In the Spirit of Cassandra Tondro

The Rooster, mixed media painting by Peony and Parakeet.

This painting is a monotype print where I have added only few collage pieces and a couple of little details with pens. In this artwork, the rooster is waking us up to notice that in art, whether we are makers or viewers, we are always in the middle of an experience. Thus, if you want to become a better artist, you should not focus on the final results only, but also on the experience.

Cassandra Tondro

There’s a particular artist that I want to introduce for this subject. She is someone that I greatly admire, Cassandra Tondro. I am most honored to have Cassandra Tondro herself answering to my questions! I also got her permission to publish her photo and my favorite artwork of hers called “Illusion” in this post.

Artist Cassandra Tondro

The Supplies

Cassandra Tondro has not only thought through about what kind of paintings she wants to create. She has dug deep into the whole creative process. The development of her current way of working has started steps back from what most of us would think. She wanted to find an environment-friendly solution and discovered a way to work with leftover house paint.

I did not have extra house paint but some odd jars of similar kind of fluid paint like Tim Holtz’s Distress Paint. I also diluted few old acrylic paints with water to get more fluid paint colors.

Fluid acrylic paints

Working with Colors

Cassandra Tondro has made videos of how she works with the paint. Instead of plastic sheet and canvas, I decided to use a glass plate with blank watercolor paper. My plate is about 12 by 12 inches.

Monotype pront with acrylics on a glass plate

While I poured colors on the plate, I thought about how suitable this process is when you want to forget the rest of the world and have a quality time with your favorite colors. Cassandra Tondro embraces quietness while working:

I like quiet when I work.  My experience is that we are surrounded with so much noise all the time — traffic, cell phones, airplanes overhead, radio, videos, Musak in stores.  My studio is my refuge from all of that.  I like to be alone in the studio — no phone, no computer, no Internet connection — and I like it quiet.

I agree. This is a process where colors are the music players, and the painter is the maestro, fully focusing on how to make it all work together.

Unpredictability

One general characteristic of art is an unpredictable creating process. While you have to accept more unpredictability than usually, there’s a lot what you can control. Choosing the colors and creating color mixtures is one thing. Composing color areas is another. But as Cassandra says, this is an experimental process. Experimenting is also very freeing. As I was unable to repeat the strokes that I usually do, this process tweaked my style to an unpredictable direction.

Movement

When I pressed the watercolor paper against the glass plate, feeling colors crushing between the plate and paper, I felt like running. This process involves physical movement, even if you are working on the table, instead of laying the paint on the floor like Cassandra does. The action, combined with colors, lifts your spirit, forces you to concentrate and makes you curiously excited.

Monotype printing

When the paper is turned over, and the artwork is revealed, there’s no quietness anymore! The colors have found their home. They have abandoned the hard glass, and now lie rearranged on the soft paper. A good 24 hours of dry air and they are there to stay!

Fresh acrylic paint

A warning: Once you have made one, you won’t be able to stop!

Monotype printing with acrylic paints

I got fascinated by everything, including the cleaning of the glass plate!

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet

Inspiration

I asked Cassandra where she gets her inspiration for painting:

My inspiration often comes from dreams or during meditation.  I like to meditate before I start to paint.  It sets the mood for creativity, and ideas often occur to me during meditation.  Another good source of inspiration for me is taking a walk.  Getting outside and walking frees up my mind, and I sometimes get ideas that way.

This kind of art thrives on the freedom. When I look at my pieces, I hear the colors thanking me: “You released us!” And as colors are so close to emotions, it feels like they have been released too.

Monotype printing with acrylic paints, by Peony and Parakeet

This is the next print after The Rooster.

Monotype printing with acrylic paints, by Peony and Parakeet

This piece was made on canvas textured paper instead of watercolor paper. It is not quite as sharp as those made on watercolor paper. If you create small pieces, as I did, I recommend using thick watercolor paper.

Peony and Parakeet experimenting with Cassandra Tondro's technique.

I composed the gallery-style image on a black background, but I think that Cassandra’s work would look beautiful on a brick wall. I like to imagine how the colors would have flown in the air and crashed against the hard blocks.

The more you experiment with this technique, the more you begin to appreciate Cassandra’s paintings. I see her art very powerful. Maybe because it is something totally different from my own, which often includes too much expression, too much explaining. Cassandra’s art is the art of listening. Watching her paintings makes me think: I am free to live, I am accepted, there’s no need for talking.

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22 Responses to In the Spirit of Cassandra Tondro

  1. What a great blog post, Paivi! I love what you did with this technique, and you’re right — it is totally addictive! I’m honored that you chose to write about my work. Thank you!

  2. Mary W says:

    Thanks for introducing me to a new artist. One of my favorite things is to “see” stuff in paintings – even oil drips on the road after a rain. Your rooster is amazing and I could look for hours. Especially adore his comb. This piece feels just like early morning crowing! I am especially drawn to art that allows me to experience it with my own thoughts as well as combining it with the artists – this is exactly what you have produced. It is like a conversation between you and me with no words, just color.

  3. Miranda says:

    Hi Paivi, thank you so much for sharing this and get the chance to meet Cassandra! What a great way to work with art and left over products! Your rooster is so beautiful and I can imagine that this will be addictive when you start with the first print!
    from a creative spirit,
    Miranda

  4. This is a magnificent Post. the artwork of Cassandra is mesmerizing and your interpretation is equally impressive. May I ask how you clean your plate?

    Thank you so much for introducing Cassandra and showcasing your own art.

  5. Looks like I am going to have some fun this weekend. Thanks and loved the videos.

  6. SANDY says:

    YES!

  7. I loved this technique! Can’t wait to find a piece of glass and experiment!

  8. Dorothy says:

    Wow, I love this technique. I checked out Cassandra’s art, videos and blogs. Thanks for introducing me to her beautiful work and the great idea of usin old house paint in such a creative way.

  9. Heather T. says:

    Paivi, I love how you embellished that rooster print just a little bit to give us an imagination entry point into the colors. Such a successful piece! =)

  10. Love your work. I have been inspired to try the process. Thanks and put me on your list to receive more inspiring ideas. Thank, Pat Voelz

  11. Ihania ihania ihania töitä taas täällä. <3 niin upeita juttuja. En ole hetkeen ennättänyt poiketa ja sydän on pakahtua ihastuksesta.