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Fine Art Notes: The Birth Story of Heyday High Jinks

Updated: Jun 23

It is with great pride and tremendous pleasure that I present to you Heyday High Jinks! Heyday High Jinks is the first fine art gallery print I've ever made of my work, and in this post, I want to tell you about the birth story of this piece of art and what it means to me.

image by Cyn Alexander

For those who aren't familiar, I am a fine art photographer and mixed media artist who specializes in botanical art. My camera of choice is Canon's 5D Mark IV, and my favorite lens is Canon's 100mm macro. Heyday High Jinks was shot one gloomy spring day using that camera and lens.

image by Cyn Alexander

The flowers featured are muted orange-red tulips with light green stems and yellowish-green leaves. You can see them sitting in the actual vase they were photographed in in the image to the left. I bought them at the local farmer's market from a vender with a flower farm just south of Omaha, NE. They lived in my apartment for almost a week before I hung them out to start drying. Their petals have since been added to a storage box of dried tulip petals my daughter and I have pressed ourselves. We'll use them and other homegrown and hand-sourced botanicals to make additional art pieces as well as the candles for our fine art company, Venus In Pieces, that's launching in September (more on that next week).

So the day was gloomy, and I was feeling pretty down. Nothing bad happened, just the weather was really taking its toll on me. I craved sunlight and bare feet and lighthearted fun. I looked across the room at the tulips on the table, and I decided to start shooting them right where they sat. No studio, no studio lights. For lighting, I just used a color correction light bulb. I put on some music, my Creedance Clearwater Revival playlist, and I got to work. About an hour later, I sat at the computer in my office, inserted my SD card, and took a first look at the shots. They felt fun! The movement of the flowers made me smile, and I found myself dancing in my seat as I edited.

As per my usual editing approach (I only use Lightroom except for the rare image I stack, then I use Photoshop too. This image, and 98% of my images, is not stacked), I started out playing around, just letting the image guide how it wanted to go. The more I worked, the more I felt this acrylic or watercolor paint vibe coming through. I brightened the flowers, then turned up the vibrance on the whole picture, and bam! The tulips jumped right out of the screen at me. And the color mixing resulted in this beautiful yellow to green to bluish variation in the leaves. I love everything about it (see original image below).

original image artwork by Cyn Alexander

As I stood back from the screen and admired my art, a memory flashed in my mind, a memory I hadn't visited in quite some time. I saw me, about six or seven-years old, in a hot pink one-piece bathing suit with purple butterflies across the front of it, my blonde hair hanging straight down my back. I was standing, calf-deep in what I recognized was the creek across the street from the trailer park in Tulsa, Oklahoma I spent the first seven or so years of my life in.

Tulsa is a tricky space for me to think about. I am a survivor of complex trauma, including childhood rape and sexual abuse, much of which happened in that trailer in Tulsa. But alongside all that, what I remember about Tulsa is the bright, blazing sun and summers spent exploring outside with my brother. I remember catching baby frogs and fireflies and looking for crawdads in the creek. I remember suntans and kiddie pools and a black and white tomcat named Benny. We ate watermelon for lunch, and snacked on the homegrown tomatoes my mother grew at the side of the trailer. Amidst all the horror in Tulsa, somehow a little girl found a way to run wild and feel free. As I looked at those bright orange tulips reaching out for me from the screen, I felt that little girl, and I cried the best tears I've cried in a while.

I decided in that moment to name this piece Heyday High Jinks. Heyday for the current me, the me who feels like she's standing on the cusp of the most exhilarating time in her life, and high jinks for her, the little girl standing in the creek radiating her rambunctious, rebellious, wild energy in spite of everything she was enduring. I'm honored to hang this work in my home, a vote of confidence for me and my growth as an artist, a tribute to her, the girl who survived.

You can watch me unbox and hang this piece in my latest video linked below. If you enjoyed this content, please click here to check out my new newsletter, Jupiter's Phantasy, and join our little community of fellow artists, thinkers, gardeners, and wanderers.

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