April Rain

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Immersing and Emerging

"Beside Myself"  Acrylic and mixed media on canvas

“Beside Myself” Acrylic and mixed media on canvas


True to form I’m coming up for air after months of taking the road less travelled (at least for me.)   This has been a time for introspection and experimentation as well as relaxation by default (by physician’s orders.)    I’m decades into this, my chosen profession, and past the mid century of my lifetime as this person, this artist.   So just as a personal life has chapters and evolves, so does my life as a painter.

My interest has always had a juxtapositional point of view from creating images that while  tipping more to the representational side, are at their core explorations of psychological states versus stepping into a more ambiguous and intuitively created visual space while holding onto natural themes.  This has been a continual push and pull for me.    I’m certainly not the first artist to this dance between divergent yet related themes.

As a painter I’m an introvert and what drives me is emotion, both in life and in my studio. This can be a strength and weakness simultaneously.   Just as our dream states create a landscape in which to work out issues, for me so does the workspace, the blank canvas.

For a good long while now I’ve been diverging from spending most of my time with my beloved pastels back to my brushes and wet media.    Its been an interesting journey and one I’ve been shy to share.     I have a new fondness for acrylics and mixed media, combined with casein, graphite and charcoal as well as my longstanding love for oils.    The challenge has been allowing myself to wander – the visual space of my abstractions in pastel is specific and immediate while the substrates and media in my “wet paint” studio encourages me to wander.    With exterior nature and the emotional landscape are at the core of these series, there is a degree of divergence in my path that I have surrendered to and embraced.

This summer I am featured in several galleries and the work in each show evolved around the theme of water.

At Robert Allen Fine Art in Sausalito, I have new pastels and acrylics featured in “Water Abstracted”Milwaukee, I have some earlier abstractions freatured  in “H2O in Art” David Barnett Gallery  and finally at Sewell Gallery in my town of Eureka I have work from my pastel series of abstractions on view.      Water is a fitting theme and common denominator not only in my recent work but as a metaphor for my recent past.

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Abstract Pastels at Robert Allen Fine Art

I’ve not been one to daily or weekly blog, maybe one day, but when I saw that I hadn’t put anything here since January of 2013 my own dropped.   Life does intervene in many ways that do not lend themselves to all aspects of an artist’s life and I suppose that is what has been happening here.    I am still here however and so happily blessed to have the support of my wonderful collectors, my trusted gallery reps and friends and family who keep me grounded.   2013 was what I would call a challenging time.  In retrospect the ups were sweet and the downs trying.   The passing of my dear dad at just shy of 96 was bittersweet.   I am finding myself talking with him every day – he’s so much more accessible now that he is solidly in my heart and mind, not 700 miles away from me.   I’ll write more about him later.   I’ve lots to write about so maybe this year will be the year of the weekly blog for me.   I have a backlog of essays in my swimming brain on issues such as a recent award from Pastel Journal Magazine, inclusion in a coffee table book by E. Ashley Rooney, arts advocacy, dealing with galleries, staying hopeful while physically impaired and the journey through the second half of my life as an artist.

For now its about a current show at Robert Allen – one of my favorite art dealers and gallery owners I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.   I have a selection of abstract pastels in a group show there  through March.  Robert has a beautiful gallery there – slightly off the main track where most tourists devote time.   He is also an approachable, personable guy who believes deeply in his artists.   If you are in Sausalito, his gallery is a must!

Until next time!    Thanks for reading!


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Spokes on a Wheel

“In Search of the Sacred Path”

Throughout my professional life as an artist my interests have gone in several distinguishing directions, somewhat like spokes on a wheel.   As the artist, to me they all relate and always have.    In the 1980’s I created pastel paintings of  very minimal suburbanesque architectural themes drenched in Southern California light.   At  the same time I was obssessed with pattern, dramatic surface building through mixed media that were pure abstractions.   Concurrently I developed series based on psychological themes surrounding what was going on in my personal life through simple iconography.     It was on retrospect that I realized I had been continuing to work within these themes and constructs with varying media and processes over the course of the last thirty years.   Spokes on a Wheel.

Within the last decade  I have been actively developing my landscape/architectural paintings that are set within a psychological framework.   Simultaneously, and perhaps more currently I have  returned with vigor to abstractions on nature.     This body of work, by design is deliberate and contemplative.   Recently I was interviewed by writer Jason Marak,  Art Beat writer for The North Coast Journal for  an article titled “Different But Not”  where I discussed the history and core nature of the work.      I have a full body of work of these abstractions being shown together for the first time that include pastels and some prints as well as a suite of oils/charcoal on canvas.    The show is at Plaza, Arcata through February with an opening reception tonight  January 11, from 6 to 9 during Arts Arcata!     Whereas the representational work evokes a psychological landscape for me, the abstractions, or deconstructions, allow me to let go of those burdens, as interesting as they can be and float within the spiritual, visual and philosophical space of ideas and marks and color and light.    They are about allowing the purely intuitive to stage the course of action.  I imagine the process of creating these as a bit like a piece of the collective subconscious sketching the ideas of what nature would become.   With the ending of the Mayan calendar and the planetary alignment that was 26,000 years in the making, these ideas interest me.   And again, like spokes on a wheel, they always return to the center.

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Landscapes at Robert Allen Fine Art

The Quiet Life

I’m coming to Sausalito this week to do business, spend some time with friends and family and oh yes, attend the opening reception of “Seasonal Landscapes” – a group show at Robert Allen Fine Art at 301 Caledonia Street.   All are welcome to attend and I urge my collectors to come see this show as it may be the one time I get to see you in the coming months along with my work!    The theme is seasonal landscapes but some of the work I am currently in love with traverse the seasons so what started to stretch to fall may have gone a little further -WHATEVER!   This latest large landscape image has been begging me to be painted for months so at last I did and will be exhibiting it at the show.   I hope to see some of you at the reception – this Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30.   Its not supposed to rain that day so please come out and see this beautiful gallery!

Update 12/9:   Good news/Bad news:   The above painting “The Quiet Life” never made it into the show.  It was sold soon after this was posted along with “November Rain.”   Thank you Shelley Barry from Artful Solutions in San Ramon for placing these pieces and thank you to the lucky law firm for their decisive action!   I will post more from this road trip including images from the show in a future post this week.


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“My California Dream”

Coastal Ranch

There has been a lot going on in the studio , not the least which is the culmination of an exhibition of a body of work at Sewell Gallery in my city of Eureka, California opening next week with a reception Saturday Night, October 6 during Arts Alive!

Its always interesting putting together a show, especially one like this that has been in the works for a while.  Beyond the landscape theme there is a narrative surrounding each piece and the group of work as a whole.   There were motifs I had been exploring throughout the past few years and more that were revealed when looking at the body of work as whole.    The show title,  “My California Dream”  came as organically as the paintings.   In addition to many rides over our local scenic Highway 36, and 299, I had made several road trips from one end of the state to the other over the past few years crisscrossing every bit of California’s terrain, and the landscapes and architecture I depicted in the ensuing work reflected varying physical, emotional and spiritual states of  my own psyche,  from blissful happiness, contentment to sadness and overwhelm.   Working out these subtle states of mind and emotional being through the depiction of a landscape is not new for me but its never been more apparent to me how an attempt at creating something beautiful is cathartic and satisfying on a deeper level.       I find myself utilizing pattern (vineyards and farms and streams zig zagging through Elk River Valley) to achieve a sense of order.   In a similar way, trees create a sense of stability and strength  and the contrast of light emerging from darkness is a reflection of a changing inner mood.   The richness of pastel pulls it all together for me.  Like writing down a dream first thing in the morning, the goal is to capture  the essence of the emotion quickly and spontaneously and then continue to work out the formal elements at a more measured pace.

Its always curious what jumps out at me visually — being visually aware is a constant for me when traveling and so the compositions that end up being painted are very deliberate if not randomly odd.  A big round tree next to a farm on the highway,  rain puddles in the rows of a fall vineyard, a bleached white house in the summer sun, a peek of blue siding beyond an overgrown garden peeking out like a secret,  a single rain cloud hiding the sun over the ocean….there’s usually something else revealed  with the longer gaze.

I find I am continually drawn to rural architecture, farm houses and barns.   I might not be if they hadn’t become part of my everyday experience living in Humboldt County.  Now I identify with them.    There is a quiet solitude that attracts me to include specific architecture prominently in a painting, almost like portraiture.

Together, these paintings tell a story not of high drama but of the subtle ebbs and flows of life and its challenges and triumphs.    I can remember exactly how I felt whenI painted every one of these paintings.   The viewer may have a similar response or they may evoke something entirely different.    For me,  its a form of a solidified visual, psychological and spiritual memory, like a dream.   It is my California Dream.

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Victoria Ryan