Cindy Fritz has enjoyed art for as long as he can remember. “I was drawing recognizable figures at 18 months. I drew an angel. I still have that picture,” Cindy said. Her mother encouraged her artistic expressions and would give her art supplies at birthdays and Christmases, “but never a color book, because she wanted me to do my own drawings,” Cindy recalled. Her mother also enrolled her in art classes. “I loved that,” Cindy said. Moreover, “she is the one that taught me how to pray, and made sure we went to Sunday school. I credit her for introducing me to Jesus.”
Cindy’s mother hung paintings on the walls of their home. “I had them memorized. Uncle Willard had done a painting of some hills in California, tan hills with perspective. I would study that, and study that. I was always looking at things. Whenever I saw a painting, I would gaze at it. I still do that.”
“I see beauty all around in God’s creation,” Cindy said. “The pictures I do are always peaceful. I don’t do animals fighting or people that are angry. I do birds that are floating on the water and peaceful scenery. It gives me peace to do it. I struggled with depression since I was a child. Whenever I would feel depressed, I would know the solution: I would do a nice drawing and a nice prayer, and would feel better. Art is a way to get away, like taking a little vacation to another world. I don’t even know that time is passing. I teach adults, and they are that way too. Sometimes we’re just all being very quiet, in our own little space. It’s good to get away on a vacation, especially nowadays.”
Her pursuit of art took her from her home in Missouri to Grinnell College in Iowa, where she earned a degree in art. She briefly worked for an architectural firm in New York City, and for a year as a graphic artist, but often wondered what life would look like if she got married and had children. “I saw that teachers were very respected and I decided I wanted to become an art teacher.” So she went to the University of Iowa to earn her teaching credentials. While she was there she met John at church, and they got married.
Cindy and John had three daughters, whom Cindy homeschooled as she was teaching art classes to other children, teens and adults. The girls are now grown, and so is Cindy’s art business, which now includes art classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and frequent showings of her own works in local venues and art shows. “I have teenage and adult students, and I coach them through whatever they choose to do. With my children, I try to expose them to as many kinds of media as possible.”
Recently Cindy became an art student under the instruction of centenarian Naomi Brotherton. “When she was 93, I was thinking about taking classes from her. I said, ‘I better get around to it now.’ I went almost weekly to her classes [for three years]. I learned more from her than I ever learned in college. She is just amazing. She made me a much better artist.”
“It’s challenging to try to copy what I see onto a flat piece of paper. If you told me to draw a bird, it wouldn’t be very good unless I had a bird to look at,” Cindy admits, so she often uses photos for inspiration. “I have my camera wherever I go. On a trip, my husband would be willing to stop the car and let me out to take a picture of a barn or something. I take pictures wherever I go. Often I will combine two, three or four pictures. I like to do that.”
Cindy’s favorite mediums are pastel or watercolor. “Watercolor is challenging, fun and fast. With pastel, I can be more accurate. Sometimes I get more bold, bright colors. Sometimes it takes a little longer,” Cindy said. “I did a pastel painting of a waterfall that’s from Yellowstone. Running water is a pretty active picture for me; it was a real challenge. I entered it into a contest and didn’t even get accepted into the contest. I still felt like it was a pretty good piece, so I entered it into another show and it won Best of Show! It depends on the judge and the contest.”
“I’m working on two paintings right now,” Cindy said. “They are meant to show how I’m feeling with God protecting me during this strange time we’re living in, when there is a lot of fear and a lot of disruption. The first one is a watercolor of a hen. Under her wing she has three little chicks peeking out. I feel like a little chick with God protecting me. I’m seeing what’s happening, but I’m not really suffering. I’m at peace. I’m not worried. The other I’m doing is a lamb that is being held. You can see an arm and you can see a robe. It’s Jesus and He’s holding on to me. I know He’s going to hang on to me and take care of me no matter what happens.”
A couple of years ago Cindy was invited to display her work at CC Young Senior Living Center in Dallas. “They even let me have a reception where I got to talk about my art and inspiration. I felt like a queen for a day. Right now at the Lighthouse Coffee Bar in Midlothian [Texas], I have two pieces showing. I did a picture with a hummingbird and flowers in colored pencil, and two deer out in the mountains. In the Rowlet [Public] Library, I have four pieces in a small works show. One has a ribbon. I got Honorable Mention. “Beach Beauties” has some water birds standing on wet sand, and the ocean in the background. I started it in the covid year. Part of the way through I thought I had ruined it, but I said, ‘It’s already on the paper; I might as well finish it.’ It won a prize and the judge bought it.”
“Often something goes wrong, especially in watercolor. There is a drip. Or there’s a smudge,” Cindy observed. “That’s how life is: things go wrong. If we don’t freak out, and see what we can do, maybe we can turn that into a bird or a rock. We learn how to handle when things don’t go as planned, because things don’t go as planned. It’s problem-solving, a skill everyone needs to have.”
“If you like art, this is a thing you might want to consider. You can go on YouTube and get free lessons. You don’t have to be good. And you can get better. If you enjoy it, you’ll do it and you will get better. I like it. It makes me feel better. It might be therapeutic for you too.”
You can see and purchase Cindy’s art at any of her shows, or from her Facebook gallery at Art By Cindy Fritz.