Robert Ryan

Robert RyanRobert Ryan is an award-winning, Sacramento based artist. He paints still life, landscapes, figures and more contemporary works in oils. A Pensacola, Florida native, Robert went to college at Notre Dame in Northern Indiana and went to law school Stanford University in Palo Alto before finally settling down in California, leading a successful career as a lawyer. After a bicycle accident kept him off the golf course for the better part of a year, Robert needed some kind of activity to keep himself occupied so he decided to give painting a try. He had taken some rudimentary art courses in the past and his wife found him some local art instructors so that he could start taking some more formal classes.
The first painting he ever did following his accident, was a landscape that he did during a painting course. It didn’t turn out really well but it did get him hooked to painting. In the beginning, he had no idea how to take a brush, mix colors and try to paint something on the canvas, but then he began taking more structured instruction. He believes that anyone who wants to learn how to paint can paint and if they work really hard at it, they can paint well too.
Robert loved being a lawyer, but he had reached a point when he had already done that for nearly 40 years and thought that it was time to do something else, while he still could. So he decided to retire in 2012 and started painting 7-8 hours a day.
He found that he loved the creative process that went with painting. For him, thinking of something and then putting it down on canvas and for it to turn out just the way he had imagined, doesn’t always happen, but when it does happen, amazes him and gives him a sense of fulfillment. He enjoys the learning process and working really hard at it even more. His love for creative freedom painting gives him compared to a camera which can only capture what is before him. It gives him time to step back and relax between the creation and be amazed as a marvelous painting unravels before him with each brush stroke. Sometimes, Robert feels amazed at the stuff that he accomplishes. He may look at a complex still life thinking how he’s going to do that and then, a few hours later, a painting is forming in front of him. “An artist’s ultimate goal in his life should be to make sure that the stack of his paintings that he likes is higher than the stack of paintings that he doesn’t like,” he says.
The first painting that he ever painted while he was still learning, may not have turned out well, but it did catch the eye of Robert’s office manager, who now owns it and it hangs in her office.
“This is what happens with every painting you paint, someone is going to like it,” says Robert. Robert has a very diverse range in his art, from landscapes to figures to portraits, but still-life is his personal favorite. What helped him most in his gradual progression as a learning artist to an accomplished painter was learning to blend and manipulate color. According to him, every painting is basically a mixture of light, shadow, and color, notwithstanding the type of painting, which may be a still life, figure or one of his more contemporary pieces. “Learning about light, shadow, and color is important for any visual artist,” he says.
He has traveled globally and has painted in several European locations, learning something every time he paints as he feels that art is a learning process. Since his first landscape, Robert has come a long way, having built up a lot of confidence and the trepidation he used to feel every time he faced a blank canvas, has receded to quite an extent. His work has progressed amazingly and as he has learned from different master painters in the country, painting is very much like sculpting, trying to create a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional surface.
The capability to be able to do that has grown immensely in the last five years for him. Robert does not like to be confined to just one or two categories of painters as he gets bored easily, so he tends to shift from one style of painting to the other, trying to create the best work that he can in that particular style. While it may be argued that it is a good idea for an artist to stick to a particular style of painting and refine it through the time, he does not subscribe to that idea and is always looking to do something different, facing a challenge everytime the brush touches the canvas.He likes to travel light, so it is not very often that he carries his brushes and paints with him, unless he’s traveling to paint. During his travels, the camera becomes his tool to capture anything that strikes his imagination.
Him and his wife traveled to India for three weeks last October, coming back with a ton of inspiration for the new paintings he has created since then.
When he’s not traveling, he likes to paint 4-5 days a week in the small studio that he has in the house right now, with a bigger studio coming up soon in the back.
Whenever he is home, he tries to visit the studio at least once in a day, even if it is to paint a small panel or move a painting to a better location. A few years back, when he was taking a figure drawing class at Sac City, Robert saw a really marvelous young artist.
He told her “whatever it is you do for a living, don’t stop doing this,” and that’s what he would’ve told himself if he could get a chance to meet his younger self, taking a drawing class back in Pensacola. “Not many people make money creating art, but nobody should give up art in the process of making money,” says Robert Ryan.

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