Category Archives: Paintings

The Power of the Deer

The Black Tail Deer
You WILL paint WILL love me.
I have been focused on the American River painting these past 3 weeks. I really have kept a clear vision of what I wanted the painting to be. For the most part I think I have met that vision. Of course, part of the excitement of painting is not really knowing where your brush will take you when you start. I had a mental map that I was following but I was faced with some challenges and decisions based on what my hands could actually render. At any rate, I am nearly finished with the painting. I’m crusing along and after 11 painting sessions, I am now 85% done with this work. If you would like to see the progression photos of the painting, then please go to my Facebook page: The Art of Ryan G. Williams If you’re interested in seeing me paint, I recorded a painting session of the deer rendering. The entire session took about 75 minutes but I have sped up that session so you can see the result in about 15 minutes. This gives you an idea of how I paint and approach a subject. The deer is taken from sketch to block-in and finally to form shadows. The deer itself is not 100% complete, but the only adjustment left will be some eye highlights and further refinement of the fur. See what you think here: Painting the deer.

The most exciting time of painting is not when the painting is about to be completed, well, not for me anyways. No, the most exciting time is starting a new painting and taking in all that might be possible and letting loose on the canvas. Creation is such a rush and the real challenge is filtering out the lesser ideas to grasp at the best idea. I also find it difficult at times to not let future project ideas cloud my vision for my current work. In this case I am really thinking about how to develop the Joker Holiday painting. I really must quell those thoughts until this river painting is complete. I know, a few Mountain Dews and Peanut Butter Twix bars will settle the mind. Hmmm,….peanut butter twix…..ahhhhh.

Ok, now that I have dried my mouth off, I have some video suggestions for you. Has anyone ever heard of Simon Schama? A few years ago he ran a mini-series (6 episodes) of a program called The Power of Art. Each episode focused on an artist that Schama was intrigued by. Each episode was a docudrama on the life of the artist. There are reenactments of the artist’s most defining moments on and off the canvas. The acting is great and the stories are rich. After watching the episodes, I came away with multiple feelings about these artists. Some I appreciated more than before, some I raised an eyebrow to out of confusion to their actions, and others I simple felt disgusted at. My favorite episodes were about Rembrandt, Caravaggio, and Van Gogh. Interestingly enough, the character playing Van Gogh was Andy Serkis. Who is he? Well did you see Lord of the Rings? Yep, he was Gollum. So if you have some free time then I highly encourage you to check out these episodes because they’re interesting even to the non-art lover. Genius and madness hold hands and disaster is often their offspring – this makes for great entertainment. You can find the episodes on YouTube. Here is one on Rembrandt to get you started: Rembrandt.

Gollum was Van Gogh? Now isn't that Precioussssss?

The Magic 8-ball Said What?

Magic-8-Ball-Fortune Circa Late-1960s
Magic-8-Ball-Fortune Circa Late-1960s - My sources tell me.....that I'm just a friggin' plastic ball! You're on your own kid!
You never know what life has in store for you. Will tomorrow bring you joy, riches, love – or perhaps frustration, boredom, or higher taxes? Wouldn’t it be cool if we all could walk around with a Magic 8-ball to guide us each day? Yeah that would be sweet – you roll out of bed and ask the ball if today will be a great day and if it gives you one of those “all signs point to YOU’RE SCREWED” then you can just stay in bed eating fruit newtons and watching the People’s Court. Thank you magic plastic divining ball, assembled in China, for protecting me from my destiny! Ugh, wouldn’t that be something? Hey look! There’s a flight back to reality leaving now! I better catch it!

Okay so anyways that was just my own clever little lead-in to my latest completed painting. The Taming of the Cue is a 24”x36” oil painting depicts a lively night at a pool hall. We see dancing and other folks enjoying some billiards but the focus is the table in the foreground. Here we find two ladies are engaged in a heated game of 8-ball and one girl is clearly dominating the other. Upon a quick examination of the expressions you would guess that the girl on the left is winning and is gloating over a near-victory. But wait a moment, look at the configuration of the solids and stripes on the table and tell me what you see. Well, there is only one solid left on the table before the winning player can go for the 8-ball so that’s normal, but….. oh. I see. The 8-ball is close to the pocket while the 3-ball is hugging it. That is a big problem because when you go for that 3-ball you are risking knocking in that 8-ball and losing the game. Ah so that’s why the girl on the right looks unhappy – she isn’t losing; she’s winning! She’s winning but she’s stuck uh, ahem, ” behind the 8-ball” because she can’t really go after that 3-ball. Well the smug-looking lady, who is so confident for being in such a poor state, has a good reason to smile. I wonder how you would approach that next shot.

'The Taming of the Cue' - Copyright 2012 Ryan G. Williams
'The Taming of the Cue' - Copyright 2012 Ryan G. Williams

So this painting was a gift to my cousin. He asked for anything and so I came up with this billiard scene when I saw his new house and his pool table. The selection of billiard balls was not random. I chose the 10,9,8, and 3 to have the focus in the foreground because my cousin was born in 1983. Just a simple little salute to make it more personal. If you look in the top right, you will see a neon martini glass sign. That’s a reference to another cousin’s painting (this cousin’s sister) that I did back in 2008 (The Martini Stands Alone). I figured since they’re family then why not link the paintings together some how? Also in the distant background towards the middle, you might make out a little ’39’. If you need help then click the image for a closer look. This is the 39th oil painting I have completed. It seemed like such a round number that I thought I would put it there. I thought a billiard scene, as classic as it is, would be appropriate. You know there have been some really entertaining billiard paintings over the years. Of course we all know dogs can play poker, but did you know they also play pool? Artist Cassius Marcellus Coolidge painted many scenes of dogs playing poker back in the 1920’s which we are all familiar with (I have a tie of one of them). Perhaps not as well known is Arthur Saron Sarnoff who focused on dogs, but they were shooting pool which was just as funny.

'The Hustler' Circa 1950s; Artist Arthur Sarnoff - That is some great shooting for not having thumbs.

Closer to modern times, I also love artist Chris Consani’s billiard scene depicting classic television and film stars enjoying a night on the old felt table.

"A Game of Fate" - Artist Chris Consani - Circa 1980's-90's --- This was not the original look. Elvis was not in the original.

By the way, this version of “A Game of Fate” is not the original version. Consani was forced to use Elvis as a replacement for the Three Stooges. The reason: He was popped for copyright infringement by the good folks who own the likeness rights to the stooges. That’s pretty ridiculous if you ask me. As an artist, we have to be careful of what we paint in this age of litigious larceny.

Back to my painting, which is copyright infringement free (suck it Lionel Hutz), while my scene is more down to earth, I like putting a small twist on the expressions because it’s a little test to see if you’re just looking at the painting or if you’re entering the painting. If your knee-jerk reaction to the unhappy lady is, “she must be losing” then you’re not in the painting; you’re just looking and not taking in all the facts. We must hear, or in the world of art: SEE, all the testimony before we can render a verdict. Remember, artists are creating worlds for you to enter and explore from the comfort of your own imagination. So please, take a moment, and explore.

This painting is also a visual metaphor. Yes, yes, everything in art is a metaphor isn’t it? The scene is depicting a little lesson about life if you take the time to think about it. What? You don’t have the time? You say you need to hop back on your cell phone to update your score on “Words with Friends?” Good lord, what happened to our attention spans? (Sigh) Okay, I will divulge the life lesson for you: no matter how good (or bad) things are going, your fortune can change in a heartbeat. In this case the situation is rolling along for the lady on the right and then, in the blink of an eye, she’s facing a difficult decision. What is the next step? What should she do? Good times can swing a 180 in the blink of an eye.

Real character is born of adversity. While the fates are kind to us, we put away our true nature for a rainy day. When it finally does start to pour, we put on that true persona and find out what we’re really made of and what we really believe. How appropriate the expression “behind the 8-ball” huh? Life is a game we play. We will lose more often than not, but remember that losing glorifies winning. That’s your life lesson for today.

I’ll have a video showing the painting sessions for this piece on my YouTube channel soon.

But Wait, There’s More!

In the meantime I continue to develop my Joker-Holiday painting. I’m getting close to the color stage on that one. I have been careful in how I render that scene because I really want the faces to not only bear a strong resemblance to to the characters from the movies, but I also want their emotions to really come across as genuine. That was one of my goals for 2012 after all. Speaking of goals…

I just implemented a new database system on my website to house my paintings and their associated Paypal codes. So now when you click a painting, the image expands for easy viewing and the paypal link that is appropriate for the selected painting is revealed. No more listing all painting and Paypal information on one page. That was just plain ugly and I’m glad I got rid of that. Let me know if you like the new layout.

Well one month is gone and one painting is complete. So far the fortunes of 2012 have been kind. But when will that 8-ball creep closer to the pocket? I better chalk my cue to be ready for it.

Be ready for anything
You never know what that 8-ball will say.

The First of the Last?

Happy Final Year!

Doesn’t have the same ring to it does it? Well it doesn’t matter much because this December 21st, the world will come to an end – according to the Mayan legend….right?

Mayan Calendar - the face of your doom
What's he laughing at? Stick that tongue back in too!

Yep, 4.3 billion years of the earth rotating, millions of years of evolution in the animal kingdom, and 11 years of garbage reality television will all be crumpled-up and thrown into the celestial recycle bin just 4 days before Christmas. All previous existence will cease and all of this fear is based on a misunderstood concept that was created by a long dead civilization. You see, archaeologists have uncovered artifacts that detail the Mayan calendar’s long count system and, well (long-and-overdone story short), the long count runs out this year and resets as we enter a new era of enlightenment – again this is according to the Mayans. From this, western civilization has twisted the translation of the Mayan Calendar’s “Enlightenment” message into a story that we all die in a yet-to-be-determined fashion. HUH? How did western society come up with that? From enlightenment to annihilation? Crap, what a precipitous drop in standing. Jeez take it easy people. I assume the dude who came up with that bleak outlook needed to get laid – REALLY BAD. Perhaps there are a few of you out there who are saying to yourselves:

“Of course I don’t believe in this stuff…..but then again… what if?”

If this is you then let me try to reassure you with this thought: are your bills still coming in? Does the taxman still expect payment? Does your mortgage run past 2012? If your debtors are planning past December 21st, then I think you’re going to be just fine. Remember the two things that are certain in our world. Yes death is one, but the other is taxes. Convinced? Reassured? Still worried? Well go to church and pray for your gullibility. With all that said, what shall we aim to achieve in the last year of our lives? (sigh)….Well I know what I want to do – PAINT!

First a Look Back

A Sparrow Takes Flight - Copyright 2011 Ryan G. Williams
I'm really making waves with this piece.

Looking back on 2010 and my newest works, I feel I made some reasonable improvements in my style. First there was “A Sparrow Takes Flight” and when I look at it I feel very proud of the way I rendered the water and the tentacles of the beast. I learned that preparation is key and you can never have too many sketches before applying paint. This was evident in the painting of the ships.
Rose Park - Copyright 2011 Ryan G. Williams
Is it easy being green? Hey, it's just a walk in the park.

Then there was “Rose Park”, which paid tribute to a park I frequently visited while living in Long Beach California. The goal was to capture the friendly atmosphere that exists between the neighbors and their dogs. I removed the houses from the real scene and put in a lush background as this was an idealized place. I’m very happy with how I rendered the trees and the grass. Although I think I should have planned out the location of the people a bit better. Check out this video for a little retrospective on the creation of these two works.

That reminds me…

I have a YouTube channel now. The channel name is RyanWilliamsArt and if you like my sense of humor and don’t mind video production skills just above the a/v club in high school, then I encourage you to subscribe to my channel as well. I’ll have some fun stuff on that channel and all of it will shamelessly plug my art. Now back to the review…

There is a third painting that will be discussed after I have given it as a gift to a cousin. Until then, this will only be known as “the painting to be named later.” You know – like in baseball when they make a trade for a big star and then some little player who isn’t even good enough to mention?

Of course I’m also working on the Doc Holiday and Joker painting which you can read about in my previous post. Look for that one in about a month or so. So now let’s look ahead…

My Artistic Goals for the Year of Our Destruction

1. More is more

So let me go over some personal goals in 2012 by revealing my failures in 2011. First I would like to paint more. Wow, that was a shock wasn’t it? I bet you didn’t expect that like you didn’t expect your taxes to go up. Okay specifically, I want to revisit my painting goals of 2010 where I attempted to complete 12 paintings by year’s end. In 2010, I only managed to complete 6 pieces. In 2011 I only managed a meager 3 pieces. So I want to try and reach that magic number 12 in 2012. Seems like the right time at least in terms of numbers.

2. Strike a Pose

Next I would like to improve my portrait and figure painting skills. I find myself being continually drawn to those genres because humans are drama and I want to tell that story. Currently I run into problems when painting the figure; the proportions and shadows have been the most challenging. In 2012 I hope to have a strong portrait and or figure piece to brag about.

3. Wishing Upon a Star…a Really, Really, Big Star

And then I would like to finally complete my Disneyland piece. (What? He has a Disneyland painting?) Yes I do. My original idea was to paint a scene that captured that warm and magically feeling we had as kids (and still do as adults) visiting the magic kingdom. The scene was going to have 50 tourists roaming the streets of the park – the number 50 was chosen as a tribute to Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. Now if you’re a Disney aficionado then right about now you’re saying:

“Hey Ryan, why would you do a painting that pays tribute to an anniversary that happened 7 years ago?”

Unfinished Disneyland Painting - Copyright 2012 Ryan G. Williams
I guess every artist has a 'long lost project' and this is mine. Originally titled 'Disneyland at 50', the way its going it might be renamed 'Disneyland Joins AARP.'

Okay, so you do the math and discover that the 50th anniversary was in 2005 which means Disneyland opened in 1955 right? I had every intention of completing this painting when I started it back then. However I ran into a problem with that piece about a third of the way through. I didn’t like the perspective and really did have a road map for what I wanted to include in the scene. I felt like the project was a dragging and lacked any direction. For a few weeks I tried to press through but then one day I picked up the brush and felt like it was a chore. So I decided to stop production because the thought of turning one of my passions into a chore makes me ill.

Side note: the wife and I are huge Disney-nuts. We’ve had annual passes to Disneyland for the last 9 years and we honeymooned at Disneyworld in Florida. So knowing the opening year of Disneyland is like asking us who the first president of the United States was, but I digress.

Long story short….I want to finish this damn thing. It’s a big canvas (24”x48”) and only a third of it is complete. So I’ll need planning, paint, and peanut butter cups. Hey it never hurts to have some sugar around to get those neurons firing right?

4. Drop that Brush and Honor the Code

Finally, I hope to have a working database up and running on my website to manage my painting inventory. I have spent time on the front of the site, which is still a work in progress, but I have not spent any real serious time working on the back end. Alas, time working on the website is time away from the easel and that is frequently a difficult choice. I’ll will need to further develop my PHP skills (geek acronym meaning “semi-smart”) to get this database online.

So Where is this all Going?

So while I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions (they’re for unmotivated people who procrastinate to change a behavior until the new year in order to have a “fresh” start – only to fall back into their bad habit on February 1st), I do have a list of artistic goals that I would like to complete. I think my biggest hope for my art this year is to develop a more refined painting style. I want my works to be clean and harmonious. I want the colors to tell a story as much as the subject does. Practice and more practice is the key but as you have already heard; I have other priorities to deal with.

My other priorities that lie outside the art life is finding a new job. I relocated to the Sacramento area in June and have yet to land a web developer job that I have been looking for. The job market is showing signs of comeback, but the competition is still strong here. It can be a stressful environment when looking for work, but that is why I started painting in the first place – I needed an emotional outlet. I needed to figure out a way to release stress and express my feelings for the world around me. Art has really helped me to relax get a new outlook on life. I’m glad I started painting on that winter day back in 2005. Hey! – That reminds me…

January 1st is my 7th anniversary of being an artist! Hard to believe that 7 years ago on January 1st 2005, I opened up a Bob Ross art kit to start learning about oil painting (Boy have I come a long way since then!). I have since deviated from the Bob Ross style to develop my own look, but I credit Bob with giving me the confidence to go out and give painting a shot. You can tell from my first painting that I didn’t understand depth, color theory, shadows, perspective, and more. Those skills are much more developed but there is still more to learn. The most interesting thing about my adventures in painting is that I found out that my strongest interest is not in the landscape genre like I used to think it was. Rather, my strongest interest lies in the figure and the portrait. That discovery came out after exploring different subject matter. Painting truly is an adventure. Who knew your easel could double as a compass? I didn’t know it would take me in a new direction.

Well seeing as the new year is underway and I have many things to do and only 12 months to do them in, I better get to work. Now its a leap year which means we have 366 days this year. If you subtract the 10 days from the date of the end of the world, we actually only have 356 days to do what we want so make them count! NOW SERIOUSLY, if you believe in this 2012 hocus-pocus jazz then you really need your head examined. Actually, if you DO believe in that, then you won’t need your money right? Soooo… about buying the original painting of my “Original Eviction?”

Original Eviction (close up) - Copyright 2009 Ryan G. Williams
'Ugh. I'm so sick of the apocalyptic talk. Would someone please stop the earth? - I wanna get off.'

It’s only $1,500 and you wont need money after December 21st right? C’MON! Put your money where your misplaced beliefs are.

Ah well, anyways, happy blessed new year to you all and I hope I can entertain you with more of my work in the years to come. I’m off to paint!

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!