If we only knew the long lasting effects and profound consequences that small insignificant acts of cruelty could have on a person; and that if left uncorrected, could potentially deny us advancements in medicine, engineering, politics, and the arts, perhaps we would think twice before acting. For Cyn Terese Ibanez, one thing is certain; providence will find a way to right the unintentional wrongs done to us.
At the age of six, Cyn Terese was fortunate to find her true love sitting on a tray full of sample paints. With brush in hand, she set her sights on the side of her mother’s house where she gave free reign to the passion that was ready to come alive, much to her parent’s dismay. For the next two years, Cyn Terese sketched and painted with total abandonment on her bedroom wall that her father had prepared for her by giving it a base coat of white paint and a frame to contain her masterpieces. Cyn Terese was on her way to living a life full of happiness and full of creativity with brush in hand.
At the age of eight, Cyn Terese and her classmates were given an assignment to sketch and paint an underwater scene from one of her textbooks. Since she had previous experience sketching free hand, Cyn Terese meticulously copied every single detail to scale on her sketchpad and then filled in the scene with the watercolors that had been set out on the table. After waiting for it to dry, she proudly walked to her teacher’s desk and with a huge smile presented the picture she had so painstakingly created. The woman looked at the painting and then looked up at Cyn Terese, and proceeded to rip it into pieces. With eyes full of tears, Cyn Terese asked, “Why?” and her teacher harshly responded that she must have traced it and sent her back to her desk to start again. Cyn’s heart shattered into a million pieces; a heartbreak that took nearly two decades to mend and an injustice that has taken a lifetime to correct.
For the next twenty years, Cyn Terese did not once pick up a pencil to sketch or a brush to paint; the betrayal was much too great to try again. And in time, her heart healed with a thick scar that buried any hint of what she once was.
Yet creativity in Cyn Terese was like the mighty force of a raging stream, eternally seeking a way to breach its boundaries. At the age of twelve, she sold a mini story to a popular children’s magazine. At thirteen, she formed an afterschool drama club and wrote the plays they performed. At fifteen, she was writing lyrics for music she heard in her dreams. At nineteen, she taught herself to play the guitar and proceeded to compose various musical scores while she took a few years off before returning to college. By twenty four, her music played on the radio during “Fresh Tracks” evenings. Yet, no matter what form in which her creativity manifested itself, it somehow always left a profound emptiness, a void that seemed to never be filled. Returning to college for a degree in Psychology with a minor in art history, Cyn Terese found her one true love again in a painting studio which contained a naked man.
During her last semester before obtaining her degree in Psychology with Highest Honors, she found herself standing in an empty hallway waiting to attend her very last elective class of the semester. While waiting outside the closed door, directly across the hallway Cyn Terese noticed a naked man sitting on a chair in an art studio surrounded by students sketching him. Sneaking peeks into the art studio, and of course at the naked man that seemed completely comfortable in his scrawny, skeletal like frame, she noticed that her heart was fluttering much like when one falls in love – no not with the naked man but with the energy of the art studio. Cyn Terese also noticed that the scent of oil paint and linseed oil gave her a sense of true comfort and warmth much like when one sits by a warm crackling fire on Christmas Eve.
Cyn Terese found this sense of completeness foreign since she had all but forgotten that she once was a painter of sorts. Discovering this new sensation that almost made her want to weep with joy, she had to explore it further. Since all she needed was an elective to graduate, Cyn Terese decided to register for the painting class instead. Then reality set in. She didn't know how to paint - and she didn't want to be embarrassed showing her ineptitude. While attending the latter part of class that day, Cyn Terese became aware that the next assignment was for each student to pick a master painter and paint a study of one of his paintings. Since Vincent Van Gogh’s expressionist style of painting was pretty much out there, Cyn Terese chose the “Cypresses with Two Female Figures” to paint. At the very least, mimicking his mad, wild brush strokes could cover up her complete inexperience with paint on canvas.
The experience she obtained and the undeniable sensation of “finding home” in that class made up for a life of loneliness and half truths she didn’t even know she was living. Even her parents saw in her eyes the joy of life that she miraculously regained during that last semester before graduation. Although Cyn Terese discovered her true love again, after graduation she had to follow the career plan she had set in motion years before.
When she arrived in Washington, DC ready to work for the House of Representatives, she also found a group of talented and welcoming artists at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW). There she quickly moved up the ranks and had numerous group showings as well as Solo shows throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Cyn Terese also founded “Versos del Alma,” an afterschool program for impoverished inner-city teens, where they learned the basics of painting as well as English Literacy. She also founded an art program for battered women, where they could feel free to express themselves and also receive therapy through art.
Cyn Terese established her first art studio at 921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, in Washington, DC where she taught the art of painting and held therapy sessions through art. On 9/11, her husband was working at the Pentagon and the sense of security she felt (as we all did), was shattered. Cyn Terese found living and working on Capitol Hill stressful, so she and her husband moved out to Southern Maryland where the sounds of clip clops and the buggy wheels of the Amish who reside in the area brought comfort to an otherwise noisy environment. Her country art studio appropriately named “The Art and Sol Workshop” is situated on her small farm surrounded by beautiful vistas of sunny wheat fields, the scents of lavender plants and culinary and medicinal herbs, the sights and sounds of tree frogs, squirrels, birds, deer, and the several cats that live in the woods.
Surrounded by all that loveliness of nature and rolling hills, Cyn Terese undeniably enjoys painting landscapes. Although her preferred style of painting is a mixture of expressionism in the midst of surreal/abstract, she did not always paint with acrylics. The majority of her early work is painted in oils with thick impasto ala Van Gogh. One could say that her initial instincts to study Van Gogh were spot on as his style of expression and speed can be seen throughout her paintings to this very day. And, while feverishly studying how to paint in those early days, she also studied the 30 minute videos of Bob Ross. If it had not been for his gentle way of helping novice painters seem like seasoned professionals, failure might have broken her heart yet again.
However, in the last two years, Cyn Terese has switched to painting with acrylics as they are quicker to dry and the results are similar to oils in richness of color and texture. Where the thick texture in her oil paintings was achieved by building up with paint alone, Cyn Terese has discovered a variety of ways to achieve the same thickness of texture using acrylics. The results are uncanny leaving clients to ask, “Is this oil or acrylic?” Cyn Terese incorporates a variety of substances such as handmade paper, drywall mud, molding gel, ribbons as stencils, metals, and found items to express her real and surreal/abstract images.
As for subject matter, Cyn Terese is an avid world traveler who enjoys taking hundreds of pictures of architecture, city streets, people strolling enjoying the sites, as well as the ordinary activities of everyday life. Born and bred in Texas to a family of architects, master craftsmen, home and church builders, structures and architectural details often find their way into her paintings. These are usually the subjects of the real and surreal aspects of her paintings but since many of her images are derived from dreams, the abstract aspects of her paintings usually appear on the fringes of her compositions.
In her own words: “Growing up I spent much of my time feeling like I was always outside looking in. And, in recalling my dreams I always believed that I was allowed to see only bits and pieces of what might have been. Now I understand; I know now that during those years I lived without my art and suffered as an incomplete soul, the sorrow I was not aware that I felt and the uncertainty of the person I was, manifested itself into incomplete images surrounded by haze. That is why most of my paintings have a bit of realism peeking through a surrealistic/abstract cloud of haze.”
Cyn Terese goes on to explain the process she incorporates while planning and executing her paintings.
“When I’m creating a piece of artwork, time does not exist. It begins with a memory, or a feeling, or a desire, or a comforting sound that needs a visual form to make it come to life. This visual representation is my way of sorting things out; of understanding events in my life and the world I live in.”
If we only knew what we should be, would we…?