Arrivals: Ciliann likes beautiful things


When you open the YouTube channel of Ciliann, you can see a modern Anne of Green Gables in a romantic hat, exuding charm, explaining step-by-step how to draw and paint. Each day of the week, she teaches a different topic/ technique in her class and focuses on different objects, such as portraits, landscapes, animals and flowers.
Her tone of voice is relaxing and her tutorials make art look simple, but behind it all stands a hard-working person with a very pragmatic approach.
Sarah Bresler, aka Ciliann, the online drawing and painting teacher, decided to open her YouTube channel during the summer of 2020. She says that the novel coronavirus situation enabled her to do it, and thanks to lockdowns she finally had time to work on it.
Ciliann wants to help other young adults to learn how to draw and paint for their own pleasure.
“I am not a professional. Professionals are in their own league. I know where I am,” she says but adds that, in her opinion, art is a skill and at her mini-art school (as she calls it), she wants to show that “everyone can reach art and learn it, if they want.”
When she decided to start her channel, during the summer of 2020, she was painting every night. She made over 100 videos, working on them by night while her children were asleep.
Sarah by day, Ciliann by night
It was December 2010, when, in the middle of the snow blizzard, she left New York and moved to Beitar, next to Jerusalem. Three weeks later, she married a yeshiva student, Yehonothan Haim. She met him the traditional Jewish matchmaking way, during a visit to Israel, shortly before her aliyah.
As a 10-year-old girl, she wrote in her diary: “I love Israel, I really want to go there.”
But when, two years after writing these words, she first visited Israel, she was shocked seeing people throwing garbage on the streets.
“I was a little bit sad. I did not know if I could live here,” she recalls, so aliyah was not in her plans after that, but eventually the right shidduch changed it all.
It was her husband who noticed her artistic potential and encouraged her to improve her skills. In the US, she was studying to be a teacher. She never had a formal art education, but she always enjoyed art.
Her big, very personal, inspiration was her grandfather Mark Rubinstein, originally from Kraków, Poland, who died four years ago at the age of 104. In America, he designed bridges and painted as a hobby. Painting was also a hobby of Bresler’s her whole life, for as long she can remember. She was not planning to make it her profession.
“When I got married, my husband noticed my talent and wanted me to work on it – and to teach it,” she says, “but I had just gotten married, was settling in to a new country and had to learn Hebrew. So we sort of shelved it for several years.”
A decade passed by. Today, Bresler is a 31-year-old mother of seven. Her dream is to have an even bigger family. She grew up in New York City in a religious family of 10. She is an observant Jewish woman who bakes challot for every Shabbat and bread for the entire week. She runs a typical religious Jewish home; her husband studies. Besides raising her own children, she babysits kids of others, and when her older children are at school, she teaches art to two- and three-year-old children. She enjoys working with children.
She and her husband, who, as she emphasizes, is the brain standing behind her YouTube channel, had been thinking about this project for a long time, but they never found the time to prepare for it. Her everyday life is very busy; she can only work from Sunday to Wednesday, because on Thursday she starts to prepare for Shabbat. Unexpectedly, the chance came with the pandemic of COVID-19.
“Usually we are busy with getting kids to school, doing homework, shopping,” she explains. “During lockdowns, we were locked up in our house. We did not have to get up early to take kids to school, so I could work at night. ” And this is how her YouTube channel “Ciliann Art – Paint & Draw” was born, and so was Ciliann – the alter ego of Bresler.
A passion becomes a business
The artistic nickname she created was indeed out of the sentiment for ‘Anne of Green Gables’ (Bresler used to love reading books about her), and her need to showing a little bit of the silly side of her personality. But not to make it sound completely silly, she decided to spell it with a “C” instead of an “S” – she explains with a smile.
Bresler has a new-generation approach. Despite living in an Orthodox community, she is not a stranger to modern tools, such as YouTube, and with her husband decided to put the extra given time in 2020 to good use. The goal of her art channel is to give people pleasure watching her tutorials and to teach others how to draw and paint. But it’s also strictly commercial.
“We have a family to support,” she says.
Her husband helps her edit and promote the videos.
“He thinks out of the box,” she says with pride, and they hope the channel will turn into a business.
Those tutorials help her also to overcome her natural shyness. Bresler cannot imagine herself speaking in front of a group of people live, but turning on her husband’s phone and recording videos is not that hard.
 “I enjoy beautiful things. I want to show people how they can do art easily. For some people it takes more practice, for some less, but it is achievable,” she says. “Art is a skill. Some people have natural talent and it is easier for them, but if you don’t have talent and you want to paint, you must practice hard and learn.”
She gives the example of herself.
“I had a basic level of talent, and I worked on that hard. I still have a lot to grow.”
For about five years she was learning from other online tutorials. Her favorite teacher was Bob Ross. Now she teaches herself.
Ciliann enjoys drawing because there, she can be precise. She likes to focus on details; oil on canvas flows more. Using each technique gives her a different kind of pleasure. But the biggest pleasure is the thought that her drawing tutorial or painting tutorial helps someone to make his or her day more beautiful.
Access her YouTube channel: