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Cultivate Featured Artist: Ryan Crawley


The Cultivate Curatorial Board is excited to share the work of Ryan Crawley.

Ryan shares his work and process in our interview below.


Learn more about the Cultivate Featured artist series below.


Learn more about Ryan on his:










Briefly describe your work or share your artist statement My current body of work is all about reflection, duly titled “Therapy Conversations”. What I’ve learned from this series is that I communicate through line and color far better than with words. It’s a way for me to problem solve and deal with my emotions or feelings from that moment. Each layer is an opportunity to solve the problem and when that problem is solved the painting is completed.


How do you go about beginning a new piece? Do you have it planned or is it more spontaneous? When creating a new piece it’s completely spontaneous. I don’t think, its intuition. I allow the muscles and feelings help me make the marks on the canvas. Since we have so many things to think /worry about it is my chance to relieve my brain and just do what feels right.

Abstract panting with various overlayed shapes in magenta, yellow, white, and black
"Therapy Conversations in Magenta and Yellow", 2022, acrylic on canvas, 30" x 48". Image Courtesy of the Artist

Of course to me this is a super natural process at this point, but I hear it so often that other creatives struggle with this skill. How I’ve continued working to build the skill has been with the creation of my Therapy Conversations series. I try to treat each piece like


a journal entry, it allows me the chance to express myself in ways that I have trouble doing verbally. The layers are the culmination of a particular expression released onto a canvas. This process has really grown in the way that I continue to create new artwork.



What is a barrier that you, as an artist, overcame?

Calling myself an artist, and leading with that when speaking to new people. I used to avoid talking about the artwork that I created. Even with the creation of my first website, I still wouldn’t lead with the simple fact that I make artwork. Though with the website it was the first step into realizing that without telling people I’m an artist, they would never know. So once I was over the initial fear of sharing my artwork, I realized how many people were interested in my artwork and the opportunities that would come with it.

What is your go-to music when you're working on art?

If I listen to anything it’s normally my friends on a headset haha. Normally when I paint is around the same time that I play video games with my buddies in different cities. It’s always been the way that I stay connected with my close buddies.


If I do listen to music it is hip hop or podcasts. Sometimes silence is the best music. Realistically anything that gives me a nice beat (silence is a beat in itself, I promise try it out).


What do you strive for as an artist? What form of recognition is important for you?

I strive to create artwork that the viewers want in their home. While this sounds like all I want to do is sell my work, what I really mean by it is I want to create a connection between artist and the viewer. I have a hope that collectors and potential art buyers can realize how to approach local artist or contact them to get original works into their spaces.


Recognition has never been important to me, mainly because I feel as you continue forward in the journey of being a creative the recognition comes with it. It’s more important to me to continue building relationships and creating work.


Abstract painting with background of blues, purples and greys with abstract shapes overlayed in white, yellow, aqua, and black
"Therapy Conversations 24", 2022, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 30". Image Courtesy of the Artist

What advice would you share for artists? Share something that you have learned along the way.

Treat yourself as a contractor! Be confident in your skills and purposely show your work. The term artisan contractor still exists, yet few artist truly think of themselves as a contractor. Why is this important? Because as artist provide quotes for work, they need to understand that their work is worth the price that they say in the beginning. In most cases the quote is under priced! So with the idea of being a contractor, I ask that artist provide the quote for the work and if it doesn’t work change the scope of work to continue valuing their time and experience creating!!


What is a work of art that is an inspiration to you?

Fountain by R Mutt haha. I’m a big fan of Marcel Duchamp, Van gogh, Monet, and Rauschenberg.


Marcel Duchamp - Because of his playfulness as an artist and the simple way he challenged what art is or can be. The piece “Fountain” is an upside down urinal that he purchased and entered into a gallery show that he was curating.


Van Gogh (Self portraits) - Because of the expressive strokes and bold colors that were used in his work.


Monet (Impression Sunrise) - Because of the use of colors in the paintings that were created. I visited the Chicago Art Institute twice a year from 9-12 grade, and I would always be mesmerized by Monet’s paintings.


Robert Rauschenberg never was struck by a single piece, but it was the use of white. He would create artwork and then cover it up with white. Basically hiding or erasing that part of the pieces conversation which in turn totally changed what the piece said. I find this being used very heavily within my own artwork.


Who are three working artists that you love and would recommend?


Angelbert Metoyer - I love his story. He graduated with an art degree and then received a masters in mathematics. His work just always seems to transport me outside of my normal thinking place. My brother found Angelbert and suggested I reach out as we are distant cousins (not exactly sure how distant). Through that I’ve really come to appreciate his journey and the body of work that he creates. It also has given me a tangible person to see how to being a creative full time is obtainable.


Vanessa Clifton - I went to elementary and college with Vanessa, and I’ve personally seen the growth in her photography specifically when it comes to the use of figures. The way she captures a person in a moment in a setting truly reminds me of why the phrase is “A picture is worth one thousand words”. Again work that transports me outside of my frame of thinking.


Daniel McClendon - A friend suggested that I reach out to Daniel after I graduated. I looked at how intricate his work is and how the process starts. White canvas is covered in what appears to be no particular direction and then an animal comes from there. It’s abstracted, but you definitely know what the painting is depicting. The movement, mark making, and colors just scream off the canvas.



Impressionist painting of forest in fall with dirt path coming from bottom right corner leading into the canvas. Trees are dark browns/purples with yellow leaves accented with orange
"Fig Tree", 2020, acrylic on canvas, 20" x 30". Image Courtesy of the Artist

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