At DIANI Living, we know that a single home piece has the ability to transform a room. But decorative artist and muralist Colette Cosentino takes this to the next level. From ornate ceiling paintings to whimsical wall murals, Colette has been enhancing home interiors with her stunning decorative art for over 20 years.
I recently got a sneak peak inside her Santa Barbara studio and art gallery for our Pillow Talk series. While she added some finishing touches to a canvas, we chatted about her artistic process, inspiring lady bosses and her favorite place to recharge.
When you were in school, what was your favorite subject and what did you want to “grow up” to be?
My favorite subject was, of course, art. Music was always right up there too. I knew I would end up in the arts, whether as a musician, actress or artist.
What contributed to your goal of becoming the decorative artist and muralist that you are today?
Decorative painting is a career I fell into by way of working in set painting and set restoration at the Granada and Ensemble theaters in Santa Barbara. Before moving to Santa Barbara I really didn’t know that decorative painting was a thing outside of that which is historical. Never in a million years did I think I would be painting decorative ceilings and beams in people’s homes. With one opportunity came an accidental career.
What is the inspiration behind the work that you do?
I’m very drawn to nature. I’m moved by lacy leaves, trees, water, horizon lines, clouds, stars, and twilight skies. So it seems because of these things, I’m compelled to create.
What is your artistic process like? How do you maintain that while also fulfilling a client’s needs?
It all depends on the project, and a delicate balance to be sure. I need to let a project swim around in my head for a time before taking ideas to paper. Then I like to experiment and create without an agenda, allowing for mistakes and creativity. Then I’ll go to work within the confines of the project, once all the wiggles are out. This seems to work out best for everyone.
Which female entrepreneurs do you admire?
Firstly, my mom. She has always been successful at being self-employed. From selling Tupperware in the old days to owning a frame shop and gallery to selling real estate. She’s a go-getter.
Also, I really admire Caroline Diani. I’m impressed and inspired by what she has built here. I admire her thoughtfulness about life, her aesthetic, her approach. Other lady bosses: Christy Martin (Modern Romantic) and Patti Pagliei of Waxing Poetic. Also: Oprah.
What do you think is the single most important ingredient to success?
The most important ingredient is believing in yourself. Plus: don’t give up.
What’s the most challenging part of your professional life?
The business aspect
How do you try to manage your work/life balance?
It sort of works itself out.
What do you see yourself doing next to express yourself professionally?
I’m working towards making my work accessible on a larger scale to all those who are moved by it and want a piece for themselves.
How do you manage the fear and doubt that inevitably creeps in when you’re paving a less trodden path?
I’ve eliminated all other options, and yet I hold on loosely. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster—from feeling strong and confident to asking myself, what the heck have I done?! I have been practicing putting one foot in front of the other. Keep moving forward with what’s right in front of me, that way it’s not all so overwhelming.
What have you been most afraid of trying in your career, but you did it anyway?
Renting a decent sized art studio in a retail location in downtown Santa Barbara. But I did it and I’m so glad I did.
Was there any opportunity that you had in your life that you didn’t take?
About 20 years ago I was offered a position to create for a company that made artful home decor products. I do wonder sometimes where that road would have taken me.
What is something you’ve accomplished personally or professionally that you never dreamed possible for yourself?
I have not accomplished it yet.
Any sleep rituals that you use to help quiet the mind after a long day?
Sleep comes very easy to me. I’m usually pretty worn out by the end of the day.
How do you make your bedroom a sacred space?
I like to have all white bedding and freshly laundered linens. It really does something for me.
What’s the biggest gift you give yourself to recharge?
It’s rare, but sometimes I will allow myself to actually spend the entire day in bed, which is my favorite place. I’ll check out entirely, nap and binge watch TV. It’s not glamorous, but it’s divine.
What’s the first thing you do after you wake up?
I look out of the window. I like to position my bed next to a window, it feels like you are sleeping outdoors that way. I love waking up and looking out to the morning sky, examining it closely.
What’s the last thing you do before bed?
Look outside at the night sky and stare at the stars.
Thank you Colette, your artwork is breathtaking! To learn more about Colette and her decorative artwork, visit her website www.colettecosentino.com or stop by her gallery and studio space at 11 West Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara.
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