Thursday, June 27, 2013

Artist Profile: Carolyn Ryan


Carolyn Ryan
Thousand Oaks, California

1,  What year did you make your first quilt?    Traditional or art?  In 1971 I created a “famous quotations” quilt for my friend, who was recovering from an illness. I knew as I handwrote each 12-inch block that quilting was to be a rich part of my life.

2.  What is the first show, and year, that you ever entered your art quilts?  Venue?  In the mid-‘80s my Amish-variation quilt was in the Glendale Quilt Show in Los Angeles. I remember it because I found out what happens when you hand-quilt on black fabric over a white batting. 

3.  What is your artistic style?  Abstract Expressionism comes into play in almost every piece I create. I’m looking for a mood and a conversation with the viewer. I think that’s why my palette is often warm. I’m working to get comfortable with the mood potential of cooler colors, but it’s a challenge for me.

4.  Have you ever changed your style from when you started making quilts?  My break-out textile art piece was a full-size pieced triangle quilt with realistic 45 records in the foreground, and a large, hand-painted sax player. The piece was lively, showing a reverence for rock ’n roll and for great musicians of the era. I think my core style has remained, and many lessons learned have refined and enriched my approach.

5.  What other style in quilt making piques your interest?  I have deep respect for so many textile artists: I am drawn to, and fascinated by, the minimalist Asian mark-making look, where form and line is predominant. Every time I see a good piece in this category, I want to try it. The result is always the same – I can’t quite get there, it’s just not in me.

6.  What other medium in art influences your work as a fiber artist?  My word as a printmaker inspires me “see” in black and white, and to use more contrast in my textile pieces. I have used etching plates and collagraphs to print textiles on a large press. I also use acrylics to paint some of my work. My career in photography journalism helps, as I use my digital camera often to capture moods for my pieces.

7.  What do you have coming up?  Shows, Articles in magazines, Books, etc.  I currently have 7 framed prints in the Ventura County Government Center, and a mixed media piece (collaged fabrics/framed) in a local show won first prize this month. I am showing work in two or three exhibitions in August and September. I am also VP of the Thousand Oaks Art Association, and working in the artist community offers many opportunities to show my work.

8.  Where will your art take you from here?  I have a kernel of an idea for curating a show mixing literature, music and textile art. I’m in the fun stage – just playing in my mind – no pressure, and no work yet! I’m also working on a series of 7 18x24 textile pieces depicting mood in various abstract compositions. Since I have no agenda for these pieces, it’s a freeing and playful experience. I think we all need this feeling – it keeps our artwork fresh.

9.  Describe your studio space:  My space is one of our 3 upstairs bedrooms. Of course, I long ago overflowed into the guest bedroom next door. Why keep such a good space tidy and silent for 10 months out of the year? Half the time when a friend calls to see what I’m up to, I’m cleaning, organizing, re-arranging fabric and tools. It’s part of the whole creative routine. I also have a funky little outside studio – where I can really play with wet media.

10. What was the biggest challenge you have encountered in the making of your art quilt for "An Exquisite Moment?"  My brain really rebelled against this banner format. Composition becomes a challenge, and I finally divided my piece roughly into 1/3 and 2/3s to create a focal point, and still have weight at the bottom. The movement in a piece this narrow is pretty much restricted to vertical.

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