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I guess the best place to start is with a little history. No one ever wanted me to be an artist (they starve, you know). Since I couldn’t imagine doing anything else (I started painting when I was five), I spent almost 20 years as self-taught graphic designer owning a graphic design studio and small greeting card company in Wichita, Kansas. The business was successful but not very fulfilling. Moving to Arizona in 1988, I focused on building a career as a muralist and fine artist. The murals took over most of my time until June of 2006 when I became a full-time caregiver for my mother and part-time caregiver for my father. I now live a double life – as a caregiver and as an artist. One would think they would have little intersection, but the opposite is true. My work is a direct reflection of my life as a caregiver. The wide-open spaces found in most of my current paintings are a response to the almost sequestered existence I have found taking care of my elderly parents. Breaking up the picture plane by use of a sometimes indistinguishable grid affords organization of elements. Boxes and color bars accentuate the skyscapes, bringing them forward and making them less of a window-to-the-world. As such, the skyscapes become more about the painting and less about the scene.

Everyone goes about trying to build his or her art careers differently. Due to my double life and the inability for me to network in person (which I would highly recommend), I have chosen to enter competitions around the country and exhibit in juried shows regionally and locally. To date, my reputation is beginning to grow slowly. I am winning awards and selling a piece now and then. Everyone asks me why I am not in a gallery. There are a number of reasons, but in particular, galleries do not make their income from walk-in traffic. Galleries survive by promoting an artist’s work to collectors. I have not found a gallery as of yet that believes in my work enough to promote it to their collectors – but it is just a matter of time.

I also use the internet to do networking, even though I am still not very adept at it. Belonging to a number of artists’ sites has allowed me the opportunity to talk with other artists about their work and careers, as well as establishing friendships in places around the world I will never have the chance to see. I find it fascinating how a change of terrain and customs influences an artist’s work and yet how little the “art world” alters from place to place.

If I was going to advice artists at any stage of their careers, I would recommend the following:
- Network as much as possible not only with other artists but with the business community
- Get involved with a business group or charity where you can build relationships – one must not forget art is a business (that is if you plan on eating)
- Read and research on the business of art so you won’t have to learn the hard way
- Research exhibitions and competitions before entering so as to not waste your time and money
- We were all born with a sixth sense – it is called intuition or common sense. Use it.
- When we are young, we think we know a lot. As we grow older, we realize how little we really do know. Ask questions. No question is ever stupid.
- Some will tell you to paint what sells. I would suggest following your heart first and then (and only then) do popular images but never stray from your own style
- Keep good records so you can take every available tax deduction and build a contact/mailing list
- Write a good Artist Statement and keep your resume & CV as current as possible
- If you can, volunteer to talk about your art and do demonstrations for local area groups
- Organize your time to allow for “creating” everyday and put limits on how much time you spend on the internet or computer
- DO THE WORK – paint, sketch, sculpt, carve – you can’t build a career without the work
- Be good to yourself and try to always see the positive
- Make a trip to your local museum(s) at least once a month
I could probably go on, but that seems like enough for now.

I actually have several Artist Statements for use in different situations. One has a brief bio included, which some jurors find interesting. My current short version is below.

“Many artists debate social issues, prejudices and injustice – a quandary of multi-faceted personalities battling within the expanse of time and place. My work is more a constant personal struggle to understand (many things) and a learning journey whereby the work mirrors life processes – the flux between too much and too little – an internal argument between control and letting go. I believe art is a vocabulary of poetic reflections – “music for the eyes”, if you will. Ultimately, I strive to build expressions of contemplation and awareness – to paint the melodies inside of me with the hope someone may want to listen.”

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Cyndy, Thank you for sharing your life and art. Caregiving is a gift, which at times is not wholly appreciated. Caregiving is a commitment to give, even when the recipient of the caregiving is unaware of the gift and the sacrifice it involves. Being family doesn't make the sacrifice less real or less painful, although there are family members who believe that caregiving is a genetic debt to be paid. Thank you for having given a gift of creative living to your parents. (I've been there, so I can relate.) I especially like "Spirit". It is a delicate balance of space and dense interwoven foliage. The creative physical "space" may be close, but the spirit is very expansive: That's a very healthy balance.
Thank you so much for your kind words. At times my life seems to be running in circles. You and your work are an inspiration to all and I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my work. Painting is, for me, a spiritual as well as visual journey. I don't know where the journey will take me, but I believe if I follow the Spirit, I will always end up where I am supposed to be. Artfully, Cyndy
PS: Your advise will be taken. I will make a point to go to a local museum at least once a month. Nothing like new sources of inspiration.
I very much like your skies. I work in a doctors office and consider myself a caregiver, and can also understand your desire for an openness and freedom in your art. I have often thought of painting clouds or fields -vast open spaces and for whatever reason have not really done so. I would like to see one of your sky paintings about 6'x8' and to stand very near it and just pretend to be lost in it for a moment! :D.
Hello Taffie,
Thank you for enjoying the skyscapes. I actually DO have a piece that is 48" x 96". I like painting large - I think for the same reason you would like to surround yourself in a work.
I believe we paint what is in our hearts and even though you might think about incorporating the skies in your work, your spirit knows what it needs to create. Artfully, Cyndy
Hi Cyndy,
Your art is beautiful. I can relate to what you are going through and see your heart in your painting and line.
Caregiving for elderly parents is an amazing experience. When coupled with art each pours a lot into the other. I love
"Attitudes" and could easily stare at it for hours and see more as the time passes. It's very beautiful. You have a great
attitude and your path will lead you where you need to be. The art world is a big world these days. It's only limited by your imagination, which is clearly limitless and ready to connect.
Thank you, Susan,
I have not had time to visit your work yet, but will as soon as time allows (it will be medicine time shortly). I wish I had a photo of my latest piece (will post when I can) - if you like "Attitudes", you may also find a similar excursion in "Reflective Thoughts". I will try to let you know when I am able to post it to my profile.
Thank you for your encouraging words and insight. I will look forward to viewing your work and will surely send you some comments. Artfully, Cyndy
Dear Cyndy, "Artists" (they starve, you know). They don't Michelangelo, was a millionaire he supported seventeen families. Do you think every square inch of the Sistine Chapel was painted by him if so you are a fool. Tons of marble was roughed out by apprenticed artists, students and stone carvers before Michelangelo touched chisel to stone. Peter Paul Rubens, had a cadre of workers to make & stretch canvases block in color to fill out his studio crew indoor to fulfill his commissions. He employed a artist fulfill time who was famous for painting animals in the grand painting "The foxes and the wolves" in NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art. The ravaging animals forefront and center aren't painted by Rubens. Most world famous have to be selective in order to make enough money to have the time for each years show. By the way I worked for Amelio Amerio a mexican muralist & lithographer.
Dear Donald,
Exactly my point. Artists don't have to starve. And I hope as my career expands, I will be able to hire some help also. It would be great not having to stretch and gesso my own canvases, but until that day, I think diligence is the key. Congrats again for having such a sucessful artistic career.
Artfully, Cyndy


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