From Scrubs to Canvas: Meet the Nurse Who Explores Her Artistic Side

Hannah Giron Daygo

A piece painting the life of Jamille Cañano as a nurse in Beaumont hospital and a contemporary expressionist artist

In the early hours of November 14, 2022, journalism student Hannah Daygo came across a Filipino-Irish community Facebook page. She saw a post of Jamille Cañano, a photo of her digital artwork that she made on commission during her day off in 2021: “Why not give your loved ones a gift of heART!” A nurse by profession but an artist at heart, she thought Jamille would make the perfect subject for her profile. The piece paints a bubbly portrait of one of the neuro ICU nurses in Dublin and tells a unique story about art, nursing, and dreams in life.

She’s a nurse and an artist. Isn’t that cool? Like Bubbles from Powerpuff Girls – saving the people while still keeping things cute and artsy.

As a neuro-ICU nurse working in one of the busiest hospitals in Dublin, she’s still bubbly. And in fact, it shows through her personality, from the way she talks to the way she paints. Despite being a frontline nurse during the pandemic, she still managed to get above and beyond with art. Selling paintings on Facebook, Instagram and doing commissions while being a full-time nurse.

However, last year it was a challenge for her as she had to mainly focus on nursing – adapting to her new environment in Beaumont. “I think last year I did nothing at all. I think I did some art-related things but – only five percent compared to what I am doing this year – so, I barely even made artworks back then,” said Cañano.  “But now that things are more settled — I’m back.”

Like every other Taylor Swift song – having a big comeback, Jamille decided to commit to her art this year, but of course still keeping her job as a nurse. In her studio type apartment, she treats her artworks like her babies, a product of her love with art. But how did it all start? 

People often say they discovered their talents in mysterious ways. But for Jamille, she described it as “silly” when she first fell in love with art. Cañano went on and shared her love-at-first-sight moment. “One day I was just walking in a supermarket, and I found a sketch pad, pencils and I grabbed it and I just started drawing from then on.” Jamille was 19 and heartbroken. Art became a “form of distraction” for her to heal and cope. It was a silly way to move on. But because of that heartbreak, she’s now painting for a living. “Since then whenever I’m going through something I would paint about it, draw about it,” said Cañano.

“It just became a part of me”

First love never dies. Nursing was her first dream. Raised from Cavite, Philippines, Cañano shaped her nursing career and took her degree at De La Salle Health Sciences Institute. She said that nursing was her first choice but art became her second-lover. “I became a nurse first and art just followed, and then I realised that I could do them together, that I don’t have to choose between either of them — I could be both a nurse and artist at the same time.”

Although nursing is a heavy job to take – there’s not an ounce of regret on her face. Nursing became a part of her because of her mother. During my interview with Jamille, she said that her mother became an “inspiration” for her. ”I like doing the things that she does,” said Cañano. Her mother’s footsteps soon became her path. She pointed out and said that “it’s a really tough profession,” but cleared that there were “no regrets” behind her decision. She explained by saying that nursing became her one way ticket to Ireland, for more opportunities and believes that “all of those decisions [in life] will ultimately lead you to something.”

Cañano moved to Ireland from the Philippines not more than a year ago. She arrived here during the pandemic. Culture shocked but eventually fell in love with Ireland. “It was a really big adjustment, but so far — I’m loving it,” she exclaimed.

In the Philippines, some Filipinos would underestimate art, thinking it does not make much money. However, that mindset did not stop Jamille from doing her arts. In my conversation with Cañano, she said that she “actually earned more in art back home in the Philippines than with nursing.”

Moving to Ireland just proves that she made the right decision as people in Ireland are “enthusiastic when it comes to art.” Ireland became her golden ticket.

“30 minutes ago, I just sold the last one, the one I just did last night so I’m really happy that there’s lots of art enthusiasts out there in Ireland – and my heart has been really really grateful from all the love and support that I get from my art,” said Cañano.

Since moving to Ireland, she has been thriving with her art career, gaining confidence and viewers. It’s pretty amazing to just show her art and take a video of it.  In one video, she gets about 13 thousand views. Yet she is also aware that the internet could give the opposite effect. She always bears in mind how not to be “obsessed” with the likes and following on social media “because sometimes it will just get into your head – it will influence your thinking,” said Cañano.

Setting a good example

Jamille not only works as a full-time nurse in Beaumont. In fact, she’s also a part-time art teacher, teaching young kids around her area. Like every other artist, she believes that not everyone starts professionally. “Everyone starts as a beginner and when you are beginning you have to do lots of awful work. You have to get past those ugly, ugly, ugly, works before you finally get a good one, says Cañano while recalling her first drawings. She shared that she even drew an eye looking like a cockroach when she was in college, but now she has changed and learned new techniques.

Colours mixed with pink, blue, yellow, orange, and purple. Putting her heart to arts, her paintings are vibrant and colourful. It is called abstract painting, where artists can express their ideas freely through their arts. “I could just like, let it go – let it flow, and I really love it. I just find it very therapeutic to do it,” Cañano exclaimed. Abstract painting is her way of expressing emotions without thinking too much. Unlike, painting portraits and landscapes requires “really specific details.” Freedom and calmness is what she aims for when she paints. However, she said that “doesn’t want to limit” herself from only learning contemporary expressionism. “I want to be continuously inspired. Continuously learning from life and that’s gonna be my inspiration for my art.”

Painting is her scapegoat. Her emotional outlet. “Whenever I do art, I just forget the rest of the world. I think from all the stress, problems, troubles – I run to art,” she giggled. She relates to the singer-song-writer Taylor Swift who turns heartbreaks into songs. Right? Why not make her own definition of art? “I just thought to myself, she’s turning all of the things that she’s going through, her heartbreaks into her own art – why not –  I make my own art?” said Cañano.

Now 27, she believes that dreams do come true. That heartbreaks can become blessings in disguise. Problems like stress could be turned into beautiful paintings. “Because you have that pain already, why not benefit from it? Make the most out of it.” 

You can visit her art works here.

Image Credit: Hannah Giron Daygo