Tucked away in a cozy neighborhood near Highway 308, the French-inspired abode in which Cyd and her husband, Alan, live is as inviting as her personality. It is a comfortable space … and an earthy one. Brick floors and warm colors welcome family, friends and guests to share in their love of nature and Cajun culture. It is a space that feels like home—and Cyd works to ensure it stays that way.
‘SOMETHING YOU’RE BORN WITH’
Past the kitchen and living area, another room houses Cyd’s escape from the world—her blank canvas. There are vibrant paintings of crabs, oysters and a pelican. These Louisiana themes get a boost in color thanks to the artist’s optimistic outlook on life. For Cyd, painting is all about expressing one’s love of culture, and converting any negative energy into positive reflections. It’s an activity she has enjoyed since her schoolyard days. And it’s one she has turned to more often since her son, Andrew, moved out and enrolled at LSU three years ago.
The stay-at-home mom and artist has time—and her work benefits from it.
“It’s an empty nest now,” Cyd says. “It’s always hard when your child goes off. When my son was older and in school, that’s when I really started to paint. When he moved out, I really started painting. I could do a painting a day if I really set my mind to it. I think [wanting to create] is something you’re born with. I was going through some old papers and cards and came across some drawings—I swear my art has not progressed that much from high school. I still paint with bright colors.”
There’s a lot of natural light flooding the room in which Cyd experiments with acrylics. It has become a makeshift studio in a quaint space that could just as easily host brunch after Easter Mass. It’s where she creates her own little masterpieces—where she whites out others that just don’t turn out how she had pictured them to be.
“I don’t know how I get from point A to point B until the end,” Cyd says. “I always have a picture and draw it out. I keep layering the colors. The hardest part is to know when to stop. My husband will come in and say, ‘Enough—seal it up.’ I tend to want to over-paint, or feel that something needs to be touched up.”
‘THIS IS NATURE’
Soon, hopefully by summer, Cyd will be able to move into a loft adjacent to her house that will inspire her newest creations. The planned art studio will feature a second-floor balcony that overlooks the homeowner’s carefully planned garden and courtyard. The name Martha Stewart did get mentioned already, right? It’s the sort of place creative people dream about.
And it’s a place Cyd and Alan can share together.
“My husband loves to garden,” Cyd says. “He’s such a hard worker.”
The couple built their home 12 years ago. As self-contractors, they completed much of the work, especially in the garden, themselves. Together, they laid brick and planted rows and rows of their favorite plants and flowers. The explosion of greenery and color is breathtaking when stepping onto the back porch from the living area. A trickle of water adds to the serenity, and the choir of chirping birds completes the sensory experience. Even the backyard is an inviting space at Cyd and Alan’s home.
“I like being here. This is nature,” Cyd says. “It comes through God to me so that I can share it and enjoy it. On a cool day, it’s so nice to visit with people. I like when it’s springtime and all those sweet peas are in bloom and there are flowers everywhere. It’s good to know that you can go out and really be one with nature. I’ll have a dinner and my family is here—those are good moments.”
‘SOMETHING ABOUT A MOM’S COOKING’
When Andrew returns home to Thibodaux from Baton Rouge, he looks forward to spending time with family—but he’s also ready for a home-cooked meal, Cyd says. That’s when the “mom” in Cyd kicks in and she begins to gather carrots, beets, lettuce, cilantro, green onions, mint, oregano and other vegetables and herbs from her garden to cook up one of her favorite recipes. Seafood and spaghetti and meatballs often get requested. In the summertime, she serves her own mint juleps while relaxing on the covered back porch.
“I’ll cook a meal and put some in my freezer so [Andrew] can still have some home-cooking,” Cyd says. “I still go to my mom and ask her for her okra gumbo—there’s something about a mom’s cooking. I like to cook anything that’s fresh, especially fresh seafood—not a whole lot of ingredients.”
Being a stay-at-home mom all these years has given Cyd the freedom—and time—to experiment with flavors in her kitchen. She feels blessed that she can spend hours working on a gumbo, or an afternoon fixing dinner for her family.
“Not everybody can put on a pot of beans at 8 in the morning and let them cook for hours, or make a gumbo, which takes a couple of hours,” Cyd says. “The good thing is my husband isn’t picky—he likes whatever I cook.”
It Just Works
Cyd says she isn’t a perfectionist, but she usually knows what works—whether it’s art, gardening or cooking. The Jill of all trades even does her fair share of wedding decorating. For her, it’s all part of being a creative spirit.
When seeking a relaxing escape that doesn’t involve a brush, shovel or spoon, Cyd usually turns to music. James Taylor and Nat King Cole are her favorites. The latter, she says, reminds her of her childhood, when her mom would fill the house with classics from the great American songbook. She cherishes those days and finds a way to keep a few of those traditions alive, even today.
“This is all more about being creative than artistic—it’s the need to make something pretty,” Cyd says. “I think that’s something you’re born with.”