Born in Frankfurt, Germany and currently living just northeast of Pittsburgh, PA, Kimberly Ryan’s work is influenced by her travels as well as her daily life in Pittsburgh. Painting since childhood Kimberly is primarily self-taught, although, she has taken private lessons and attended the Chicago Art Institute. With the use of bright vibrant colors her subjects include health and wellness, urban settings, portraits, and animals. Traveling and experiencing different cultures and viewpoints is also vital to her work. Creating something new every day is a goal she aspires to. Practicing Bikram Yoga and meditation are essential to her creative process as well as spending time in nature and with animals. She also takes great pride in teaching art to aspiring artists and non-artists who attend her classes at Painting with A Twist art studios and works as a gallery attendant at The Warhol in Pittsburgh where she is surrounded by beautiful art and creative people.
How long have you been creating art? Was there a defining moment that you realized a creative life was the path for you?
Kimberly: I’ve been creating art for as long as I can remember. I was always given art supplies by my mother and encouraged to draw. My mother was often creating with her hands needle pointing, quilting, sketching, and sculpting and she allowed me to explore my interests. I used to collect fashion magazines and try to draw female models and animals from National Geographic. I always thought of myself as a creative person that would pursue artistic endeavors in some way throughout my life whether as a hobby or professionally. I started out as a kitchen designer in Charlotte, NC, and there was a lot of design work with color, architectural style, working with interior designers and builders. I especially loved working on the show homes that had big budgets and worked with designers from South Living Magazine. They were wonderful collaborative projects working with hundreds of creative people to get home ready for the public.
How has your style changed over the years?
Kimberly: I think my painting style has gotten more confident over the years. It’s something that comes from years of work but I can see more of fluidity in my latest works that were missing from my earlier ones. As my interests have changed I have been braver in trying new techniques and being willing to fail has become more acceptable to me. I used to be a perfectionist and agonize of a piece but now I am fine to say to myself “Ok, this is total crap and I need to start over.” I can see what needs to be corrected and am able to make those adjustments and move on.
How would you define your visual style?
Kimberly: I would describe my style as vibrant and colorful with feminist modern themes and somewhat of a Neon Pop influence. I also am drawn to animals, nature and the natural rhythms of energy in the universe and those images continue to be themes in my work.
How does your creativity manifest?
Kimberly: Ideas usually flow to me after traveling to a new place, eating new foods, visiting with cultures outside of my own. I love following Turkish illustrators and Mexican folk artists as well as graffiti artists. The vibrancy in works like these is like a visual feast. I also seek out other creatives and make time for yoga and meditation. New ideas come to me when I am calm and rested so I have to make that a priority. I also make sure I sketch or paint something every day. Even if its very simple and small I make sure it’s down on paper in a notebook or on canvas even if its not a complete plan yet.
What are you inspired by? Where do you go for inspiration?
Kimberly: Women in their daily life, female forms, animals, nature, other cultures, traveling, family life, interior design, other artists ~ these are all inspirations to me. I love taking walks in nature and through town with no agenda except to observe what is around me. Being present can reveal so many sources of material. Rex Ray inspires me for his mod style and use of unusual color combinations. Henri Matisse inspires me for his vibrancy of color, still life’s and his cut out collage pieces.
You have a very distinctive color palette. Any particular reason?
Kimberly: I’m very drawn to vibrant colors and I get obsessed with certain color combinations. I loved violets and oranges and mixing colors that would usually clash with each other. My perfect room would have all white, cream, and neutral furnishings with wildly colorful artwork hung on all the walls.
What is your most recent piece of art that you have enjoyed working on the most?
Kimberly: I have been doing a female Buddha form with praying hands. Being captive inside has been a challenge for my creativity during this time but it’s very soothing to paint this form repetitively adding flowers, beads, feathers, and writing in little messages of hope inside the painting. I am going to continue variations of her displaying different messages of hope from varying cultures around the world.
What are you working on currently?
Kimberly: I am painting a recreation from an illustration that I love called Persephone. The original illustration shows a woman on the forest floor with her legs up in the air forming a tree trunk and growing out in branches of a flowering tree. Her red hair is spreading out on the ground. It speaks too because of her entrapment to the earth but her ability to grow and bear fruit in her captivity.
What do you have coming up in the future?
Kimberly: Art Festivals are something I enjoy doing a few times a year and I am hoping the ones scheduled for late summer and early fall are not canceled. The interaction with the public and other artists is so beneficial. I also work with several property owners that have Air B&B’s in the area and display local artwork for sale. They are always seeking new artwork to display. I work with some nonprofit organizations that sell local art and then give a percentage to a local charity. I also have my artwork in some local restaurants that offer opportunities for local artists to display their work.
What advice would you give to other self-taught artists?
Kimberly: Work on your craft every day. Professional athlete trains daily to excel and artists have to do the same to produce quality work. Reach out to your local art groups for help and advice. Use social media to throw out ideas and to search for new ideas and trends that interest you. Be open to doing things outside of your comfort zone. I have painted food trucks, done storefront displays, illustrations for blogs, in addition to traditional painting. I have learned so much from doing things artistry that are unusual or different from what you expect from a traditional artist.
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