Revisiting the First Paintings

It’s been a couple of months since my last post, but if you follow my YouTube channel or Facebook page then you know what the 50th painting looks like. The portrait of my grandparents entitled “Forever Belles” turned out to be a big success – both in my eyes and my family’s. That painting had a tremendous amount of meaning for me. What mattered most to me was seeing my grandparents smile and enjoy what I had created for them. My Grandmother passed away a couple of months ago and so it was one of the last things I was able to do for her and for that I will be forever happy.

“Forever Belles” by Ryan G. Williams

Moving on to future plans, I am about to release a series of videos in which I go back in time to show all 50 of my paintings. You can watch the first part here… …to see the first 10 works and here the stories, but I wanted to give you a prequel and a little more detail on my artistic history here. So how did it all start? In the fall of 2004 I started recording and watching taped episodes of “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.” It was a relaxing way to end my busy days of study at Long Beach State’s computer lab. I would watch the same episodes on tape week after week and kept saying to myself, “I can do that.” or “I have a great idea for a painting!” Then one day in December of that year I decided to put my brush where my mouth was, it didn’t taste good, but I finally started painting on my own. My first easel was a table with a mini-fridge on it. The canvas sat on top of that fridge to make for an awkward easel. My first palette was some cardboard, which proved to be horrible as the oil just absorbed into the material. After an hour of hastily slapping paint on the canvas I had completed my very first, uh, well – mush. It was then that I realized you have to approach the canvas with a little preparation and cannot simply improvise your ideas – hence my personal painting education began.

As the paintings went on, I learned more and more about the nuances of painting. I started with landscapes and then started dabbling in still-life. I knew people and figures would be the most difficult and so I put that genre off until I felt more comfortable with the brush. I did start sketching people however and that was helpful in teaching me about proportions and the fact that I knew nothing about anatomy or the locomotion of humans did not deter me from learning more.

10 years later what has changed? Well I’ve acquired a fair amount of knowledge about the human figure. People are the most difficult of subjects because the viewers know inherently what the subject is supposed to look like. We can make up a tree or a mountain or a flower, but if the nose is on the forehead, people will look at the painting funny and think, “the artist is incompetent” or “modern art is so trendy.” Well I don’t care much for modern art and I don’t want to have my art reflect incompetence so I have been working hard to learn the intricate features of people. Given my last portrait, I feel I have made significant progress in that direction. So I hope you enjoy this video that shows the first 10 paintings of my work. Again, this is part 1 of a series of videos that will take you through my history.

Currently on the canvas is a little commission. I say “little” with my tongue in cheek because this painting is 36″x60″. This is not exactly a Sunday afternoon dalliance with the canvas. Currently I am up to 17 painting sessions and about 75% complete. I look forward to showing it you sometime this month. If you would like a sneak preview then checkout my Facebook page or Instagram account for photos.

I hope you had a great summer. Let’s hope for a colorful autumn.