Ryan S. Brown: Naturalist Tradition


Ryan S. Brown is an accomplished painter trained in the naturalist traditions of the nineteenth century. He lives and paints in Utah.

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Talk about your development as an artist. I didn’t grow up in an artistic environment. No one in my family knew anything about art. But, since I was young, I enjoyed drawing. It was always something fun to do, like playing basketball or swimming. I never thought of it as a potential career until late in high school. When I got to college I signed up for the illustration program because it seemed the most viable option for making money as an artist. I was lucky in this decision because I naturally gravitated towards representational art, and the illustration program was still tied to the traditions I appreciated, whereas the studio art programs in most universities, BYU included, were and are very biased towards post-modern abstraction. However, by the end of my time at BYU I began to realize the severe deficiencies in my education. It was then that I found the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. It was there that I feel like I first started to understand the potential for art and the depth and breadth of its purpose.

How was your experience at the Florence Academy of Art? The curriculum at the Florence Academy of Art is patterned after the system of education from the schools of 19th century Paris. This system and its results are proven through the thousands of masters that were produced from it resulting in the creation of some of the greatest works ever conceived by man. This education is made up of the accumulated knowledge passed down from master to apprentice over thousands of years through art history. My time at the Florence Academy of Art was the great turning point in my artistic career. The education served to clear the visual fog left by my university education. The organized, clear approach to education helped develop the foundational knowledge I needed to achieve the quality of work I hoped to. Living in Florence also proved to be one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. The history, culture, architecture, food, and pace of life all combined to create the most fertile ground for my artistic inspiration that I’ve ever experienced. Since then, regular visits to museums around the world have helped clarify and define my artistic vision. Studying the past masters has helped further adopt me into the tradition I so love, and provided me with my greatest education after my time at the Florence Academy. 

What is the Center for Academic Study and Naturalist Painting? The Center for Academic Study and Naturalist Painting is an answer to the need for an organized traditional approach to art education in Utah. At the moment, it is the only school available in Utah that teaches the traditions of drawing and painting with ties to the curriculums of the 18th and 19th century Paris schools. The CAS is also one of only 33 schools in the world that is Art Renewal Approved, a status bestowed by the Art Renewal Center and given only to schools that follow traditional teaching and exhibit the quality of faculty and student work that achieves the highest of standards. Our students have won top awards in the Art Renewal Centers student competition, as well as the Alpine Fellowship and the Hudson River Landscape Fellowship.

What are you working on next? My upcoming plans include a one-man show in August 2016 at S. R. Brennen Galleries in Santa Fe. I am also planning on moving my family back to Europe to live for a few years. I feel it necessary to live nearer to great museums to continue to grow as an artist. The inspiration of Europe beckons to me. I also feel like the direction of the CAS is headed toward Paris. We are trying to become more established towards gaining accreditation as a school and I feel like the environment of Paris is more conducive to the educational experience young artists need to gain a more well rounded and personal artistic vision. We are looking for patrons and donors to help make the move to Paris possible. It may take some time, but I am hopeful it will happen soon.

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