Painter Golda King on art, life and everyday inspiration
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
“I’M an early riser,” shared Golda King. Usually up by 5:30, she spends the earliest part of her day taking in the sunrise, and keeping the moment with a snapshot — a habit she got into recently. By 7 a.m. she’s off to yoga class, and nearing lunchtime she goes to her studio at home, picks up a brush and paints. “I start painting around 11, all the way until sundown, because the light changes and it affects the colors,” the artist said, “but that doesn’t usually stop me.”
Since coming home late last year, Golda said that is how her days have been like, spent doing what she has always loved since a child, painting. She has been working on mostly commissions lately, and in between, participating in shows including the Pasiunang Halad exhibit for Sinulog and the Mode De Vie trunk show for Valentine’s Day. She is also set to join an all-female art exhibit this month.
Born and raised in Cebu, Golda was first exposed to visual art at a young age, in workshops mentored by renowned names in the local art community.
She said, “I took a bunch of classes with Sir Celso Pepito and Sir Kimsoy Yap, and Sir Errol who most people now know as Budoy. It was nice to get exposed to different styles, but at that time I was too scared to be adventurous with my work.”
Golda thought of fashion straight out of high school and initially studied fashion merchandising at LaSalle College International in Manila. With an inclination to the crafty and creative, she used to design costume jewelry yet admitted that her heart wasn’t really into it. “Painting was always there,” she said, “And I thought why not do it while I still can? It was a now or never kind of thing. I didn’t want to regret not doing it.”
In the summer of 2009, Golda moved to San Francisco where she pursued a painting degree at the Academy of Art University. There her passion for the visual arts was rekindled, her mastery in its basic rules reinforced. Eventually she mastered how to break those rules, gaining an identity for her work in the process.
She said, “The most important thing in art school was focusing on your own growth as an artist, and to be honest and true to what you’re doing. If you look around other people’s works and try to copy it, you kind of lose the magic of art.”
Golda’s works are mostly of the abstract vein, mostly figurative, wistful portraits inspired by real people that she encounters every day, how she sees them or sometimes how she wants to see them. “Although someone once described me as an introvert, I love people. I love learning about their experiences, their sadness and happiness—the mysteriousness of people fascinates me.”
“But also, these anonymous people become a self-portrait of some sort,” she said. “It’s weird how I always see myself in other people. It’s amazing how people can be so alike.”
When Golda finished the program in 2013, her creative journey was only beginning, and shortly after she flew to Iceland for a month-long residency program at the Gullkistan Center for Creativity. She was one of the seven artists selected; her work recognized out of the 200 who applied. There she lived with fellow painters, a photographer, a composer and fiber artist, and then collaborated with them for their culminating project.
While her stint in San Francisco had her appreciate individuality, Iceland had her appreciating the surroundings. “Before I wasn’t really into the becoming one with nature thing, no,” she said. “But there the terrain, the landscape was so beautiful — and the environment really does change the way you think, the way you are able to control your moods and emotions.”
Golda has since been working on a new series of portraits seeped in landscape, alongside other paintings for upcoming shows. These she does in an old guestroom at their house that she has since transformed to her studio, decorated with her knickknacks from San Francisco and a slew of unfinished works on the floor.
Her days don’t always turn out the same, though. Moods can get in the way, and despite having been doing it all her life, realizing an image on canvas doesn’t come as easily. “But you just have to sit and do something, grab a pen and start doodling,” Golda said. “Some days are just blah, when colors turn into mud. There are a lot of bad days… but one of our teachers always told us, it doesn’t matter if you’re not the best painter—you just have to keep on working.”
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome | Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo | Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas
Assistants: Nimrod Aro and Jedidaiah Del Mar, Interns