Monday, May 31, 2010

Validate: the artist's word of the day

I woke up today contemplating how I always have this insatiable need to feel validated in order to feel accomplished, loved, successful, on the right path...or even just to be able to paint! And the validation always seems to need to come from an outside source: a companion, friend, family member, colleague, career success, church, education, teaching, sales, publication...or one of those everyone-loves-you darn chain emails we all love/hate to get. I'm sure everyone has their own version of this list.

Artists in particular, seem to feel this need to be validated most keenly. We work alone and then hope the world will love our work. Often we feel misunderstood...even from another planet. But even when we do feel successful, the problem is, there will always come a time when even that is not enough. Or, suddenly, others don't believe in you, your art or your dreams anymore (enter doubt and fear). Or, heaven forbid, you find yourself alone and without any kind of emotional support and reason for being, and your heart is crying, "Validate me!" Your mind is littered with self-doubt and self-disgust and there's just no way you'll paint today feeling like this! So then what do you do? (Are you smiling at me?)

Well, I decided to look to one source I'd been neglecting for a while. You know, that eternal, divine voice within that some of us refer to as God, the Universe or Infinite Possibility. Not the little nagging voice we all want to shut up...but that quiet, peaceful one that we all wish we knew how to hear more of.

So like the former librarian I am, I did a word search on "validate"...and it was quite remarkable! I noticed that "countenance" came under "validate" which made the following Bible verse very exciting:
"Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance." (Ps. 89: 15)

So, we walk in the light of God's validation, character, condition, presence, blessing, acknowledgment, approval, support, applause, encouragement, confirmation. As a result, we'll have calmness, self-control, composure, presence of mind, a lovely appearance...and a good kisser!? No kidding! (I LOVE!!!)

I then reasoned that God champions you and me. He/She champions us, advises us, argues for us, accepts and affirms our very being. God bolsters us, builds us up, campaigns and promotes us; defends and justifies us. He speaks for us, upholds us, argues for us...even rides shotgun for us! He has your back and mine...we are the very colors of Her character and condition! She gives us Her seal of approval. He legitimizes and legalizes us, esteems and praises us, respects and authenticates us, authorizes and mandates us, confirms and endorses us. God gives us the divine stamp of approval of His/Her nature; gives us the green light; bears witness to us; substantiates us; endorses and corroborates us; vouches for us; verifies us; justifies us; professes us; sustains us; swears by us! Declares and announces us; argues and asserts for us; publishes us; insists and maintains us; brings us forward; sustains us; confirms and proclaims us; conveys us; informs all of us; reaffirms us; demonstrates and manifests you and me.

So, I'm feeling pretty darn substantiated, aren't you? If you need more evidence, just check in with your divine inner voice-- and in the thesaurus section.

You could say that one result of today's word study is that I have removed all the "artist formerly known as..." paintings from my website!!! (A momentous moment!!!)

S'zanne is feeling mighty validated! However, if you should like to confirm and proclaim me further, please leave your compliments below. Otherwise, I'll assume you are glowing with approval! ;-)

Have a happy, validated day!

Gratitude Keeps Us Current

"Newborn" 5x8" acrylic by S'zanne Reynolds

"That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet."
--Emily Dickinson

A story from "Attitudes of Gratitude" by M.J. Ryan

"Last night I watched my daughter Ana, whom we recently adopted from China, lie on the bed in an ecstatic trance of bottle-sucking. Her eyes closed, her rosebud mouth pursed, her exquisitely long fingers curled around the plastic bottle, she gave herself over to the experience. She wasn't obsessing on past wounds, although perhaps she had a right to. Neglected for over a year, when we got her she had second-degree burns on her buttocks from lying in urine. Nor was she worrying about where future bottles might come from, although she had a right to do that also. Abandoned on Christmas evening on a cold street until someone heard her newborn cries, she had been fed only watered-down milk and seemed to be starving the first few weeks we fed her.

Rather, she was so focused on appreciating the warm milk as it went down her throat that everything else, past and future, simply disappeared. As I looked at her, I realized that this total and complete absorption in the present moment is available to us all when we choose to let gratitude wash over us uninhibitedly.

But many of us have been taught not to give ourselves over so fully to something or someone. As a child, I believed that you couldn't let yourself become totally immersed in an experience, because something bad might be happening as your attention is diverted. My parents used to say that as a child they never saw me asleep; I always had one eye open, alert to disaster.

But if Ana, who has suffered so much in her very short life, can giver herself over to the joy of completely appreciating her bottle, can't i allow myself in this moment to fully appreciate the sweet peas on my desk, the wonder of being able to think and read and write?

As I allow myself to open to the fullness of gratitude, the past and future fade away and I become more alive in the present moment. That's because gratitude is, for the most part, about the here and now. While we can be thankful for past blessings and hope for future ones, when we experience a sense of gratefulness, we are usually contemplating some present circumstance. We are brought up to date with ourselves. Our focus moves away from all that we or others did or failed to do in the past, or what we hope for or worry about in the future, and we find ourselves placed squarely in this precious moment, this experience that will never happen again.

July pARTy: Flower Power

"Sunny and Clear" 8x10" acrylic by S'zanne Reynolds

Friday, July 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Cafe Monet at the Triangle
4700 West Guadalupe, Ste. 11 • Austin, Texas 78751

Flower Power with Monet & Merlot
In July, we'll be painting close-ups of floral faces with Austin artist, S'zanne Reynolds. Discover your flower power as you learn to mix vibrant colors in a rainbow of lights and darks. With a little guidance from S'zanne, you'll take on this happy sunflower or paint from other garden stars like the rose or iris. We'll provide the paint, canvas and bring the drinks and munchies. (You may also want to bring your favorite floral photos to paint from.)

Best of all, you'll have some fun and bring home a painting for the wall. Be sure to invite friends and family; they won't want to miss this one!

REGISTER IN ADVANCE, as seating is limited:
Call Cafe Monet at 512-906-2200.
$35 per person.

Mark your calendars; see you there!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

June pARTy: Painting on wine goblets

Wine Goblets by S'zanne Reynolds

Friday, June 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Cafe Monet at the Triangle
4700 West Guadalupe, Ste. 11 • Austin, Texas 78751

Time to get your creativity on with "Monet & Merlot" night!
Join me for an evening of painting and festivities. Invite your friends or make it a date night. Leave your mark on a pair of wine glasses: paint your own unique vision, or copy one of my designs. It's easy and fun!

REGISTER IN ADVANCE, as seating is limited:
Call Cafe Monet at 512-906-2200.
$35 per person.

The evening will include dishwasher safe glass paints and two wine goblets. Be sure to BYO drinks, snacks or delectables of choice.

Mark your calendars and I'll see you there!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fetching Art! Call for Entries: benefing children with autism and therapy dogs

Creative Community Coop and artists all over Central Texas are donating artwork to
Austin Dog Alliance fundraiser, Fetching Art,
to benefit children with autism
through ADA's rescue-therapy dog programs.

For more details, see below. To participate, please email me!
I'm accepting artwork from all over Texas.

Donating artists will receive 2 free tickets to the cocktail party, and a chance to win a
$275 PR package for the Best in Show award.

Artwork deadline: Saturday, June 19, 9 a.m. to noon,
at Austin Dog Alliance
Cocktail party-Benefit: Thursday, June 24, 7-9 p.m.
at Austin Dog Alliance

Austin Dog Alliance
12129 RR 620, Ste. 401
Austin, TX 78750
(near Anderson Mill)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Windmills of our minds

We capture the wind only to have it blow us around and around in the windmills of our and fro, back and forth. We try to harness the wind's power...but it only takes us for a ride. The trick is to enjoy the places familiar or unknown.


"Intent is not a thought, or an object, or a wish. Intent is what can make a man succeed when his thoughts tell him that he is defeated." (Carlos Castaneda)

What are my intentions for the day?
for the week?
for the month?
for the year?
for the next 10 years?

Am I doing them?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A prayer for our oceans and their friends

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands;
thou hast put all things under his feet:

All sheep and oxen yea, and the beasts of the field;

The fowl of the air,
and the fish of the sea,

and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

KJV, Psalm 8:4-8

Monday, May 17, 2010

On being who you are, authentically

Goehmann's Creek, 9x12" oil on linen
© 2010 by S'zanne Reynolds

from Coming Home to Myself
by Marion Woodman

"It is easier to try
to be better
than you are
than to be
who you are."

Or so it has been suggested.
But I find it virtually impossible to go on NOT being who I am,
without authenticity, without a real voice or place or purpose--
at least not without the heart's fierce protest!

To paint each painting, being true to who you are today, is enough. For you or I won't be the same painter tomorrow. And, we'll paint a different piece the day after that...changing who we are yet again. Not through improvement or learning or skill, but through the building of one brush stroke upon another of authenticity...listening to the voice within.

Love what you know! --it got you where you are today!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Gifts of Gratitude

Bittersweet, 11x14" oil on linen
© 2010 S'zanne Reynolds

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos into order, confusion to clarity...
Gratitude makes sense of our past,
brings peace for today, and creates a vision for
--Melody Beattie

...dedicated to the broken hearted.

Friday, May 14, 2010

And I didn't even get arrested!

The Big Yellow Yonder Texas Hill Country
9x12 oil on board, © 2010 by S'zanne Reynolds

I have passed through this beautiful expanse of hills and mountain-like ridges between Johnson City and the Austin 290 turn-off, many times...wishing I could pull over and paint it. But I always worried that I'd get in trouble on a busy highway, cause an accident or get a ticket.

This time, I'd NEVER seen the hill country so burgeoning with color and beauty. The blue ridges, green hills and yellow wildflowers were calling to me, PAINT ME, PAINT ME! It was a veritable yellow brick road of flowers everywhere up and down the highway. But in passing, I saw an amazing cross section of hills, valleys, flowers and distant mountains. So, I did a couple of U-turns until I could slow down and pull over safely with the 70-80 mph passing traffic.

I pulled the van off onto the shoulder as far as possible into the ditch, and hiked down the hill a bit to avoid feeling the traffic swooshing by. The wind was boisterous, hurling my easel to the ground....a storm was coming in. I knew it might rain and I'd better paint fast and furious!

It was exhilarating! It was like trying to grasp a bit of heaven on earth. I almost forgot to breath, I was so intent on taking it all in: the changing light, the fog rolling in to the distance, the golden yellow intensity, the vibrations of green.

Apparently still visible to passers-by, two different cars stopped to see what had caught my attention. One a professional photographer and the other an amateur, they both commented on their surprise and delight at finding this vista and wondered how I'd found it. I laughed as they were both envious that I could avoid painting the power lines which would show up in their photos. A few shots later and they were gone...leaving me to about 3 hours of work.

Curiously, it wasn't the end image that mattered to me here. It was that I did it...something I'd always wanted to do and had been afraid to, not confident enough or had some other concern of time, inconvenience, etc.. Just as it began to rain, I placed the final strokes, signed my name and delivered my new work to the floor of my car next to a week's worth of workshop paintings. I had done roses and peonies in vases and a couple of people who modeled for well a three other outdoor scenes near my cottage. But I was proudest of this highway painting. There is something so satisfying in doing something you've always wanted to!

And I didn't even get arrested!

Dreams: Stepping stones to awakening

"This life is for awakening to who we are–
co-creators with God.
Our dreams are the stepping-stones to that awakening."

–Mary Manin Morrissey


From Daily Word for Women:

When I stop trying to make something happen and just allow myself to be in partnership with God in letting it happen, I am amazed with the results. Obstacles to my goals disappear and doors to opportunities open to me.

What may seem too simple is absolutely true: There is nothing more I need to do than to be open to and cooperate with God's presence in order to experience divine wonder in all matters– from daily routines to life-changing events.

I release all to God and remind myself, "I am in partnership with the one power of the universe." As if transported on the wings of spirit, I move from feeling concern to being one with God in creating a life order and peace.

In partnership with God, I experience divine wonder.

Terrified but Unstoppable

"Sun Setting over Primroses"
Photo © 2010 by S'zanne Reynolds

"Primrose Promises" 9x12" oil on linen
© 2010 by S'zanne Reynolds

"I have been terrified my entire life, and I've never let it keep me
from doing a single thing I wanted!" --Georgia O'Keefe

The above photo was taken last week in Fredericksburg at the Wildseed Farm. The farm had just closed and I stayed outside their gate and painted anyway. My painting's perspective was very different from the worm's eye view the photo was taken from. I was painting standing under a tree's shade, looking through a fence and some cactus, out over a field. And it was a couple hours before the sun set so the lighting was completely different. I wished I had had a couple more easels to paint on 2 or 3 canvases as the light changed, like Monet!

Several folks pulled off the highway to see what I was doing...just when I congratulated myself on having privacy. One old guy even wanted to chat until dinner time! Thankfully no one stopped to critique my work...just to be friendly, and maybe a little curious.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to sign a painting & other love notes from God

Following a frustrating day of trying to paint like another painter...I left the workshop swearing I'd never trade still life subjects for the great outdoors while I can still walk and it's less than 85 degrees outside! This measure of passion about my subject matter was somewhat of a revelation to me. Mental note to self...must pursue being a plein air painter. No wonder I never paint much in the studio! I found myself rushing outside at about 4 p.m. after every class last week to paint until the sun set around 8:15 p.m..

After negotiating waterfront space with a water moccasin (very poisonous snake), I watchfully painted a river scene...only to wipe off my signature and leave in disgust with my day's efforts. Well, at least I could sign it easier when dry, I thought. If it was even worth signing.

Suddenly I looked up and saw a remarkable sunset. Up went the paints and out came the camera. I didn't really see what I was photographing until I got in my van and drove further down the road. Low and behold, there was a giant "Z" in the sky.

But even more amazing, when I got home and downloaded the images to my computer, I saw that I'd captured the "Z" much earlier in the sun's setting...complete with its refection in the water...making an "S". These, of course, are how I sign my paintings..."SZ". I had to smile to myself, big time. It was as if God was reminding me that she's the only real painter-creator...and as her refection I can't help but reflect her beauty and creativity right back to her. And, that in a way, every effort of expression is worthy of a's what you know today of your divinity. What you know and express today will always be just that; but you have to love what you know how to express today to keep your talents growing tomorrow. So sign that painting!

What's that Bible passage about how God will write our names in the palm of his hand? Well, I got mine written in the sky that night. What a great love note of encouragement to keep on painting--outside of course!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Vision of Your Own

"Someone else's vision will never be as good as your own vision of your self. You live and die with it. Because, in the end, that's all you have. Loose it and you loose yourself--and everything else."
--Georgia O'Keefe

Thoughts Have Power

"Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your actions. Keep your actions positive because your actions become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because they become your destiny." --Gandhi

"The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them." -Einstein