By Meg Peters
When Harry Villalonga paints, he remembers the ocean.
“Every time I see the water it takes me back to that time when my dad saved me from drowning. And I love the water so much now,” he said.
Many of his paintings are centered on the ocean, its wild waves, bobbing boats, vibrant sunsets and beautiful shorelines.
Just recently he won the People’s Choice Award for his water-esque pieces “A Hope and A Future,” “River of Life,” and “Father of Lights” at the Orion Art Center’s Annual Members and Studio Teachers Show, with his oil piece “A Hope and a Future” also taking second place.
Villalonga, a Filipino-American, grew up on the beach in the Philippines before moving to the U.S. in 2006.
“I ended up loving the Great Lakes,” he said. “The difference is here there are no sharks.”
After Villalonga almost drowned when he was five years old, his father scooped him out of the water and revived him.
Villalonga learned how to swim the very next day, with the encouragement of his father, and thinks of him often when painting water scenes.
He also enjoys painting different landscapes, the human figure, portraits, wildlife and abstract art using his favorite mediums: watercolor, oils and acrylics. He is hoping to try pastels soon.
Villalonga lives in Oakland Township with his wife and two daughters, and has been a member of the OAC since 2011.
“OAC is a wonderful place to express and show your art. I was surprised to see the tremendous amount of artistic expressions in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional art,” he said.
Since he has been a member Villalonga has watched the increasing level of talent in both professional and emerging artists.
“The people at the OAC are easy to get along with and truly supportive of the artistic community. I have so much to look forward to in the future,” he said.
Villalonga is a full-time painter, after leaving a life of design and visual merchandising in the Philippines for many companies including Duty Free and Levi’s.
After going full-time with his painting career his work has been collected by many artists and galleries worldwide, including those in Cebu City of the Philippines, Australia, Singapore and North America.
He has won several awards at the OAC, and is also a member of The Michigan Watercolor Society, the Grosse Pointe Art Center, the Paint Creek Center for the Arts, and the Starweather Art Center.
By Meg Peters