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Cassandra Tondro artistPainting was my solace as a child. It was a way to escape from a frightening world and create a space that consoled me.

I studied art in school, but developed doubts about my artistic abilities. At that time the emphasis in art education was on realistic drawing and painting. Not only was I not good at it, but I didn't enjoy it. So I came to the conclusion that I wasn't an artist.

I went on a long detour away from art that took me through a career in computer programming and two degrees in sociology and psychology. I had a longing to be an artist, and also a fear that I didn't have what it takes.

Unable to eliminate my artistic urge, I dabbled in other creative endeavors. I embraced quilting, learned to weave, hand-dyed fabrics and yarns, studied ceramics, and played around with photography.

My first step out of the corporate world was in 1993, when I was laid off from work. I recognized it as an opportunity to do something different, and I opened a fiber arts store called WildFiber. WildFiber offered all sorts of fiber arts supplies and classes with nationally- and internationally-acclaimed fiber artists. Through the store I met many artists, and it strengthened confidence in my own artwork.

I still yearned to paint, so I mustered up all of my courage and enrolled in a painting class at Otis College of Art and Design. I wasn't immediately good at painting, but persistence and determination kept me going. I spent the next ten years developing my skills and an individual artistic style.

My art has gone through many phases. In the beginning I struggled just to get something that looked decent. Then my focus became my materials and finding techniques for working with them. Later I concentrated on creating art that would sell, so I could make a living. And gradually I transitioned to making art that expresses my own unique vision and style.

My artwork currently encompasses both painting and collage, and I also create leaf prints on paper and leaf print silk scarves. Like other artists, I'm drawn to explore many different creative paths.

Because of concerns about the environment, I use repurposed, upcycled and natural materials for my work, including leftover house paint, discarded magazines, rust, contact leaf prints, and natural pigments and dyes.

I create art that's an exploration of beauty and the angst of our times. Themes for my work include the wonders of the natural world and the issues we face as our planet goes through an enormous transformation. I particularly enjoy the process of experimentation and discovery, playing with the materials to see what they can do.

My art has been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad, and placed in numerous public, corporate and private collections. In addition, my work was selected for the American Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon in conjunction with the Art in Embassies Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

It is my pleasure and joy to create inspired art to enhance your life.