Monday, April 25, 2011

Know Who You Are

"Springing-up Cows Everywhere", digital image...a possible future painting.

On the top right of my blog is a link to Ralph Marston's Daily Motivator, and a short synopsis of his daily theme. Today's insight on not having enough time to live our dreams is really helpful as many of us struggle to have more time to paint. Ralph says, "Instead of letting the time slip away, allow the best of your dreams to more fully unfold with each passing moment."

He reminds us to "Remember constantly who you really are and why you have chosen to go in the direction you’re going. Every thought, word and action that comes from your true purpose will draw great value from the moment you’re in. Whatever your age or situation, there’s plenty of time to live richly. And that time is here right now."

Click on the link here, or on my page to read the rest of his inspiring thoughts on the subject.

I find that it's not enough just to say have to LIVE it. You have to create habits around what you want in your life. Twyla Tharp's book, "The Creative Habit" is a constant companion for me these days and I highly recommend her book if you struggle with having the time and courage to do all the things that are important to painting.

Twyla also advises to really know who you are so that you know what you should NOT be doing as well.

Artist, Robert Genn suggests to try any dream or goal for an extended time period. If it proves fruitless, you have no regrets for not trying, and it at least moves you into the direction you need to go. He recommends having a minimum of a six month contract with yourself to try say, painting full time, or painting half a day, etc...and see where you land.

"As a suffering creature, I cannot do without something greater than I--something that is my life--the power to create." ~ Vincent van Gogh

"Feelings of creative joy and the consequent self-worth come from doing the work. We all ask Vincent's question: "There is something inside me--what can it be?" And we learn, "One must work and dare if one really wants to live." Are we up to this question and its answer? If it was easy to fulfill I think everyone would be artists." ~Robert Genn

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Painting, A Prayer Journey

Digital Image, by S'zanne Reynolds

"Work is love made visible." ~Kahlil Gibran

In his March 11 bi-weekly newsletter, Robert Genn talks about painting as a "spiritual event...a sort of a visual prayer--honoring the gifts that surround us and the life we've been given."

Robert elaborates on his vision of painting as a prayer below, dispelling the myth that art is somehow selfish, self-indulgent or without purpose. I love to think of this whether I'm painting, photographing, writing or being creative in the kitchen!

From Robert Genn:

"A spiritual awakening is often found and developed in a wilderness. It can be a poem or a parable of a deep forest, a mountain meadow or a cactus-studded desert. The outdoor spirit of plein air refreshes and further enables the indoor studio chapel. Each new creative beginning is a confirmation of the simple truth of taking care. And while it may all appear to be self-indulgent and isolating, every thought, every stroke, every caress of the brush adds a small refreshment of meaning and purpose to our universe."

The Power of Living on Purpose

"You should KEEP ON PAINTING no matter how difficult it is...unless it KILLS you, and then you know you have GONE TOO FAR." ~Alice Neel

Last Sunday a small number of women artists gathered at my house to watch the documentary, "Who Does She Think She Is?" It was a wonderful time of self-discovery and recovery of parts of our selves that were lost, collectively and individually. Moved to tears one moment and infuriated the next, we laughed, cried and shouted together.

In the movie, several women, from performing artists, sculptors, painters to producers, talk about the power of living on purpose, the power of living to express their art forms...because that is who they are. They were discovering that it is only right to be who you are meant to be, in spite of the roles society expects you to play as a woman, wife or mother. Some even felt that they would die if they did not create their art.

Some movie quotes:

"Art is all about not knowing where you are's a transforming process."

"The more I paint, the more I understand my place."

Afterwards, our group discussed why some points of view, including family, society or even ourselves, questioned whether it was "selfish" to be an artists and pursue our dreams of creativity outside home and hearth. We wondered why we felt we had to be "allowed" to express ourselves or "ask permission" to create vs. having the choice to express ourselves in the world. Was talent something we are all born with, but some of us want/need to express it more than others? What is talent, but desire, love and passion expressed in many forms?

You're invited to leave comments on who you think you are as an artist or artistic being...and what contribution/purpose your unique vision/art makes in the world. ie. What does living on purpose look like for you and for your art?

And stay tuned...we'll be showing the movie again, extending the invitation to family and friends.

To check out the movie trailer, visit this link.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Painting Rituals

"Spring Equinox", digital image by S'zanne Reynolds

"Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits."
~Twyla Tharp, "The Creative Habit"

In her book, The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp says habits replace doubt and fear with comfort and routine. What routine gets you warmed up and prepared to paint...if not indeed painting? Maybe it's reading an art book or magazine over coffee before starting to paint. Maybe it's yoga or morning prayer. Perhaps its sketching or photographing what's around you. Or, maybe it's meeting a painting group once a week.

Sometimes we have as many excuses as to why we can't start a painting as we do for not going to the gym..too little time, mile high to-do list, piles of paperwork, emotions running rampant, aching feet and back, exhaustion...sound familiar?

Twyla recalls that more than anything else, rituals of preparation arm us with confidence and self-reliance. Hmm. Self-reliance. Have you ever thought about self-reliance and painting? Self-reliance is built out of the confidence that grows from the painting habit. You no longer need to be talked into painting, you just paint because it's your ritual, your habit.

So go forth and begin practicing your painting rituals today!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring's Eye Candy

"Valerie's View" 8x10" oil by S'zanne Reynolds

A view of a friend's garden in full bloom Wednesday afternoon was a veritable smorgasbord of color. Painted with irises, roses, hanging plants and honey-suckle...her yard was a symphony of birds crooning, butterflies flirting, and squirrels tangoing among the sunlit tree tops which dappled a neighbor's rusty ol' tin roof in a sweet scene of Monet-like eye candy.

I do love painting outdoors and the effort of capturing dancing light.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who Does She Think She Is?

"The Female Spirit", 10x8" oil
Private Collection, Richmond, VA

"Who Does She Think She Is?"

WHEN: 2 - 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 17
WHERE: Studio Zanne

Responsibility or self-expression? Do we have to choose?
This film features female portraits of courage, their struggles and triumphs in practicing their art.

"This film is not about being a woman, or a woman artist, but rather how to be a human, how to find your true place in life."

Lively discussions to follow! For more info on the movie see:

BYO drinks and finger foods...
and a painting or two you've been working on.

For a $5 donation, I'll provide some acrylics, brushes & palettes if we want to "play" a bring the scrap paper or canvas...or bring your own paints if you prefer.

The intention: to create a fun and thought provoking afternoon in a supportive atmosphere of an "art family" of friends, deep thinkers and beautiful expressions.

Artists, please RSVP if you want to is limited!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

DO I HEAR $30 - 35?

"Sunny and Clear", 8x10" acrylic

OK sports fans, I've got a bid on this painting for $25...I low-balled it to get the auction bidders's got 6 more days and it could still be's for a good cause to help Japan's Red Cross!

DO I HEAR $30 - 35?

Click here to make your bid.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bull Creek Study

"Bull Creek Study", 8x10" oil study on board

Sales Price
Bull Creek, 8x10" oil painting

"Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
~Thomas Jefferson

Sometimes you can waste all day trying to figure out if you should paint or do the laundry. If you'd just gone straight out and painted, there would have been plenty of time for dirty clothes, dusting and figuring out your life. This is what I did yesterday in the dog park with my youngest canine who patiently guarded the pochade box while I painted.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Soul of a Woman

"Judith Slaying Holofernes" by Artemisia Gentileschi

"I shall show what a woman is capable of.
You will find Caesar's courage in the soul of a woman."

~ Artemisia Gentileschi, 1593-1652/53

Artemisia Gentileschi was born in Rome to an Italian painter in 1593, a time which forbade women from working in a profession, particularly art. Due to her outstanding talent, her father, a successful Baroque painter, trained her anyway. Later Artemisia apprenticed under her father's artist friend, Agostino Tassi, who repeatedly raped her. When Tassi failed to marry her, the affair was taken to court as the first known public rape case. The trial ended without a clear verdict so the humiliated young Artemisia went to Florence where her father arranged a marriage contract with a Florentine who would allow her to continue working. There she received a number of large commissions and was the only woman to be admitted to the Accademia del Disegno.

Despite the cultural taboo of a working woman and her personal tarnished reputation, Artemisia was one of the first women to become a professional painter. She also became a women's rights advocate rebelling against the gender restrictions of her day.

The above painting by Artemisia is especially interesting as many think it is a reference to her being repeatedly raped. Her sensitive paintings, her dogged determination, her dramatic life story and her "Caesar's courage" do, indeed, reveal a remarkable soul of a woman in history...leaving women artists today quite a courageous legacy to stand on!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Creating Moments of Joy"

"Smile!" digital image by S'zanne Reynolds

"Happiness," we are told, "is becoming a focal point of business and here’s why: When you create moments of joy throughout a customer’s encounter with your product, you are more likely to experience the ripple effect that an emotionally positive experience can have on your business." --Ladies Who Launch

I appreciated the above statement as it applies to art. Everyone expresses creatively with a different purpose. For me, I enjoy creating art to express a moment of joy, reflection or some emotional chord that resonates with myself and the world around me, and therefore, with the viewer.

"Romping Around" digital image by S'zanne Reynolds

As artists we are developing an encounter that we hope will draw the observer into the experience of our creative endeavor. If a work is made with integrity of observation, with love and tenderness of line, and with a pure heart towards color...the art speaks for itself and the creative experience is heard, seen and felt with it performance, poem or the emotion pain, sadness or joy.

"Jumping for Joy" digital image by S'zanne Reynolds

With so much despair in the world, it's comforting and humbling to remember that there are infinite ways to console others with the joy of our creative truth and expression.

"In our life there is a single color, as on an artist's palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love." ~Marc Chagall

To read the whole article from Ladies Who Launch, click here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dream It, Begin It

Beside the Still Waters, 12x18" pastel

"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Monday, April 4, 2011

Practicing Confidence in Success

Umbrella Girl...a pastel in progress.

Confidence. It's not that some of us are lacking it while others have lots of it. We all have confidence in something. It's just that some of us have confidence in failing rather than in succeeding--in losing rather than in wining, in dying rather than living.

I like the synonyms Rodale's gives for confidence: full trust, reliance, dependence, faith, trustworthiness, assured expectation, conviction, sureness, resoluteness, sheet anchor, heart, fearlessness, backbone, tenacity, spunk, self-assurance...etc.

Confidence is an innate quality expressed by all of us. It has nothing to do with whether or not we are good enough or are deserving of being confident. However, we do get to choose what we put our confidence in.

Are we convinced of abundant goodness and supply, unstoppable inspiration and fulfilling creativity? Or, do we have expectations of lack of time and money, creative blocks and poor paintings?

There's a Bible story where these guys are fishing off the coast all night and catch nothing. Jesus stops by and suggests that they cast their net on the right side of the boat. Suddenly the net is so full that the fishermen can barely pull it in. So what changed? It was the same boat with the same fishermen in the same spot with the same net. Even the same fish in the ocean. Maybe their new friend showed them how to transform their confidence in lack, to confidence in plenty? or how to uplift their dependence on limited skills, to faith in a higher expression of talents?

So, if you're an artist who doesn't always have confidence in your talent, time and resources...ask yourself where you've been placing your confidence. You might even try painting on the right side of the boat!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Alternative Views and A Single Focus

I'm now offering 5 other fun ways to view my blog by typing the word "view" to the end of my URL. (

Next, if you click on the top right pull-down menu you'll find the alternate platforms to look through my blog. The first one I've featured here is called "Mosaic". Click here to check it out.

Speaking of alternative views...don't forget to stand back to look at your paintings (or your life) and get the big picture. If you focus in too closely the whole time you are painting, you'll find it warps your perspective and keeps you mired in the it does in most all jobs/tasks. Go for a walk and come back into the room refreshed with a new pair of eyes.

Remember that your eyes can only focus on one thing at a time in any given this means that your paintings should only have one focus if you are wanting to reproduce life. If the light area is in focus, then the darks should be out of focus...and so on. It's a good practice to apply to your to-do list, too...if you focus on one thing at a time, you'll get much more done at the end of the day than if you stop and start several projects at once.

You may also want to look at your artwork upside down or in a mirror, as well. It helps you identify any mistakes that may be hidden due to the way we see what we believe is reality rather than looking and measuring for what is really accurate. The mirror makes you check your reality against what's actually going on.

Hope you're having a fun, creative weekend!