• Veronica Pulumbarit

JC Vargas creates amazing art even with cheap paint, dirty water

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

Who would have thought that beautiful and amazing artworks can be created even with dirty, stinky water and cheap watercolor paint?


Artist and architect JC Vargas is proving other painters wrong. Many watercolor art teachers would insist on using the "right" paper -- at least 300 gsm -- "right" brushes, and "right paint."


As a beginner in watercolor painting, I thought it wouldn't be possible to create good art with low-cost paper and paint.


I invested in enrolling in art classes, even getting a private art tutor, using Arches paper, and Sennelier paint.

The small set of Sennelier paint alone costs almost P10,000. But my artwork is nowhere near what JC accomplished with paint that costs less than P100.


In an earlier experiment, JC used a different kind of paint: pigment made from water drawn from the dirtiest rivers in Metro Manila.


According to an article on BBC, the experiment was meant to call attention to the pollution in rivers.


The pigments were taken from Cainta, Tullahan and Marikina Rivers, the Taguig Estuary, and the Binondo Canal.


BBC said the pigments were decontaminated and oven-dried first for 24 hours.


They were mixed with gum arabic solution to become watercolor.


The colors that came out ranged from black, grey, sepia, burnt sienna and brown.


JC told BBC that the pigments gave off an unpleasant smell but the stink disappeared once the artwork dried.


Below are some of the artworks JC produced for "The Dirty Watercolor" project.


According to the International Watercolor Society, JC took up Architecture at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and received the PUP BS Architecture's Top 1 Best Thesis of 2011. Two years later, he passed the licensure exam for architects.


While waiting for architectural projects, he honed his skills in watercolor painting and has since been commissioned for hundreds of projects.




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