Her Background: Before she turned her attention to orange peels and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Ryan earned a degree in medical and scientific illustration; her subjects have included a beetle and a beaver jawbone. "With illustration, the artist directs the viewer," she says, "but painting lets me capture a moment without telling you what to think about it."
Her Other Talents: Ryan also makes delicate abstract works by layering thin washes of ink or tea on paper. "One of these ink pieces can take months to complete, because I keep adding layers," she explains. "So there's a yin and yang between the slowly evolving works in ink and the spontaneous daily oil paintings."
Her New Project: Inspired by the Dutch masters she saw on a recent trip to Italy, Ryan is working with a ceramist to design pottery—specifically so she can make paintings of it. "A handmade object is enthralling because it has its own presence and energy," she says. "And I love collaborating with a fellow artist—it forces me to think differently. It's a way to make the act of creating new again."
Photo: Courtesy of Abbey Ryan