Cecilia Anastos was looking for a peaceful place to bring her uplifting art, and she found it when she moved to Ramona from San Diego.
Two months ago, she opened Cecilia Anastos Fine Art Paintings in a converted garage in her E Street home. The performances are only by appointment.
“I wanted to be in a place with cleaner air, silence and no more planes flying over,” Anastos said. “I still like small communities. I don’t like big cities, and San Diego was getting huge.
Anastos is a self-taught artist who started taking her craft seriously in 2006. At that point, she said she was studying shapes and colors and trying to extend her skills beyond her limits. It took him another decade to open his first studio in San Diego to make his art accessible to the public.
She incorporates vivid colors into her paintings, describing them as contemporary pieces that combine abstract and figurative art. She said she works with acrylic paints and oil pastels because they allow her to flourish as an artist.
Her subjects included a series with babies in tubs and words describing motherhood, the series La Donna (The Woman) and paintings of animals and shoes. One of her series features bottles of wine, and last weekend she held an exhibition of this type of her work and other paintings at Turtle Rock Ridge Vineyard Winery.
Anastos said his sense of humor helps him share positive messages in his artwork. This contrasts sharply with the style of Jean-Michel Basquiat, who created dark pieces with liberal use of skulls, she said.
“My art is very colorful and uplifting,” she said. “There is always a message on life. My hope is to bring the fine art into every home. When you walk into a house and see a real painting, not just an impression, it has a different kind of energy.
Anastos also has a side job as a certified professional dog trainer and participates in the training of assistance dogs for children with disabilities. It was a natural transition after raising German Shepherds and discovering a passion for dog training when his father, who suffered from type 2 diabetes, needed it.
These experiences motivated her to donate 10% of her profits to the Palo Alto-based nonprofit Syngap Research Fund, she said. Syngap1 is a spectrum disorder – it does not affect patients in the same way or with the same severity. Symptoms may include intellectual disability, epilepsy, sensory processing disorder, gross and fine motor delays, speech delay, or autism spectrum disorder.
Anastos said he was loosely classified as a type of autism.
“It’s so new that it’s not easy to find a doctor to treat the disorder,” she said. “The organization identifies children with Syngap and provides them with the resources they need.
The organization’s mission is to improve the quality of life for Syngap1 patients through research and development of treatments, therapies and support systems, she said.
Virginia McNamar of Indianapolis has an image Anastos painted of her son, Tyler, and Guapa, the service dog Anastos trained for him. Guapa, a golden retriever who joined the family in March changed Tyler’s life, McNamar said.
Guapa helps reduce anxiety in a 6 year old who has symptoms of Syngap, including epilepsy, autism and intellectual disability. The dog also helps Tyler focus at school and alerts the family of impending seizures.
McNamar said the painting really captures the close relationship between her son and his dog, and how they interact with each other.
“I really love the painting she did for my son,” she said, adding that Anastos supported the family and was generous with her donations to Syngap. “What she paints really represents her personality. She is very colorful and always very enthusiastic and helpful.
Anastos has found success with his works of art, winning awards from the “Contemporary Art Collector Magazine”. Last year, she received the magazine’s Artist of the Future award and this year the Power of Creativity award.
His works can be seen online at ceciliaanastos.com and Instagram.com/ceciliaanastosart/.
She said people have different ways of revealing their soul, some through music or other art forms, but her expressions have always been through art.
“I chose the canvas to express what I feel inside,” she said. “I wanted to find a way to express my soul in a subtle way. What might fit in a 200-page book might fit on a canvas. For me, it’s a very natural way to get the message across.