CULTIVATING CREATIVITY: Meet the Artist Next Door, Jesus Estevez

By Ardith Racey/Quinte Arts Council

Jesus Estevez’s quiet passion and mild manner belie his greatness as an artist. He calls himself a “realistic painter” who likes to paint what he’s “close to”.

“I live in the city of Belleville, so I paint my surroundings. I like to paint what I see every day.”

His work reflects his love of the area: Belleville and Quinte area streets, homes and the harbour are central motifs, as are images of people and animals in authentic settings filled with backgrounds of snow, sun, or rain. It’s the connections with local cityscapes and landscapes that people can understand – that’s what makes people “move,” says Estevez.

Although design is an important aspect of painting, the rules are not the same as those of photography, claims Estevez.

He likes to “put things in and put things out,” but his chief concern is the way light changes what we see. He explains it this way: “In music you have tones … in painting we have values which are the same thing – if the darks and shadows are harmonious, your brain will get happy. This is how you find beautiful colours that don’t come out of a tube. You have to mix them. I don’t think about colour; I only think about values.”

Estevez values painting as a “language that we all understand.”

He says that while a photograph can capture life in a second, painting requires hours and hours of “imprinting the visual effects.”

He works hard to communicate what he sees as beautiful in his surroundings. This is reflected in how people react to Estevez’s work; often they comment that although they have lived in the area their entire lives, they have never noticed the beauty of places the way Estevez’s paintings allow them to enter or remember a landscape or a structure.

“I paint eight hours, almost every day,” says Estevez nonchalantly, “but my goal is not to be famous, but to be a master.”

It often takes two or three weeks to finish a painting, and he paints on small canvases because of time, and because on a practical level local people are more apt to buy them.

He says that one of his long-standing jokes is that “the painting is not finished until it’s sold because if it’s around, he will keep changing it.”

Estevez and his wife Erin own and operate their store, “Thomas Estevez Design” located at 395 Front Street, Belleville, and they have a strong online presence, but given COVID-19, he says sales and commissions have been down.

They’ve worked together as an entrepreneurial team for more than 30 years, previously in Spain and now in Canada, selling and designing silver jewelry and art.

“My wife loves and understands stones,” says Estevez, “and she’s supportive of my art…. If she doesn’t like something, she tells me.”

Sounds like the perfect formula for a husband-and-wife team. Then again, there’s not much to dislike about Estevez’s work. It’s brilliant and vibrant and most of all, authentic.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2021 issue of Umbrella magazine, available now. -30- For more information, please contact: Fiona Campbell, director of communications & outreach Quinte Arts Council,