Even though he can describe the sources of “The Night Ferry,” the picture is much more than the sum of its parts and represents an important moment in the development of Cyr’s style.
“It came out of almost a little breakdown, where I wasn’t sure what I was doing or where I wanted to go,” he said.
A course in Chinese brush painting gave him the discipline to capture what his imagination wanted to pull together.
“I had to follow the rules,” he said. “Within this set of rules, it was almost liberating. It helped me back into this Zen of creating something beautiful.”
That was around two years ago, when Cyr was still a student; all the work in his show follows this breakthrough.
Most of the works at Endicott are illustrations, like “The Night Ferry,” that were created using a hybrid of digital and traditional methods.
Cyr incorporated the Chinese brush stroke into Photoshop and uses that to color his illustrations, which he sketches by hand before scanning them into a computer.
“I like the physical stage,” he said. “It helps transition from brain to computer.”
Cyr loves the freedom and speed that digital techniques give him but uses them to create images that have a traditional feel.
“I try to create a sense of old fairy-tale watercolors, something Arthur Rackham would have created back in the day,” he said.
Rackham lived from 1867 to 1939 and famously illustrated an enormous number of literary tales, myths and stories for children.
He was one of many illustrators Cyr has studied and admires, which also include the Russian Ivan Bilibin, who also lived around the turn of the century, and the American J.C. Leyendecker, best known for his covers for The Saturday Evening Post in the early 1900s.