Denise Ryan Art Studio

For me painting is as important to my life as breathing. I love the process from the first inkling of an idea to the final touches on the finished work. The smell of oil paint, the feel of canvas, the passage of the brush over the surface are things that sustain me.

I have painted many subjects but I am always drawn back to the still life. It offers endless possibilities for metaphor, symbolism and eccentric juxtaposition. The still life objects that I choose to paint are often the things that others discard; old bits of ribbon or cloth, paper or orange peels. Some things are gathered from the outdoors. Nature's detritus such as discarded nests, vines, rocks or feathers. These humble objects gain new significance within the elegant arrangement of a still life composition. I will often place them before an imaginary landscape or sky which implies endless space instead of the limited depth of the traditional still life. For the painter, pictorial space has magic within it. I think of it as a playground for the imagination. Gravity is optional and light can move through this space with the fluid grace of a dancer. Things can be arranged like notes on a musical score with the empty spaces between the objects as important as those between the notes. Just like musical notes, the juxtaposed objects resonate in mysterious ways and offer the viewer a puzzle to solve. What does this painting mean?

I paint directly from life whenever possible. The human eye sees subtle things that the camera lens cannot. I prefer to be the editor of all that I see, firsthand.

Although the objects in my paintings are meticulously rendered, I am not a photo realist. Nor can I think of myself as a realist because there are occurrences in my paintings which defy physical reality. I am not a surrealist although there is a trace of the surreal in my work. I believe that I am a part of a long tradition of still life painting reinterpreted for contemporary times.

I am a teacher. Working with my students helps me to clarify my ideas about art and the making of art. It is with gratitude that I watch their development as artists. I believe that we are all born with pure creativity inherent within our human nature but many of us lose it in the educational process and the stress of daily living. To be a facilitator in this journey of discovery is a privilege for me.

Denise Ryan


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