A Baby’s Dream
It started with an invitation
In December 2022, my father, Rolly delos Santos, who is also known as Tito Rolly, invited me to join an art exhibit featuring his past students. The exhibit, titled “Us Today: A Spark of Creativity,” was scheduled for January 2023 and would be held at our former school, De La Salle Zobel. I was immediately intrigued by the opportunity and excited to participate.
My father had been my art teacher since grade school, which was sometimes awkward as he was also teaching my classmates and friends. Despite this, I was determined to excel in art and even joined his art club in the hopes of refining my 2D drawing skills. My father had also been my art teacher at home since I was a little boy. From a young age, he had taught me how to hold a brush, mix watercolors, and shape my ideas into artwork.
How To Start
Being part of this art exhibit was a first for me, and I looked forward to visiting my former school and reigniting my passion for art. I spent some time considering what subject to paint for the exhibit. As it had been some years since I had created art, I wanted to create something unique that would impress my parents, wife, previous teachers, and other viewers. I decided to create a digital art piece using Photoshop, as this was the tool I was most proficient in.
After brainstorming ideas for my artwork, I eventually settled on creating something for my son, Marcus. I often saw him smiling in his sleep and wondered what he was dreaming about. Perhaps he was singing nursery rhymes in his head, as he loved to watch them on TV. I began by creating a mood board and collecting images and references for my concept.
However, as the days passed, I realized that I had wasted time overthinking and needed to start sketching and refining my ideas. I also needed to adjust my software settings and watch professional illustrators on YouTube to improve my skills. I was feeling the pressure as the exhibit was just a few weeks away, and I still needed to figure out how to print my digital artwork.
Just Do it and think later
As I began by sketching several thumbnail ideas and focused on composition and all the elements I wanted to include. It was a fun experience, and I found myself talking to myself, saying things like “maybe like this…maybe like that.” Some of the simple mistakes I made during this exercise led to new ideas.
My son’s love for the “Baby Shark” song and dance inspired some of my ideas, along with his favorite stuffed toy, Panda Bear. I also included other nursery rhymes, such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “The Ants Go Marching.” I added my son’s space suit from his first birthday and incorporated the idea of floating sharks and a bus plugged in at night.
As I developed my concept, I reminded myself not to be too constrained by technical rules in art and design, such as proportions and colors. I wanted to be as creative as possible while still effectively communicating my message to the audience.
Once I felt comfortable with my concept, I began combining my ideas from the thumbnails. I included an island at the center of the artwork, with sharks floating towards the subject. I started with the mountains as they played an important role in guiding the viewer’s attention to the subject. I painted them violet to make them stand out and added trees and fog to create contrast.
To add more elements to the artwork, I also added a bus, a large tree, and some water, while reducing the amount of grass on the island to place more emphasis on the subject. The subject’s suit was colored orange, which was the color of my son’s suit and also the only orange in the artwork, emphasizing the subject further.
Painting the Dream
As soon as I got comfortable with the concept, I started combining ideas from my thumbnails. I combined the island at the center and the sharks floating toward the subject.
For this artwork, I started with the mountains as they play an important role in guiding the viewers’ attention to the subject. I painted it violet just to make it different. When I added trees, I knew I had to do something about contrast. And so I added fogs in between them.
Worked on the bus, a big tree, and some water, and decided that the island has not much grass on it to give more emphasis to the subject. I colored the subject’s suit orange because that was what my son wore, but also it was the only orange in the artwork. Adding, again, emphasis to the subject.
The last elements I added are the foreground with ants marching, the frogs on a log, the little star, and the spirit beasts/sharks. I got feedback from Abe, a friend of mine, and he told me that I can still improve on my perspective. Hence, the adjustments to the mountains on the right, and a re-work on the sharks.
The very last step was to enhance the overall artwork’s colors, levels, etc.
Art for my Family
Upon completing my artwork, I am delighted with the final output. I was able to transform my idea into a beautiful reality, and I am happy with the outcome. While some artworks require no explanation, this one holds a special place in my heart and is dedicated to my loving wife and strong, healthy son.
Titled “A Baby’s Dream,” this piece will not be for sale and will instead be displayed in our home as a reminder of my son’s journey as a baby. It serves as a reminder that he can go to different worlds whenever he dreams. I plan to create more art and practice my skills to make my family proud, and I am excited about the possibilities that the future holds.
I owe my love for art to my father, who shared his passion and knowledge with me. Expressing myself has always come naturally through art, and I plan to pass this on to my son in the hopes that he will enjoy and appreciate it as much as I do. Along with “A Baby’s Dream,” I am proud to share two other entries for traditional art, “Tree of Knowledge” and “The Lure of the City,” which are my newest acrylic on canvas pieces.