Artist Catherine Bassig-Paje


Catherine started drawing before she learned to write. After graduating from the College of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines, and a few years learning her craft painting stage designs and murals for television shows, she moved to Bahrain to teach, motivate and inspire other young artists to believe in themselves and their art.



Thank you for your time Catherine. It seems you started on your journey as an artist at a very young age?


Yes, my interest in art started when I was perhaps four or five. In fact, I first started drawing before I learned how to write the alphabet!


Where are you from originally?


I am Filipino. I was born in Manila but grew up in the province of Bulacan. I was always so very interested in learning how to draw, and during my teenage years I loved joining art workshops and was constantly looking at storybooks and comics; anything that had some visuals. There were no artists in my family, so during my younger years I practised drawing on my own.


Art became formal, however, when I enrolled in the College of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. From there my interest in Fine Arts deepened and my skills developed as I was exposed to different forms and types of art. I knew back then that art would play a very significant role in my life, and that wherever I maybe in the world, my life would be dedicated to both exploring art, and sharing it with other people.


How did your skills then develop?


Initially I developed my core skills through formal education in the art school, and by joining artists' groups and visiting art exhibitions, which exposed me to so many different talents. I then learned through experiences in the work place; after college I worked as a visual artist at a television network in Metro Manila, working on stage designs and painted murals on backdrops for children's TV and comedy shows. It was physically challenging work but I learned a lot, plus I was able to collaborate with other visual artists. It became a really good foundation for me as I continued developing as an artist.


When did you move to Bahrain and how did that influence your art?


I moved to Bahrain in 2008, and started to teach pre-school and high school art subjects. After a year, the school trusted me enough to ask me to coach students for various art competitions, not just here in Bahrain, but internationally. I was dedicated to these children because I believed in their talent. Many of them won their competitions and went onto exhibit their work in Bahrain, as well as in other countries worldwide including Oman, Japan and the United States.


At that time I also started joining art competitions and exhibitions as an individual artist myself, and fell in love with Arabic art because of its exquisite designs and how it reflects belief, love of family, respect - especially of the elderly - and culture, which is so similar to Filipino art themes.


Bahrain is such an ideal place for expat artists like me. There are so many opportunities here, and people are so appreciative of art and the arts and are willing to support everyone who has an interested in this field. Living here for ten years now, I still receive invitations to events, and have lots of opportunities to join art exhibits and events that would show off my talent in art.


What inspires you to be an artist?


Whenever I serve as the inspiration to other people to love the arts, and how I can uplift the mood and spirit of other people whenever they see my art, that's the ultimate reason for me to continue doing this. Also, as a teacher, observing my young students as they become inspired in developing their own artistic talent inspires me greatly too.

Through sharing my own experiences of how I started and developed as an artist, elevates the self-esteem and confidence of other artists, so that they then start trusting in their own talent.


How do you transform your initial idea into something tangible on canvas?


Starting a concept and then transforming it onto canvas always scares me. For me, it is always hard to start any artwork, and I usually start by just staring at a white canvass for a while, waiting for the right mood and inspiration. But eventually, once I start, my mind and heart coordinates with my hand. I then just do what I feel like doing, and can finish the painting exactly the way I wanted it. All my artwork are by-products of what I actually think and feel.


What mediums do you mainly work in?


For most of my paintings I usually use acrylic, but I am continuously exploring other mediums.


And what are your plans for the future?


I wish to reach more people through my art. It can be through workshops and exhibits or books. Part of my plan is to also do storybooks for children; stories with relevant values expressed through creative illustrations.




Bahrain Through Our Eyes
A Visual Arts Exhibit in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relations of Bahrain and Philippines
September 2018
Bahrain Financial Harbour


Sail Art
Organized by Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities
February 2016


Al Aali Art Festival I, II, III, IV and V (2012-2015)


2nd Bapco Art Competition and Exhibit
August 29, 2013


Best of Bahrain
Al Riwaq Painting And Photography Exhibition
November 7, 2012


Sino Si Juan? (Who is Juan?)
An All Filipino Cultural Extravaganza
July, 2012


Best of Bahrain
Talent Competition
Winner in painting category
May 2012


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Catherine Bassig-Paje
Facebook: @cathypaje
Instagram: @cathy_paje


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