Exploring a New Direction

Hi Friends,

I recently took a class with Nancy Reyner called Painting Excellence. It’s interesting that what I expected to get from the class is not what I ended up getting at all!

I wanted clarity about my intent and direction, but what I got was affirmation that I’m already on the right path. It turns out that I know more than I thought I knew.

In the class we discussed the structure of successful paintigngs and learned how to systematically analyze them for flaws. I somehow do that intuitively. I don’t know where I picked it up, but I can feel if a painting works or not.

Nancy said that intent doesn’t have to be a deep concept. It can be as simple as “I want to play.” As a painting develops, it may vary from the original intent, and it’s important to stay open to other possibilities. The painting takes on a life of its own.

Since finishing the class I’ve been spending a lot of time in the studio, playing around with various ideas. I’m still intrigued with the “cell” paintings, and I have a new one to show you.

The painting below is dark and mysterious with pops of color at the top of what looks a lot like a Protea flower. I crowdsourced the title on Facebook, and two themes came up — emerging and flowers. I combined the two for the title of “Emerging Flora.”

Thank you to those of you who made title suggestions for this piece! It’s always fun to find out what you see in my paintings.

Click on the images below for more information about this painting.

Cassandra Tondro, abstract art

“Emerging Flora,” 24 x 30 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas. Detail images follow.

Cassandra Tondro abstract art

Cassandra Tondro abstract art

Cassandra Tondro abstract art

Cassandra Tondro abstract art

Cassandra Tondro abstract art

What new things have you been exploring lately? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.

With love and appreciation,



  1. Hi Cassandra

    You have just confirmed a very important concept. Being able tore recognise when something is right or not. For sometime my wife has been telling me that things I produce are a step backward in style and presentation. So I have been doing less and less.

    I have nothing new that I want to show you because I (she) is not happy with the result of my endeavours. Add to this, I have no more space to store finished artwork. I plan to set up a art trail this summer, in conjunction with a couple of neighbours, have just purchased 3x 3m x 3m marquees for this event, we’ll see how this pans out.

    Love your latest painting attached to the blog. Your style is going from strength to strength, so keep up the good work.

    Kind regards


  2. Good to hear from you, John! This happens to me a lot, and I think it’s part of the process of producing art. What is it that they say — if you’re not failing you’re not taking any risks. And making art is all about risk taking. Failing just means you’re on the cutting edge of something new, and it happens to me all the time. It’s frustrating, and you want things to work out, but it’s not usually smooth sailing — there are obstacles and detours that need to be navigated first. Looking forward to hearing how your art events work out!

  3. I love these new paintings! the bits and details and splashes of color are surprising and gorgeous!

  4. Hi Cassie
    Since I am on a South West camping trip, I see the beauty and feel the spirit of the desert all around me. When I saw this new painting of yours the name “Desert Flower” popped into my consciousness even before I saw the question. I love how it came out.

    Painting without fear is a difficult thing, especially the closer I get to something I like. I am trying to over come this but I find I so often overthink things. I am trying to balance a sense of freedom with learning new things or techniques.

    I try to remind myself about the positive aspects mistakes but it is difficult.

    Thanks, as always’ for your wisdom.


    1. Hi Celia! Hope you’re enjoying your trip. Yes, I also have a tendency to overthink things and find it difficult to try new stuff. Here’s something Nancy told me.

      When you find yourself in that thinking loop, trying to figure something out in your mind, go into the studio and just paint. It doesn’t matter where you start or what you paint. She said that these things can only be figured out by painting, not by thinking about them. When you’re painting, you instinctively know what the next step is. And then the next and the next and the next. But it can’t all be planned out in advance.

      I’m still working on this one!

  5. I have a suggestion if I may from a teacher’s analysis point of you. What I see in the second painting is a possibility for a variant. A background of less colors so that the front subject could be more enhanced. Just a thought for perhaps another painting.
    Unfortunately, I need to dedicate my energy lately to getting better. If that happens I will be back and again have fun with art making.

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