Lisa Santo has no problem using both hemispheres of her brain.
By day, she is a financial advisor in New York City, dealing with facts and figures, processing reams of financial, economic and investment information, formulating strategies to help meet her clients’ complex portfolio challenges: all prototypical left-brained behaviors.
After work, though, when it’s time to relax at home in Sleepy Hollow, Santo takes brush to easel and creates breathtaking watercolors, a talent shared almost exclusively by right-brained individuals.
Some would say Santo, a mother of three, is equally successful at both. At her firm, Morgan Stanley, she is a wealth advisor with just under one billion under management as of this past summer.
And, in addition to her time spent volunteering – she is chairperson of the Village of Sleepy Hollow Planning Board – she also has exhibited, sold, and won awards for her paintings.
“Being an artist gives me a sense of balance, an outlet,” Santo said. “I’m passionate about art. I feel that it is a pursuit that complements my lifestyle and gives me a creative outlet. I think I’m a better wife and mother as a result.”
Her interest in art started in 1999 with a painting class. Santo and her eldest daughter enrolled in a “mommy-and-me” art class led by local artist Linda Perlmutter. She enjoyed it so much that she signed up for an adult class.
Now, Santo paints weekly with the Odyssey Watercolor Society, of which she is a member, as well as individually at home. Santo is an active member of The Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow Arts Council, and the Westchester Arts Council in White Plains.
“I paint only in watercolors. I use a wet-on-wet method – that is, wet paint on wet paper; it’s a very loose way of painting. I get very deep into color and use a lot of paint,” she said. Her favorite subjects are landscapes, such as winter scenes and sunsets, and various arrangements of flowers. Each painting, however, demonstrates her unique style of vibrancy with an evocative, ethereal mood.
“I now teach watercolor painting and am able to share my love of art while inspiring others,” she said. “I have taught on board the Crystal Serenity and the Crystal Symphony. I also participate in the Odyssey Art at Sea program, which was founded by my first instructor and mentor, Linda,” Santo said.
Santo’s works have sold during various shows. She has had exhibits at Club Fit in Briarcliff, and previously at the Ridgefield Gallery and at the River Gallery in Irvington. She has displayed paintings at the Warner Library in Tarrytown and was part of a new exhibit there in April.
“Painting has encouraged me to be creative at home and work, too. I stop to imagine how I will approach each new project or client just like how I imagine all the colors I will use on a blank canvas. Having a holistic view at the outset allows me to organize my goals before I delve into the finer details,” Santo said.
“I like to see the big picture – pun intended,” she added.