Mary tells Rosemary & Co about her path into the world of art…
I have been a Rosemary customer for a couple of years now, having learned about Rosemary brushes from my art teacher. I use your brushes almost exclusively, and now I cannot be without them! My particular favourites are the Shiraz short filberts.
I hope my story might give encouragement to others who are considering venturing into the world of art. I was born and brought up in England, but have lived in the United States for over 30 years. I started painting four years ago almost by chance, when a friend at church suggested that I take her religious iconography class. I was reluctant at first – still working full time and wondered how I could fit this into my busy schedule, but went along, admittedly half-heartedly. Little did I know that it would open up a whole new world for me!
After that first class, I began taking lessons from Ma Ly, a French-born art teacher here in Fresno, California. I have learned so much from him, but am still such a neophyte! I paint in acrylics and particularly like working with wooden boards. The majority of my paintings have been icons, but I also enjoy still life, and have just completed my first portrait. I have had several commissions!
I retired a year ago, and now have more time to devote to my art. What wonderful therapy it has turned out to be! There is a whole theology behind iconography: every brushstroke is a prayer, and the artist comes to know the subject very well as the weeks go by. Icons are also therapeutic for the recipient. I find it gratifying and humbling when people tell me that my paintings give them comfort.
Rosemary and Symi met Cesar in 2016 whilst on a trip to Cuba with 100 other artists. After meeting Cesar for only a few minutes it was clear that they were with a modern day master. Enjoy this interview!
Santos’ art education is worldly and his work has been seen around the globe, from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sicily, Italy and the Beijing museum in China to Chelsea and New York. Santos studied at Miami Dade College, where he earned his Associate in Arts degree in 2003.
Cesar then attended the New World School of the Arts and, just before graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, he dropped out to study abroad and to amplify his understanding of art. In 2006, he completed the Angel Academy of Art in Florence. He still visits this beautiful city with his wife. Santos’ work reflects both classical and modern interpretations juxtaposed within one painting. His influences range from the Renaissance to the Masters of the Nineteenth Century to Contemporary Art. With superb technique, he infuses a harmony between the natural and the conceptual to create works that are provocative and dramatic. As a small company we are so proud to have a brush set with Cesar – a dream come true!
HOW DID GROWING UP IN CUBA INFLUENCE YOUR WORK?
Growing up in Cuba gave me the ability to seize every opportunity, to not take anything for granted. Communism keeps people from achieving their personal dreams, it forced my family to work hard for very little return. Emigrating from such oppression to a free society where I can enjoy the fruits of my art inspired me to work hard and honestly to better myself.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER?
My parents sold their only home and moved to a small apartment in a poor neighbourhood to be able to pay for my classical training in Italy. They never asked for their money back. Nine years into my career I was able to buy them a bigger house and in a better location than their previous one. That was definitely our proudest moment in my career.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ABOUT MAKING ART YOUR FULL TIME CAREER?
Commit to your Art fully and don’t have a plan B. Make sure you like to be alone for 14 hours a day for the rest of your life in front of a canvas, working, studying and getting better. Take every opportunity that matches your goals and give 100% of your efforts. Don’t mind the people who criticize or don’t like your art. Welcome those who do appreciate it. Develop your personal voice. Make sure your art is not aimed at pleasing your peers, teachers or family.
WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATIONS?
I find myself most inspired when I visit museums, especially collections that show the highest standards of artistic achievement. Every time I encounter technical dexterity allied with a personal vision it gets me motivated to work.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF SKETCHBOOKS?
Sketchbooks are the place to rehearse, to test your abilities, to have fun. Sketchbooks are a recollection of who you are and who you have been. For me, a sketchbook is the ability to do art and express myself anywhere I go.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BRUSHES AND WHY?
I started painting on canvas when I was in high school. I was using whatever the teachers offered in the classrooms. Mainly acrylic paint on bad rough cotton canvas and cheap mass-produced brushes. Then I wondered why it was so difficult to paint! I have come to realize that great tools allow for freedom of expression. It is difficult enough to have a good eye/hand co-ordination, to paint powerful images. The last thing you need is bad tools that get in your way as you paint. I don’t use random brushes anymore, I use Rosemary Brushes. I recently sent them a photo of my dirty brushes to allow people to know what I use to create my portraits. I am glad they have a ready-to-go Cesar Santos Set with my favourites!
HOW DO YOU GET IN THE ZONE?
I don’t know how to be out of the zone, my life is my zone! As I go to sleep I think of what to do the next day, as I travel through the day new things come up for the next painting and so on, including and planning to not doing anything some days.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF A YEAR FROM NOW?
Let me visualize and be specific; I see myself with a newly developed body of work. About two dozen paintings that should exhibit in New York, France and Art Basel. In a year from now I should have about 50 more videos uploaded to my YouTube Channel. In a year I should have increased my strength at the gym as well as in my relationship with my wife. I also want to start dedicating some time to writing comedy, I’ve always made people laugh privately but perhaps is time to test my humour publicly.
IF YOU COULD ONLY PAINT ONE SUBJECT FOR THE REST OF YOUR CAREER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Wow, we need to get hypothetical here! I would paint women.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO VISIT ROSEMARY AND GIVE YOUR OWN WORKSHOP?
Of course! I would love to witness how the brushes I use are made. It would give a new dimension to my knowledge and experience while I paint with them. I love giving workshops but if you look at my yearly ambitions, I can’t find the time to schedule it in without sacrificing my career plans.
David Smeadon takes a painting trip down memory lane…
I first started painting way back when I was in primary school. I was interested in the birds I saw in the parks and garden and began drawing and painting them. I remember my teacher said I captured the shapes perfectly.
Experience the pleasure of these beautiful hand crafted red sable brushes. Fashioned on a triangular maroon handle with ‘easy grip’ in mind. Ideal for those who struggle to grip a brush and perhaps suffer from arthritis and with the added bonus they won’t roll off the table!
Recently launched, a useful edition to our extensive range of brushes. The green dye was originally an idea I had to compliment the Christmas season – green reminded me of holly and ivy and Christmas trees. We sent them out to various artists as gifts ‘tongue in cheek’ and they loved them.
We often get asked what the best way to clean your brushes is. Truthfully, there are so many different ways and it really does depend on which medium you’re using, how often you use your brushes, whether you are in a rush or whether you have time to clean them thoroughly.
Decorating pots with a brush is something that frightens many potters. Perhaps, having spent time and energy making a pot they are afraid to spoil it with designs or decorations they are uncertain of, or perhaps they simply have no confidence in their ability to use a brush.
Having listened to renowned watercolourist, Sandra Strohschein, we have created a beautiful extended point brush. Acting as a rigger, but with a reservoir ‘belly’, the Posara Brush will soon become a favourite.
It was such a joy this year to introduce a new brush into my set. Developed specifically by Rosemary at my request, I now have a new rigger that by design holds a great deal of water and pigment at the base, which allows me to carry a line forever. I expected a great rigger from this, but did not expect that this size 8 rigger had the capability of painting entire paintings all on its own.