Art Supply Insiders Podcast

ASI 65 "Artist Spotlight" - Interview with Internationally known artist Alexander Cruz

May 21, 2023 Jeff Morrow
ASI 65 "Artist Spotlight" - Interview with Internationally known artist Alexander Cruz
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Art Supply Insiders Podcast
ASI 65 "Artist Spotlight" - Interview with Internationally known artist Alexander Cruz
May 21, 2023
Jeff Morrow

Join Alexander Cruz as he takes you through his inspirational story and humble beginnings. Alexander shares his experiences with Bob Ross, portrait artist Daniel Green and many others.  Alexander transmits his sensitivity and realism through mother nature. The peace reflected in his landscapes, the brilliant colors that flowers transmit to us and the nobility of his animals are some of the themes that this artist can capture. The hyper realism so palpable that Cruz presents us makes us attest to the pictorial mastery he has with his art.

Click here to go to the Alexander Cruz web page.

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Show Notes Transcript

Join Alexander Cruz as he takes you through his inspirational story and humble beginnings. Alexander shares his experiences with Bob Ross, portrait artist Daniel Green and many others.  Alexander transmits his sensitivity and realism through mother nature. The peace reflected in his landscapes, the brilliant colors that flowers transmit to us and the nobility of his animals are some of the themes that this artist can capture. The hyper realism so palpable that Cruz presents us makes us attest to the pictorial mastery he has with his art.

Click here to go to the Alexander Cruz web page.

Art Supply Insiders
Click here to subscribe & follow (and be notified of every new podcast): Subscribe & Follow
Please leave a comment (we love feedback!): Comments

Support the Show.

Welcome back to Art Supply Insiders. My name is Jeff Morrow, and today we're gonna be talking with a very special guest. This is somebody that. We met when we went to a recent show called. And at NAMTA we were walking by the booth of our good friends at Silver Brush and we saw this artist talking to people and we looked up and we saw his paintings and we were blown away.


I mean, we were absolutely blown away. So today we're talking with Alexander Cruz. Alexander, how you doing bud, 


my friend? I'm doing great. Thank you. But I have to say something, first of all, I have to thank, um, Dave Lee and you, Jeff Morrow, for this, you know, for allowing me to share this space with you. And I am humble by all the beautiful hard work that you have done over the years to bring the art world together and serve as an OA oasis, you know, for all those.


Who you have interviews, so thank you for that. Okay. Oh 


gosh. Well, what, what, what wonderful words. Thank you very. If you could see me, I would be blushing right now. So tell, you know, the thing that I think that I noticed most about your art, and I'm, I'm kind of jumping into the middle of our interview is, but I saw some of the.


Animals that you painted, and they just about jumped right off of the canvas. So why don't you tell us, go back to the beginning, tell us a little bit about who Alexander Cruz is, how you got started and all that. 


Okay. Well, um, Alexander Cruz, I mean, that's a, it, it, that's a Puerto Rican hyper, a realist artist and a painter who.


Has already over 30 years of experience working in the art world. Wow. Um, I started at the age of 15 on the, in the wet on wet on web technique, you know this technique, um, with Bob Ross. Yeah. So yeah, so I started, um, with the We on Web Technique and uh, that was in 1992. And so I became the first, um, instructor certified by Bob Ross in Puerto Rico.


Um, Wow. Yeah, I know that was, you know, uh, 30 something years ago. 


Did you ever get to, did you ever get to meet him? 


Yes. I mean, he was 


my teacher. Oh, so you actually got to meet him and tell, tell us just a, a little bit. Tell me just a little bit about that. 


I met him in, in, I think it was in, in Tennessee, the first time I saw him personally.


And, uh, but before that, you know, we, we spoke on the, on the phone and everything, but I met him in 1992, you know, and, uh, and for me that was an experience because, I mean, here I was meeting this guy, you know, uh, from TV and, and I was like so excited. You know? Sure. But yeah, I mean, um, um, going back to the, to the previous question, who is, um, Alexander Cruz?


And you know what? I'm also the president of, um, two corporations. The name is Artistic Art Store and, uh, Escula y Galeria de artes Cruz that translate to cruise school and gallery of art that's in Puerto Rico. Um, I'm also responsible for creating the brand, the ultimate painting experience with Alexander Cruz.


That's a company and motto that I use when I offer, um, my painting workshop on trips around the world and with on my art materials. Hmm. And, uh, I created over 20 products ranging from mugs, DVDs, to professional, um, brush sets. The ones that you saw at the show with silver brush and oil mediums. With my brand, I have worked with several art supply companies for product testing before they go to the market, you know?


Mm-hmm. Um, thanks to my experience and knowledge in the, in diverse oil painting technique, and, uh, I have, I have also participated as a guest, guest artist promoting the materials on, on these companies. Um, in different art shows, like, you know, in the one in Germany, um, creative World, uh, a lot of, um, you know, like May maybe fifth, um, uh, five, um, NAMTA shows, you know, and, and art shows that demonstration, exhibition, seminars and conferences, um, around the world.


Wow. And so, yeah, I mean, you're a busy guy. I've been doing a lot of things. Right. In 2014, I was awarded the Diploma of recognition of International Ambassador Artists by UNESCO. That's the United Nation Educational Scientific, and Cultural, um, organization for the education of childrens and adults around the world given, um, given by the mayor of San Juan herself.


And the president of UNESCO in Puerto Rico, an artist. I have created over seven collections of artwork ranging from 15 to 55 paintings on each collection. I have exhibited in museum galleries, government halls, banks, private and public division halls. And more, you know? So yes, I've been, I've been busy.




gotta be tired. So after, after you started, after you started with Bob Ross, how did the, how did your art take, what direction did your art take after that? 


Well, at the beginning, a lot of people were like, um, oh, this is, um, Barbara students, you know, and, and, and, And, you know, sometimes it, it was, uh, okay for me because, but then after, you know, when year passed, I was like, okay, I wanna get my own name, you know?


Yeah, of course. So I started studying different other techniques and, and, and so I, I, I, I became, you know, better in, in what I was doing and, and having exhibitions with my name and everything. So, you know, I. I kind of, um, wanted to, you know, grew my name apart of, of Bob Ross's, you know? Sure. Because I mean, I am proud of all my teachers, you know, of, of Bob Ross and, and all my teachers.


But, but I wanna, I wanna get my name there, you know, I wanna get myself not, not just, um, you know, students, you know, it's, Alexander Cruz and is also an artist. Yeah, that was a really, really, um, beautiful thing that happened, um, to me when I met Bob Ross and I met all, all my other teachers, you know. 


So what is it that you liked?


Uh, do, do you have a favorite subject that you like to paint? 


Yes, I do. My inspiration mostly is, um, nature. Like, uh, it doesn't, that, that is my main theme. You know, in fact, uh, my motto is searching peace in nature. That that is something that, that always, oh, I use this, uh, motor, like in every exhibition that I go outside Puerto Rico.


Um, because a lot of people, they. You know, they complain every, every day like in, in, in, in traffic in the morning, and they don't see that, that there's a sunset there. Oh, there's a far right there. You know, there's a bird passing through. There's nature all around us. And, and you don't see that because you are worrying about, you know, what is bothering you at the moment.


And so, When everybody is screaming at, you know, the, the, the, the river, the, the other driver. I'm, I'm like looking at the, uh, nature. So, but when you paint something like a porch, I mean like a, like a a, a flower or a wildlife painting or a landscape painting, I mean, Everybody will notice that. Everybody will go like, oh my God, this is so beautiful.


And then they will, they will feel what, what I was feeling when, when I did that painting. You see? Yes. Yeah. So if I can give to, you know, my, my, my people and, and, and, Everybody who, who see my, my paintings, they, they can, they can feel that I can like share that, that feeling with them, you know, through my painting, through your arch.


That's, that's why I do this. I mean, I paint, um, landscape florals, um, flowers, you know, animals and portrait. Um, one of my collection right now, um, is Birds of Puerto Rico. It's, and it's called Colors that sings. Oh, I love it. Yeah, that's, and, and that, that, that paint, that exi, that exhibition has like 50 works of in oil.


Geez. And, and do you do oil painting 


exclusively? Yes. I mean, I, I do all medias, but all mediums. But, um, Uh, oil is like the one that challenged me, you know, so that exhibition that only, that exhibition has 55 works in oil. So currently I'm working with, um, an exhibition called, um, portraits of Nature. Where Be, are we painting Different Animals, you know, um, with, with closeup o of the Animals.


Um, with the smallest details, so, That's coming soon. Wow. 


So, you know, in our, our, our audience, we have a lot of beginner artists and they get frustrated and, you know, you've been doing this for over 30 years. What kind of wisdom could you pass along to the beginning artists out there when they start getting discouraged?


What, how did you work 


through that? Believe me, a lot of things like that happened to me. Every time, even when I'm at my level, you know? Right. Sometimes, you know, there's, it is, I mean, that, that is called life, you know? Mm-hmm. Um, not every day is a sunny day. It's what I'm trying to say, you know? So, um, sometimes you, you just want to hang your brush, you don't wanna do anything, you know?


Right. Yeah. But what keeps me going is the love that I have for it and the love that I have for my kids. You know, at the beginning it was just because it was fun because I like to paint. Yep. Then it was like, uh, a challenge. I, I like to challenge myself and, and then it was like, okay, now I'm teaching children.


And, and when you are teaching childrens, everything changes because now you are responsible Yes. For, for that knowledge that that kid is gonna have for the, in the future. So now you are responsible. Now you have to, you know, to to, to teach the real thing and, and, and be, and be, uh, responsible, you know. So, yes.


I mean, now every time I think about hanging my, my clothes, you know, I think about the kids. I think about all the, the, the, the future kids that they still need. Um, what I, what I have and what I can't teach them. So, yeah, I mean, you have to, you have to look for. Anything that can keep you going. Yes. You know, when you find that in life, it doesn't matter what you do.


You know, when you find that, that special thing in your life, of course. I mean, that's, that's everything because now you have something that you can hold on. You understand, right? I mean, 


absolutely. That's, that's, that's very wise. And, you know, how did you, how did you get noticed internationally? I mean, you, your art is all over the world.


How did that happen? 


Well, um, let me, let me, um, tell you how I got started, you know? Sure. My story is like similar of, uh, that of many artists who have something tragic in their life, you know, in their origin. And thanks to that something good was born. So, yeah. Yeah. Um, when I was only four years old, my parents separated and my mother took me to live in New York for two years, you know, and for the first year, um, we lived with my aunt in Brooklyn.


Well, my mother, you know, she, she was having a hard time getting a job there. So this time was, um, one of much bonding between my mother and her sister. Um, after two years, my father came to New York. They fixed things, you know, and with my mother and whatever. And so, so we got back to Puerto Rico. And un you know, until this day they're still together.


But, you know, because my aunt, they, she, she miss us so much that she asked my parents and you know, that my sister and I spent a month with her in the summer every year. Oh. So year passed. And when I was 15 years old, um, three days after traveling to New York for my summer visit. Um, my grandmother died in Chicago.


Oh. Oh, I'm sorry. Um, yeah, I'm, don't worry. I mean, that, that was like, uh, a lot of years ago, but thank you. I mean, and, uh, so they were going to transfer her to Puerto Rico to be buried, you know, so I was devastated at the moment, I, you know, sometimes I still think about it, of course, and, and, and I said, you know, because I.


You. So sometimes you ask God, why, why you are letting this, you know, happen. But then you, you, you have, you are at peace with yourself because then you understand that God had a purpose, you know? Yep. So she had to go for me to, to get, you know this or I'm Exactly, but lemme, lemme, lemme just tell you the story.


I mean, so, When my, my aunt at the moment, she gave me two options, you know, she said, um, either you go with me to Puerto Rico or you stay with your cousin in Long Island until I return, you know, so, of course I chose the second option since at that time, you know, it was very expensive to, um, I was living in three more weeks, you know, so while I was staying at my cousin's house, His wife, CILO Vazquez, she was pregnant at the moment, and so I, I assisted, assisted her in everything she asked of me.


You know, like, uh, c is a Colombian artist who was taking lesson from a certified Ross instructor in Queens at the time. So she was asking me to, you know, to help her carry her, her our, our supplies, and she asked me to accompany her to the, the class. Where with her instructor was? I think it was Francine.


Felicity. I mean, the least I could do because as a thank you, you know, was, was to help her, you know? Sure. So when I saw what they did in a class, I was surprised. You know, she thought her how to paint a complete painting so easily. That I beg her, I mean, I beg her to participate in the next class, the very next day.


You know, slo of course, you know, she was worried about the money and, and everything. So she called my father to tell him my motivation about, you know, for, for taking this painting class and told him that, that this will help me channel the suffering. Of my mother, my grandmother's death, you know, since she heard me crying every night in the room and didn't know what to do.


Right. So my father immediately, he, he said, pay him whatever he needs, and I'll send you a check. I mean, we're talking about 1990. There was no internet, there was no, and, you know, so everything was, I'll send you a check and, and that's it. So in that year I returned to Puerto Rico with a painting My Soul and with my first two paintings.


Wow. That's how I got started. In, in, you know, in painting. And, uh,


as, as for cilo, she was my first teacher, you know? Right. My cousin-in-law. And, uh, after that she, I, I, I mean like one year after that she became a CRI, a certified Ross instructor. And, uh, and she also motivated me to, to became c r I. Since in Puerto Rico there was no one who offered this technique.


And I then the only one, the only, the only way that I could learn the technique was. With VH h s videos. 


Yes. You know, 


there were no DVDs or no, nothing like that. VHS videos of Bob Ross that she sent me, you know, and uh, and I was trying to paint for almost two years only with the videos. So in June of 1992, I took my first painting seminar.


And that was with Helen Ty and Ray Nichols in Portland, Oregon. And in July I took my second seminar with Bob Ross, Dana Jester and Steve Ross. Steve was Bob's son, right? And uh, in October of that same year, I did my certification with Bob Ross, stain Adjuster. And so then I returned Puerto Rico with a weather and wet technique.


You know. Mm-hmm. But, you know, uh, it was met with a lot of resistance of, with, you know, from many traditionalists and painters who always was criticized. You know, they criticized me saying that, oh, that is not art. That technique is like for art and craft and decoration and whatever, you know? Right. And so on, you know?


So I decided to study. All the traditional techniques, like, okay, what technique? I, I, I used to, to ask them, you know, what technique do you use? And they were like, oh, I, I use, um, father Berlin, or, or, you know, um, layer after layer or whatever you other techniques. So I, I was like, okay, you know what, I'm gonna learn your technique.


So I searched for the best teachers. That was teaching those techniques at the moment. So I decided to study all the traditional techniques, you know, to show them that I was able to know and master not only modern, but traditional old painting techniques, you know? Sure. So after Bob Ross died in 19 nine, in 1995, I was devastated.


So I didn't pain for over six months, you know? Uh, because every time I took a, a, a brush or, or, or a paint, his face was on the product. Of course, of course. Every time I, you know, because his face is in the product. Yeah. So I started to cry every time I see his face, you know, and I was like, oh my God, I cannot do this though.


So I, I, I didn't paint for six months, you know? So, um, because I mean, he, he, he was not only my teacher, he was my mentor and my friend, you know. So every time he, you know, he had a, uh, he took advantage of every moment to give me, um, life advice and help me, um, a lot in painting. You know that, you know, that same man that, that you saw on television, he was like that in person.


Uh, one of the things that, that I, I live with Bob Ross one day. We were, we were at this, um, c I reunion in Daytona Beach in Florida. And, uh, so they had announced that, uh, that a rocket liftoff that could be seen rising over the horizon from Cape Can Cannavro. I don't know if I said it correctly, you said it correctly.


Okay, so, well, we were watching the rocket, you know, take off. Barbara said to me, imagine that you could be the first painter to paint the earth from the moon. Mm-hmm. I mean, those were the things that Bob Ross used to say to an 18 year old boy, you know, so, He always, um, was putting ideas in my head, you know, and encouraging me to, to, to dream big.




you know, it looks like you have, it looks like. So we're kind of coming towards the end of this. I wanna get to a couple of other things if I could. You also have another a, a number of brush sets and mediums and pallet knives and DVDs, uh, that you offer. And I know that people can see all of this stuff on your website.


So give us your, give us your website address. 


Yes, my website is Galeria is with one L because it's in Spanish. Okay, so 


and go ahead and spell that. 


It's g a l, uh, G a l e r i a. And then Cruz, my last name, c r u z as in zebra. Dot com. Dot com? Yes. 


And tell me a little bit about what have you got going on, coming up in the future?


Are you gonna be doing, um, classes? Do you do, uh, are you gonna do more art gal, you know, art shows? What, what have you've got planned? 


Huh uh, well, um, I've been, uh, I'm gonna be visiting, you know, different, um, Art shows like the NAMTA show and, and, and, you know, and I'll be everywhere. Anybody will invite me to go.


I'll be there, I'll be present. But, you know, going back to, um, what we're talking about the, the brushes and the materials. Yeah. Um, a, a few, a few years ago, um, I signed with, with Silver Brush, you know, and, and we started to make, uh, this, um, brush sets. Right now I have like, I created like seven professional brush sets with silver brush.


And, uh, if you, when you go to my page, you can see, um, you know, the, the, the brushes that I'm talking about. Uh, I created one that, that is, um, professional wildlife. That's the, that the, the new one that is coming now, this, this month is gonna come, it's gonna set, uh, you're gonna, you're gonna be able to see, um, the set and it has like, um, 12 brushes just to paint wildlife.


Wow. That's the professional wildlife brush set that is coming this month. I already have with them the professional landscape brush set and the floral, the professional brush, I mean the professional floral brush set and, and of course the portrait brush set. I also studied with Daniel Green. He was al also.


Oh my 


goodness. Oh, and so Daniel Green did a lot of presidential portraits, didn't he? 


Yes, he did. So, yeah, I started in, in North Salian, New York, in his studio. So oh my, that's how I learned how to paint portraits, you know, he was one of my teachers. Well, 


he was one of the 


best. I think he was the best period.


Probably was the best. So if people have interest in purchasing these products, these you, you've got mediums, pallet knives, DVDs. Is, is your website the only site or do they, do you have other places that they can purchase 


it? No. Right now it's, it's through my website, through my website. It's the only way that you can buy it or you can order it, you know, you know, by, by sending me a, uh, uh, a letter, you know, a text or something.


I can. Tended to, 


I can tell our audience that the brushes that are in his set I'm very, very familiar with and they are absolutely top quality professional brushes. They're a silver brush. Yeah, they're a silver brush. Well, of course this, this entire half an hour has gone by in the blink of an eye and 




It, it's just gone by so fast. So again, give them your website 


again. It's www dot g a l e r i. C r u C as in Gallia 


Gallia Uh, Alexander, I can't thank you enough for taking the time telling us this inspirational story of, of how you were motivated and, and, and how you continue and who your mentors are.


Cause it's important to have mentors in this life, isn't it? Just to keep us going when we're really down. 


Yes. Yes, it is really important. So, 


well, uh, please, for those of you out there that are listening, please go to his website. Uh, it literally, uh, I, I saw a tiger in the water and it felt like it was jumping right off of the canvas.


It's that good. Alexander, thank you again. 


Thank you very much and thank you for this opportunity. Okay. 


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