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Licensed Teacher Uses Coal, Taal Ash in Making Beautiful Artworks

Born into a modest family, Janina Sanico learned to make art using natural and sustainable materials.

There’s a notion that art is only for those who are financially capable, but Janina Sanico believes otherwise. This licensed teacher-turned-freelance artist has been making art using sustainable and affordable resources for a few years now.

Growing up in a modest family in Tanauan City, Batangas, Janina started making art at the young age of five. But unlike others who got to play with crayons and sketchpads, she used coal and flowers on papers and walls.

Sa mga panahon na iyon, medyo salat kami sa pambili ng art materials… So I used my environment as my medium,” Janina tells My Pope Philippines. (Read: Alla Belisario Uses Soil in Painting – and We Love Him for It!)

Eventually, people started to notice her creativity and help her with art materials. “Nagkaroon ako ng art materials through the help of my cousins and teachers… Noon ako nakagamit ng maayos na medium,” says Janina.

Since then, the Pinay artist explored caricatures, anime illustrations, portraits, posters, doodles, and paintings. “I’ve never stopped doing art,” she says.

Natural Watercolor Paints

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In college, Janina learned coffee art. It reignited her love for natural watercolor paints. (Photo courtesy of subject)

When she started her tertiary education at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Janina was exposed to different artistic groups. A summer workshop organized by one of the groups in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, introduced her to coffee art.

“I joined a summer workshop in Sto. Tomas, Batangas… gumagawa sila doon ng coffee painting using kapeng barako,” she says. (Read: This Artist Paints Romantic Pictures of the Past Using Coffee)

The experience reignited Janina’s love for natural watercolor paints, so much so that she started to once again explore different types of mediums. “After the workshop, nagbalik tanaw ako sa aking kabataan, at naalala ko yung ginagamit ko noon for my art—coal, plants, and soil,” she says.

In her desire to make natural art with more colors, Janina experimented with what she considers natural watercolor paints. “Una kong sinubukan ang atsuete, then luyang dilaw, uling, clay pots, soil, blue ternatea, portucala, at iba pa,” she says.

Taal Volcano Eruption

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As Janina and her family evacuated their Batangas home, she saw the opportunity to use Taal ash for paintings. (Photos courtesy of subject)

As fate would have it, Janina and her family had to evacuate when the Taal volcano erupted in January 2020. Amid the disaster, she noticed the stains of Taal ash on her shirt and umbrella. Something clicked.

“I added Taal ash on my palette. Since it came from the earth, I find it more special,” she says. “Without prior knowledge and research, I started to create my solution, and painted it on watercolor paper. I then posted it online, hoping it would bring positivity to my kababayans.”

Janina was right. People found her Taal ash paintings a source of optimism and a showcase of creativity despite the disaster. Even the media couldn’t help but notice. (Read: Taal Volcano’s ashes are being turned into bricks for building facilities)

Nakakatuwa dahil madaming tumanggap nito. At nakarating sa local media like GMA, ABS-CBN, TV5, and even international ones like Reuters,” says Janina.

More Natural Materials, More Art

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Clients from abroad who are satisfied with her paintings made from Taal ash paintings. (Photos from Janina Sanico Instagram)

Janina thinks that artists must not shy away from articulating personal goals. In her case, she wants to provide well for her family. “I just keep going as an artist for my family. I want to buy a house for my mother using my income from painting,” she says.

At the moment, Janina wants to create more art using natural watercolor paints and widely used acrylics and oils. (Read: Chris Tiu Talks About His Many Passions)

“I will continue to discover more pigments and complete my color wheel palette. I also want to make more art using other media like oil and acrylic. I want to enhance the identity of my art style,” she says.

Lastly, the teacher in her seeks to enrich the future generation through art. “Iniwan ko ang profession as a teacher hindi dahil ayaw ko… Kundi mas kailangan ako ng mga bata sa ibang larangan ..at ito ay sa larangan ng sining.

Check out more of Janina’s works on Instagram and Facebook.

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