When people ask Cyncie Winter how long she has been painting, she says with a genuine smile, “Since kindergarten.” Which is a fact and also indicative of the depth of understanding this local contemporary artist has for the abstract canvas. There’s a story that goes along with this truth that needs to be told in order to highlight Cyncie’s early intuitiveness.
Once upon a time, living in the rural woods of Wisconsin, there was a sweet 5-year-old named Cyncie Winter who knew herself to be “a child of the trees—a forest wanderer.” One day in her kindergarten classroom, she was painting a scene of herself standing in a field of grass with a blue sky above and the sun shining down. She colored herself wearing a blue blouse and a green skirt. The teacher paused at her easel and corrected her: “Cynthia, you have to draw a line between yourself and the sky and grass; otherwise, we cannot tell where you begin and nature ends.” But young Cyncie already knew there was no delineating line; nature was embedded in her soul.
Under the influence of nature’s “luminosity,” Cyncie Winter painted trees, mountains, and all things beautiful while growing up. Her mother, an artist herself, provided large canvases for her to fill however she desired. To this day, Cyncie often paints on larger canvases for her work with acrylics.
The magnetic draw to painting followed Cyncie as she went through elementary into high school. However, her talents weren’t truly recognized, and she rarely found inspiration in art classes. When it came time to consider college, she was told by her father that she had three choices of careers: to be a teacher, nurse or housewife—so was the way back in the day. In 1969, Cyncie received her teaching degree in education with a focus on English literature from The University of Wisconsin at Madison.
For 30 years, in both Connecticut and Colorado, Cyncie creatively engaged hundreds of students in the English classroom and considers her father’s mandate a “sideways gift” because she got to work with so many wonderful kids and fellow educators. While teaching, she continued to create artwork—mostly during the summer months because there was not enough time during the school year. She sold some of her pieces along the way and ultimately decided to go back to school for her master’s degree in humanities, specializing in art and spirituality through the University of Colorado Denver (UCD).
Cyncie’s deeper understanding of her artistic abilities came when one of her professors/mentors was fascinated by her work and commented, “You’re not getting a master’s, you’re on a vision quest, so you want to pay attention to everything.” These words of wisdom inspired Cyncie to branch out and experiment with different painting techniques such as layering, a process where pieces of nature are strategically placed on paper, then ink and/or various colors of paint are poured over the entire canvas. Cyncie also added another step by covering the filled canvas with Saran Wrap. Within 24 hours, a certain magic happens—nature coalesces with the paints, and the plastic is gently removed to reveal a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. She continues to use this technique today, as well as others that she has formulated as part of her intuitive painting process.
While most people would look forward to retirement after a 30-year teaching career, not Cyncie. Her passion for learning and her empathetic heart motivated her to explore other fields that have always been of interest, such as counseling and life coaching. During her final five years of teaching, Cyncie began her studies at Regis University to become a psychotherapist. Her focus centered on trauma therapy and she started a small counseling practice while still teaching full time! Once Cyncie decided to close her classroom door, the next exciting chapter of her life was well underway through her work as a licensed professional counselor, certified creativity coach and life coach, all of which fulfill her innate ability to nurture, guide and create.
With every new endeavor in Cyncie’s life, the common denominator has always been her need to paint the world around her. Through inspiration from nature, literature, therapy, poetry, music, and most recently the dream world—her canvases explode with movement, bold textures and colors. As Cyncie likes to say, her paintings speak to her, and she follows their lead, intuitively.
All that Cyncie has accomplished in life she calls her dharma—one’s calling in life or soulful purpose. The tenets of the Hindu religion teach us that before we come into this life, we may choose our dharma—our Path of Heart—and if we follow that in a conscious way, we will be guided in what we have come to give to the world. Cyncie has given so much and believes “we are ‘multi-potentialites’ who are constantly evolving and growing. What we have done before follows us and informs us.”
Her words took my breath away.
The kindness, spirituality and overall peace that radiates from Cyncie is inspirational. Spending time in her presence felt calm and inviting; I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to talk for hours about the many avenues she has explored and how she’s kept so driven, focused and seemingly balanced. I longed to know more about the online Visual Journaling class she will be teaching this spring through The Center for Journal Therapy where, as a certified journal therapist, she has been a faculty member for the past 10 years. I wanted to inquire further about her ability to stay so grounded in positivity in light of her recent Parkinson’s diagnosis. But I knew our time had come to a reasonable end and I didn’t want to outstay my welcome.
I was compelled to hug Cyncie goodbye and thank her for inviting me to her mountain home with breathtaking views. On our walk out, we briefly discussed her next projects: the first, offering Dream Tending Sessions, combined with the Expressive Arts—and the second, developing a program for those with Parkinson’s to find their creative outlet. Once again, I was fascinated by how very much this graceful, soft-spoken woman cares about others. Cyncie’s work is a reflection of all aspects of her soul, and anyone who knows her or owns one of her paintings understands the infinite space of her heart.
To learn more about Cyncie’s work, you can check out her art website at cynciewinter.com and her Bright Star Coaching website at bright-star-coaching.com, which contains information on dream tending, creativity coaching and life coaching.
To see Cyncie’s art in person in her home studio, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org