Open Studios Profile: Cynthia Riordan

Today I’d like to introduce you to Cynthia Riordan, who will be exhibiting with me during the second weekend of Silicon Valley Open Studios.

Cynthia works in oil and pastels. I love the softness of the lost forms in her paintings, as well as the variety of edges—hard and soft—that make her paintings come alive.

Innocence Pastel © 2014 Cynthia Riordan
7″ x 10″ pastel on Wallis paper
© 2014 Cynthia Riordan

Describe your artistic journey
Art has been important since childhood, starting with oil painting lessons when I was 12 to learn about painting still life. Early creations were giant crepe paper flowers, painting on fabric, silk screening, linoleum block prints, producing fired enamel and cloisonné objects and painting on tile. I have designed and built stained glass windows and panels for residential and commercial clients.


painting of Coyote Creek
Coyote Creek, Winter
11″ x 14″ oil on canvas panel
© 2014 Cynthia Riordan

Where has art taken you in life?

Part of what I love  to do is plein air painting, so that has taken me to many parks, such as Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Jackson, WY, the Tetons, Pt. Lobos.  Recently, I decided to help meet the need of our country’s Goldstar families and join other artists in painting our fallen heroes from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

English Traveler Oil on canvas © 2014 Cynthia Riordan
English Traveler
11″ x 14″ oil on canvas panel
© 2014 Cynthia Riordan

What do you think about before you begin painting?

I consider both the emotional impact I want the painting to have and the technical aspects that must be considered to accomplish it. A value study or notan is something I always do. The light source and how it informs the subject is another important consideration.

View from Ribera Road, Carmel  Oil on canvas © 2014 Cynthia Riordan
View from Ribera Road, Carmel
9″ x 12″ oil on canvas panel
© 2014 Cynthia Riordan

Tell me about one of your favorite paintings or drawings that you’ve made. Why is it your favorite?

Whichever painting I am currently working on is  my favorite.  There are some plein air pieces that I am very attached to because of the memory they evoke of when and where I painted them and how I felt in the place.

If you could ask one question of an artist you admire, who would it be, and what would you ask?

I would like to ask J. M.W. Turner how he was able to so successfully relinquish control in his seascapes so that the viewer feels the wildness and power of the wind and the waves.

You can see more of Cynthia’s work at

Cynthia Riordan will be exhibiting May 10-11 at 1471 Hollidale Court, Los Altos, CA 94024