Roseta Santiago's paintings are evocative and alluring. A singular, ancient pot sitting on a wooden shelf quietly tells the story of the long-ago hands that shaped it and the lives that it touched and served. And her paintings dance and play with light.
Photography by C. Whitney-Ward
She is drawn to simple, seductive, beautiful vessels; her home/studio is filled with her vast collection of pots.
"Sometimes my paintings are called storytelling paintings," says Santiago. who sees a story in each pot or carefully-chosen object that she paints. "I see these storage vessels being filled and unfilled with ancient grains and spices and teas, and I feel the hands that made them and the lives they nourished. I get to paint what happened 'yesterday' and I get to play with and honor these magical artifacts."
And all of that takes place in her downtown studio/ home, tucked just behind the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.
When you step through the front door, the foyer is filled with unique furniture and a floor to ceiling wall where Santiago can showcase a finished painting or hang an unfinished canvas waiting to be transformed.
"I don't live in a house that has a separate studio space; my whole house is my studio," says Santiago, who can move her easel and paints from room to room,
where ever her mood takes her. And there is beautiful light pouring
through windows and skylights.
And she has filled her rooms with eclectic, textural treasures...
Even her brushes are tucked into charming vessels...
And paintings she admires from other artists pepper the walls...
How and when do you paint?
"I paint every day. I get up between 5:30 and 6:00, make coffee and then paint. But I do go out for 'oxygen' breaks. I'll go to a gallery, look around and then come back and paint. I think it's important to stay in contact with the outside world. But, It's really all about permission. I give myself 100% permission to paint 14 hours a day or just a few hours a day."
And she never paints from a white canvas. "I always begin by putting layers of color onto the canvas. It adds a kind of rhythm to my work and it's more fun to paint on top of that. Sometimes I'll even scrape layers off, creating an interesting underlying pre-painting".
And she is very, very organized about her work.
"When I paint I like to paint with total freedom. That means that I have to be organized and well versed in my tools and techniques - knowing instinctively about dark and light, value and temperature, and how to manipulate the viewer's eye."
What do you love most about your studio?
"This space gives me peace and support. The garden outside is quiet and everything inside is in its place. Every comfort level is available and it's all supportive of what I'm doing."