On painter Abbey Ryan's to-do list: walk the dog, fold the laundry, create a gorgeous still life from scratch.
Her Practice: Since 2007 Abbey Ryan has painted a still life in oils every day, auctioning many on eBay and posting each at "I think my interest in ritual comes from playing basketball for so many years," says the Philadelphia-based artist. "Being an athlete is all about practice and dedication." Her main subject is food: raspberries, sushi, garlic cloves, powdered doughnuts, asparagus.... "I'm drawn to flaws," Ryan says. "I'll pick the bell pepper that leans awkwardly to the side."

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."
—Katie Arnold-Ratliff

Still Life with Peeled Lemon and Temmoku Bottle
Photo: Courtesy of Abbey Ryan


Next Story