What Lights You Up?

Hi Friends,

In a video last week artist Nicholas Wilton offered some advice about how to create your best art. He said something that struck me as important — that artists should focus on what really lights them up.

Good point. Since then I’ve been thinking about what it is that most interests me about art, and I’ve come to realize that it’s patterns.

I see and notice patterns everywhere. In nature.

Cassandra Tondro art

Cassandra Tondro art

In the built and manufactured environment.

Cassandra Tondro art

Cassandra Tondro art

And even in scribbles when I’m doodling in the margins of paper.

Cassandra Tondro art

Patterns catch my eye and intrigue me, so it makes sense that patterns are what I paint.

From time to time I catch some flack about my work. There are those who say that my paintings are too busy, too balanced, too symmetrical, need a focal point, need negative space where the eye can rest, etc. I’m not following the rules that one learns in art school.

There was a time when I tried to conform to those rules, but it’s not my natural way of working, and the art turns out looking forced and stiff.

After years of struggle I finally gave up and decided to go with what I like and what I do best — patterns, color and texture. I love finding new ways to make patterns and seeing what designs appear.

Here are my latest pattern makers — the Skechers shoes I told you about last week that I found at a thrift store.

Cassandra Tondro art

I wasn’t sure how they would work out, but I think this painting is fabulous! This is my favorite of the “Rubber Sole” shoe paintings so far. I put the shoes on my feet, step in paint, and walk on the canvas to create the design.

Click on the image below to see it larger in a browser.

Cassandra Tondro art

“Jungle Cruise,” 48 x 36 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

In the end it doesn’t really matter what other people think about our art. The only thing that matters is that we stay true to ourselves and to our own personal vision.

What lights you up? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.

With love and appreciation,



  1. Super cool Cassie! It reminds me of the leaf pattern in the first photo. I love hearing that you are following what lights you up as opposed to following the rules taught to us in art school! You keep being YOU my friend… it’s awesome! XO

    1. Thanks, Jodi. It has taken me a lot of years to learn to be myself! That sounds kind of silly, but we’re taught to be all sorts of things that aren’t really us. I hope others have an easier time of it as we become more enlightened beings.

  2. I love the Jungle Cruise. I love the short lines of the pattern pointing everywhere, and the colors are really jungle colors to me. I guess it is true that the lines pull my eyes everywhere. But I don’t care, I like it.

    1. Thanks Chris! Yes, it’s kind of a busy piece, but I like it, too. Busyness doesn’t bother me. t occurred to me today that these are sort of like Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings. Layer and layers of colors with no central focus.

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