Cynthia Ligeros creates abstract, complex works that usually begin with a single driving emotion. She currently lives in Colorado and loves the work of many artists, such as Mark Rothko. Cynthia loves finding inspiration in the beauty of the nearby Rocky Mountains.
Our interview explores the emotions of a happy client, the evolution of her artistic style and much more. Enjoy!
Do you have any memorable stories with clients?
This is a beautiful story. Recently, I painted a commission for a UGallery customer who wanted to give her husband a gift to celebrate their family.
They call their son their “Little Leaf,” the determined soul that waited all those years for them, gave them signs along the way when he was in trouble and fought his way to them. He is now an incredibly bright and happy 19-month-old.
She wanted the painting to represent in some way the firmly-attached leaf who is now the center of their life together and who brings them so much joy. I took the images that she described to me – in this case, a flower, an oak tree, and a leaf – and created an entirely new painting just for her family.
When she gave the painting to her husband, it brought tears to his eyes. It was an amazing experience, being able to create a painting that touched someone so deeply.
How has your style changed over the years?
I used to paint more representational paintings, especially florals. But over time, I found that abstract images are a much more effective way for me to communicate nuances of feeling.
For me, painting is all about representing emotional truth. And painting abstracts allows me to be more true to myself and my art.
Walk us through creating a piece. Your reference material, tools you use, how long does it take?
I paint with oils on canvas, and sometimes I add gold leaf or scraps of poetry that inspire me. I’m also inspired by nature. The colors, forms, and feelings of the environment all shape my paintings.
In my paintings, there’s often a tension between the natural environment and the world we create for ourselves. I’ve always been inspired by ghost towns and abandoned spaces, and since I live in Colorado, I can visit them firsthand.
Sometimes, I go to the scary parts of the city: abandoned buildings, bridges, warehouses. It can be tricky, taking photos in some places. I’ve had people glare at me, thinking that I’m taking pictures of them. Once, a guy started yelling and throwing rocks at me, so I ran.
People think that artists are always holed up in our studios, but it’s not true.
What should people know about your art that they can’t tell from looking at it?
Sometimes, there’s another painting hidden underneath!
Because I build up each painting in layers, I always start with a canvas that already has paint on it. Sometimes, I’ll put down various colors freeform, filling up the canvas before I start to really get into the painting itself.
Other times, if a painting isn’t working out the way I want, I’ll completely paint over it, then scrape down through the layers of paint to let the texture and colors peek through.
Most of my paintings have between two and five layers of paint, depending on how crazy I get.
Tell us about your studio. Location, clean, cluttered, big, small, music, etc?
My studio lets in a lot of good light, which is essential, because I’m often inspired by the changing qualities of light you see at different times of year. In the warmer months, I can open the windows and hear the birds singing, and be inspired by the sound of the breeze through the trees outside.
When I paint at night, I have to have music. I usually find certain songs tend to inspire me, especially when I’m starting a new painting. Right now, I’m listening to Coldplay, Daft Punk, and Muse.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I don’t know this is a hidden talent, but I love to bake. It’s like creating a painting, except that you can eat it!
Of course, I can never simply follow a recipe. I have to get creative, and come up with my own recipes. Somehow, it works out.
What are your favorite activities outside of painting?
Since I live in Colorado, I love to get outdoors as much as possible, whether that means hiking, mountain biking, or just taking a walk around the park.
The changing seasons have an impact on my artwork, and so do the trees and flowers of the Rocky Mountains. And the light at sunset. Sunsets are very important.