BEFORE she pursued arts, Dabawenya artist Tanya Gaisano Lee took a lot of detours.

She convinced herself first to graduate from a four-year course on Child Development Education at the University of Asia and Pacific and a master’s degree in the same field.

Right after her studies, she went on a series of teaching and tutorial jobs here and abroad.

“Doing all these never felt right,” she admitted.

She underscored that her love for arts started when she was still a child.

“I’ve always been artistically inclined. I preferred drawing rather than writing notes. I always scribbled in my notebooks during class,” Tanya reminisced her life as a little artist.

It was after she married in 2010 when she finally had the courage to pursue her arts. Her husband, Jerick, was the one who encouraged her to continue her journey being an artist.

It was in 2014 when she sold her first art piece at P1,200. It’s an artwork Inked on paper.

“It was a drawing of a pig and another of a duck. Selling my first artwork felt invigorating, I felt like it was such an achievement,” she shared adding an acquaintance-turned-friend Bunny Sy bought it.

From using black pens to draw simple black and white patterns, Tanya now diversifies her art by incorporating vivid colors and textures using acrylics and inks.

At present, Tanya had three solo exhibits. Her first was hosted by the Crucible Gallery in Manila, second was held in the Marco Polo Davao, and the recent was the ongoing, month-long affair at the Acacia Hotel Davao.

Dominant on her exhibits are artworks honoring womanhood. Her latest art exhibit dubbed as “The Colorful Shades of Motherhood” showcases and celebrates motherhood.

“I’ve had fertility issues, we took three long years to conceive. It was a tumultuous journey that tested our marriage and own strengths. I didn’t choose to make the pieces, it became an outlet for my frustrations. Eventually, we succeed in conceiving,” the artist shared.

She now enjoys being a mother to their three-year-old daughter Jana.

Apart from her three solo exhibits to date, Tanya is also active in participating in numerous group exhibits through the years and a few online shows.

As an artist, she draws inspiration from traveling and seeing new places and experiencing different cultures. However, with the ongoing pandemic, Tanya has been looking through her own inner inspiration. The current situation allowed her to appreciate more local culture and look at mundane things with more interest.

“I’m an emotional painter, I create best when I’m frustrated. The longevity depends on the size and intricacy of the piece. Usually a couple or three days with smaller works,” the Davao-based artist said.

Asked about her favorite artwork, she shared that Arturo Luz’s works are her favorites, especially Arturo’s clean lines and clip sculptures. She also said she had a chance meeting her fellow artist years back.

On her personal works, Tanya said, while most of her clients prefer her vibrant colors and texture pieces she prefers her grayscale inked series. Art, for her, is indeed relative.

Tanya said the local art scene in Davao City is beginning to thrive and she acknowledges how social media played a pivotal role in helping artists like her showcase their works.

“The reality is, not everyone has the opportunity to choose a job, but I believe that if you set your mind to it, and also have the talent, you’ll succeed. Keep your head down and continue working towards your goal,” the artist shared to aspiring artists who are struggling to start their own artistic journey.

Tanya’s “The Colorful Shades of Motherhood” art exhibit at Acacia Hotel Davao runs until June 3.