Sedona Soul Portraits Media and Press
March 2, 2005
Sedona Soul Painter Wendybyrd captures the essence of her subject using color, symbolism and design
By Michelle Borgwardt
Few people see the world with such optimism and depth as Sedona Soul Painter Wendybyrd.
She works from an intuitive place, she says; from the inside out, and her bold one-of-a-kind portraits reflect that. She captures the essence of one’s soul through use of color, symbolism and design.
One might call her a psychologist with a paintbrush.
“The portrait of my soul is a constant reminder of the strength of my own unique identity, and what I must do to fulfill my place in this world,” writes customer Susan Gordon of Sedona. “This is no frivolous ‘new agey’ artwork. Wendy obviously has more depth of artistic skill and a deep, universal knowledge that allows her to truly tap into the person’s or animal’s soul she is bringing to life.”
For Wendybyrd, the process of creating a soul portrait begins with meeting the person, although, she has done many based on photos alone. She then enters into a slight meditation where she seeks the soul, or essence, of the person.
She connects with something that is important to her subject. For example, she may see a cat or lots of blue. Each color, she explains, has a meaning including white. Blue means mystical while violet symbolizes spirituality. Every element in the portrait has a meaning, with special emphasis placed on color and the eyes. The eyes, she says, are “windows of the soul.”
She returns with these clues to her home studio where she sketches out her vision and then paints them. She describes it as “being in a state of grace and knowing what to do.”
Each portrait includes a 10-12 page handwritten reading or explanation about their soul.
“It gives them something tangible to remind them of who they are.” she says of the explanation, or “reading.”
The floor of her cozy home studio is speckled with dried paint drops, the walls covered with completed portraits, and she uses a drop cloth over a table where she displays photos of all her finished pieces.
Working in pastels allows her to work quickly, painting two or three portraits a week, she says. Each soul portrait takes between four and five hours. An 18-by-22-inch portrait with reading starts at $500.
Wendybyrd also is well known for her contemporary whimsical flying pigs, angels and kitty paintings that once adorned Gallery Wow in Sedona. Since it closed more that a year ago, her artwork has not been shown in any gallery. However, you can see an example of a soul portrait of her friend Teri Hood at Things with Wings in Sedona.
“Wendybyrd has an amazing talent to see and capture our pure soul essence,” says Hood, owner of Things with Wings.“ Her artwork makes my heart dance. I can see my light shining through my soul portrait eyes.”
This year Wendybyrd has decided to focus strictly on soul portraits. Her eyes gleam when she describes her art.
“I get so excited doing this work. It’s very fulfilling and invigorating,” she declares dressed in a peach painter’s smock over her black paints and shirt.“ I wish I had more time in the day to do more portraits.”
In fact, she admits to being depressed when there’s no portraits to do. Fortunately that doesn’t happen often. Once people see her soul portraits they immediately want one, she comments with glee.
Wendybyrd’s real name is Wendy Smith but growing up her nickname was “Wendybird” and it stuck. She changed the spelling to gain a domain name on the Internet.
Although she’s a trained artist and studied in Paris, Wendybyrd always wanted to create something more than just a pretty portrait.
“How do you really express who a person is?” she asked herself.
The answer came after she read a book by Shirley McLaine in which McLaine meets her soul. This experience lit a fire under Wendybyrd and she began a journey of discovery.
It wasn’t until Wendybyrd moved to Sedona from New Jersey in 1986 that her art took new direction.
“I saw my higher self,” she offers.“My life changed here. Sedona is truly my home.”
In 1989 Wendybyrd created her first soul portrait with her as the subject using gouache, opaque watercolors used by the Egyptians, and it took two months to complete. Since then, she has created hundreds of these whimsical portraits of people as well as animals.
Her mission, she says, is to help people see the best of who they are through these portraits.
“It’s a different way to look at yourself,” she explains.“ This is a tool of empowerment that will help anyone who sincerely wants to know more about themselves.”
For your own soul portrait, contact Wendybyrd at (928) 451-8334.
Sedona Soul Seer, Wendybyrd Smith