The Latest News

Fredericksburg’s 2nd “Art Attack”!

As the weather turns cold this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for being part of a wonderfully energetic and active art community here in Fredericksburg, VA!  One example of that I want to share was a truly fun event I participated in earlier this Fall during the lovely month of September (when it was warmer and I didn’t mind spending the day outside!)

VA Artist Robyn Ryan at 2013 Art Attack in Fredericksburg

Sculpting at the corner of Caroline and George!

I had a ball sitting on the corner of Caroline and George Streets with several artist friends including Paula RaudenbushLinda Warshaw, and Collette Caprera!


Linda Warshaw


Paula Raudenbush

This was the second year for the Fredericksburg, Virginia “Art Attack”!   “Art Attack” was the wonderful idea of Bill Harris and Gabe Ponz where they mustered area “art soldier” artists to descend upon the streets of Fredericksburg to demonstrate and share their art.  This year was much more widely promoted and the crowds were wonderful!  We had a beautiful day and eighty local artists participated including not only 2-D and 3-D mediums but also performing artists!

Art attack2

I again chose to work with the oil-based clay and to describe the process of  taking an original in clay, making a mold, and then throwing a wax version from the mold which is the starting point of the lost was process for creating a bronze sculpture.  The Freelance Star 14 September 2013 article “Artists take to the streets of Fredericksburg”  highlighted my equine sculpting and how much I enjoyed describing the bronze casting process to interested onlookers.One of my favorite things about “Art Attack” is the response of the kids to the sculpture process.  Maybe next year I’ll bring some non-toxic clay so they can share in the fun with me!


“Echoes I” at Gallery Flux “Art of the Horse Exhibit”

Gallery Flux is a lovely gallery in Ashland, Virginia.  This year they held their inaugural “Art of the Horse” Exhibit during the month of September, 2013.  This was a curated exhibit and was so popular, the gallery plans to hold it again next year!

I was honored to have my watercolor painting “Echoes I” juried into this impressive exhibit with so many other fabulous artists!

"Echoes I" Robyn Ryan Watercolor

“Echoes I”
22″ x 22″ Watercolor

The opening reception was a hit and the record crowd was very enthusiastic.   On top of that, the Virginia Equine Artists Association was very well represented with artwork by over ten member artists!

VEAA Artists at Gallery Flux

VEAA Members included in the Gallery Flux exhibit!
L to R: Donna Doyle, Debby Thomas, BJ Clark, Cheryl Ernest, Robyn Ryan, Willa Frayser, Linda Warshaw, and Eleszabeth McNeel

I am looking forward to entering next year’s exhibit!

August Sculpture Workshop – The Dragon Riders!

My fourth sculpture workshop for the Virginia Equine Artists Association (VEAA) on August 10 and 11 was an adventure!  My equine focused participants ended up not being able to attend so instead the dragons came!

Clay sculptures of dragons and a horse

Dragons & Demo! (Hope that horse can RUN!)

The objectives of my workshops are to:

~ make the process clear and logical to create a foundation of understanding and basic skills
~ provide practical and down to earth approaches to achieving the artist’s vision,
~ and to ensure we all  have a ton of fun throughout!

Sculpture Workshop with VA Artist Robyn Ryan

Work in Progress!

We achieved all of these!

Demonstrated again what imagination and hard work can produce!

Robyn Ryan Sculpture Workshop class picture

A very productive 2-day workshop!

Two Dimensions vs. Three Dimensions… Friend or Foe?

Friend!  One of the wisest things I did as an artist was to follow my dream to sculpt and cast bronze sculptures!  Better than painting?  No!  Both presentations are equally valid, just very different!  In fact, I’ve found working in both to be very influential on each other!

1)  Working in three dimensions informs my two dimensional work!  How?  Through familiarization with the subject… from every possible angle!

2) Each angle of a sculpture is a different composition, that has to work!  The sculpture challenges my design skills to make every viewing angle accurate, pleasing and interesting!

Bronze sculpture of rolling horse

“Rolling Bliss” 6″ x 18″ x 10″ Bronze Sculpture

3) The three dimensional sculptures are interesting subject matter for 2D works…  They become models to derive two dimensional subject matter and compositions from.

4) I love the tactile act of forming shapes in clay!  Even this has influenced my two-dimensional work with an avid interest in physical textures and physical layer in my paintings!

Artist Robyn Ryan Rolling Horse Watercolor

“Emerging Equines – Rolling Horse” 7.5″ x 7.5″ Watercolor


Acrylic Layers Painting in Process of “Heron II”

Well I promised you in my previous post, 10 Days of Painting Bliss! Work in Progress…  I would post the in process images of the second Heron painting I completed while at my art retreat in Orkney Springs… So here we go!  I will share 8 images so you can see the subtle changes and evolution of each layer.  I think you will get the idea of why I describe it as “I paint a layer, then obscure it with gel and another layer of paint, reclaim  some of the layer below, then obscure it again…” and so the process repeats itself until I’ve achieved the depth and complexity of color that sings to me and the composition is balanced and complete.  Let me know what you think!

Stage I of Artist Robyn Ryan's Heron II painting

Stage 1 of “Heron II”
Dark background, drawing, and toning of negative space


Stage 2 of Artist Robyn Ryan's "Heron II"

Stage 2 of “Heron II”
I use bright colors to paint the heron anticipating these will “sparkle” through later layers.  Notice the cloudy spots where the first layer of gel is drying…


Stage 3 of Artist Robyn Ryan's "Heron II"

Stage 3 of “Heron II”
I’ve toned the entire painting with a lighter color and rubbed back to see the bottom layer.  This helps unify the painting.  I have also added another layer of gel.


Stage 4 of Artist Robyn Ryan's "Heron II"

Stage 4 of “Heron II”
Now the fun really begins, thinking through the color relationships as I paint the heron with complementary colors of the lower layers.  I sand back the high spots to expose the bright color sparkles beneath…


Stage 5 of Artist Robyn Ryan's "Heron II"

Stage 5 of “Heron II”
Now I balance the cool colors I’ve added to the heron (and scrubbed back so the oranges and pinks of the lower layer show through) with warm earth tones in the background.  And another layer of gel…


Stage 6 of Artist Robyn Ryan's "Heron II"

Stage 6 of “Heron II”
Uh Oh, now I’ve done it!  Again!  I’ve painted over the entire painting again with a unifying glaze, this time with a bright green, anticipating it sparkling through later layers!  I’ve also scrubbed back to ensure lower layers still sparkle through.  And another layer of gel…


Stage 7 of Artist Robyn Ryan's "Heron II"

Stage 7 of “Heron II”
Home Stretch! I’ve added jewel tone transparent glazes to the heron and more opaque glazes to the background, switching the value relationship of subject to ground again… Looks great but not quite complete yet…


Stage 8 of Artist Robyn Ryan's "Heron II"

Stage 8 of “Heron II”
Ahhhh, the finishing touches make all the difference!  I graded the background by removing some of the opaque to reveal the glow of earth-tones beneath, and I’ve also refined the glazes on the heron and added judicious detail to the head…
I can now declare victory on this one!


I hope you enjoyed seeing how I create these Acrylic Layer paintings, each one is an adventure and I’m never certain when I begin, exactly how it will turn out!  I think that is the fun of it and what will keep me exploring this method for some time to come!

See Related Post:  10 Days of Painting Bliss! Work in Progress…











Mission Accomplished! Watercolor Workshop went GREAT!

It was a privilege to work with three very talented artists this Saturday at the VEAA Watercolor Workshop.  Each had clear objectives for the day and achieved them with flying colors… literally!   Each participant had either no experience with watercolor or had been away from the medium for quite awhile.

VEAA Watercolor Workshop with Robyn Ryan

Working on the demonstration pieces!

Watercolor can be a challenging medium and my intent with this workshop was to break down the key elements of controlling the medium to achieve the desired effects.  The workshop participants were open to trying the numerous techniques and approaches I challenged them with.  They all went home with toolboxes full of ideas and all were motivated to continue upon return to their studios… My mission was accomplished!

VEAA Watercolor Workshop with Robyn Ryan

The creative juices were flowing!

The themes of the day were “control the water” (as in how much water is really in that brush!) and “focus on the larger shapes” and leave the details for last…

VEAA Watercolor Workshop with Robyn Ryan

Cheryl and Leah working on “value” under-paintings

Participants also learned different “unifying” approaches with two different “under-painting” techniques.

VEAA Watercolor Workshop with Robyn Ryan

Eleszebeth prepping her second piece

Thank you to our hosts at the Backdoor Gallery.  It was a wonderful venue to hold the workshop, great space, lighting, and easy to access.  Looking forward to the next workshop!

If you are interested in participating in a future workshop or class with me, just let me know!  I can be reached at


North Windsor Artists ~ Exhibiting Together Again!

The North Windsor Artists are a well known group of local artists in the King George and Fredericksburg area.  The  group was created when the artists met weekly at Jack Darling’s home and studio to paint and support one another over many years.  The North Windsor Artists have developed a following over the years who support and love these artists.  I am privileged in that over time, the group has allowed new members, such as myself and Paula Raudenbush, to join their venerable ranks.

In preparation for a memorial exhibit for Jack Darling and the North Windsor Artists at the Fredericksburg Museum in 2014, the group is exhibiting recent works together in various venues.

Here are samples of North Windsor Artists works displayed at the July 2013 Exhibit at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg, VA.  Exhibiting members include:  Dee McCleskey, Carrol Morgan, Helen Butler, Sharon Ross, Joan Limbrick, Anita Holle, Robyn Ryan, Jane Woodworth, Elsie Hagenlocher, and Paula Raudenbush.


Paula Raudenbush and Dee McCleskey with Dee’s pastel paintings



Paula Raudenbush’s botanical watercolor paintings



Elsie Hagenlocher’s paintings



Jane Woodworth’s paintings


Robyn Ryan and Acrylic Layer Paintings

Me with two of my five Acrylic Layer paintings on exhibit


Carrol Morgan painting

Carrol Morgan’s portrait of Hubert Jackson, one of several on display

The reception for the July 2013 North Windsor Artists Exhibit at the Central Regional Rappahannock Library Headquarters Theater was a resounding success with many old and new friends joining the artists for the event.

NWA Exhibit Reception

North Windsor Artists Exhibit Opening Reception
(Artwork of Helen Butler, Sharon Ross, Joan Limbrick, and Anita Holle in view)

Stay tuned for upcoming North Windsor Artists events leading up to the Fredericksburg Museum exhibit in 2014.

“Drawn Together ~ Artists of Fredericksburg Volume II”

Avilu Press and DeSio Studios have produced their second volume in their “Artists of Fredericksburg” books which was released in August of 2012.  Volume II is titled “Drawn Together”.   This name was chosen by the group of artists featured in Volume II.

Drawn Together ~ Artists of Fredericksburg Volume II

This was a really fun project to participate in and I am pleased to be one of the artists featured in Volume II.

Drawn Together Summary

“Drawn Together” features 10 Fredericksburg area artists:  Nancy Brittle, Audrey Bruno, Elizabeth Butler, Beverly Coates, Cathy Herndon, Johnny Johnson, Ruth Ann Loving, Robyn Ryan, Jane Snead, and Norma Starkweather.  The group had their book release exhibit in December of 2012 and January 2013 at the Backdoor Gallery in Fredericksburg.  The group plans to continue to exhibit together in additional venues, the first of which was the July 2013 Exhibit at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library Headquarters Atrium Gallery.

Drawn Together Artists

The book is available for purchase from the artists, at Art First Gallery, and online at (you can also preview sections of the book online at!)

20 July 2013 VEAA Robyn Ryan Watercolor Workshop


Robyn Ryan Watercolor Workshop

20 July 2013

Hosted by the Virginia Equine Artists Association (VEAA)

Four Carriage Horses Trotting11″ x 15″  Watercolor ~ Private Collection

9:30 – 4:30 Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Backdoor Gallery, Fredericksburg, VA

So many people have told me they believe painting in watercolor is so hard!  Its true working in watercolor is night and day from working in oil but that means different not necessarily hard.  I want to explore with you the options for making painting in watercolor a very enjoyable adventure by providing you key concepts and tools which will prepare you to create beautiful paintings in this very versatile medium.

In this one-day workshop I will:

1. Review styles of working in watercolor (it’s just paint that is water soluble!).
Demonstrate and assist you with:

~ Controlling the water!
~ How to create dark darks without getting “muddy”
~ How to preserve your lights and what to do if you “lose” them
~ How to work with hard and soft edges
~ How to work with non-local color to energize the painting
~ How to take advantage of “watercolor magic” (aka “happy accidents”).

2. Discuss making design decisions unique to painting in watercolor and options for correcting problems that arise.
3. Send you home having practiced these concepts and providing you a game plan for applying on your own.

Contact Robyn to register:  1-Day $85

Watercolor painting of race horse

25″ x 19″  “Keenland Breeze”  Watercolor on Torchon

Workshop Flyer ~ Watercolor Workshop with Robyn Ryan July2013

See other 2013 workshops with Robyn.

10 Days of Painting Bliss! Work in Progress…

Greetings all!  I painted away at my annual art retreat in Orkney Springs, VA and loved every minute!

Wonderful facilities at Shrine Mont, it’s like coming home each year (at least 15 years now, haven’t missed one yet!)  I find this very special place peaceful, beautiful, and rejuvenating, I’ll share more on this wonderful place in another post!

Gwen Bragg was our fearless facilitator and source of artistic wisdom, I value her eye and her critiques!   I look forward to seeing my art friends and making new ones every year!

Here are some work in progress images of one of a pair of 360″ x 24″ Acrylic Layer paintings of Herons I am working on as part of my “Fleeting Glimpses” series.

Work in progress of Heron

Stage 1 of 36″ x 24″ Heron



Stage 2 of 36″ x 24″ Heron



Stage 3 of 36″ x 24″ Heron



Stage 4 of 36″ x 24″ Heron



Stage 5 of 36″ x 24″ Heron


And it isn’t finished yet!  I will post a finished image in the near future.

I think I confuse everyone with my process since I paint a layer, then obscure it with gel and another layer of paint, then obscure it…  What I love about this process is the incredible depth and complexity of color that results along with the  organic visual and physical textures.  I must say my shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands are “Plumb Tuckered” from the many rounds of  spreading, scrubbing, and sanding!  Quite therapeutic!

I’ll share the in process pictures of the second heron in another post.  Until then Happy Summer!