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  • Writer's pictureKristen Kerr

Artist Highlight: Luisa Costa

Cultivate the Creative Community - meet Luisa Costa! Luisa's story is inspiring and left me with goosebumps as I read her responses. Her dedication to her art, strength to pursue her passion as an artist, and commitment to environmental sustainability in how she uses her supplies can be an inspiration to us all.

Tomorrow, Luisa's piece 'Woman of Colors' will go on sale on our Instagram page! More details below.

When did you first start creating art? Tell me about your current style and how it has evolved/changed since you first began.

I first started when I was around 10 years old making pencil drawings. My mom applied for me to join an art school in my town in Brazil, but it didn’t work out and I got very sad. After that I painted some oil paintings, but all of this is lasted less than two years. When I met my husband in college 6 years ago, I told him I loved painting and as my birthday present, he went to Michael’s with me and bought a lot of art supplies, something that I had never had before. It was an inspiration to start again.

During that period, I didn’t have much time, so I used to paint some watercolors on my school breaks. Then in 2018, our house was robbed, and they stole my art supplies. It was another breakdown for me. After graduating as a Civil Engineer in 2019, I moved to the US to live with my husband. I worked as a CNA in a nursing home in Clearwater and then, as a Medical Assistant in a clinic here in St. Pete. I was very depressed, and I knew I needed to quit. So, in January of this year I quit my last job and decided to focus on doing something that I really love, painting.

It was an extremely hard process to assume myself as an artist because I never believed before that my art was good enough. I don’t have a defined style yet. I am a self-taught artist, and I am always exploring new possibilities with the resources that I have. I consider myself a minimalist and an environmentalist. For these reasons, I avoid buying unnecessary supplies. For example, in 2019, my husband gave me a six pack of Neon Acrylic paint from Walmart and it was the color palette I have used for all my recent paintings, and I will keep using then until they finish. Then I will feel good to buy new stuff. Also, sometimes I get some art supplies from my mother-in-law. I can say that my style evolves according to the new realities that I experience.

Where/who/what do you often gain your inspiration from?

Nowadays, we are constantly bombed with information. I usually see so many beautiful things that I would like to paint. It can be overwhelming! Today it is easy to save pictures on our phones and create an archive of ideas. But since I was a kid, my favorite themes were humans (women in particular), animals, and landscapes.

Do you have a piece that is particularly meaningful to you, and why? (Please feel free to share a picture of the image as well!)

I feel sad that many of my old painting got lost. I used to have a pink folder with my pencil drawings, and it does not exist anymore. There was an eagle drawing that my brother used to say that it was going to be his only tattoo one day. There was a blue butterfly on an oil canvas that I gave to my sister when she had her first son, and she has no idea where it is. I am not used to valuing my art and I think that’s why people would do the same. I used to gift family and friends my paintings, and they stored them their wardrobes until it was ready to go to the trash.

It taught me that people don’t value things for free. Put a price and then make it high lol I am just kidding!!! Until now, I have only sold 8 paintings in my life, to the same person, $100 for all of them. I did this believing it was a great deal! So, please, don’t get me wrong!

The fact is, I get really attached to all of my paintings. It seems that I am living them, I am part of them, until I feel it is finished. They all carry a part of my heart. But I am getting to understand that to be in business I need to lose a little bit of this attachment and start replacing it by the contentment of seeing another person admiring your art and wanting it to be part of their lives. This is magical and adds joy to my soul. My mom owns many of my oil paintings from my childhood. I believe they are my treasure. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures right now.

For me personally, art is beyond the outcome of a finished product but rather the experience of creating. I have heard a lot of artists echo this same sentiment. What does the act of creating mean to you?

I just simply lose track of time. Completely! While I am painting it is like being in another universe. I totally immerge in the picture I create in my mind and I will be there until it comes to life. That’s why each creation is unique. I am not able to reproduce the same painting as an industrial process. So many times, I “argue” with the painting, redoing the same work over and over, layer upon layer until we find an agreement. It’s just craziness lol. But it is also a pleasure and joy in the purest form.

What is your favorite art supply/tool?

Colors! Lol I am obsessed with colors!! My dream is to be able to explore every single color available in this universe. It doesn’t matter if it crayons, ink, oil, acrylic, or whatever. Sometimes I even use wall paint in my mini canvas, the only thing that I care about is to achieve the color that I want. I believe there is no limits for creation. We are here to explore things that were not tried yet by others. Of course, it involves failures, lol I experience this a lot. But it is worth every single experiment because it is how we evolve. I don’t have a lot of supplies, so I invent with what I have to make the effect that I want. If I don’t have the right brush, which happens a lot, I use q-tips, my fingers and wood sticks. As long as I can paint, everything available is an option lol.

What advice would you give to young or new aspiring artists?

DO NOT WAIT! Trust your heart and go for it. I spent my whole life trying to fit other people’s expectations. In my 30’s I realized that it doesn’t matter what you are doing, it is your life, people will always talk, time will pass equally for everyone, and we don’t have another chance. There is only one life and there is no time to waste. All of us share something in common while we live, all of us are constantly looking for things that bring us happiness and give meaning to our existence. If you find it, do not question it under any circumstances! It is the golden pot we are all looking for.

Tell me about the role community plays in your life and art.

I came from a place where there is no such a thing as being an artist. Here in St. Pete I can see lots of opportunities. It inspires me a lot and makes me keep going. Being surrounded by a community that values the artists showed me that it doesn’t need to be just a dream anymore. I know that everything that we aim for in life involves hard work, and to pursue a career as an artist is not different. If making art is something that enlightens my spirit, then this is the place to do it, and it is worth working towards my dreams.

On sale Saturday, April 30, 2021

$45 - 10" x 10" canvas


This painting is a calling for all the women to not be afraid to show yourself. Be whoever you want to be, look like whatever you want to be seen. It doesn't matter how your hair looks, the color of your skin, if you like to put on makeup or not, just do only what brings you happiness! Being ourselves is beautiful! We women add colors to the world and for this we should be proud!"

From all of us here at Cultivate the Creative, thank you for your support Luisa!

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