence. In Still Life, which was his first still life in oil, there are many colors involved, but what is interesting is the background, in which dabs of red gradually shift to white.
Trinidad depicts regalness in Nana (Grandma), which is his tribute to his grandmother who lived till the age of 101. He focuses on his grandmother’s white hair and her teal coat. The background is contrasting shades of blue, and there are suggestions of objects.
In Sisters and Nieces on the Beach, Trinidad captures the playfulness of the moment with the different movements of the children and the seeming motion of the water. Based on a photo that he took, the effect of light and color can be gleaned from the shifting sand. There is an interplay of colors from the children’s clothes and towels.
Being human, Trinidad realizes that he is not perfect. As such, he can make mistakes in painting. “But I analyze and learn from them, and I make corrections,” he expresses.
Trinidad would love to be a full-time visual artist, but he is practical. “Money problems can get in the way of creativity, especially if you are supporting a family,” he points out. He enjoys his position as an auto painter. “I treat each car as my canvas,” he adds.
He advises people who want to become visual artists to be patient because it takes time. He also recommends having a good teacher who can see mistakes and make suggestions. Once drawing, proportion, tonality, and other elements are mastered, he elaborates, colors become secondary. You gain confidence, making you more creative.
Noel Trinidad has worked hard to become the best visual artist ever. His paintings illustrate his love and good nature. Not only has he mastered the techniques of painting, but he has also learned to project feelings for every painting he has made. “A painting becomes alive the moment you look at it!”
Rey E. de la Cruz, Ed.D., Positively Filipino correspondent, writes from Chicagoland when he is not loving the arts and traveling. He is the author of the children’s book, Ballesteros on My Mind: My Hometown in the Philippines, which also has Ilocano, Spanish, and Tagalog editions.
More articles from Rey E. de la Cruz