Sharing Filipino stories through watercolor, one painting at a time. By Jirah May A. Millano, a Pasay-based Filipina artist.

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Jirah May A. Millano

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How we started
In August 2020, about two months after graduating from college, I felt stuck and wanted to do something. Initially, I looked at what other people were doing. Then, I came across a post on Facebook that said, “Don’t copy what others are doing. Focus on what you do well and you enjoy doing, and start from there.” That same day, I decided to incorporate what I love doing into a business idea. I launched “Handpainted by JMAM,” where I initially offered only wearable art. My first collection was called “Buhay” Bags, a series of hand-painted colorful canvas bags that told of the story of our new normal. It was followed by “Paraluman” Bags—a collection of hand-painted synthetic leather backpacks from Marikina. Months later, I started offering hand-painted bucket hats, where I even had resellers offering my works to more people. Later on, I focused on watercolor painting, which I have been doing since 2015. I accepted painting commissions and started participating in local calls for artwork submissions.
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How we are different
As a watercolor artist, I am visual storyteller, and I share unique, inspiring, empowering, or eye-opening stories through my paintings. My artistry can be defined by my keen observation of my surroundings. My watercolor paintings often highlights aspects of our daily lives that can sometimes be neglected. A group of ducks taking shelter from the sun under a bamboo hut. Two students going up an overpass after buying lunch from a convenience store nearby. An intricate wood carving found on the ceiling of a museum whose walls are filled with paintings. I capture these seemingly random things or moments, but I paint them because I find meaning in them. That's what my art is like.
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