Lynette’s Magic Shake Machine

Creativity is not an ever-flowing river of ideas.

  • Whether the Great American Novel or an email, writers often stare at a blinking cursor in the upper left corner of a bank document, searching for a combination of words to awaken their Muse.
  • Similarly, songwriters and composers can be entombed by silence as they seek an inspirational sound to jumpstart their creative journey.
  • Artists, too, must inevitably stare at an empty canvas, devoid of color, texture and a story to tell.

As an undergraduate art student at Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas, Lynette Sykora, 22, was challenged by Gary Washmon, Professor of Art to create a collection of four, relatively large oil paintings that reflected a consistent concept. “Each student is challenged to complete a project that is ambitious in scope, and in some ways, the sum of all their work as undergraduates.

While this would be the most challenging assignment she had ever faced as a student of art for over the past eight years, she was confident that artist’s block would not stifle her creativity.

Synesthesia: Cross-wired for Creativity

Why the creative confidence? In 2017, Lynette was diagnosed with synesthesia, a neurological condition affecting approximately 13 million Americans. When stimulated by sound, her sensory “hearing” pathway leads her to involuntary stimulation of her sensory “vision” pathway. Lynette hears music and simultaneously sensing the sound as colors and texture.


A Collaboration to Surprise and Delight

Synesthesia has a definite down side. Stimulating the sensory pathways of hearing and vision requires the random combination of music and images. It takes time to prime the pump of creativity.

“My father heads a software production studio in Dallas,” Lynette explains. “I told him what I needed and he asked a few questions.”

Using FileMaker Pro 17, the Magic Shake Machine was ready in one day.

More importantly, it worked. A true collaboration between father and daughter.

Priming the Pump with Music, Images and Aspect Ratios

The Magic Shake Machine requires three libraries.

  • The Music Library is dominated by Russian composers, including Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Igor Stravinsky and Dmitri Shostakovich
  • The Image Library includes landscapes, colors, textures and simple things, e.g., animals, trees, bubbles and lava.
  • The Aspect Ratio Library sets the physical constraints of the canvas, e.g., Standard ratios for artwork: 2×3, 4×6, 5×7 10×14 3×2 plus non-standard ratios, e.g., 1×2, 1×3, and 1×6.

The Magic Shake Machine creates a unique and non-modifiable recipe based on music, three images and the aspect ratio.

Stimulus Versus Creativity: Balloon Industry

The Magic Shake Machine is a catalyst for Lynette’s artistic creativity, delivering a unique “recipe” that cannot be edited. The ingredients are music, images and aspect ratio. “With the the Magic Shake Machine I can meditate in a slide show format coomplete with music.

  • Music — “Music has always been the inspiration of my art. In the past I would put on my headphones and listen to classical music. It would quickly remove the clutter in my mind.” The Magic Shake Machine selected “Nocturne in E- flat Major, OP. 9 NO.2”- Chopin (1830-31) LINK
  • Images — In concert with the music, these three images stimulated Lynette’s creativity for Balloon Industry. No Artist’s Block here.
  • Aspect Ratio — Once selected, the music, the three images and the aspect ratio are locked in place.

Once Lynette accepts the Magic Shake Machine’s recipe and her creative pump is primed, the painting evolves. LINK TO TIME-LAPSE

As her painting evolves, so too does the story within her painting.

There is a father and son who live in the bottom of a ravine in the south of France. Everyday, they inflate and release large balloons from a church window overlooking a ravine. Rising high into the sky, the balloons attach to the fins of ancient whales. These creatures are so old that their bones have hollowed and filled with air. They too float in the sky.

As air currents carry the whales inland, however, there is not enough updraft to keep them in the sky. Should the limitless pod of whales fall to earth, all of humankind would be crushed. Like many, the father and son recognize the potential Apocalypse to life and have joined with the Balloon Industry and others to release millions of balloons each day to save the world. Everyday, millions of balloons are ascend into the sky to shepherd whales across the Land and into the Sunset.

These paintings are worlds constructed out of the colors and texture inspired by music and the serendipitous selection of inspiring images.


Lynette graduated from WTU in June 2018 and is currently an illustrator at Harmonic. Her ever-expanding Serendipity Series can be enjoyed at Serendipity.