The Vibrant Filipino Spirit through the Eyes of Artist Katelyn Miñoso

Cris Antonio |

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Every Filipino was born creative. Whether it’s in art, music, literature, or business, Filipinos shine because of our desire to be the best. Time and again, we have transformed tragedy into advantage, despite overwhelming odds.

Perhaps there’s nothing more endearing than the Filipino spirit. It’s as strong and unceasing as the waves of our seas; and as bright and as high as our skies on a cloudless day.

This is what down-to-earth Ilongga artist, Katelyn Miñoso, tries to capture in her art.

Creativity Caught on Canvas

Katelyn Miñoso began her creative journey when she joined an art workshop in 5th Grade.

“I joined for the sake of joining. People saw that I had the skills for it, but I didn’t see the point of continuing art until I turned 13. Decided to try it out again…and now I’m here!”

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Young, passionate, and ingenious, she says she’s inspired by revolutionary artist Henri Matisse, best known for his expressive use of color and Fauvist style (painting method that became popular in France sometime in the 20th century).

“I used to be known for my realistic graphite portraits. He was one of the top reasons why I braved to use strong and bold colors in my artworks.”

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Although Katelyn dreams of exhibiting her works in prominent museums, she chooses to have her pieces displayed in more accessible areas. This was partly motivated by artist and activist, Keith Haring, who was well-known for his graffiti drawings in New York subway stations.

“I love Keith Haring’s philosophy…I guess I’m able to resonate with his purpose, particularly when it comes to public art.”

To date, Katelyn’s masterpieces have been displayed in various locations, including a local coffee house, in malls, and in art galleries.

Portraits of the Filipino People

As a self-taught artist, Katelyn has long shown a passion for Filipino culture. Apart from art, she’s also been involved in classical singing, folk dancing, and binalaybay.

Today, her works are a reflection of everyday Filipino life. Her favorite muses are the Filipino people – a young boy hauling his catch, a female fish vendor waiting for her suki, and an unassuming man caught off guard eating silog. These familiar scenes are suddenly brought to life in fantastic hues of yellow, blue, and red by Katelyn’s hands.

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“I’m a sucker for anything. Literally anything! I think this is why I don’t get drained easily when it comes to coming up with concepts…I find inspiration in our local landscape. I get excited over the simplest things; the authenticity and rawness of everything makes me drawn to it.”

One of my favorites would have to be her entry for Shell’s 54th National Student Art Competition in 2021. The painting entitled ‘Ilaw’ (‘Light’) has won Top 10 Honorable Mention in the Oil/Acrylic Category. It features an unknown run-down neighbourhood bathed in a midnight blue filter, as if shrouded in twilight. In the monotony is a little boy with a faint glow – a light in the darkness – immersed in his studies.

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Curious, we asked why she often portrays Filipino culture in her paintings.

“The simplicity and the rawness of it. Whenever I go to these places, I’m enchanted because everything is just so bright and full of life. I love immersing myself with them. These types of scenery inspire me to paint.”

Journey of a Dozen Textures

Viewing several of her works, it’s no secret that Katelyn loves drawing portraits.

“I like doing portraits, specifically those that have chiseled facial features. These attributes easily remind me of shapes.”

Katelyn includes all kinds of art mediums into her mixed-media projects, such as oil, acrylic, and pastels. For texture, she uses materials she finds laying around the house. Stuff like bubble wrap, leaves, and Japanese paper. The random objects not only add to the interesting composition of her pieces, it’s also a fun process that she enjoys immensely.

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Once she gets that ‘eureka’ moment (which can happen anytime or anywhere), Katelyn must jot it down right away before she forgets.

“…I then search for inspiration, especially when it comes to composition because as someone who uses strong, bold, and contrasting colors, I have to find harmony through a great composition.”

After that, she does value blocking, followed by color blocking. These are techniques that help artists gradually build dimension using lights, shadows, and color. She admits that the planning stage is the time-consuming aspect of her artistic process.

“As soon as everything is laid out, execution is easy.”

Life, Art, and Emotion

Difficult times make it hard for us to sometimes see the world in full color. There are days when everything looks bleak and grey. For when the going gets tough, Katelyn turns to art:

“I can be overwhelmed with emotions, yes. I have the tendency to bottle them up. I’m aware that it’s a self-sabotaging habit…So somehow, art has become my way of making conversation with myself and these feelings that I usually just ignore. It’s where I vent, as most artists do…”

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Because an artist is normally surrounded by color and beauty, it’s easy to misunderstand how they work. We assume they’re always inspired or that they never run out of motivation. But creatives can have dry spells, too.

“I think the hardest piece that I did was a commissioned painting that took me almost a year to finish. Technically speaking, it was easy to do. However, I think it’s the lack of inspiration and motivation that made it hard for me…”

From her first solo exhibit (‘Sa Palibot’) in Madge Café at La Paz Public Market to a wonderful period painting (‘Acceptance of Faith’) displayed at the National Museum of Fine Arts, Katelyn has gone a long way in quite a short amount of time. Still, the stubborn yet down-to-earth student wants to aim for the sky. When she’s not immersed in one of her paintings, she volunteers and teaches art.

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The next time you spot any of her masterpieces, stop and take a closer look. Filipinos like to leave a piece of themselves in their crafts.

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“I appreciate everything… It may not be physically seen in my paintings, but I like to leave symbols in my works.”

Be inspired by Katelyn’s paintings on her Instagram @katelynminoso


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Author Portrait

Cris Antonio

Cris Antonio is a freelance Copywriter, Editor, and Speaker. If she’s not writing or editing, she helps business owners and young adults build their presence on the Web.