We had the good fortune of connecting with Annette Cyr and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Annette, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
I never give up. When I can’t paint with oils, I paint with film. When I can’t film, I paint with words. My work—in all media—shines a light on the quiet courage of women, all the Women in Predicaments who also never give up.

I found myself in a predicament when couldn’t paint because I was taking the train weekly to help my mother in Santa Barbara. I started filming from the train—a train is great for dolly shots—and then began writing screenplays from the train too.

Right now I am painting and writing my first novel, “EMERGING, Painter.” I will next expand into making the novel, “EMERGING, Painter” a limited series for television.

If you are deciding whether to decide to keep going give up or keep going: Don’t. Don’t give up. Do what you can do right now.

Expand. Expand into what you can do right now. This is your next. Step into your next.

This is not about being strong or unyielding. This is being flexible and smart.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In early 2020 filmmaking was on hold. I turned to painting and found I could no longer focus on my huge Women in Predicaments paintings. I let go of grandiose ambitions. I could not paint about my personal struggles in a world of increasing darkness, isolation and anger.

I needed to paint a refuge for myself.

I needed to paint and paint daily because to stay afloat, I desperately needed to have that sense of connection that painting provides me. I committed to painting and posting doing a painting a day. I needed simple. I set up a glass fishbowl with water, no fish on a white table in front of the bare white studio wall. Using only earth colors—pigments made from dirt—my goal became to capture a moment of light with each painting.

I needed to find tiny moments of beauty and quiet each day to find respite from darkness. I want you to see what I saw. To pin down those moments of beauty, of poignancy, of quiet heroism in our world.

At one point I put all the 12-inch square paintings on my garage studio wall. 65 canvases fit exactly. That same day I read that 650,000 people had died from Covid in the USA. That means each small painting represents the death of 10,000 fellow Americans.

In my studio in these small works, I honor each one.

Next it was time to begin my first novel “EMERGING, Painter” about an artist who has one last shot at success when a museum director wants a painting the artist did 30 years earlier for a career changing show. To her horror she can’t find it.

Everything is useful to an artist. Every challenge is a way to expand for me. My eye as a painter becomes my eye as a director. My eye as a director becomes the way to expand into writing where I can see the story unfold on the page.

As I expand into new media, the challenges don’t get easier. They become more intriguing and toss me out of beloved solitude. Surprise. I discover I love working with other creatives.

Right now I have the new challenge of seeking a venue for two digital projects which expand my artwork into museum-wall sized projections. Prototypes for both projects are included here.

In “On the Brink”, I envision the painter holding her brush as life size as she confronts her despair at global warming.

In “Constellation Project: Anonymous is a Star!” the same painter appears bottom left. The major constellations of the Northern Hemisphere are renamed after the stages in a woman’s life: youth, maturity, elder, aligning with the themes of my Women in Predicaments’ paintings: “Girl on Horse in Pond”, “Fighting Back”, “Liberty Besieged”, and “She’ll be riding six white horses”.

In “Constellation Project: Anonymous is a Star!” the major stars in each constellation are named after women and girls who deserve recognition from all eras and countries and all ages of life. One star in each constellation is named “Anonymous” to honor those quietly heroic women, whose lives are not documented but nevertheless hold us together as humanity. We all know at least one! And this is her star!

I’m most proud of two things in particular. First, the story I wrote about my “Year of Light” paintings which has just been nominated for a Pushcart Prize 2021. As a visual artist, to have my words—in this case the story of the “Year of Light” paintings—speak to others astonishes me and is an undeniable honor.

Second, I continue to be proud of my thesis film “Blindness” going to Cannes after being rejected by 17 film festivals in North America. More evidence that you should never give up! This little film—which reveals the artist’s life from the other side of the paintbrush—continues to garner success. I owe my acceptance into the selective Skowhegan Alumni Summer Residency in 2021 to this short film which when screened this past summer held its audience of 100% visual artists in rapt attention, to see the authentic story of our artistic lives. With the key cast and crew of “Blindness” I am now ready to take on bigger projects, such as “EMERGING, Painter” as a limited series.

I am where I am today professionally due to of the help of innumerable people, my own stubbornness and what I learn and relearn, again and again along the way:
• Ask for help.
• Help others who may be shyer than you are.
• Push into that big stone wall of fear. It becomes fog.
• Find artists-mentors. “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.” Georgia O’Keefe.

I’ve found that each decade has its lessons—its own type of “coming of age” crisis to learn from, move through.

I never give up. I can’t. Continuing to create is too important. Art is too important. We all need art. Art is core to our humanity. The darker things are in the world the more we need the bits of light—the reminders of beauty in us and in the natural world.

We each need art each day.

We each need hope. Here’s my favorite retelling of the Sisyphus myth from 1892:

Orpheus asked Sisyphus how he could endure so ceaseless and vain an employment. Sisyphus replied that he hoped ultimately to accomplish the task.
“Never,” exclaimed Orpheus; “it can never be done!”
“Well then,” said Sisyphus, “[my fate] is, at worst, to have everlasting hope.”

Tales of Miletus, Lord Lytton1

1. Lytton, Lord. (1892) Tales of Miletus, Character Sketches of Romance Fiction and the Drama. Vol M-S
Rev. Cobham Brewer, Editor: Marion Harland. Selma Hess, Publisher, New York.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m bi-coastal, spending time in my studios in New York City and San Diego.

In SoCal, I’m big on picnics and being outside. Bring or pick up food.
In the LA area: Huntington Garden: provides the perfect fantasy of a European grand estate sprung from its origin as a huge flat cattle ranch. Proves what vision, money, water, and time can do.

In San Diego: Get up an hour before dawn, drive out to the desert to Palm Canyon and hike in a short way. Discover wild palm trees, shaggy, undressed, growing just as they have since before the dinosaurs. Your phone will say you are out of the county. You are not, just in another era. By 7:30 am it will be unbearably hot so drive back to the Laguna Mountains for a view of the desert, easy hikes among pines, oaks, and manzanitas. Snow in season.

Drive down to Torrey Pines Preserve and Beach, the best beach in San Diego County with its wild natural setting. At Torrey Pines hike on the bluffs above, among pine trees that evolved only there during the eons it was an island. Watch for pods of passing dolphins below where you will next go down to the beach and splash in the waves. Stay for the sunset. Watch for the Green Flash a phenomenon as the sun slips below the horizon—or so they say.

In Santa Barbara: Douglas Family Preserve and Henry’s Beach—not its official name. Ask a local. See if they will tell you. With cliffs, a slough, beach, palms, a bit of grass, Henry’s has it all. The coolest spot to hang out if you are in Junior High.

In New York City: I’m still big on picnics and being outside: Any season, any time of day or night, take 24th street all the way west and out on the pier at the end miraculously landscaped with graceful arching trees and a view of the Statue of Liberty. Helicopters go overhead, party boats pass, birds sing, people of all types laugh, sing, perform, nap, bike, run by. It is everything all around you not quite all at once, but almost.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First, my gratitude to all the cast and crew of “Blindness” who made it possible for us to take this MFA thesis film all the way to Cannes.

Especially awesome: Actor Christine Kent, SAG, christinekentLA@gmail.com, https://www.imdb.com/name/nm6511415/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1; John Tagamolila, AD, https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0998116/ and cinematographer, Valentina Caniglia, AIC, IMAGO, https://valentinacaniglia.com, https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1462738/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1.

And then my gratitude to my mother Joan de Leveille Cyr who at 97 encourages me when I call her every day.

Website: www.annettecyr.com

Instagram: www.instragram.com/annettecyrstudio

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/annette-cyr-paints-films-writes

Twitter: @AnnetteCyr_

Facebook: Annette Cyr (San Diego)

Other: www.blindnessthefilm.com Vimeo Blindness (narrative film, RT 15 minutes) https://vimeo.com/264864847 Password: DIRECTOR An artist strives to finish her paintings for a career-changing exhibition, only to discover she may be going blind. IMBD https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4677206/?ref_=nm_knf_i1 Publications online: Pushcart nomination for “Year of Light”: Available on Amazon. https://www.writevolumes.com/2021/12/write-volumes-2021-thank-yous-and.html https://hyperallergic.com/621547/a-view-from-the-easel-during-times-of-quarantine-38/ I also have a short time travel romance, ‘On the Brink in Shades of Timeless Love https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09R4GJZV6

Image Credits
Photo credits: Robert Hart, Peter Peirce, Valentina Caniglia, Casey Price, Annette Cyr

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.