Staying Present

Greetings Friends,

Painting can be form of meditation — a practice of staying in the present moment. As soon as I veer off into the past (“This painting will probably be a failure like the last one”) or project into the future (“Will people like this painting?”) I lose my ability to be truly creative.

It’s a practice of staying open to possibilities and asking each step of the way, “What does this painting need now?” For that reason, I don’t plan out a piece in advance.

I thought I’d share a new piece that I just finished, showing the steps involved in developing it along with my thoughts when deciding what to do next.

The painting started out as a poured piece that was OK, but it had developed cracks in the drying process. A perfect candidate for a re-do!

Cassandra Tondro art

I started by layering on marks without a lot of thought about color or placement, to build up background patterns. I think we can probably all agree that the painting looks ugly at this stage!

Cassandra Tondro art

Next I completely covered it in orange, and let it dry.

Cassandra Tondro art

I sanded through the orange to reveal the marks underneath. I thought it might look interesting at this stage, but it didn’t. So I continued on. No painting is a lost cause. I can always continue to layer and sand back, until I have something that I like.

Cassandra Tondro art

I put on several layers of orange and red glaze to obscure the marks and unify the piece.

Cassandra Tondro art

It still wasn’t what I wanted, so I applied a thinned down dark blue paint and covered it with wrinkled plastic wrap. When dry, this created a lot of contrasting marks.

Cassandra Tondro art

Better, but I thought it was too busy. I applied two more coats of red and fuchsia glaze to tone it down.

Cassandra Tondro art

Awakening,” 30 x 24 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

This is where it ended up, and now I’m happy with the piece. I’m liking more subtle, minimalist art right now. I’m not sure why, but the bold paintings don’t resonate with me at the moment. This painting has enough movement and variation to be interesting, and the color is bright, but it’s also a quieter piece.

What helps you to stay in the present moment? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.

With love and appreciation,



  1. Hi Cassandra, that is a very beautiful painting. I like two of the WIP stages too: the one after the sanding down of the first layer of orange and the “busy” wrinkled one! And it is great to see you taking your steps forward till you really like the result. Thank you for sharing the process.

    1. Thanks, Marinus. You’re not the only one who has written and told me that they like one or another of the work-in-progress stages. Too funny! I guess we all have different aesthetic preferences. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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