Painter Abbey Ryan has spent a half-dozen years creating postcard-size oil paintings inspired by Robert Lax’s book-length poem “the light, the shade.” She painted many of the images in the series in 2017 while living on the Greek island of Patmos, near where Lax spent the last years of his life.
In this video, Ryan talks about how Lax’s attention to simplicity and presence has inspired her in her painting and approach to life. The video also shows a beautifully designed display of her Lax-inspired work at Arcadia University in Pennsylvania.
Painter Abbey Ryan, whose parents were friends of Lax, traveled to
Patmos in 2017 to visit his former home and complete a series of
paintings loosely based on his poem “the light / the shade.” Now, 14
landscapes and still lifes from that series are on display in the Quick
Center at St. Bonaventure University in Lax’s hometown, Olean, NY. The
show runs March 25-June 2, 2019. Abbey will be on campus Thursday, April
11 for a 3 p.m. gallery talk.
You’ll find full information about the exhibit here–and more about Abbey and her Lax project here. If you like what you see and read, check out Abbey’s website, where you can view (and purchase!) more of her magnificent works.
Abbey’s work has been featured in a number of publications, including Oprah
Magazine, Seth Godin’s Linchpin: Are You Indispensible?, FOX’s Good Day
Philadelphia, BoingBoing, Artists & Illustrators, Making It In the
Art World, New Markets For Artists, Fine Art Connoisseur, American Art
Collector, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her art is in more than 1,300 private and museum collections on six continents.
PainterAbbey Ryan has long been inspired by the writings of Robert Lax, who was a friend of her father. Last year, she traveled to Patmos, the island Lax lived on, as well as Lipsi, a smaller island he loved, and painted scenes in both places. This past spring, her “the light / the shade” series, which takes its name from a Lax poem, was featured in a solo exhibition at the Harrison Gallery at Arcadia University. To see some of her paintings from Greece and her lovely still lifes based on the Lax-inspired theme, go to her website.
To read about Abbey’s “the light / the shade” series and how Lax inspired it, click here.
Here’s Abbey’s bio, from her website:
“Inspired by the ‘A Painting a Day’ movement, I started making daily paintings for my blog on 9/23/07.
“Ten years later, my blog has had over a million visitors from over 100 countries. My paintings have been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine‘s “Live Your Best Life—Women Who Make Beautiful Things,” Seth Godin’s bestseller, Linchpin: Are You Indispensible?, and FOX’s Good Day Philadelphia, among many others. I was recently named #5 on the list of 49 Creative Geniuses by Boost Blog Traffic.
“More importantly, painting has become my meditative time and the best part of my day. Attempting to paint every day speaks to my interest in ritual, practice, classical still life and trompe l’oeil painting. In sharing my work on my blog, I explore the nuances and complexities of ever-changing internet globalization. My paintings are usually sold by eBay auctions, and are in over eight hundred private and public collections around the globe.”
In April 2016 I wrote about the luminous paintings based on Lax’s poetry done by a talented young painter named Abbey Ryan. Lately, I’ve been corresponding with Abbey’s father Greg Ryan, who knew Robert Lax for many years. Greg sent me this image of the kind of thing Lax often included with his letters:
Greg and his wife Elizabeth Ryan are the author and illustrator of a lovely new children’s book about Thomas Merton called The ABCs of Thomas Merton: A Monk at the Heart of the World. It is a well-pitched and pleasingly illustrated introduction to Merton and his world for children age 6-10. You can find it on Amazon. Here’s the cover:
By the way, the featured image for this entry is a note Lax sent to Greg and Elizabeth when they were expecting Abbey, the “bright newcomer from the sky.”
A few days ago, I received an email from a young painter named Abbey Ryan, who embarked several years ago on a series of paintings inspired by Robert Lax’s poem “the light — the shade.” Among the things Abbey told me were that her father, a Merton scholar, once corresponded with Lax, her middle name is Merton, and her childhood drawings might have been part of the mosaic on Lax’s wall on Patmos.
Abbey’s light/shade series is marvelous, with a simplicity and luminosity that make these paintings a lovely and fitting homage to Lax. You can view them–and even bid for them–on her website.
You can read her original post about the series (from December 2012) here.
And if you’re interested in taking online painting classes from Abbey, you’ll find more information here.