Glittering Dusk, 1996 183 x112 cm

My paintings are an attempt to record everyday life as I see and experience it here in Britain. I try to avoid the sensational, but rather aim for a quiet, contemplative view on life. I choose to paint the ordinary world that I am familiar with, the unremarkable, the world outside the back door, scenes that we are all familiar with. I hope that in the exercise I capture a little of our childhood sense of wonder in the process, by being aware, making others aware, and imbuing in my work a little of the magic of the everyday world that we inhabit. It is my belief that in our ordinary experiences of life there is drama enough, and mystery too. The world is so rich in the fullness of life that we need not invent the bizarre or the sensational, but quietly observe what is all around us. As an introduction here are a few examples of my painting subjects.

The Sisters, 2013  81x 61cm

Many of my paintings are on the subject of domestic life; scenes in the home, often based on homes that I have lived in. So that they fall into those categories of place. They include people in my life, used as models, sometimes as subjects themselves, as portraits. There is a mix of real locations and the fictional, rather as a novelist might draw on real life as they have experienced it, but also the imagined in their work.

The Library, 2015  96 x 56 cm

Another subject that captures my interest is that of public places. Where we gather in work and recreation in life, where we meet both in and out of doors. I might take up a subject and explore ways to make the most of it in planned compositions. Often in projects that evolve over years, with the inclusion of incidents, gestures and of people seen and noticed in life. All are then replicated using models, trying arrangements with drawings. Attempting to make something beyond that which I can simply see and photograph.

Bridge Over the Motorway, 1998  163x102cm

I sometimes come across striking locations that inspire me, or see a location in a magazine, on television or in a film. Such a place might be matched with a scene elsewhere, or populated with people that it seems to me ought to be there in that setting. It generates new ideas, adding the unexpected. It is my way of recording a place, or a person that I cherish. Yet often adding something also in an oblique visual way, about the unique life of our times.

Attic Rooms, 2008  96x 56cm

Some locations attract me for their geometry, such as doors and furniture, and particularly windows, and the light and shadow patterns they produce. I see such as stage sets to be populated, not as something dramatic, more usually as harmony, but also to explore ambiguity; and personal relationships perhaps just hinted at, left to the viewer's own imagination. The use of geometry in painting gives it structure, creates harmony and a sense of order without being in most cases noticed by most, adding in that mysterious way to its quality.

A La Carte, 2003  142x 81cm

Sometimes, I try to bring several subjects together. There might be two or three projects for paintings, then one day I realise that they could be amalgamated, to create something more ambitious and far more rewarding. Thus they generate more possibilities for visual comments and effects. Yet they demand greater time and experiment to bring to resolution. Some fail in the process, or linger unfinished for years, even decades, until I might suddenly find a solution by looking at a project in a completely new way.  

The Carnelian, 1976  183x127 cm

Being by the sea is another constant subject for me. I live by the sea and am inspired by it, especially the wide expanse of both sea and sky. I like uncluttered sea locations; beach scenes, esplanades and piers. Vistas of infinity, where people in the presence of the sea relax, and at times realise their insignificance. Yet perhaps also of their place in the great mystery of time and space.

Shafts of Light at Lincoln, 1997  127x 86cm

A strong element of my paintings has been for a number of years the exploration of light effects. Over-lit scenes where light overwhelms. Scenes in poor light such as at dusk or even night. Our misty isle has perhaps always influenced British painters with its climate. I find that I am in a dilemma, between trying for atmospheric effects, but also for clarity. As I much admire the firm rather monumental paintings of such as Seurat, and especially Pierro della Francesca, and Georges de la Tour. But I also admire the work of Turner. Much of my work is an exploration, in trying to reconcile two different, indeed opposing visions.

©2019 Malcolm Ryan

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