There was another reason I visited Davao other than running the Milo Marathon. I went shopping. For art materials.
I’m a Cebu guy and I’m completely aware of the art materials available in the market (or the pure lack of it). National Bookstore are now madly in love with Best Buy brushes, Best Buy paints, Best Buy everything made in China. Gone are the days of Sakura, Winsor & Newton, Lyra and other names that most budding would look for after getting past the beginner level. We can’t level up on Made In China alone. Our only realistic option is to buy whatever is available online or go to Manila’s art shops to hoard. Yes this is an artist’s rant paragraph.
But Davao City’s Morning Light Art Gallery and Shop erased my frustrations. I instantly fell in love with the place. The brands, the wide options, the price range and warm people. Why go to Manila when Davao got you covered? It’s practically a one-stop shop for every artists’ needs. They have a lot of selections for many mediums in art be it in watercolors, acrylics, oils, pencils, charcoals and etc. Let’s just say that I did got everything I needed and purchased a few items to experiment with.
I’m not going to elaborate on the brands but they have entry-level to artist grade materials. Their people will assist your needs amigo. They have a wide range of brushes and I certainly found my first ever liner brush (yes! Finally after 3 years already) and the versatile dagger brush. I’ve juggled watercolors and acrylics lately so I am happy on the selections paints they have for these mediums. I specifically bought a travel-friendly Sakura Koi 18 watercolor kit to upgrade my Prang and Reeves. For acrylics, again, I went to the Sakura brand. There were a lot of color to choose from but for starters I settled for the three primary color tubes. I bled for 65 pages of Canson watercolour papers, something Cebu desperately lacks. Here’s my spoils of war:
And I didn’t really spent a fortune out there. Believe it or not I spent below P2,500. Way below my budget. I’m no businessman but I know costing and market price analysis (haler!). The prices are spectacularly lower than those sold in the bookstores (if they are stocking at all). My siblings are lucky I brought them pasalubong.
To be honest the real highlight of Morning Light is not just about the art supplies but it’s more about the very nice people behind the shop. It was a great pleasure to to talk and chat lengthily with the owner, Maam Miyen Lim. We really talked specially on the business side of the shop because I told her about the prices if they are for real. It’s a family business but more of a passion project for a family of artists. It’s not a financially rewarding business because of the high overhead cost and they don’t put too much mark up on the materials. So a Cebu branch is not on the horizon, yet, but sa #TamangPanahon. But in return, it’s good for the soul to give Mindanao artists the access to good materials for their crafts and for others to try Art as a new hobby. They want to keep it as affordable as they can.. “so that art students don’t have to starve and skip their lunch just to buy art materials“. It was a cool conversation and I really opened up to her about the struggles of having a career in finance and a passion for art. There’s an overwhelming goodwill in this place. And I’m a lucky guy to have visited it.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the art materials but one must not forget that the place is a gallery. And these are just beautiful artworks from Maam Miyen and her husband. The expressive surreal kind! That’s my actually goal in acrylics painting (I should apply to this shop hehe)
The Morning Light Art Gallery and Shop opens every Monday to Saturday during mall time. But it’s not located on a mall (yet) but in Marfori Heights in Davao City. Quick tip: just grab a taxi. I was not the only out-of-towner out there because there was other girls who came all the way from Cotabato City for the same artistic reason I have. It’s that popular, dinadayo talaga for all the good reasons. Definitely, Morning Light is a must-visit place in Davao. You can check their facebook page here.