Female artists of Cebu: Meream, Celina's artistry

CELINA PAREDES
CELINA PAREDES

The annals of art history have long been dominated by the achievements of male artists, leaving scant room for women in the narrative of a child’s history book. However, against the norm, more and more women are emerging in the industry, asserting their femininity and identity.

MEREAM PACAYRA
MEREAM PACAYRA

Cebu-based creators Celina Paredes and Meream Pacayra shine as artists who infuse vitality into their creations. Despite their different art styles, they share a common experience: being female artists is an empowering and fulfilling journey. Both Celina and Meream were featured in InnoPub’s artist series titled “The Female Gaze” at Misfits Coffee on March 24, 2024.

Meream

Hailing from Samar, Meream discovered her passion for crafting at a tender age, inspired by her grandmother’s sewing prowess. Despite not having formal art education, Meream became a trailblazer in Cebu, pioneering workshops in painting. Today, she flourishes as an esteemed illustrator of books and in miniature art.

Meream emphasizes that while a formal background in art can be beneficial, it’s not always necessary. She believes that a genuine passion for drawing is sufficient to integrate it into one’s career or personal growth journey.

“I make merch out of the things I draw. At some point it becomes a job, but as much as possible you find a balance. I’m in marketing communication for my day job and after a long day, I draw just to wind down.”

Meream finds a connection with the 19th century artist Claude Monet, particularly admiring Monet’s character and how he openly expressed frustration in his work through a diary. Similarly, Meream shares that she experiences similar moments of frustration in her own artistic journey, and lists it down in her journal.

“I remind myself sometimes that I draw for me. There’s no audience. Sometimes it’s an exercise for your muscles, your hands or your brain. The more you do it, the better you are,” said Meream.

Meream candidly discusses the ongoing battle with the fear of inadequacy, acknowledging that it never truly disappears. However, she recalled a moment when her partner kept her old sketch pads, revealing the significant leap in her artistic skills over time. This realization underscores the importance of persistence in art; despite the looming fear, one must continue to do it.

“As a woman, they say cute art is feminine but not necessarily. My subject is not female rage, I paint because I’m a woman. Statistically speaking, women are more stressed than men. I paint because of that,” she shared.

Meream proudly stands as one of the first artists to be featured in the city’s largest bakery and cafe chain, Abaca Baking Company, where she lent her talent to draw on its cups. Additionally, she expresses gratitude for the opportunities to be tapped for collaborations with fellow artists especially with female creators.

“Pain makes you a better artist, but not all the time. Happy things make you a better artist too. I used to live my life appreciating little things, but after the pandemic, huge bursts of joy are so important. I travel now, attend concerts, and collect experiences that shut off your brain. It’s like a rest, and somehow it makes me a better artist,” she shared.

Celina

Growing up in a family of artists, Celina Paredes naturally gravitated towards painting and pursued it as her major in college. As a fine arts graduate, she honed her unique style during her academic years. Today, Celina wears multiple hats as a content editor, book illustrator and production designer.

Celina finds a deep resonance with impressionism in her artistic journey. She draws inspiration from the likes of 19th-century artist Claude Monet, as the movement aligns closely with her own art style. She admires the emphasis on capturing light and atmosphere in one sitting, reflecting the spontaneity and vibrancy of impressionist painting.

“I would paint anything that is personal to me. Anything I find interesting, even a cup of coffee, I would paint that. Recently, I like putting figures in my artworks. Back in the pandemic, I restudied anatomy on my own. I draw from bones to muscles and then to the full form with the skin,” shared Celina.

Celina finds painting the female form particularly enjoyable, as she appreciates the inherent gracefulness it exudes.

“It’s so good to be recognized for our art. In history, painting was male-dominated, it’s the women who are the subjects posing and then the men who paint. But right now, we are not the muse and that itself is pretty cool,” shared Celina.

Celina views her accomplishments as a woman artist as significant milestones. Being sought after for collaborations, participating in painting exhibits and integrating into the art market fill her with immense pride. She finds it gratifying to witness the increasing recognition of modern women artists in the industry.

“Artists to viewer is just human to human communication. It really depends on the artist, they do their own research to back up the message they want to convey in their art and then you experience life as well. There’s so many things that could go on in a canvas,” shared Celina when asked about whether life experiences influence their art.

Celina delves into her creative process, revealing training in canvas priming during school. With a preference for clear brush strokes in her art style, she primes her canvas twice, considering it a unique aspect of her process. She finds joy in transitioning from one color to another while painting.

Celina has showcased her artistic prowess through a series of notable achievements. Her participation in prestigious exhibitions such as the “Ode to Joy” art exhibit at Kukuk’s Nest Talamban, Cebu City and the “Essence of A Woman” exhibit at Banilad Town Centre reflects her talent and recognition in the art community. Additionally, her involvement in fundraisers like the “Art Cares” exhibit for Surigao earthquake victims demonstrates her commitment to using art for meaningful causes. Celina’s dedication to her craft has earned her accolades, including being a finalist in the 7th Cristobal C. Espina Painting Competition.

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