Artist Profile: Cynthia Cruz
Artist Profile: Cynthia Cruz
As a little girl, Cynthia Cruz fell in love with color perhaps without realizing it. Born in New Bedford and raised in Taunton in a Portuguese family, Cruz would accompany her grandmother, a seamstress, and her mother, a buyer for a clothing store, to Boston. “In the fabric district I saw rows of colors and material and then at the button shop we would buy draws of buttons, beautiful lace, and ribbon.” Her parents, avid gardeners, always filled their home with fresh flowers and vegetables. “We always had sweet pea, roses, nasturtiums and daffodils.” The feelings that these hues evoked were scored on her heart and became her introduction to color and form.
After college, Cruz moved to Worcester and taught secondary education and even was a banker for a period of time. Needing to decorate the blank walls of her first apartment, she thought, “I can’t afford to buy anything, so I’m going to do it myself!” Though probably a defining moment, and one that she never dreamed would lead her to where she is now, her artistic talent was put on hold until she moved to the Cape to help her father, who was battling cancer. “I just started painting what I saw, pointing out the small things I noticed that gave me a little uplift.” Depending on the subject, Cruz will select different mediums—watercolors, pastels, acrylics, charcoal and graphite, but her preference is oils. “I prefer the rich colors that I’m able to achieve with oils. I also find that it is a very forgiving medium.” Known for landscapes as well as the beautiful flowers and bouquets she paints, Cruz describes her work as “expressionistic or impressionistic with a touch of realism.”
Her art has evolved, and that is in part due to her outlook after her own cancer diagnosis. Cancer free now, Cruz’s gratitude and faith is inspiring, and she continues to find beauty in every day. “Now, I still look for the beauty in things, but they don’t have to be perfect. They can be in some form of transition or decay and there’s beauty in that. Even when things are fragile, they are beautiful—just a different sort.”
Like so many Cape Cod artists, Cruz says, “It’s hard not to be inspired by the light and the beauty here.” But what she also finds contributes positively to her artwork is quite simply—people. “How people landscape their yards, other people’s color palettes, someone doing something different from you. And I think as artists, if we do that to the people who view our work, what a wonderful gift—to see something unusual or beautiful that uplifts you.” Cruz has a unique and thoughtful take on the Cape art community who she says is “So welcoming. Half of it are people just starting out and their enthusiasm is so fresh and wide-eyed. They have that joy of just putting paint to the canvas and something comes forward and you’re just over the moon.”
What her art means to her has also evolved. “People will ask me to paint things for them like, ‘I have an old statue that I’ve had since I was a child, can you touch it up for me?’ And my answer is yes. That is what is important to me now and just making my art as good as it can be.”
Cruz says of her full-circle life, “It’s funny how life works. It can lead you down some ways you might not choose to go, but you never know how it’s going to affect your art.”