Sunday, January 30, 2011

Take Courage

Thumbnail, acrylic

Take courage to explore your heart. Bravely paint or pen your thoughts, fears and desires, and you'll find the beauty, strength, satisfaction, and peace that are already yours within.

Take courage to live your life; it's a life worth living and worth loving. Know yourself, as the child of Soul's creating--perfect, sinless, whole and free!

Take courage. It's God's gift to you, to live unafraid and create freely!

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Love that Remains

A Saudade Celebration

January 30th, I celebrated, with Brazilians, the day of saudade. It can mean many things to different people, but for me, it's not so much a remembrance of lost loves or better times, as it is a celebration of "the love that remains" in my life.

Previously unaware of saudade, I must have been preparing for this day for a long time. Through trips down memory lane from watching old movie favorites to rediscovering misplaced photo albums and old paintings, I've been remembering the good times and feeling the strength and tenderness of this love that remains.

Spontaneously, a few friends came over to celebrate on this balmy winter night in a Texas style fire-pit ceremony of past joys, and joys to come-- and the love that remains.

"It's amazing, Molly...the love inside, you take it with you!" from the movie, Ghost (1990)


According to Wikipeidia...

"Saudade is a Portuguese and Galician word difficult to translate adequately, which describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost."

"Saudade has been described as a "vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist...a turning towards the past or towards the future". A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing. It may also be translated as a deep longing or yearning for something which does not exist or is unattainable."

"Saudade was once described as "the love that remains" or "the love that stays" after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone ( e.g. one's children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends) or something (e.g. places, pets, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. In Portuguese, 'tenho saudades tuas', translated as 'I have saudades for you' means 'I miss you', but carries a much stronger tone. In fact, one can have 'saudades' of someone with which one is, but have some feeling of loss towards the past or the future."


Twin Flame © 2010 S'zanne Reynolds, digital image

There's a scene from the movie, What Dreams May Come, where the departed husband has just learned that his wife has left earth for the illusion of her self-created suicidal purgatory. He is determined to find her, rescue her from this self-induced punishment or hell, and bring her back to his heaven, a state of consciousness created by her paintings.

He's told he can never succeed. The devoted husband reminds his angelic guide that there are no rules. "It's not about understanding; it's about not giving up!" he shouts. "I'm her soulmate, I can find her."

I was amazed to see that the movie's background scene nearly perfectly matched the above image I took in Sedona, where I had so many past reflections of my own departed husband. The only thing missing were the animated flashes of lightening!

Wikipedia defines a soulmate as, " a person with whom one has a feeling of deep and natural affinity, love, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality, and/or compatibility. A related concept is that of the twin flame or twin soul which is thought to be the ultimate soulmate, the one and only other half of one's soul, for which all souls are driven to find and join."

A twin flame or twin soul has been defined as finding your true selfhood, without the body or ego personality.

It seems to me that a soulmate can be different things to different people, always bringing you back to discovering your God origins or spiritual oneness. A soulmate can be anything-- a lover, mother, sister, friend, pet or even a talent like painting--that accompanies you on this journey of finding your real selfhood. It would seem that we have to lose this mortal sense of self to rediscover our twin flame...which we in fact, have never really lost, as it's always been right there within our ever creative self-awareness, our eternal oneness with all Being.

So while we have company along the way, sometimes we do not. But we are never really alone, as our twin flame is always there burning brightly for us to find our way home.

"I'm her soulmate, I can find her."
-- from the movie, What Dreams May Come

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Creativity Is a Celebration of Life

Color Me Grand © 2010 S'zanne Reynolds, digital image

I'm working on a small pastel study from the above photo. With a name like Color Me Grand, I'll have to develop it into a huge painting!

"Creativity is a celebration of one's grandeur; one's sense of making anything possible. Creativity is a celebration of life– my celebration of life. It is a bold statement: I am here! I love life! I love me! I can be anything! I can do anything!" ~Joseph Zinker, therapist, painter, sculptor, poet

If your creativity is a celebration of your life and yourself, then you can't very well afford to think small about yourself or not like your work! Our creativity is a celebration and expression of the one Life divine. What's not to love!?

So what are you going to celebrate this weekend?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Love What You Are Painting

Variation No. 1 © 2010 by S'zanne Reynolds
10x10" pastel

Ring 'Round the Rosy © 2010 by S'zanne Reynolds
12x12" pastel

Two of my pastels, Variation No. 1 and Ring 'Round the Rosy, have been accepted into the Austin Pastel Society's Annual Juried Member Exhibition. Juror, Liz Haywood-Sullivan, PSA.

Showing March 7- April 30, 2011
Reception and Awards Ceremony: Sunday, March 27 from 3 - 5:00 p.m.
At the Corridor of Art - 700 Lavaca, Austin, TX 78701

Give your love to whatever you are doing, and your own special art will come to life. ~ Ralph Marston

To see the rest of Ralph's article on "Your Inner Artist' click here to visit

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On Becoming Yourself

Becoming Natasha © 2010 by S'zanne Reynolds
18.5 x 26.5" pastel

My painting, Becoming Natasha was juried into the "For the Love of Art" exhibit by Dr. Christopher Adejumo.

Opening Night is February 12, from 6-9 p.m. at Austin Art Space.
(7739 Northcross Dr., Austin 78757)

This pastel is part of the "All Kinds of Lovely" series of portraits I started last summer. Becoming Natasha is such a fitting title for this young lady as she is both becoming in beauty and becoming in spirit as she discovers herself, her talents and her way in the world. Natasha reminds me that we are all still young at heart, always in search of being fully expressed.

Sweet 'n Sour, © 2004 by my former self
19x13.5" pastel

Above is one of my early pastels, Sweet 'n Sour, which was accepted into one AVAA's annual shows. I don't recall if he was the juror or just visiting the show, but Dr. Adejumo offered his compliments on the quick, deliberate, unlabored effect of my strokes that were essentially left alone once applied. His encouragement left quite an impression on me, so much so, that I have tried to create that fresh, directly applied look in most of my paintings. I think I succeeded in Becoming Natasha, which is perhaps why he juried it into this current show!

About the Juror: Dr. Adejumo received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts (Graphic Design) from the University of Benin, Nigeria in 1983. He studied at the University of Massachusetts, in Dartmouth, where he received an MFA degree in Visual Designs (Printmaking) in 1993. In 1997, he received a PhD in Art Education from Ohio State University. His art has been shown in solo exhibitions in Africa, Europe, and the United States.

He has received numerous research and academic excellence awards including GTECH 1992 (Dartmouth, Massachusetts) award for academic excellence; and the University of Benin 1983 "Student of the Year" award for academic excellence. His articles have been published in newspapers and visual arts and research journals. He has been the program director for the AVAA Sponsored Project The Greater Tomorrow Youth Art Program for 12 years. The program provides free art workshops taught by Dr. Adejumo to at risk kids in Austin.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vision and Action

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.
~Joel A. Barker

Setting intentions, and following up, has been a challenge for me in the daily grind. Sometimes a visit to the studio consists of looking through books, taking notes or sketching...and only dreaming about the next painting. Other times, with the best of intentions, I roll up my sleeves and furiously clean and rearrange my workspace....and time passes.

But, then there are the days when I grasp my vision firmly amidst the mess and chaos, and the paint simply flows through the ends of my fingertips. To me, it seems to take a little dreaming, a bit of vision...and a whole lot more painting action to find the artist within --or change the world!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Back to the Easel: No Fainting Please

Getting a bit messy...another layer is added after many delays. There's still much more to do.

So, you're finally getting back to work on that oil painting, only to discover that it has already dried. If you paint on it now, the new paint will eventually just pop off in time. Wondering what to do?

Elizabeth Tolley has the answer...along with many other fine painting tips in her book, Oil Painter's Solution Book: Landscapes--Over 100 answers to your oil painting questions.

Ms. Tolley says, "If you are going to work on a painting after the first application of paint has dried, re-wet the painting with the medium you have been using so the subsequent layer will adhere." (Wish I'd known that a few years back...!)

She continues, "If you have been using a three-part medium of turpentine, damar varnish and linseed oil, use a retouch varnish with damar varnish in it. However, if you are using an alkyd, you need to use alkyd and OMS. I use a thin mixture of 1 part alkyd to 1 part OMS."

Beware of the damar varnish or retouching damar's fumes are toxic enough to cause fainting, and probably death to small animals/birds, or even you. You'll have to leave it outside to dry...and I don't mean in the garage attached to the house! The fumes will still leak inside and leave you with a headache. I also noticed that the stuff ate through gloves to the skin. For these reasons, I prefer Gamblin's Galkyd as both a varnish and quick dry medium, used with his OMS (odorless mineral spirits).

I prefer to keep breathing while I paint, don't you?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cezanne Says: Paint

Happy Birthday, Paul Cezanne!

The French post-Impressionist artist Paul Cezanne was born 172 years ago today, Jan. 19, 1839. He died Oct. 22, 1906 at the age of 67. Considered the father of modern art, he lead the way from Impressionism into Cubism, influencing the course of such great masters as Matisse and Picasso.

Cezanne is also part of the inspiration behind my namesake, S'zanne. Of course, here in Texas no one pronounces my name with a French accent!

Enjoy some favorite sayings attributed to the great master...Cezanne says:

Don't be an art critic. Paint. There lies salvation.

Genius is the ability to renew one's emotions in daily experience.

Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one's sensations.

A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.

A puny body weakens the soul.

Art is a harmony parallel with nature.

A thousand painters ought to be killed yearly.
Say what you like: I'm every inch a painter.

I am more a friend of art than a producer of painting.

I could paint for a hundred years, a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing.

I have nothing to hide in art. The initial force alone can bring anyone to the end he must attain.

I have sworn to die painting.

I've come to the conclusion that it's not really possible to help others.

Is art really the priesthood that demands the pure in heart who belong to it wholly?

It's so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.

Keep good company - that is, go to the Louvre.

The most seductive thing about art is the personality of the artist himself.

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.

The painter must enclose himself within his work; he must respond not with words, but with paintings.

The truth is in nature, and I shall prove it.

We live in a rainbow of chaos.

With an apple I will astonish Paris.

When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art.

You say a new era in art is preparing; you sensed it coming; continue your studies without weakening. God will do the rest.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Making Magic

"Your life should be beautiful. We are born to experience the beauty of creating our magnificent lives. Yet, we lose ourselves in the little things of every single day and before we notice, we worry, we fear things and we get frustrated, even depressed. It happens because we took our eyes off the purpose of our lives. Concentrate on your goals, always carry love in your heart, and have lots of FUN on the way. This is how you make magic."

--Amanda Devine of

What magic are you making today...?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Individualism and Rose Colored Glasses

Ring 'Round the Rosy, 12x12" pastel

Sometimes you just have to put the rose colored glasses on to see life differently...otherwise you just keep going round and round the same old scenes without noticing the beauty right in front of you!

"Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known." --Oscar Wilde

A friend asked when referencing this quotation:
"...true? or intense individual connection to Spirit?" I ask, is there a difference?! I think it's just a mode of seeing....

Creativity is basic to all human beings...not as a divinely bestowed gift to a select few, but individually expressed, as uniquely as we all are different, throughout us all. Some are creative in the studio, others on Wall Street and others in the kitchen. Wherever you express yourself, it is uniquely your view of the divine Spirit or the Universe as you see it and are connected to it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Consistent Vision

"Successful businesses operate from a consistent vision, anchored in a business plan, executed by a well-led team operating from a rational, not emotional point of view.

Many entrepreneurs start businesses from passion, which functions very well as a starting point. The trick is to maintain the passion but operate your business from a sound base of logic.

Your business is a mere hobby unless you establish and follow a business model that (eventually) turns a profit. This may sound hard, but it’s really not, especially when this is the foundation from the very beginning.

When you solve problems from a logical point of view, not an emotional one, you make choices that serve the business and not your ego. Keep asking yourself if feelings are getting in the way. If they are, reestablish your determination to operate from logic.

New habits are created over time. Give yourself a break and focus on applying more and more logic to every aspect of your business. As this becomes your norm, business becomes easier."

Good advice from Ladies Who Launch. I like to ponder the ways in which to apply this "consistent vision" to my art business...with something that looks like intention fueled by passion, followed by unstoppable creativity, that hits the easel with with regularity and persistence....and eventually translates into a painted canvas.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Reflections of the Past

Self Reflection, digital image

It's that time of year. Everyone gets a little edgy about what they've accomplished in life, and naturally reflects on their past and where they are going. But I'm really tired of well meaning inferences to how our past makes us who we are today. I mean, if our past was bumpy and challenging, does this make us broken?

Only the good in our past stays with us and makes us who we's not what terrible things that have happened to us that shape's how we rise like a Phoenix out of the ashes and are reborn of Spirit that makes us who we are and have always been. Maybe past reflection gives us a better view into who we really have been all along.

General thought today maintains that the future is created by the past, and that, like human machines, we repeat our past in our tendencies. It is further held that if we would be free of our past, we must have breakthroughs in consciousness, or we cannot do anything new.

I want to challenge this mode of thinking.

The past is actually defined by the present and by the future...and not the other way around.

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." --George Orwell

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Progress: the edge of not working

Ocean Progression day 2

What would it be like if you lived each day, each breath, as a work of art in progress? Imagine that you are a Masterpiece unfolding, every second of every day, a work of art taking form with every breath. -Thomas Crum

If you ruled out partial successes, there would be no progress at all. -Robert Brault

Every painting and even every thought is a necessary step to lead to the next painting. -Alice Dustin

The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality. -T.S. Eliot

Your painting is the marking of your progression into nature, a sensation of something you see way beyond the two pretty colors over there. Don't stop to paint the material, but push on to give the spirit. -Robert Henri

Learning something new means you have to abandon, for a little while at least, the familiar and comforting. I happen to like this feeling. I remind myself that tomorrow, I will be someone who didn't exist yesterday. -Nick Stone

A painting works only on the edge of not working. Then what is ungraspable comes near. -Kazuaki Tanahashi

Register for January Pastel Workshops

Manic Mondays Pastel Workshop
for four classes, or $45 individually

Mondays, January 10, 17, 24, 31
12:30-3:30 p.m.
@ Hobby Lobby on 183/Lamar
8000 Research Blvd Austin, TX 78758

In my pastel workshops, students will strengthen drawing and painting skills while discovering and/or fine-tuning their own painting style. I'll work with you one-on-one to facilitate establishing individual daily painting practices or rituals, to increase productivity and instill more confidence and freedom. All levels welcome. REGISTER BELOW:

Four Day Pastel Workshop

Individual Classes

Striving vs. Contentment

Underpainting progression...about 1 hour

It's early Sunday morning and I've been working with Galkyd as a varnish on this underpainting of ocean waves lapping the beach. It should be mostly dry by Sunday afternoon, and ready for another layer of paint. I've applied warm complimentary colors for this layer. The next layer will introduce cool blues and greens and more local colors.

"I feel again the hunger to let go of my striving and find the ability to become content and still, intentionally 'superfluous', as writer Helen M. Luke puts it...But how in the world do I reconcile it with my fierce need to write, the deep clamor to bring forth a new creative flowering in myself? It almost bereaves me to think of unrealized potentials dying inside, the small miscarriages of self. I want to be a novelist." ~Sue Monk Kidd

The writer, Sue Monk Kidd, reminds us here of the age old creative conflict. I prefer the idea that we will find our ability when we let go of our striving and become content and still. This doesn't mean, of course, that we don't strive for better ability and further expressions of our creativity. But when we make our striving our focus all the time, I've found that we just don't paint, or create, or get anything done on any subject because we build so much anxiety around self-expression that we are blocked.

I'm intrigued by Kidd's sad picture of "small miscarriages of self". Perhaps this occurs most when we just don't strive at all...due to fear, or limited time, or self-doubt. To avoid this picture we step up to the easel and command ourselves to move a brush across a canvas until our creative self is finally engaged in giving birth to a multitude of expressions.

I suppose we must have both the striving, the anxiety of moving towards an unfamiliar creative edge, and the contentment with where we are painting order to move towards our paintings of tomorrow.

Best not to think too much about it...and just paint...I'm striving for high painting mileage this year. And, I imagine, there will be much contentment in that!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Just Start!

So it's a new year and a clean slate...what will you paint on the canvas of life this year? time for perfect starts...there's a million different approaches I could take! I just have to do this! Here goes the first underpainting on this 15x30" linen canvas.

I've already started a smaller version and I'm just jumping into the large scale final size. I may go back and work out problems on the smaller one at the same time, but for now, I just need to start and finish this overly procrastinated project!

Savoring the smell of the oils, the sound of my brush scraping over the linen....I drink in the moment paint meets the soul. Ahhh. I wonder why it always takes me so long to get to the easel each time I paint. Hmm. My mind wanders in and out to Nora Jones, as my waves start to crash on the beach and I recall lost loves and tender moments along the shores of life.

It just doesn't get any better than this!