Victoria Ryan

At time I feel like I am living in one of my landscape paintings and drawings. That line that exists between reality and the way I depict it in my work seems to blur sometimes — especially when the light is extraordinary or space and color contrasts are amplified. My surroundings and my travels have impacted my visual experience and my work greatly. I grew up in Southern California and was literally soaking in that bright light for years. The familiarity with light and color left a permanent imprint on me and has been the primary source of my artistic inspiration. The underlying theme that runs through all of my work is the idea of an transcendent reality. I have always been intrigued by my own dream imagery — not necessarily the contextual psychological plots but the actual visual imagery — that heightened sense of reality that is experienced in the rare lucid dream or in moments of pure transcendence. I play with the notion that our visual reality is perhaps a mirror image of a parallel reality that exists on a slightly higher vibration. It is that which I try to achieve in my works of “realism” — a heightened sense of place, of mood, of feeling.

I was serious about my desire to paint as early as grade school. I studied painting and drawing at Otis Art Institute and The Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles and subsequently earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree in Painting and Drawing from the California State University in Long Beach. I now live and work in Northern California. My recent interest has been in exploring the natural and altered terrain of the farmland, wine country, rivers, marshlands and coastal regions of the Western States in addition to my travels across the country and in Europe.

Soft pastel has been my preferred medium since I first started exploring with it in college. Nothing compares to those pigments to achieve the rich color that suits me and the spontaneity they provide. I work with several varieties and brands from the butter-like Unison to Rembrandt as well as homemade sticks. My surfaces are the finest archival papers like LeCarte and Wallis or prepared boards. Layers of color are applied and some blending is achieved using fingers and blending sticks. Rather than adopting a “technique” I utilize my formal training as a painter to build a pastel much the same way that I paint an oil on canvas. For me the transforming activity of manipulating the pigments on the surface of the paper or board is a uniquely important part of the overall process of creating these images.

Since I was a child I have always been interested in the relationship between the ungraspable infinite universe and the real life world that we all inhabit on this planet, at least as it is perceived and experienced through my own senses. I believe that there is profound poetry to be found in the simplicity of the natural and man-made feast of land, water, sky, rock, flower, dirt, tree, wall, path, light and shadow. Throughout my life, in glimpses of transcendence or the occasional lucid or vivid dream I receive a glimmer of understanding of the immense explosion of these visual delights. It is that place that I go to when I draw these things, these places—where the dream is better than the reality where our world is but a mirror of an inexplicably extra-ordinary place that exists somewhere else and everywhere at the same time.

1982 BFA, Painting and Drawing, California State University, Long Beach, CA

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