Philex Mines from High School: An Eternal Flame

Philex Mining Community from the High School Area.  29" x 47".  Acrylic on Canvas.  Photo taken in it's unfinished stage.  Original now owned by The Beholder (Mar 2014).

This post, which includes the painting above and the video link at the bottom, has been sitting in draft for a couple  of weeks.  I just remembered to pull it out while watching Jessica and Hollie sing the Bangles' "Eternal Flame" last night on American Idol.

I love the place I grew up in so I keep remembering it through words and through pictures.  The (unfinished) acrylic painting above is a view of Philex Mines from the High School area.  It's based on a photo I took last December during our high school batch reunion.  Since this is one of the most commonly photographed views of the Philex Mines community I  positioned the two Pine trees in the middle to give the picture an individual feel.  This is one of the great freedoms of painting over photography, the freedom to easily manipulate composition and other elements to suit one's goals or preferences.  The larger pine tree  also represents  my deep appreciation of Bonsai trees, especially the wind-swept or the large tree designs.

What brought me to this painting and this post  from the song "Eternal Flame"?  

I learned to paint through the summer art classes that were regularly sponsored by the mining company.  All the students were provided with all the materials during these summer art classes -- from pencils to paper to canvases and oil paint.  Everything.  I didn't want to enroll during the first class in the summer of 1987 since, being the hyper-active boy that I was, I only wanted to waste summer away running up and down the mountain slopes and playing all day with my friends.

Mother had other plans.  She insisted that I learn art.  "Your father studied fine arts/architecture so you should learn too" was the sole authority she raised.  I grudgingly walked to attend the first day of summer class but I was a few days late.  They were already working on water colors.  I didn't get the basic techniques.  I worked on water color medium as one would an oil painting.  Of course I didn't do well that summer but I thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of creating things out of empty sheets and canvas.

I would eventually study for two summers and taught younger kids for two summers in turn.  So that was from grade 5 to second year high school.

"Eternal Flame" heavily played in the radio waves in 1989.  All summer long I kept hearing the song and eventually associated the sound with summer art classes.  It was practically that summer art class' theme song.

For practical reasons I should be working more on pictures that are not too personal so I could sustain this hobby.  But how could I resist the call of happy memories and the preservation of visual sensations that will soon pass? 

I find refuge in what my favorite French artist, Paul Cezanne, wrote to Philippe Solari in 1896 about why he most persistently loved painting his native Aix En Provence landscapes.  He said "When you've been born there, that's it; nothing else will do."  Yes, if like me and so many other Philex sons and daughters, you were born or raised there, then nothing else will do for you either.

No less than our national hero, Jose Rizal, valued and expressed the significance of knowing, learning, cherishing, and growing from our past in order to improve our future when he said "Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan." ("He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination." -- translation from

An eternal flame symbolizes the conscious kindling and perpetual preservation and promotion of a most precious value or memory.  It is in effect, a lighted monument, a beacon from the past that illumines our tomorrow.   People all over the world have fanned their own eternal flames.  This song by the Bangles itself was written after one of the song writers remembered an eternal flame in a synagogue from his childhood while the other song writer/s came across the idea after seeing the eternal flame in Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion.

How does one kindle his or her eternal flame?  For me, I just look at the painting above, close my eyes and summon the breeze, the mountain sun, the mountain sounds and the mountain friends and sing with Susanna Hoffs "Close your eyes ... give me your hand ... do you feel my heart beating ... do you feel the same... or am I only dreaming..."

"Eternal Flame" by the Bangles

Yellow House # 17
What is my Yellow House?  Read here. 
Canvas prints of photos and artworks on this site may be ordered (depending on your preferred sizes) by email through Originals are kind of hard to let go...

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