SINCE Italy went on lockdown due to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) outbreak early in March, Filpino artist Stephanie Honrado’s classes at the Angel Academy of Art have been postponed. But throughout the lockdown, she continued to paint in the classic style in her apartment in Florence.

On June 6, Ms. Honrado took a quick break from her routine for a Zoom conference with the press back home to share the stories of 12 artworks — mostly still lifes and nudes — featured in her exhibition titled Come stai? (How are you?). She also brought everyone on a quick digital tour around the 13th century Palazzo San Niccolo where she created one of the pieces.

Come stai? (How are you?) is Salcedo Auctions’ second virtual exhibition.

Ms. Honrado was first exposed to Florence’s classical art when she visited in 2010. In 2019, she traded her career in finance for the paintbrush.

“It’s not easy but it can be done. It can break your spirit if you’re not set. I still grapple with that every day,” Ms. Honrado said, acknowledging that you have to prepare for your financial needs. “You really have to be brave. It will be a test of your spirit. But you can do it.”

“I don’t want to be 80 years old and thinking, ‘I had a chance when I was 50 [years old] and I did not take it,’” she added.

When it came to her fascination with classical art, Ms. Honrado noted her admiration for Virgin and Child paintings by Italian Renaissance painter Antonio da Correggio.

Knowledge of classical art is foundational she noted. “The classical method has attracted me for a long time already because I like the structure that it gives, and its history,” she said. “Having these tools is a good way to have flexibility.”

One of her works, Faith (2018), is a still life of a feather. Discussing the work, she noted that ever since she moved to Florence to pursue her art studies, she kept seeing feathers on the street. “I was getting curious so I did a bit of research. Apparently, they (feathers) are signs of divine presence, of protection, and guidance. Every time you see one, it’s a sign that something good is nearby,” she said.

Come stai? (2018) is another still life, this time of two bulbs of garlic whose stems are intertwined — she likens them to two affectionate people. “[They were] twirling as if all they ever say is ‘Come stai?’. For me, I thought, it is such a meaningful word, at least for the people who are unable to find words for their feelings, come stai is meaningful that way because it expresses care, affection, and love,” she explained.

Invincible Summer (2020), a still life of a stuffed bunny on a floral shawl, is, the artist said, a representation of strength. Ms. Honrado said she was inspired by a quote by French philosopher Albert Camus: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” She represents her “invincible summer” through the portrait of her stuffed toy, her companion during the lockdown. “I held on to her. She was my companion. So, I thought I’d paint a portrait of her.”

Also included in the exhibit are the nudes Alessandro and Sofia which she did during live figure drawing classes. Ms. Honrado recalled her teachers’ rigorous reminder to “turn the form,” during the classes.

“It means that the strokes are not soft enough to convince the eye that the form is turning — that [the] muscle is turning this way or [the other],” she explained. “It’s part of the exercise to help [you] draw things as though they are 3-D. Drawing is the backbone of good painting.”

Alongside the physical and virtual exhibition, other works by Ms. Honrado will be uploaded in the coming weeks on the Come stai? (How are you?) social media series. Videos and photos of the artist’s favorite Florentine art, accompanied by personal anecdotes, will be featured on Gavel&Block’s social media channels.

Despite the uncertainty in these difficult times, Ms. Honrado continues to be creative as she anticipates resuming classes in September. “[I just] paint, paint, and paint every day.”

Come Stai? (How are You?) is on view online on until July 6.

Salcedo Auctions, located at the NEX Tower, Ayala Ave. in Makati City, is now open to walk-in guests on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guests are advised to observe social distancing while at the gallery. For inquiries, e-mail or contact 0917-825-7449, or 0917-107-5581. Follow @gavelandblock on Facebook and Instagram. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman