Monday, February 28, 2011

Plunging Barefoot into Spring

Iris Pools, 10x8" pastel by S'zanne Reynolds

Stuck downtown at 4 p.m. in traffic that seems to be going nowhere fast...I turn around and head to "Lady Bird/Town Lake" (the Colorado River) to while away the hours in a canoe rental. Not exactly dressed for water, I throw my Birks into the bow, roll up my pant legs and wade barefoot into the cool waters to shove off.


My vermilion vessel submerges into the cool, dark-green crystal waters of a painting in my mind...making a nice compliment to the scene if I could remove myself to see it. She glides over bits of cerulean blue heaven and rippling gold reeds refracted in her wake. Beneath her hull, sunlit shadows reveal leafy tentacles swaying in a magical mermaid emerald forest of quiet lights and darks. Just above the surface, statuesque log-piled turtles suddenly make tactical dives to hide from close observation.

Swarms of seasonal coots, black duckie-like birds, coo and cluck all around me. These mud hens have white markings on their beaks which are mirrored on their sassy white-tipped rumps so when they fish, bottoms up, predators can't tell their heads from their tails. Isn't Mother Nature clever? Their beady red eyes make them personify a rather sinister cartoon...what characters!

Everything seems to be anticipating the arrival of spring. Early tree buds dapple in the light against the distant mists of grays, golds and young the arch of a bridge captures the day's last light, rebounding on the river.

Bright orange and yellow sunkissed paddles playfully slap out a rhythm...swoosh, splish, splash...swoosh, splish, they sing out from all sides. The wind pushes my canoe wildly about until I circle round and lie back, looking up dizzy with spring's promise of renewal through the treetops.

Trains moan and traffic buzzes. Geese honk and lovers smooch. Youth and beauty run by at a steady pace. I think of the young man's hand I used to hold.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Listening from the Treetops

Whispering Treetops, digital image by S'zanne Reynolds

Visiting with a friend in the parking lot, I heard a child's voice calling out for help across the street. Most of the Sunday crowd had already left church and the outdoor courtyard was empty, but the timid voice continued to call out faintly, "help, help!" We crossed the street and looked up some 40 feet off the ground to find a small boy camouflaged in the tree tops of a large magnolia. Insisting that he couldn't get back down, the child had become afraid at finding himself so far off the ground.

My friend went over to the trunk of the tree and reminded the boy that he could hear God's directions if he just listened for them...that God was showing him the best way to get down and that he was safe in his divine Father's care and could trust Him.

How many of us would have tried to tell the boy what to do? I was impressed that my friend didn't try to give him any human advice about tree climbing, which she had little or no expertise in. But rather, she insisted that he was receptive to God's guidance and could, in fact, hear God's directions.

The boy's parents, who had been looking for him inside the edifice, came outside in time to see their son scaling down a tree taller than the church's roof line. None of us were more grateful than this little boy who ran to his mom and hugged her, happy to be safely on the ground and completely unharmed. I don't think any of us will forget the lesson of this day!

Even though we might not be able to share this child's perspective, we can all relate to going out on a limb and getting stuck there. How often do we remember to listen to God and ask for directions or guidance? Do we remember to have this simple childlike trust in our Father's plan for we ask for help with each step of the way, knowing that His design is complete and fulfilling, supreme and known to us?

So, no matter what your adventure may look like or where your journey may take you, go climb that tree or mountain top...and trust that you'll be able to get back down...listening for directions along the way!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Date With Art

I had a date with Art tonight. I went to hear live music at Opa on South Lamar. Faces appeared as mythic creatures, nymphs and jokers...dogs were lions, men were magicians and women were belly dancers. Spiders spun webs of wonder and enchantment under a mighty twin-trunked oak that lassoed the stars and swayed to the rising music dancing over our heads.

I found at least one model to add to my series. It's a good night in Austin.

Monday, February 21, 2011

You Are the Music

"Inner Light" 30x24" oil on canvas

Regularly sells for $2000, the above painting is now on special for only $1250 plus tax, plus S+H will be COD or arranged to be picked up later. SHOWING at Hyde Park Bar & Grill in West Gate, March 6 - April 25.

I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me-like food or water. ~Ray Charles

As it's almost time for SXSW here in Austin, Texas and it's time to go out and enjoy the city known for being the "Live Music Capital of the World".

The creative forces of music, art, dance and theatre exist inside us as the ebb and flow of our very life forces. Music has been described as
wild sound civilized, an ocean, a sculpture, moonlight, religion, a material necessity, the short-hand of emotion, the soul's language, spiritual power, the speech of angels, a refuge, an escape, revelation, and as the food of love.

Whatever music is to you, we as human beings seem to crave it almost as much as food and water. Music is our solace in despair and our glad sound in celebration. Below I've shared some of my favorite things various folks have said about what music is to them. Enjoy...and I hope to see you out there enjoying the live music!

Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.
~Lao Tzu

For me, singing sad songs often has a way of healing a situation. It gets the hurt out in the open into the light, out of the darkness.
~Reba McEntire

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.
~Ludwig van Beethoven

I've said that playing the blues is like having to be black twice. Stevie Ray Vaughan missed on both counts, but I never noticed. ~ B.B. King

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. ~Plato

You can't stay the same. If you're a musician and a singer, you have to change, that's the way it works. ~Van Morrison

If music be the food of love, play on. ~William Shakespeare

There's nothing like music to relieve the soul and uplift it.
~Mickey Hart

Who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once.
~Robert Browning

Without music, life would be a mistake.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

You are the music while the music lasts.
~ T.S. eliot

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Embracing Our Passions or Playing It Safe

Sedona, Arizona

There are no guarantees in life except change. But will we jump on and embrace change and see where our passion will take us, or will we cling cautiously to the past and to that which is known and safe? Passion dies in an environment of fear and a yearning for guarantees and certainty.
~Brene Brown

Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable. ~Sydney Smith

I've never regretted getting in the van and driving around the country with my camera and paints or taking plane trips to far away places. I have deeply regretted staying at home and becoming more comfortable in my surroundings.

Have you noticed that as you allow small regrets to accumulate, like the gym you never work out in or the book you never start, it becomes easier to allow the larger ones to take the vacations you never take or the career change or relationship you never went for?

However, if you demand to see a little progress and risk daily of yourself, then it's much more likely that you'll embrace your larger hopes and dreams. So why not start today?!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Look Where You Would Walk

One of my favorite photos on the way to the Grand Canyon.

"We must look where we would walk, and we must act as possessing all power from Him in whom we have our being."
~ Mary Baker Eddy

Letting go and letting God...we're all familiar with that phrase, but it's often more challenging than we'd like. We usually want to see our life in outline form...with clear goals and directions before us.

I love the above quote from Mary Baker Eddy. It gives new meaning to the idea of letting go. Instead of mindlessly wandering in the wilderness of confusion and hope, waiting for some divine guidance...we are divinely empowered to take the steps we need to with the sweet promise of finding what we desire on our journey, even our perfect bliss.

How often do we act as having all power within our grasp, within our divine, creative being? And do we really look in the direction where we want our lives to go? or do we timidly look back at our past achievements or past relationships to discover ways to keep doing what we've always done?

I invite you to look where you would like to!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Playtime: The Soul's Work

"Texas Pastures" 10x8" acrylic demo

This is a demo I did at an art store recently. It's different from my usual work...I'm just playing with another medium and chillin' out to the music, loving the pink.

From "Coming Home to Myself" by Marion Woodman:

"If play is the work of the soul, imagination is its language...Play and imagination are the raw material of adult self-expression in the arts. Children don't need to be talented to enjoy painting or dancing; they do it because they enjoy it. Adults do not need talent either, just a willingness to let go of set ideas about what it means to express themselves in the arts."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Enjoying the Journey

5.5x4" acrylic thumbnail: "Red Roof and Crimson Flora"

I did this sweet little thumbnail prior to a demo I did last night. Although there are some adjustments to make, I quite enjoyed this little jewel over the finished painting. It's funny how that happens...sometimes the quick explorations of color and free bold strokes leave you with a much fresher view. Not to mention that I prefer this watercolor paper to the yucky board I painted on afterwards! So supplies do make a difference to how you respond to the paint as well.

Assignment: Do a small pencil value-map of study of a scene on scratch paper. Then divide small sheets of paper in half. In about 5x7" or 5x5" formats, paint the same scene 4-6 times in different colors. Try various color combinations from the color wheel: compliments, split compliments, analogues colors, and triadic combos. Be aware of the values and make sure your colors reflect the values you assigned in the value study. Try some high key and low key colors as well. Have fun!

Remember to enjoy the journey of's not always about the destination or final product!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Meeting Indifference with Love

Opening night, Saturday, February 12, 2011, at Austin Art Space with the theme, "For the Love of Art" featured the subject of love. "Becoming Natasha", my piece (above right) was juried into the show.

This weekend an elderly woman in the checkout line in front of me relayed that she'd been married for 65 years and didn't expect anything for Valentine's Day from her husband, nor did she care. Hmm. This gave me pause. You'd think 65 years of marriage would be something to celebrate!

Maybe her indifference was to protect her own heart from her husband's indifference. Indifference may take seed in thought to cover a plethora of fears. We can participate in little indifferences that lead to the small broken shards that make up our messy experiences which eventually become emergencies, stress or broken hearts....until we forget how to love and be loved...and grow used to the cold emptiness. Indifference suffocates the heart and turns the soul towards bitterness.

It's certainly never fun to be on the receiving end of indifference, as most of us know from experience. But what we usually don't realize, is that we all too often respond in if the hurt will go away if we numb out.

Indifference is defined as a lack of interest; of little or no concern; lack of care; lack of quality; mediocrity; unimportance; insignificance; schizophrenic.

Wow, what a word! I found that if you start to keep company with indifference, you seem to find yourself potentially open to all the rest of the family.

Its relatives are apathy, emotionlessness, impassiveness, impassivity, nonchalance, phlegm, spiritlessness, stolidity, unconcern, unemotionality, distant, callous, disinterest, neutrality, ho-hum, lethargy, cruelty, nonchalance, cold-shoulder, cool, callous, dismissive, withdrawal, dissympathy, estrange, alienate, lack, want, secularism, irreligious, deadness.

Upon closer study, I was quite shocked at how much indifference I myself have participated in. It seems that indifference is that which makes you feel unworthy. And perhaps when we feel indifferently about something, we are feeling unworthy ourselves, or not seeing the value in someone else.

The opposite of indifference-- care, concern, feeling, interest, passion, sensitivity, sympathy, warmth, friendliness, compassion, kindness, pleasure, excitement, esteem, honor, respect, gladness, joy, elation-- is just what we all yearn for in this life.

How do you know how much love and life is out in the world available to you if you never go for it 100%? If you only dole love out in small indifferent can you realize the passion that is your calling...or the love of your life?

May we all redirect our energies with the divine Love that never fails us...and may we return blessings for cursing, love for hate, and forgiveness and compassion when we're met with the ugly face of indifference...whether in ourselves or in others.

Love someone special this Valentine's yourself, and then everyone else your thought rests on!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Never Make Assumptions

"A Painful Commission" by S'zanne Reynolds

Commissions are often a challenge for many artists. I've learned the hard way, never to make assumptions or you can lose the sale, or worse--your client.

Don't assume, for example, that they'll understand why you're taking so long to finish a painting. Explain the process and keep clients updated with the progress, or lack of progress.

Be realistic setting a timeline, and don't be afraid to communicate road blocks or explain why the work may take longer than expected. Keep the lines of communication open and don't ignore any problems.

What you see in your head, is not necessarily what they'll want. Discuss the plans for the work and define the details as much as possible. If they can't point to a particular piece in your portfolio that they like and want you to emulate style-wise, then don't take on the job. You cannot be anything other than the artist you already are at the moment.

And, don't assume, they'll want to purchase the piece upon completion. Have a backup plan and offer them another painting for the same value as the non-refundable deposit.

If you don't currently have a dedicated block of time to complete the commission, say 4-6 hours a day for 2-3 weeks or however long you plan for it to take, ask them to come back in 6 months or put them on a waiting list. Accepting commissions too far in advance of your availability will make you look like you're not really interested in doing business with them, and it may potentially build tension and frustration for all concerned.

We all want our clients to be happy with our commissions, and we desire to act with integrity and professionalism. But even the best intentions can go awry. Click on for some good guidelines on setting goals, expectations and desired results to help avoid the pitfalls of bad planning and unexpected outcomes in any business.

Art is, after all, a business...the business of creativity!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Art of Seeing

Delovely Delisa, 16x19" pastel © 2010

"There is an art to seeing shapes in clouds."
~Gavin Pretor-Pinney, Founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society

I'd say there is an art to seeing....

Did you look up today and see the horizontal bands of clouds, like a woman's shawl about her head?

What do you see when you look up?

Babushka, 24x18" oil © 2006

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February Wallpaper

Right click to download for your desktop...Mac users, option click.

Here's to the month of love with a detail from Ring 'Round the Rosy, a 12x12" pastel.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ruin: Road to Transformation

"The Road to Transformation" by S'zanne Reynolds

"Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation."
~from the movie, "Eat Pray Love"

Have you ever really messed up? Totally wiped out on a painting or creative work?

I sure have! But some of my best ruinations have lead to the most transforming freedom of creative thought process...leaving me in a new place, previously undiscovered.

I was once told that the start of a painting was far more important than the finish. We are often all too concerned with the finished product...will it look good in a frame? will it sell?...vs. the creative process of what feeling did we begin with, what was our intention and did we see it through?

Of course, then there is the middle...when much ruination and transformation may take place. And sometimes we finish it out OK, and other times, not so much! But it's often the lessons we take from the ruined paintings that shapes our next few paintings and adds depth to future work.

So have some fun today...on the road to transformation...and ruin a few paintings!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Working in Sunshine and Storm

A thumbnail work in progress...pastel.

The entire purpose of true education is to make one not only know the truth but live it– to make one enjoy doing right, make one not work in the sunshine and run away in the storm, but work midst clouds of wrong, injustice, envy hate; and wait on God, the strong deliverer, who will reward righteousness and punish iniquity. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." --MB Eddy

One of my favorite quotes that has been around my desk since high school. While I haven't always enjoyed the challenge of working in sad times vs. glad times...I'm learning to truly appreciate it now. If you can't do what you love through thick and haven't really learned to love what you do.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Giving It Your Best...and Your Worst

Work in progress, pastel

Giving your best to yourself and your painting will not always obtain the promise of progress. Some days we just need to take out the turp rag and erase the day's work, wash it off or throw it away and start again. After all, there's nothing more important than new beginnings!

Sometimes I just have to give myself permission to paint the hopes of discovering the magic of painting well!