All posts by Ryan Williams

I am the artist and admin of this blog. I try to provide insight into my painting process, my thoughts about the current state of the art world, and links to interesting painting resources. Subscribe to Brushes and Bytes now!

When Worlds Collide

This is what happens when worlds collide.
On this day, we would finally be free of taxes.

Months ago I was laying in bed quietly and in the dark. My mind, as it always does at 1am, started to run, no…sprint, and I was forced to chase it down. Before I could catch it and finally drift into the land of slumber I had a funny idea about my future works of art.

I enjoy most subjects to paint, but I admit that I am most interested in the genre that gives me the most problems – portraits. There are two problems for me when it comes to painting portraits. The first problem is that I want to paint portraits but I realize there isn’t much interest in buying a portrait unless it was commissioned by the buyer or it happens to be someone whom the buyer knows about and loves. The second problem I have is that I’m just not that good at portraits. I confess that I could simply duplicate a portrait to get a likeness but then I am locked into that pose and I want to paint from life – not from a photograph. These problems generate a catch-22 for me. I need to paint more portraits to become a better portrait artist, but I also need to sell a painting or two before my home is flooded with canvases. Perhaps I needed to generate a portrait of well known people in the news, or characters from books or movies. Hmmm……movies. I have some experience there.

So while these thoughts crossed my mind in the middle of the night, I started to think about the movie paintings I have done for my brother these last 6 years. I have covered 5 movies all together but none of them really focused on a person so much as a scene. The scenes were narratives and were trying to pass along the feeling of being a character in the film. Why not take it a step further and try to convey a character’s personality on canvas? But again, a simple portrait is unlikely to generate any interest from potential buyers so how can I create interest in this idea? Wouldn’t it be nice to grab a fantasy world, then grab another fantasy world, then smash them together into a super-duper-hypothetical-and-perhaps-hysterical-world-that-creates-a-strong-response-from-the-viewer (takes a breath)? Ah, now I have something.

So today I announce the beginning of a new genre for my art; I call it “Character Mash-ups.” The idea is to take a well known character and have him or her interact with another well known character from a completely different and unrelated story. Perhaps these are fictitious characters or perhaps they are historical, but the point is that the encounter will be the result of a commonality between them.  I will be looking for a humorous slant for most of these works, but I might invoke a little drama in them too. I have already started on my first project and I think the subject is pretty silly. I hope to get a laugh and a sale out of this. I can hear you screaming now, “Enough! What are you painting?” Ah…well check back next week for a sneak preview.

Hehe….I’m such a joker.

Dusty But Not Rusty

Rose Park - Copyright 2011 Ryan G. Williams
Rose Park in Long Beach. Where the dogs take their owners to socialize.

Remember me? I’m the guy who does all these paintings. Doesn’t ring a bell? I’m also the guy with the corny jokes, loud shirts, and unhealthy interest in piracy. Ah that rang a bell didn’t it?

Yes it’s been 5 months since I have posted on this blog. There are more than a few reasons for this, but the main one it that I had not painted much during that span. Not that I was losing interest in the hobby; far from it. Painting is still my favorite indoor hobby. There were multiple time consumers that were keeping me from the canvas. The biggest one was that I moved 420 miles north from Long Beach. I packed up the goods and drove a u-haul truck myself to my new residence. I am currently residing in Fair Oaks California which is about 15 miles east of downtown Sacramento. In addition to all that moving jazz, I was taking some web programming courses that were me keeping occupied for most nights. Long story short, I just had nothing to talk about in the art world. But I am back and with a new painting none the less.

In my last post I mentioned that I was working on a painting to celebrate a park that I enjoyed taking my dog to visit on most evenings. The park was down the street from where we lived in Long Beach and is called Rose Park. This painting is my tribute to my 9 years spent in Long Beach. Many paintings I choose to do have a special meaning to me that most people will not get, but that’s understandable as I think painting is a graphic diary of sorts. This painting simply takes me back to the days of living near the ocean, going to college at Long Beach State, meeting my wife, making many friends, and finally getting a sneaky little dog. To everyone else, they will see an outdoor scene filled with folks and their dogs – and I am happy with that.

This work depicts some of our neighbors that we talked to frequently in Rose Park. It’s funny but we never really knew any neighbors in Long Beach until we got a dog. I’m told the best way to meet neighbors is to get a dog or have a baby – well the dog route certainly worked out. The dog on the far right is named ‘Boo’ and he was one of the friendliest dogs we ever met. He was part hound dog so his nose was always in the grass when it wasn’t chasing a Frisbee. The dog in the back was named ‘Forest’ and he was as fast as lightning. The dog in the middle-ground was named ‘Bella’ and she usually played with Boo since they were big dogs in a small-dog park. The two dogs in the foreground are ‘Cooper’ and ‘Bonny’. Bonny is our dog, a dachshund and beagle mix. Cooper was Bonny’s boyfriend of sorts as they were always seen playing together. Cooper is a Corgi Beagle mix so you can understand the attraction. There were others that we saw from time to time but these were the dogs you could count on most days being in Rose Park at 5:30pm. It was a community that was forged by the paws of love.

You might be wondering where in Long Beach you can find that kind of lush vegetation. Well the truth is that I took some artistic license here. The park is in the middle of a residential area of downtown Long Beach, but I didn’t want to depict houses in this scene or parked cars or road signs. I wanted to take the fast-forward nature of the big city out and focus on a quiet and intimate place where people could come together and enjoy themselves. I want the viewers to see the scene and feel the relaxed nature of it all. So the depth of the vegetation is a gross exaggeration, but the variety is not. In this 1/2 acre park you will find rose bushes, palm trees, elm trees, and other small nondescript trees. In the concrete jungle it’s possibly the greenest patch in all of Long Beach.

As always, this painting will be available as a canvas and paper print. Let me know if you have any questions. I promise that new works are coming very soon. I have many ideas in my head, but I must also disclose that my focus right now is getting a job around my new home. So if you need a J2EE developer then give me a call. If you have no idea what J2EE means then I won’t wait up for that call. At any rate, see you next post.

P.S. – It will not be another 5 months.

A Walk in the Park

Spring is finally here! From an artistic perspective, there is no better time to observe the plethora of colors that nature paints than in the spring. Nature is the original artist as she paints everything from the pedals of a rose, to the sheen of the ocean. My latest painting is celebrating the colors of spring and I hope to do nature justice by it.

Wide Angle of Rose Park
The park features and assortment of trees and rose bushes.

Something that I do about everyday is go for a walk – I walk my dog. One of the places I routinely visit on my walks is a little park called Rose Park. It’s a park in the middle of a round-a-bout in Long Beach. It has become a favorite places for kids to hangout after school, residents to sit and relax, and for dog-owners to bring their pet to run around in. On more than one occasion, I have observed more than a dozen people running around this little park. I started to think about what a scene like this might look like in a painting. Then I morphed my thoughts into a spring themed idea. Because the park is named for its rose bushes, why not turn this into a celebration of the spring season? With camera in hand, I have been snapping reference material to work from as I create this project. One executive decision I have made is that I will not be representing the houses in the background of the park. I wanted to take the stress of everyday life out of this scene and putting the actual neighborhood in the background would certainly remind people that this is but a small oasis from an otherwise hectic life in southern California. So the painting will focus on nature and will include some residents walking through the park, sitting and chatting, and walking their dogs. As the viewer, you will not even be aware that this park is in a major city. The final scene will look as though it’s in the middle of the country.

Close-up of Rose Park
The center of the park features a gazebo for relaxing and enjoying the day.

Because this is painted during the spring time, expect to see many shades of green, red, and yellow. I will not be dragging this project out over weeks. In fact I intend on completing this by next week. As I write this, I am already a third of the way complete with the painting. Every now and then I find a quick painting is a great way to flush the imagination with new ideas. Its funny how ideas and come into your head. My idea for painting Rose Park didn’t even come to me while walking my dog, but rather while I was in bed trying to sleep. You just never know when inspiration will hit. In this case, inspiration hit during insomnia. Well enjoy the spring and let’s welcome better weather as well – not to mention baseball season! Go Giants!

Avast Ye Art Lovers!

A Sparrow Takes Flight
Ye may not survive to pass this way again!

Guns, swords, cannon fire, sea monsters, crashing waves, and cutthroat pirates; a pirate’s life for me! Captain Sparrow is honoring that most timeless of pirate rituals – live to steal another day. With a ship full of dead pirates fighting another ship of deceptive pirates and a sea monster named the Kraken in the middle, this is no place for a respectable thief. Take all you can and give nothing back, but first – get the hell out of there!

My first completed painting of 2011 is here! You have heard me talking about a pirate-themed painting for months and now I proudly present “A Sparrow Takes Flight.” This is a 24’’x48’’ oil on canvas project. Anyone who knows me knows that I love pirate stories, history, and cheap souvenirs. So why shouldn’t I paint a pirate scene? What better scene than one taken from the Pirates of the Caribbean universe?

Close-up of Captain Sparrow
He takes all he can...and gives nothing back!

I wanted to represent the best elements from those films. Of course the whole concept starts with the main character – Jack Sparrow. He’s a thief and an opportunist and isn’t too proud to run from a fight which is what he is doing here. It seems everyone is always after him for a broken promise, ship, or heart. We see Sparrow running from a battle between the Flying Dutchman on the left and the Black Pearl on the right. In the middle is the notorious monster that all pirates fear – the Kraken. With this massive sea conflict unfolding in front of Jack, we can’t blame him for running.

I wanted to create a sense of action and danger in this scene. There needed to be movement and tension. My favorite part of this work is the Kraken. What made it come alive for me was the spray of the ocean and the drops of water running off of the tentacles as they climb ever higher into the sky. I am also quite satisfied with the movement and color of the ocean. I used combinations of blacks, blues, and greens to achieve a Caribbean ocean color. Now if you are familiar with my paintings then you might recognize a throwback element to a painting I did in 2007. The pirate who is stranded in the water is actually rendered in the same manner as the Salla character from my Boulder Dash painting. This was simply to tie together my paintings and give the viewer (primarily my Brother) something to laugh at. Obviously Salla does not appear in this film, but on canvas anything is possible.

Close-up of the Kraken
No pirate, no matter how heavily armed, can match the arms of the Kraken!

The original is not available but reproductions are. Check my website for prices on canvas and paper reproductions. Also, I recorded my painting sessions for this project and thus a video is in the works. The video will be similar in format to the “My Bonny” video. Look for this on my website in the coming weeks.

This is the 5th movie themed painting I have completed. This is for my Brother who loves a movie scene on canvas. He actually possesses 4 of the 5 paintings as my soon-to-be sister-in-law has the other. So in a few months all 5 paintings will be under the same roof. The movies I tackled previously are (in chronological order) – Star Wars (Defense of Yavin), Indiana Jones & the Raiders of the Lost Ark (Boulder Dash), Jurassic Park (Carnivorous When Wet), Alice in Wonderland (Mad to the Bone), and finally Pirates of the Caribbean (A Sparrow Takes Flight). I find the movie paintings to be a challenge, but it is fun to re-imagine my version of the films.

So what’s next? A landscape painting is coming and I plan on making this one a short and sweet project. I hope to complete it within 2 weeks. This last painting was about a month’s worth of work – not including the planning stages. So I need something to flush my mind and get the tension out. I’ll be doing a painting of a local park I frequently walk my dog to. There will be more on this in the next session. Until then…

Paint all you can……hold nothing back!

Ears Should Filter Egos

I have been learning art from different sources for years. Early on I was naive and took the first few lessons as the exclusive way to do things. As time as gone on and my personal art education has grown, I have learned that to learn new art techniques you must consult multiple sources to come to a determination about what works for you. At times I feel that an artist is passing on a valuable tip, but at other times I feel the artist is simply telling me that their way is the only way and that simply is never the case.

I have been following a weekend online art course and listening to this landscape artist give tips on using photographs to assist in landscape painting. While I have picked up some interesting ideas, I do find myself sighing in annoyance as I feel the artist is coming down on other methods that do work for other artists. As an example, one student submitted a photo of an old 16th century stone building in the middle of this luscious green landscape and wanted to know how to manipulate the composition to produce an effective landscape painting. The instructor said he “wouldn’t paint this even if he was paid to” because the structure is too straight and straight lines bother the eyes. The problem I have with this answer is the implied denouncing of anything man-made in paintings. With his explanation, he is saying only nature is worth painting. Sorry but that is garbage because how many paintings have we seen that include man made structures that work well for the viewer? I have seen marvelous paintings of the Golden Gate Bridge, New York Skyline, and the Great Wall of China. How can this instructor allow his personal preference to pass as a “lesson?” I also have a problem with how he addressed the question. He essentially stepped on the student’s desire to paint something she loved. Not all paintings have to be done just to make money. This is a hobby before its a business.

So now I have learned to filter out the egos that many artists tend to dish out. I also find it hilarious when artists refer to themselves as “Masters.” I recently responded to an artist in a forum, who claimed he was a master artist, with some harsh but structured words. In essence I said a true master is not labeled as such until generations of artists, collectors, and academics have reviewed the works of the artist and determined the work to be exceptional. The overinflated sense of self this guy has will keep him from ever getting better because he thinks he can do no wrong. We have to identify and learn from mistakes to get better – he never will as I told him. I’ll spare you the rest of the flame war that ensued, but let’s just say I had more supporters that he did in that forum. Please oh please…leggo his ego.

Meanwhile on the easel, the next post should provide you with some information about my newest painting. I will also be talking about my next project and why I chose it.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled painting.