Beauty Within Devastation

Hello Friends,

To be honest, I’ve been struggling a bit lately. I’ve had a nasty cold, which is dragging me down, then the rains and the mudslides after the all-too-recent fire. It’s just a little more than my normally optimistic mind can handle, but I’m hanging in. I know that things will get better, and I’ll find a way to end this message on a positive note for you!

I’ve done several hikes through the burned hills in the past couple of weeks, and although it’s devastating, there’s also beauty in it. Look at these pictures that I took of the charred landscape and ash-covered ground.

Cassandra Tondro Thomas fire Ventura
Cassandra Tondro Thomas fire Ventura
Cassandra Tondro Thomas fire Ventura
Cassandra Tondro Thomas fire Ventura

I decided to create a couple of paintings in response to the fire, and I used the above images to inspire my color palette — all shades of charcoal gray with some brilliant orange and mahogany red.

The finished paintings are large, and it’s difficult to convey the power of their presence in a small image. I suggest you click on the images below and zoom in on them in a browser, and also look at the detail shots of the work.

They’re really beautiful in person, and would look stunning as the focal point of a minimalist room.

The grays change with the light of the day, sometimes dark and brooding, and other times a shimmering silver.

Cassandra Tondro, "Burn Bright," fire energy painting

“Burn Bright,” triptych, 36″ x 54″, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

Cassandra Tondro, "Smoke and Mirrors," fire painting

“Smoke and Mirrors,” 36″ x 48″, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

Now for that positive ending I promised. It can be difficult to see the good in death and destruction, but we go on, don’t we? We endure and we do our best to thrive, even in difficult times.

We survive, and perhaps we are made stronger because of our challenges — tempered by heat like steel and glass.

Fire is a transformative element. It burns away the old and makes way for the new. Fire in these paintings symbolizes the power we possess to alter the landscape of our lives. Fire tempers us and gives us strength to survive.

What would you like to transform or strengthen in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Go forth and burn bright, my dear ones! Be fiery and be the change. You are a divine child of the Universe, and you are deeply loved.

With love and appreciation,



  1. Thank you for your inspiring observations, great photos and paintings. You worked through your sadness with movement and seeking to find beauty in the midst of it all.
    I too believe that through death and destruction, new life reminds us to never let go of hope. And That death allows new life to happen. Thank you
    Alice B

  2. Hi Cassandra. I know all around you is destruction but you are strong and I am impressed that you are looking at some of the good things that have followed. It is hard to understand but God will give you the strength to carry on. You are doing a good job. Keep it up my friend. Pat

  3. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments! Yes, my studio is intact, and my house was untouched. Just a bit smoky.

    Quite a few people here have this lingering cold, and one of my friends thinks it’s from all of the smoke that we inhaled. I’m not sure about that, but I suppose it’s as plausible an explanation as anything else!

    I’m hiking up to the Cross with my hiking group again tonight, and hoping to see some green after the rain last week. Also hoping not to see too much mud. Should be interesting!

    Be well.

  4. By the way . . . just a quick update on the burned hills. I heard crickets up there tonight! I was so excited, because until now, it has been dead silent up there, day and night. But now the crickets are starting to come back. Not everywhere, but there were quite a few of them on the street leading up to The Cross.

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