Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Upcoming - Images Gallery Juried Exhibition

Hello friends,

Just a quick note to announce that I have been accepted into Images Art Gallery's annual juried exhibition, which opens with a reception on Friday, April 21st from 6:00 - 9:00pm.  All 3 of my entries were juried into the show, so I'm hopeful it will be a great show.

This year, Images Gallery has posted all of the juried entries on their website, which you can check out at

Last year, I was very blessed to have been awarded with the Best of 2D prize, which came as a total surprise to me.  For as long as I've done the Images show, it's been a tough one.  I almost didn't do this year's show, but I decided to at the last minute (literally about 2 days before the registration was due). 

As for new work, now that I am starting to feel better after my surgery, I have been able to feel comfortable enough to get back in the studio and work on stuff.  So keep watching out for more, friends.  I promise it's coming!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

News from the Studio (Or "Chronicles of my Cholecystectomy") 3/14/17

Hi friends!

This is going to be a fun update.  A lot sure has happened in the past 10 days, so let's get to it.

First, let's talk Blue Springs Art Show, and then I'll get to the other stuff.  The Blue Springs show was held back at Vesper Hall in Blue Springs, Missouri on March 4-5, and it went really well!  I went into it without any expectations as usual.  But I managed to take away 3 awards that weekend. 

My self-portrait was the 1st Place Portrait winner, and my painting The Crusader took 2nd in the Opaque category, as well as 2nd Place People's Choice.  All in all, it was a successful show yet again for me, and I couldn't be happier about it.

And now comes the real story of the past several days for me.  And it all started that Saturday night of the Blue Springs show, March 4th.  After a delicious meal at one of my favorite restaurants, I began to feel a slight stomach ache.  This is something I had felt before, and I had a bad feeling it was going to get worse as the evening progressed.  Although, in times past, it would turn out not as bad as I expected, so I still had hope it would be okay.  Still, as the night progressed, and while I was at the awards reception at Blue Springs, the ache in my stomach also began to progress.  By the time I was home and did my nightly before-bed routine, the ache in my stomach started turning to pain.  Real.  Awful.  Pain.  That pink Pepto-Bismol stuff that I tried to take did not work.

By 11:00pm, I was nauseous, and throwing up.  You would think throwing up might help with the stomach issues, because whatever was in there that was making me feel so awful was no longer there.  Nope.  Not the case.  In fact, it seemed as though my stomach pain was even worse at that point.  So the game was over.  It was emergency room time.

So there I am at the ER with my mom until sometime after 3:00am Sunday morning trying to get the pain under control.  They gave me an IV with some fluids, and medication.  In exchange, I gave them some of my fluids for them to run some labs.  Nothing serious came up, thank goodness.  But I still had no idea what was wrong with me.  My mom just happened to throw out the suggestion that it may be my gallbladder.  The ER doctor said, "Yeah, it's possible."  But since they decided not to even do an x-ray, it was hard to say. 

They told me to stick to a "bland" diet and to get in to see my doctor that week.  So I did on Wednesday.  Now, I really like my doctor because he doesn't mess around.  If I need something done, he gets it done, or puts an order in to have it done quickly.  After my quick appointment with him, he was almost about to admit me right there.  But we decided that I could come back first thing the next morning for an ultrasound to get to the bottom of this.  But he was pretty certain it was my gallbladder too.

So I came back the next morning, Thursday, and did just that.  My doctor told me he would get the results of the ultrasound within minutes, so I didn't even need to leave the building before I could come right back up to see him and get the verdict.  Sure enough, I got a call to come up to the office.  And sure enough, I had a gall stone.  A BIG gall stone.  And my nurse said, "Yep, he called it, didn't he."  To which I replied, "Yeah, although the funny thing is my mom called it right from the beginning at the ER."  My mom and I have both seen this before with my dad several years ago.  Same exact pain.  Same diagnosis. 

Well, my doctor was ready to admit me right away and get this taken care of.  But there was one small problem.  The hospital was full, and they couldn't get a bed for me.  If I was to go through with the surgery, it wasn't going to happen until 8:00pm that Thursday evening.  They had me in a room hooked up to another IV and getting more fluids and having more labs done.  This went on for a couple of hours before the surgeon came in and told me the situation.  I could wait until 8:00pm, but still not have a bed, and just stay overnight in an uncomfortable ER bed or something.  Or, I could go home and sleep in my own bed, and come back again bright and early at 6:30am Friday morning and have the surgery and go home later that same day.  So I went with option B.  And in hindsight, it was the right choice.

So on Friday March 10th at around 9:30am, I had my gallbladder removed.  And since then, I have been recovering.  Which has involved sitting on my butt, watching TV, getting up and walking around the house on occasion, regaining my appetite, and taking my happy pills.

The surgery itself was an interesting experience.  I'd never had surgery before.  There was a time when I was a baby that I needed anesthesia for some dental work, but this was my first real surgery.  It was strange.  The last thing I remember was being wheeled into the operating room.  They instructed me to stretch out my arms, and told me to start taking some deep breaths as they placed an oxygen mask over my face.  That's it.  I went completely out sometime after that.  Then my first memory of waking up was in the recovery room, feeling ridiculously groggy, and falling in an out of sleep, but trying to stay awake.  Feeling as though almost no time had past.  It's a weird feeling. 

Anyway, that's what I've been up to for the past week and a few days.  Stay with me, friends!  I'm looking forward to getting better and getting back to work.  And, frankly, eating some good food again.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

LUTD - The Temptation

Hello friends!

Today I finished the latest piece for Light Up The Darkness.  I wanted to do something that was about temptation, and the nature of temptation.  One of the things that makes Darkness such a powerful force over humanity is its ability to entice us.  Darkness is not necessarily something that wants to scare us.  It wants to suck us in and manipulate us into thinking that what is inherently evil is good.  Among God's 10 Commandments, I actually think one of the hardest to keep is "Thou shalt not covet..."  The fundamental part of falling into temptation is our tendency to covet that which we desire, but don't have.  The greatest weapon that Darkness has is its ability to use our weaknesses against us.  But our greatest weapon against Darkness is the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, and our God-given capacity to resist evil.  We stumble.  We break promises.  We give in to the thing that hurts us and others.  But we can rise up, and stare Darkness in the face, and say, "You have no power over me."

The Temptation (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
oil on linen
24x36 inches

Friday, February 24, 2017

News from the Studio 2/24/17

Hello my friends,

I have some good news.  It may be mostly just good news for me, but I hope it will be good news for this blog and those of you reading it as well.  As the Lenten season begins next week, I will be taking a much needed break from the horrendous chains of the social media platform known as Facebook.  On the one hand, it is probably my greatest tool for promoting my work, and it's going to be challenging without it for 40 or so days.  But on the other hand, it has gotten to the point where I am almost sickened by it every day I log on.  I actually find that the days I'm not on Facebook at all are the genuinely good and productive days.  In that sense, it will be quite easy.  I sometimes think about how much I miss the days when social media didn't exist. 
So, my Lenten hiatus from Facebook means I will happily be able to spend more time productively keeping this blog page up to date.

The Blue Springs Art Show is next weekend, March 4th - 5th.  And of course, I am participating.  It is back again at Vesper Hall, 400 NW Vesper, from 10am - 5pm on Saturday, and 11am - 4pm on Sunday.  As it goes, I will have two paintings showing.  I hope to see you there!

My series of paintings, Light Up The Darkness, is still going.  Going slow, but it's still going.  I am working through a lot of ideas for paintings in my head, and I have found that I sometimes like to change my mind about things midway through a project.  So these paintings sometimes go slower than usual.  But here is a tiny glimpse of what I am working on right now:

I have also recently finished a new commission.  A few years ago I painted a portrait of this young man named Mason:

Most recently I painted his brother Logan, who is now a high school senior himself.  I will be able to post the finished piece later, once I have handed it over to the family.  But I do have a small peek of it I can show now:

I had a fun time painting this one, and Logan did a pretty awesome job sitting for me.  And speaking of Mason, it was awesome to hear that he began Marine Corps boot camp back in September.  He dealt with some illness that delayed the process, but I am happy to say that after the grueling final test known as the Crucible, Mason became a United States Marine on Thursday morning, February 23rd.  I may just have to paint him in uniform at some point.

By the way, I would love to paint a commissioned portrait for you or a family member/friend.  It is a perfect way to celebrate a high school senior in the family, as with Mason and Logan.  But I am ready, willing, and happy to paint any portrait for any occasion.  I use all professional high quality oils and canvas (linen or cotton) to ensure it will last for generations.

On that note, I wanted to mention a special portrait commission that came to me last year from a mother wanting a memorial portrait of her daughter.  And what a pleasure it was to work on this one.  Sometimes, it's all about capturing a good memory and essence of a loved one, which is what this special portrait was all about.  With permission, I am happy to show it to all.

oil on linen
14x11 inches

More to come later, my friends!

Monday, January 23, 2017

LUTD - The Latest Works

It's a new year, and I have some new work to share.  Actually, one of them is a few months old.  I just haven't posted it on the blog yet.  But the other one is newly finished today.

Both of these are part of my Light Up The Darkness series, and I actually think it's appropriate that I post these two particular pieces in the same blog post.  One of my intentions for this series is that some of these paintings would be responses to previous paintings.  I want to convey the idea of a spiritual battle with this series.  My hope is for the imagery to go back and forth between Darkness having an upper hand, and the Crusader responding in faith and boldness.

I painted Lament in mid-November, and my intention was to make it an extremely dark piece that would get to the heart of the battle between good and evil.  It is simply what you see - a remorseless figure of Darkness mocking the faithful Crusader as they behold a scene of brutal persecution.  It's no secret that Christian persecution weighs on my heart, and I often feel helpless to do anything about it.  I pray about it.  I try to spread news of it when I see stories about it on social media.  And I think to myself, "What more can I do?"  I can't fight ISIS head on.  I often feel like my voice is too small to make others care about it.  So I wanted to portray that sentiment in this painting by putting the Crusader in a position that basically embodies that kind of helplessness to do anything about the horror that is happening.

Lament (John 15: 18-25)
oil on linen
30x24 inches
So how do I respond to this image?  The scripture passage from Ephesians 5 that inspired this series says not to participate in the deeds of darkness, but to expose them.  It means responding in faith and fight darkness until there is no darkness left.  To love what is righteous and hate what is evil.  I believe God has called us to be crusaders for righteousness.  He has called us to rise up and shine light on the evil deeds of darkness.  To expose them for what they are, and not be afraid to use our voices and our gifts as means of communicating and spreading the gospel.  That is precisely what this series is about.  And I believe Christ is my Good Shepherd and Protector for the battle.  So I began thinking about images for this.  A Protector.  One with strength and majesty, and one that would terrify evil.  And then it dawned on me.  I recalled a quote that I read from a book called Manuel for Spiritual Warfare.  The quote is from St. John Chrysostom, and he is talking about the Eucharist.  It says in part,

"For this reason, we must return from the Table like lions breathing fire, having become terrifying to the Devil."

A lion.  Something I had never painted before.  This was going to be my symbol for a holy Guardian in the battle.  And while He's not breathing fire in this painting, I have not ruled it out for future pieces.

The Guardian (Psalm 121)
oil on linen
36x24 inches

The scary thing is, even when we are bold in faith, Darkness still likes to play games with us.  The battle continues...

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

News from the Studio 11/3/16

Hello my friends,
In typical Ryan fashion, I have once again been slacking on the updates.  And there are quite a few of them.  I'm actually not sure where I left off with you all, but I'll try and fill you in the best I can.

1.  I have finished two pieces out of my new series Light Up The Darkness.  I am currently working out ideas for the third one, but I'm almost ready to get it going.  And it's going to be a tough one.  I'm still working out ideas for composition, and honestly just how far I want to take it thematically.  But here are the first two:

The Awakening
oil on canvas
30x40 inches

Scarred For Life
oil on linen
40x24 inches

2.  I don't think I even mentioned it, but my painting The Blood of the Martyrs was the Best of Show winner at the Raytown Artists' Association show (WAY back in August), making it my first two-time Best of Show winner, with the first being Blue Springs earlier this year.  I never thought that painting would become so important to me.  I did it with persecuted Christians in mind, and also because I just had to paint that face.  But the one thing I never know when I paint something is what God is going to do with it.  This painting's journey has been amazing, and I'm sure there is more to come.

3.  Speaking of which, you can see The Blood of the Martyrs at my current exhibition at Lee's Summit City Hall in Lee's Summit, Missouri.  The show is called Past † Present and is on display right now until January 12, 2017 during City Hall's regular hours, 8:00am - 5:00pm Monday through Friday.  It is something of a "favorites" exhibition for me of the past 6 years.  It has some award-winners, some overall good memories, and a couple of new pieces that I have not shown before that you will love.

4.  Yes, I am still showing at Jones Gallery in Crossroads KC, and I currently have 14 of my 15 paintings of God Breathed hanging at the gallery.  The other one is showing at Lee's Summit City Hall right now.  The next First Friday show is this week, November 4th.  As usual, I will be at Jones Gallery hanging out, and I hope to see you there if you are in the area.  I say it often - I am thankful for you all for the response to this series.  And I certainly hope Light Up The Darkness does the same, and I cannot wait to get this new series out there for you all.

That is all for now.  More to come later...

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Biblical Prayer for the Artist

Hello my friends,

I thought I would share a little something I wrote this week.  I've always believed that no matter what you do in life, it is important to ask God's blessing over it, and to do it in the name of Jesus (Colossians 3:17).  So for 3 days this week, I spent some time during my nightly prayer and Bible time to write this prayer for artists.  And I wanted each statement of it to be grounded in Scripture.  Hence, why it took me a few days to write it.  Here it is, and feel free to share it, and certainly to pray it.  Click on the image to zoom in on the text.