I first wrote about Philadelphia based painter Abbey Ryan back in 2007. She was a early adopter of the “painting-a-day” regimen and the painter/blogger approach to selling directly to individuals and collectors through the internet, bypassing the traditional gallery system.
Ryan studied oil painting with David Leffel at the Art Students League in New York, and studied painting and scientific illustration at Arcadia University. She also studied medical and biological illustration at Johns Hopkins University and painting at Hunter College.
Though she occasionally paints landscapes and also creates non-representational ink paintings, Ryan’s focus is on still life.
“Focus”, I think, is the operative word. Ryan’s approach has always impressed me as contemplative, conveying a quiet sense of devoted attention. Her subjects are traditional — largely fruit, cheese and other small food items, often accompanied by pottery or metalware. These are approached in a manner inspired by 17th century Dutch still life, with objects emerging in deep chiaroscuro from dark backgrounds.
I particularly enjoy those compositions in which she highlights reflective areas in the pottery or in reflective fruits, and then controls the transition between that and the darkness of the background with carefully modulated value relationships.
Ryan’s work has received national attention, including a highlighted article in O, The Oprah Magazine.
Her website has a section devoted to available work as well as a representative selection of paintings. For a broader selection, as well as the latest paintings, her blog is more complete and up to date.
Ryan also offers private mentoring in the form of individual private instruction over the internet.
In addition, Ryan has developed an online course in mindfulness and digital detox — developed from her mindful studio practice — called “The Innernet“. (She addresses the apparent contradiction of an online course about going offline. The course embraces the advantages of both in their turn.)
“The Innernet” course is taught in one-week sessions, the next one of which starts in two days on January 6, 2016.