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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Light Up The Darkness

I am currently working on a new series of paintings called Light Up The Darkness, and I thought I'd give you all a little information about its background and where I'm headed with it.

I was so excited about getting into this new series that I made the short teaser for it above.  And unlike many teaser videos that you might watch for a movie or TV show, this one actually says quite a bit about this series without any misleading images or editing.  But I didn't want to share too much with it, because I have ideas and images still in my head that I am hoping will be powerful once they're revealed in the paintings.  So let me get to the premise of the series.

It started as something that came right out of my previous series God Breathed.  I did one particular painting for that series called The Crusader, which seemed to stand out from the rest of the paintings in the series for a couple of reasons.  First was that I used a broader color palette that included colors not used in any of the other paintings.  But it was the figure in that painting that intrigued me.  I know, sounds strange that a figment of my imagination (with exception to the photo-referenced pose) would somehow intrigue me.  But the mystery of the figure is what did it for me, and what I created him (or her?) to be in the painting.  It is simply a figure wearing a blue hoodie and a pair of gray cargos and gloves.  There is literally nothing revealed about the figure's identity except that which I created myself - the chi rho symbol on the figure's back.  It is a monogram combining the first two letters of the Greek word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, or Kristos (Christ), and signifies that this is a person of faith in Jesus Christ.

The Crusader
I thought to myself that the visual, scriptural, and narrative elements of the painting were enough to create a whole series in itself.  I briefly considered it, but set it aside in order to finish the rest of God Breathed (the joys of a creative mind... we can't stay focused on just one thing at a time). 

But of course I went back and considered the idea some more.  And in May, I began doing some drawing studies, which is what you see me working on in the teaser video.  The biggest challenge, however, is how I would pursue this series without merely making it a God Breathed part 2 sort of thing.  I knew then, and know now that this series will have to be something completely different, but just as bold and provocative as God Breathed if not more so.  How do I do that?

The answer to that goes back to the visual, scriptural, and narrative elements of The Crusader, and where I can take each of those in this new series.  Scripturally, I already know.  As it shows in the beginning of the teaser, Ephesians 5: 8-11 is where the main inspiration for this series comes from.  There are other passages that will come into play later on, but the Ephesians passage gives the overall scriptural foundation for the series.

In Ephesians 5, Paul gets into the idea of spiritual battle between the light and the darkness.  This is something I touched on in an abstract way in the God Breathed paintings, but now it is going to come front and center for LUTD.  In verses 8-11, Paul is boldly saying that not only are we to avoid participating in the acts of darkness, but as people of faith we are to shine our light and expose the darkness.  To call it out for what it is and attack it head on.  To make it flee from us.

Paul also mentions how we were once darkness ourselves.  This is going to be an interesting idea to play with in this series, and I've already thought about how to do that.  I wanted to create a tangible representation of "darkness" in this series that was more than mere abstraction as it was in God Breathed.  So there are going to be two versions of the crusader figure appearing in this series.  One to represent the light, and the other to represent the darkness.

In addition to the thematic elements, I am also going to have a literal, visual play between light and dark that will hopefully show the influence of the Old Masters and their tenebrist/chiaroscuro techniques.  So I will be going back to the techniques of my heroes Caravaggio, Titian and Velázquez to give each painting in this series a bold visual punch that will hopefully catch the eye of every viewer who walks in the gallery once they are displayed.

Let me conclude by saying why I am painting this series. 

Now, more than ever in my lifetime, there is a battle set out right before us against darkness.  For as long as I can remember, the world has never been in as much jeopardy as it is now.  I remember visiting Egypt in October 2010, and little did I know how much tension that country was in at the time, and that it was on the brink of exploding.  Sure enough, it did just a few months later in January 2011.  Now I feel like the entire planet is in that same tension, with the Christian persecution and genocide happening overseas, refugees being chaotically spread out everywhere, Islamic terrorism striking Europe and the U.S., police officers being shot and killed while cities burn to the ground as a twisted statement of whose lives really matter.  And the current political circus in the U.S. that is dividing the country more and more on a daily basis, and is frankly leaving me frightened for what's to become of us after November elections.

But you see, none of these things is the problem.  They are only symptoms of the greater problem - That the darkness is winning.  It is winning us over and making us believe that its way is the right way.  It uses political correctness to make people of faith water down the questions and answers of its existence.  Or worse yet, to make us ignore and avoid those questions and answers altogether.  It's at that point that we simply deny that the enemy even exists at all.  And that is his greatest weapon.  It is time to stop fooling ourselves, and to confront the enemy with the kind of faith that makes him cower before us.  The only way to defeat the darkness is simply to light it up.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

News from the Studio 8/13/16

Hello friends!

I'm back.  It doesn't seem like it to me, but I guess dates don't lie.  I haven't written any updates in 3 months, and for that I apologize.  So let me bring you all up to speed on what is new in the studio these days.

First of all, shows.  The Raytown Artists' Association show is coming up August 19-20th at St. Paul's Church of the Nazarene in Raytown, MO.  I always love doing this show and making it back to my ol' hood that is Raytown.  If you have a chance, I hope you can make it to the show.  It is located at 8500 E 80th Ter., and runs from 9:00am - 5:30pm on both days and is open to everyone.

And of course, there is my ongoing exhibition at Jones Gallery in Crossroads KC.  I am currently showing 24 pieces, which includes 12 out of my 15 God Breathed series.  I have been getting so much great feedback from viewers who have come out to see the show, and it has been such a blessing!  Thank you to all that have seen the show, and have expressed such a positive response.  It means the world to me!

In addition to those paintings, I also have a number of small works available at Jones Gallery as well.  These are matted oil paintings on Arches oil paper.  They are available for $100 each, and I will have more to come for First Friday, September 2nd.

I am also hoping to be doing some live plein air painting for September First Friday as well.  I did it back in June and loved it.  It's always great when people walk up and start watching.  Here's a little peek at what I did in June:

The summer has been full of different adventures.  I haven't been able to work as much as I usually do because of a couple of mission trips I did right here in KC with the youth ministry of my church.  Both were great, and now that the summer is winding down, I am getting back to a more consistent, routine schedule of work.  And that includes work on a new series of paintings.

I introduced the new series a couple of blog posts ago, but didn't say much about it yet.  I will have a full blog post about it coming very soon.  The new series is called Light Up The Darkness, and I already have a start on it.  It comes right out of God Breathed, as it features a particular figure from my painting called The Crusader.  But this series is not meant to be a God Breathed part 2 or anything.  My hope is that it will be something altogether set apart from the previous painting series.  Again, more to come later, but here is a drawing study for one of the paintings in the series:

More on Light Up The Darkness to come later!  God bless you guys.

Monday, May 9, 2016

God Breathed: The Complete Series

I recently finished the last painting in this series, and I thought it would be interesting to show all the paintings in the series together.

To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain (Romans 1:16, 8:36, Philippians 1: 20-21)

Wake the Dead (Ephesians 5:14)

Heavy Laden (Matthew 11:28-30)

Fleeting (Proverbs 31:30)

The Secret Place (Psalm 139: 13-16)

The Blind Will See (John 9:39)

Agnus Dei (Isaiah 53)

Every Knee (Philppians 2: 5-11)

All Things New (Revelation 21: 4-5)

The Crusader (Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 54: 14-17)

The Narrow Gate (Matthew 7: 13-14)

Frail (Psalm 38)

O Lord Make Us Pure Again (Psalm 51: 7-12)

Soar (Isaiah 40: 29-31)

From the Dust (Genesis 2:7)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

News from the Studio 5/5/16

Hello friends!

Everything is moving right along in the studio these days.  I've gotten a pretty good start on the final piece in my God Breathed series.  I'm hoping this one turns out okay.  It's going to be a little tricky, but it's looking good so far.  I don't have any pictures to show you, but I can show you the figure study I worked up for it.

Looks like a pretty traditional pose, and it is.  Which is why it's going to be tricky, because in keeping with the series, my goal is to turn this traditional-looking figure into something a little crazy.  Really, I'm just hoping to have fun with this one, and I'm looking forward to showing you all the result.

Now, regarding the Images Gallery Juried Exhibition... Wow, was this an interesting experience!  Let me start off by saying that I happily received the Best of 2D award for my latest self-portrait.  The award took me completely by surprise because the show directors usually notify award-winners in advance to make sure they will show up to the reception to receive their awards.  I received no such notification either through phone or email.  But I went to the reception anyway just because.  I thought it would be good to keep up appearances.  So there I am at the reception on April 15th, and I was honestly about to walk out the door by the time the awards announcements began.  It was so crowded, and I don't do well in crowded places.  But I was kind of trapped.  So I just stood there and listened intently, because what else could I do?  All of a sudden, they announce the Best of 2D winner, and I hear my name called.  Well, it was a good thing I showed up after all.  I am very thankful for the award, and happy something good finally came out of this show for me.  I've done this show four times, and this was my first top award.

The Images Gallery's Juried Exhibition is on display until May 14th during the gallery's regular hours.  Check out for information.

So, speaking of my Self Portrait, I have entered it into the annual Jerry's Artarama Self Portrait Contest online, and I would really really appreciate your votes for it!  The voting just began this week, and continues through May 20th.  All you have to do is go to the following link, enter your email address, and click "Vote".  You will receive an email asking you to confirm your vote.  Simply do that, and your vote is secured for my piece.  I really appreciate everyone voting for me!  Here is the link to vote:

Beyond all this fun stuff, I am also doing a few small nature studies.  The plan is to get out and do more plein air painting as spring and summer weather gets nicer.  Although it's been pretty rainy lately.  But with a nice new camera, I was able to get out a few days ago on an overcast day and get a few reference shots.  Here are the oil studies on paper I did for those:

I'm not sure yet if I want to go for something big and elaborate with these nature studies, or if I just want to have fun doing some plein air painting this summer.  I'm leaning towards the latter and just having fun and relaxing painting time over the summer.

I say that because I have something planned for the fall and winter later this year.  Another new and pretty ambitious series.  I've already begun the conception of a few pieces for this series, and I am very excited for them.  Much like God Breathed, I hope and pray this will be yet another bold declaration of faith and the Gospel in visual form.

Today just happens to be the National Day of Prayer, and this year's theme is "Wake Up America."  Something I've been praying for a while.  That phrase, "wake up" began the God Breathed series for me, and inspired my painting Wake the Dead.  The passage that inspired me for that painting was in Ephesians 5:14.

Wake up, O sleeper, 
rise from the dead, 
and Christ will shine on you.

This new series has been inspired by something that came out of God Breathed that I want to expand on, and out of the passages of Scripture that come just before 5:14, as Paul calls on the people to live as children of light.  To fight the darkness head on with light.  To not only avoid the evil deeds of darkness, but to expose them.  As people of faith, it is not a suggestion but a commandment for us to be outspoken with the light.  To give everything we are to the cause of Christ.  The National Day of Prayer's verse for this year comes from Isaiah 58: 1.

Shout it aloud, do not hold back.  Raise your voice like a trumpet.

Faith requires boldness.  We cannot hold back.  The light must shine, and shine bright, in order to defeat the darkness.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

News from the Studio 4/6/16

Hello friends,

I thought today would be a good day for an update on what's happening, and what's been happening from the studio and beyond.

My showing for the God Breathed paintings at Jones Gallery for April was great.  There was a good crowd, and for the most part a lot of good feedback about the work.  My most recently sold piece is out of that series, called To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain.  The others seemed to be very well received, with a few viewers being rendered somewhat speechless, and others walking by as quickly as possible.  Overall, I was pleased by the response, and especially thankful for friends that came out to the show and took a moment to chat.  You guys made it great!

To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain
oil on canvas
Me with the Webb Family, friends from church.
I am also happy to announce (officially) the Images Gallery Juried Exhibition is coming up, and I have 3 new paintings accepted into that show, including one out of the God Breathed series.  The show opens on Friday, April 15th with the reception from 6:00 - 9:00pm.  It runs through May 14th.  Please join me!

The next piece that I am working on will be in the painting stage very soon.  But just to give you an idea, here is the drawing study I have worked up for the figure.  This is #14 for God Breathed, and I plan to do one more after this to finish out the series.

With so much work that has gone into getting paintings ready for showing lately, I haven't had much more new work to get busy on, but now I am finally back in the studio and creating again.  I hope to have something good to show everyone as we get deeper into spring and summer.  New ideas for what's to come post-God Breathed series are brewing as I type this.  Stay with me!  There is more to come...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

God Breathed - Debut Exhibition April 1, 2016

Friends, I have been waiting for a while to finally get to this point.  I am happy to announce that part of my God Breathed series will be showing for the first time at Jones Gallery in Crossroads Kansas City, First Friday April 1st.

I say "part" of it because the series itself isn't even completed yet.  Also because there are some pieces only finished recently that are not ready for showing yet.  And also because it is possible that one or two pieces of the series will be showing elsewhere for another show in April.  But I do believe it is time to start showing them, and I am hoping to show as many as I can for this April First Friday opening.

I would highly encourage all my Kansas City friends - if ever there was a show opening of mine you would come to this year, I hope this will be it.  I am nervous and excited about all of these new paintings, and truly pray it goes over positively.  As many of you have seen, they are a pretty new direction in terms of my style and approach to painting, combining realism with abstraction with much bolder imagery than I've painted before.  And of course, every piece is painted in the name of Jesus with Scripture as its inspiration, to be shown publicly in a gallery full of individuals of different walks of life, but equally beloved of God.

Pray for me, friends.  That this may be a successful and worthwhile showing.  That Christ may be preached through my work.  That hearts may be stirred.

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
~Colossians 3:17

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Brokenness and Restoration

I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.
~Psalm 38: 6-8

Unintentionally, the latest two paintings I've completed go together thematically quite well.  I recently finished a piece simply called Frail, that depicts a figure in a vulnerable state.  This piece represents the lowest moment of our lives - whatever that may be.  Knowing we are imperfect, broken, and in need of a Savior.  Psalm 38 describes an infliction on David from God in response to his sin.  Brokenness is inevitable for us all.

oil on linen
22x28 inches
This is one of only a few nude paintings I've done, as is the most recent piece.  I realize it is a controversial thing for some.  Particularly for faith-based pieces, there are some individuals who are disheartened or offended at the depiction of any amount of nudity in a work of art.  The offense is understandable to me, because of what nudity has come to represent - a sexualized humanity by a depraved culture.  But if I may, I want to offer explanation for its purpose in these two paintings.  The nude in art has a far greater purpose than the superficial, sexualized objectivity that pop culture has made it into.
For Frail in particular, it represents vulnerability.  It represents our nakedness after the fall of Adam and Eve.  It represents our shame, and our inability to hide it from the Almighty.

The most recent painting, just finished today, is called O Lord, Make Us Pure Again.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
~Psalm 51: 7-12

O Lord, Make Us Pure Again
oil on canvas
24x20 inches
Here, the nude figure represents humanity's restored purity.  A washing away of our sin, and a restoration of our purest state of existence as Adam and Eve before their fall.  As we are made pure, the Scripture says we are made white as snow (depicted literally in this representation).  As I mentioned, I just finished this piece today, and couldn't help but think about the state of our nation.  We are divided more today than I have ever seen in my lifetime.  Part of what brought me to this painting, and its title, was my hope to see this country restored.  Not just the country, but we the people.  To see us turn our eyes away from sin, and back toward the face of God.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

News from the Studio 2/25/16

Greetings friends of art!

I have quite a bit to update, I realize.  First of all, let's get to some upcoming shows:

Blue Springs Art League Show - March 5th and 6th, Vesper Hall, Blue Springs, MO.  I've lost count, but I think this is my 6th or 7th year doing this show.  For those interested, I hope to see you there!  Hours of the show are March 5th from 10:00am - 5:00pm, and March 6th from 11:00am - 4:00pm.

Images Juried Exhibition - April 15th - May 14th, Images Art Gallery, Overland Park.  I haven't officially been accepted into this show yet.  If I am accepted, more info to come!

First Fridays at Jones Gallery - Every First Friday of the month, Jones Gallery, Crossroads Kansas City, MO.  If you haven't been by this gallery recently, I hope you'll stop by any First Friday from 6-9pm to say hi and see my work.  New pieces will be on display and available soon, including from my recent God Breathed series!  Here's a small glimpse of what I have showing now:

Beyond those shows, I am preparing myself for my first national exhibition this year through the National Oil and Acrylic Painters' Society's Best of America exhibition.  I'm currently deciding on which pieces to enter, and I will certainly keep updates on this show coming.  The show itself is going to take place from September 3rd - October 3rd at Addison Art Gallery in Orleans, Massachusetts.  One piece I know in particular that I'm entering is this one, also going to Blue Springs next week:

All Who Are Thirsty
oil on canvas
Speaking of the God Breathed series, I am getting close to wrapping it up soon.  I'm hoping to get 15 altogether, and I am currently working on #12.  Here is a little preview of it, as it is in progress:

This one is still in its dead color stage, and will hopefully be finished sometime in the coming week.  I have a thought for the next painting after this one, and hopefully it will turn out well.  The above painting will be called Frail.

A little while ago, I finished a follow-up painting to The Crusader, which I posted in the previous blog post.  Using the same figure, I did this piece called The Narrow Gate.  It is possible that I may create a few more in the future featuring this mysterious Crusader figure.  Not that I'm one to create "characters" necessarily, I kind of have some thoughts about where I could go and what I could do with this figure in future paintings.  Who knows, a series stemming from another series?  Anything is possible.

The Narrow Gate (Matthew 7: 13-14)
oil on linen
24x18 inches
As spring and summer get here, I am thinking of doing a series of plein air pieces, which will hopefully include a bit of traveling around.  In addition to painting around my area in Kansas City, I'm hoping to go on a few day trips south to Springfield/Ozark area in Missouri to paint.

Stay tuned for more news to come!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Crusader

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged.  For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  ~Joshua 1:9

How willing are we to run towards danger?  How willing are we to confront the Enemy?  I don't have to mention what I've already mentioned here before - but I have to ask, why is terror winning in this world?  Because we're constantly being told to shut our mouths and turn the other way.  We're told to deny where the terrorism is coming from.  If I can't say it's from radical Islam, fine.  Then I'll call them satanists.  Call it for what it is, but do not fear them.  Make them run from you.

But this isn't the only thing we fear in the world.  We worry about so many countless things that could bring us physical or emotional harm.  And yet God's instruction to us remains the same - Do not fear.  He says it many times, trying to get it through our heads that He is with us, so there's no reason to be afraid.

Do we think God would ever instruct us to shut our mouths about Him?  To turn away from what scares us?  By no means!  God instructs the very opposite of that.  Go and tell the nations about Him, and do not be afraid because He is with us wherever we go.  Never will He leave or forsake us, so man can do nothing to us (Hebrews 13: 5-6).  Having faith is scary sometimes, and makes us confront the world.  Whatever the battle, call it for what it is and do not be afraid.  Make the Enemy run from you.

The Crusader (Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 54: 14-17)
oil on linen
30x24 inches