My Sister the Artist: Spotlight on Cristina Casellas

Cristina Casellas is a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University, but she is already making it big as an artist. She is a Jewban (Jewish and Cuban) artist from Pembroke Pines, FL, and she also happens to be my sister. Besides several pieces she painted during her time as a college student, she’s currently a Photopass Photographer at the Disney College Program, and she paints pet portraits on commission. She also had her artwork featured twice at Fort Lauderdale’s ArtWalk.

Of course, I’m very proud of my sister and her accomplishments in her life and career. I’m so proud, that I’d like to highlight some of her artwork, accomplishments and experiences. I’ve also talked to my sister about some advice she gives to aspiring and up-and-coming artists.

Cristina received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from FAU. During her time in college, she worked with many different mediums of art including ceramics, drawing, photography and painting. Her favorite medium of art to work with is oil.

“I love taking ten minutes to mix all my colors," she said. "I love [pouring] them onto the surface, leaving them for a day, and being able to rework and work in more. Oil also exponentially helped me improve my acrylic painting.”

Cristina mostly uses acrylic paints for her pieces because that’s where most of her profit comes from, but she prefers oil paints.

Cristina paints portraits of pets on commission. Clients email her pictures of the pet or pet(s) they want to be painted, and the size of the canvas that they want. Her clients discover her pet portrait commissions from word-of-mouth, social media or amongst her friends. One of my favorites is a painting she made of our dog, Simba. I love how she really emphasized the various colors in his coat of fur.

Another one of my favorites is a commissioned pet portrait she painted of my friend’s cat. Her cat was wearing Yoda ears, so she gave his painting a Star Wars theme. Cristina is great at putting her own personal touch in her artwork, as well as incorporating others interests into one great piece.

I also love the pet portrait Cristina painted of my friend’s cat Khaleesi. Yes, her cat is named after Game of Thrones. Cristina took a simple picture of a cat and turned it into a masterpiece relating to the TV show with which the cat was named after.

On top of painting pet portraits on commission, Cristina is currently a Photopass Photographer at the Disney College Program! Cristina works at Walt Disney World in Orlando and takes pictures of park-goers in the Magic Kingdom. When asked about being a Photopass Photographer, she said, “I feel like I came full-circle back to my second love ­­­­­­–– the camera.” She took photography classes in high school and college; photography was actually her first major in college. Being an Artist and now a Photographer shows that she is versatile as an artist. She has many skills that she can apply for her future endeavors.

Currently, her favorite pieces are all of her food paintings, including her cheeseburger painting; and her final painting for her time as an undergraduate, a dream-piece. Her dream-piece features an espresso maker, colada shots, Simba (our dog), and a slightly stoned and tired self-portrait of her eating a stone road. It’s a very detailed and interesting piece. When I asked her about this piece, she said, “I’m not sure how it came about how it did, but I loved using various application techniques like palette knifing.”

When I asked Cristina what advice she’d give to aspiring artists she said this: “Try stuff out. Mix everything you know together and just do it. Shia [LaBeouf] is an inspirational dude. ‘Don’t let your dreams be dreams.’ Let ‘em be art. Especially bad art. Make all the bad art, then make good art.”

She also recommends using thicker paint applications.

“Let the mixes show through," she said. "Don’t muddle.”

Cristina has always known she wanted a career in something artistic. Whether it was music, photography or art, she’s always been very artistic. I remember finding her beautiful drawings she made as a teenager and being so in awe of her talent. She’s always been such a skilled individual and now she has the experience and the degree to prove it. Her skills have always been there, but she just deserves more recognition.

This one goes out to you, Cristina. I love you so much, and I’m such a proud sister to have the privilege of writing this feature on you and your accomplishments as an artist. I will forever support you and your career. You continue to inspire me and keep me in awe of your artwork and talents.

If you’d like to check out more of Cristina Casellas’ artwork, you can follow her on Instagram @hollyhood_cristi, check out her website, and email her for any pet portrait inquiries you may have at [email protected].