By Amelia Fleetwood
“Art has always been a natural path for me!”
local artist Ryan Snow exclaims. After graduating from University of California-Santa Cruz with a fine arts degree, Snow returned to his hometown of Ventura. His work, which can be described as environmentally conscious meditative minimalism, incorporates various modalities. Says Snow of his development, “Originally I was obsessed with sculpture and bronze casting, but my passions morphed to creating wall art. I just fell in love with painting and I started to get my sculptural ideas onto canvas.”
Snow’s sculpting background informs the art he makes today. “It’s just a different way of seeing space. My paintings are similar to my sculptures in that they are just shapes; it’s about the space and negative space a certain shape creates.”
Even though Snow likes to use different mediums such as photography and silk screen printing, an identifying thread can be found throughout his work. Creating a space with very simple parameters, Snow focuses on balance, weight, and lightness. “It evokes a sense of calm and peace,” he says, sharing what he feels while he is creating the work.
“I want to show people solutions in my artwork, not my demons,” Snow shares. He seeks “something super-centered and balancing that focuses on paring down of shape and form while using color as a metaphor, because that’s what we need to do with our lives. To find what’s essential and put the energy into that. This is why the pieces get more and more minimalist. I want to communicate an idea and eliminate the rest.”
Snow credits being raised in and living in Ventura as his great influencer, shaping both him and his art. He likes to minimize his footprint on Mother Earth, keeping it simple wherever he can. The oceans and mountains all play their part in his inspiration and in his photography. “Whether it be a single palm tree or a set of clouds or a horizon,” Snow declares, “I continue to find the essential in this chaotic world.”
Additionally, Snow collects his own natural pigment from the earth while hiking the hills behind his house. Sourcing the materials from nature has multiple benefits — one, he can consider hiking as work. And, of course, the other is environmental; no plastic waste from containers, or toxic oils/acrylics down the drain.
Once the materials have been foraged, Snow works on transforming the rocks into pigment paint. This takes time, the repetitive actions of cleaning, grinding, sifting, mixing, straining, and bottling. Snow explains, “Painting with this type of pigment paint has a real learning curve to achieve consistent results. Brushing the paint onto the canvas is different as well, because it’s literally pushing pigment into the surface, which in this case is organic, raw, unbleached canvas that I sand lightly after stretching to open the fiber cells to accept paint more easily. The pigments are gathered from anywhere I travel, and I just began keeping better track of locations to include this information as part of the pieces’ history.”
Recently, he’s also explored working with other organic sources of pigment, “including roots, berries, plants, and seaweeds.”
Snow invites his collectors to come for a visit to his live-work gallery/studio where potential buyers can have tea with him, take their time, and sit with the art. His work is also currently on display at Napa Valley’s Arena Gallery.
To organize a studio visit with Snow, visit ryansnow.info or call (323) 309-1088.