Multimedia artist pursues creative passions

At 61, Cynthia Thomas has more energy and enthusiasm toward her career than most women half her age.

Retirement isn't even a word in the California transplant's vocabulary.

When Thomas talks about art or shares pieces of her work, her eyes light up, the corners of her mouth turn up in a smile, and she actively "talks" with her hands - the same hands she uses to paint and sculpt.

She doesn't wear rings except a wedding band - a solid gold band with one sparkling inset diamond - representing a lifelong commitment to her husband, best friend and biggest supporter.

Her nails are unpolished but

carefully shaped.

Every morning, Thomas goes to her studio - a converted garage attached to her Sequim-Dungeness Valley home - and produces at least one new piece of artwork, sometimes five or six.

She paints in pastel and hand carves bronze sculptures. In her younger days, she drew in pencil, painted in acrylic, sculpted pottery, made jewelry and even photographed dead birds - turning the images into prints on small wooden boxes.

Dressed in black and other dark colors, Thomas fits the stereotypical description of an artist. But her intense desire to create art and obsession with circles cannot be categorized.

On her feet are well-worn tennis shoes, essential when standing on a concrete floor for hours day after day.

Thomas is, like so many others driven by passion, completely unique. She is multitalented - the true definition of a multimedia artist.

Her bronze sculptures are notorious for their half-human appearance connecting human and animal spirits - much like in American Indian cultures - through metamorphoses.

"It's a reminder that we need to walk gently on this Earth, as all Earth's creatures are made up of the same elements and energies and thus we are all connected," Thomas said.

The metamorphism series came to Thomas through meditations, dreams and by animals presenting themselves, prompting her to research each animal thoroughly to understand its life, habits and habitats and to learn the archetypal and mythical origins.

But with a nationwide economic slump in full force, sales have been slow, Thomas said, reporting only one major bronze sculpture sale since last June.

Her pastel paintings are more abstract and centered around mandalas, the visual representation of the "sacred circle" in Hindu and Buddhist religions.

She started the series three years ago upon moving to Sequim when her sculpture and jewelry-making tools were in boxes. While the couple settled into their new home, Thomas satisfied her urge to

"create" with paints, pastels and mixed media.

"There is a magic in the flow of a brush across the canvas, the sweep of supple pastel across the luscious paper, leaving trails of color where imagery explodes and the soul breathes, vital, alive, begging for the next stroke," Thomas said.

Her most recent project, titled "Humanity," is a series of globes covered with small human faces.

Thomas routinely places the globes in people's hands and says, "You're holding all of humanity in your hand. What are you going to do with it?"

One sphere in the series has 70 carefully detailed faces - others range from 17-24 faces.

Unfinished projects - whether it's a painting, a sculpture or a mixed media representation - are covered with sheets.

"If I don't cover them, they talk to me (saying) 'Come finish me!'" Thomas said.

Thomas has been an artist all her life. She has work featured in four galleries across Washington state and California, where her children and grandchild live.

Despite high gasoline prices, Thomas drove 26 hours to show her work in the Loveland Sculpture Invitational in North Lake Park in Colorado last year.

"When one has a passion - whether it's numbers and accounting, physics, writing or art - the work comes," Thomas said, encouraging people to follow their dreams.

"Do what you love and the money will follow."

March at the Blue Whole Gallery

Photographer Larry Barnes is the two-dimensional artist of the month at the Blue Whole Gallery through March 31.

His photographs will be in one of the gallery's front window displays. Multimedia artist Cynthia Thomas' bronze sculptures and pastel paintings will be in the other.

"Through photography I pursue creating nature and fine art images that speak from the heart," Barnes said.

"It is my passion to capture images that translate a unique moment in time to a permanent visual record capturing the essence of the natural world or graphic object."

Barnes is a member of the Blue Whole Gallery, Sequim Arts, and the Olympic Peaks Camera Club.

A mostly self-taught artist, Barnes spends hours studying photography books and articles and taking thousands of pictures.

"Hopefully, these images will evoke an emotional stir within the viewer that leaves a lasting appreciation for the object of the image," he said.

Ashley Miller can be reached at

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