Water Colour Beauty with Tonya Cruz

Water Colour Beauty with Tonya Cruz

I'm really looking forward to Tonya's class at the farm in September! You'll get an interesting glimpse into her art and creative process below.

When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?

I was 13 years old when I first became interested in art. I did a chalk pastel drawing of fruit using complimentary colours and my eyes were opened to how colour, composition and shape could create such a dramatic visual interest.

How does your love of flowers complement your love of water colour artwork?

I love investigating the way each petal of any kind of flower is like a painting in itself. The colour and markings are so unique.


Where do you find your inspiration for your paintings?

I learn so many life lessons from observing flowers! I paint flowers because they remind me that life is fragile and fleeting but it can be bold and impactful. Flowers don't seem to compare themselves to each other, each one is proud to be uniquely itself. Confidently, each one holds its colour, shape, place and season.

As an artist I aim to be like the flower - confident and bold.

You've recently created a new series of paintings. Please tell me about them.

My new series is called the "Growth Collection". The original paintings and the fine art prints (on paper and canvas) are available now on my website (www.tonyacruz.com).

It's been 10 years in the making! These paintings come out of my own personal stories of being in dark places, seasons of waiting, daily decisions to show up and be committed to my mental and spiritual health for the benefit of my family. This is something I think many can relate to. My hope is that these paintings give visual language to your season, even if it is messy, dark or mundane right now.

The "Growth Collection" paintings explore the process of growth by which we must commit in order to produce something beautiful. Like a seed beneath the soil, a baby in a womb, winter waiting for spring; it's in the hidden, often dark, sometimes messy, mundane spaces where the most crucial development occurs. 

The main colour palette used is browns and greys, very earthy and textural. There are layers of paint washes, pencil drawings and painted roots and flowers, creating captivating visual movement.

In today's "immediate results and achievement comparison" culture, we risk overlooking the beauty of the seasons that come well before the desirable flourishing state. The best stories come out of the messiest moments.

What do you love about the process of painting? Is there anything you don't like?

I love the balance of having intentions and needing to surrender during the actual painting process. I don't like feeling stuck when I'm unsure what the next move is, but I've learnt very practical coping mechanisms to get unstuck! My favourite one is to go for a nature walk and to talk to myself gently as I would to one of my children who is being too hard on themselves and needs a loving affirmation of their divine gifting.

Have you had doubts over the years? What did you do to quiet the doubt? And persevere with your passion?

TOO many to admit! Doubt is a daily struggle for me, sadly. I used to think that I needed to wait until the doubtful feelings left me in order to move forward, but I've learnt that the doubt is actually proof that this is my purpose and calling. Someone told me that "insecurities rise when your assignment is revealed" - couldn't be more true!

Where did you go to school and what did you take?

I did an Associates Degree in Visual Arts at Barbados Community College (BCC), Barbados (2003-2005).

(I was born and raised in Barbados.) Then on an awarded scholarship, I completed a Bachelors Degree Fine Art: Painting at Wimbledon College of Art (2005-2008), London, UK. After my studies I returned to BCC to teach Painting for a couple of years before moving to Toronto, Canada where I currently live with my husband and three boys.

What is unique about your style?

I like the tension in my paintings between very busy, over-painted parts and parts that are very simple and left "unfinished". I enjoy layering washes, thick paint and pencil drawing to create dimension.

What is your first memory of flowers?

During my time in London, UK on my walk to art school every day I would stop to smell the brightly coloured English roses. Often passers-by saw me, smiled and joined in. Just that one moment to observe beauty and take it into my senses started my day off in the right direction. 'Stop and smell the roses' is not a cliche saying for me, it is my life motto!

Favourite flower & why?

I don't think I can answer this question! The flower I'm looking at in any given moment is my favourite one! (Zinnias make the giggle. They are such an interesting character!)

What do you enjoy doing outside of water colour painting?

Walking through the forest and picking wild flowers with my kids.

Where do you envision yourself & your artwork in the future?

I would like to continue creating about 4 art collections a year. I would love to be represented by art galleries in Canada and internationally. I would also like to have my work as a featured and permanent collection in Home Decor shops. I would love to partner with Interior Designers so that I can create art for their clients. I also have a dream of a fabric and wallpaper line!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I cannot wait to meet my future students and to see what you create!

Beautiful photos by @elleamie.inc

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