Category: Fine Art

Ryan Muldowney: Artistic Omnivore


Ryan Muldowney is a teacher, painter, and creator and is currently an assistant professor of studio arts. Muldowney received a BFA from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and an MFA from The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  He lives in Virginia with his family and has also had works of fiction and non-fiction published. His series unraveled was profiled previously on The Krakens.

580870_ikmthjexiusbhdc4agin8t24c 4 icon _mg_6991 11 3 screen-shot-2016-02-12-at-11-55-27-am _mg_6241 6 screen-shot-2015-12-15-at-1-21-36-pm

Describe yourself as an artist. I am something of an artistic omnivore. My interests in art are various and I like to allow myself the freedom to explore any and all avenues of creation in the execution of my work. As a young artist I would often hear to my chagrin that it was important to consolidate your interests and develop a characteristic style, but this never sat well with me as I was unwilling to lay aside the sometimes-incongruous battery of artistic interests that continually held my attention. To this day I have never yet been able to settle down, and every time I stumble across something new that I like, I do it over and over again, refining and experimenting until the body of work no longer holds any mystery for me and then I move on to the next thing.

You once wrote, “I seek for mastery, not of process but of understanding.” I see mastery as one of the most important ideas to which we can cling in this life. It is an all-governing principle. I seek for mastery in all aspects of my life including my art. But I have unfortunately found mastering a process to be an unfulfilling shadow of true mastery. I have come to feel that possessing a superlative technique in painting or drawing or some other process is ultimately a dead-end as technical mastery only leads to the elimination of possible outcomes. I prefer to work inexpertly and with uncertainty so that by my struggle I may gain understanding of the intrinsic qualities of new tools and new materials, and by my experiments I create little worlds of possibility that are new to me and that allow me to understand a little more and see a little further into the darkness, into the great “mystery”. Mastery of understanding can only be purchased with the coin of inquiry, and I prefer a practice that is fundamentally questioning rather than being a master of process who can do nothing but make statements.

Visit Ryan Muldowney’s website.

Follow Ryan Muldowney on Instagram.


Walter Rane: A Message of Hope


Walter Rane is a prolific painter and illustrator. He currently has a show at the Rehs Gallery at 5 East 57th St. in New York City until November 18. The LDS Church owns 90 of Rane’s paintings and they are found in visitor centers, buildings, and across Church-related materials and websites. He once explained, “Instead of wanting to be like other illustrators, I’ve always wanted to paint like Rubens, Rembrandt and Michelangelo. Not that I could ever approach them, but that’s what my standard is and that’s what I look at all the time.” He was profiled previously on The Krakens. Rane and his wife live in New York City.

Bless-Them-in-His-Name wr-0801-webWR3 In-Remembrance-of-Me wr-2068-webAngels-Ministered-unto-Them

You maintain two different websites. One of your personal work and one of your religious prints. They almost feel like two different artists–albeit two talented artists. Do you approach these religious images differently? The real difference in the two websites is commercial. One is for selling reproductions of my work, most of which are church related (the Church owns the paintings and the copyrights but in some cases they grant me permission to make and sell reproductions). Coming from a background in book and magazine illustration, my work for the Church primarily depicts scripture narratives. The other website is for displaying my more recent work, which is not so overtly scriptural but I feel is just as religious. Lately my work has often come from a broader spiritual source, not always inspired by a particular scripture story or event but carrying a definite spiritual message. One of hope. Recently these have often involved the intersection of the spiritual and the physical, i.e. resurrection, angelic involvement, and our connection to a spiritual realm. That is not to say I don’t do narrative story telling any more. I do and I still find it compelling, since behind the stories are those same spiritual themes. I enjoy painting pretty much anything; fruits and vegetables, household objects as well as family and friends in everyday life, and I find those subjects to be spiritual also.

Visit Walter Rane’s website.

View Walter Rane’s prints.


Zachary Proctor: Head Paintings


Zachary Proctor is a talented painter with a series called Head Paintings. He explains, “Painting faces is usually one of the hardest things to paint. When you’re painting someone that’s looking right at you, if you’re a centimeter off there or a quarter of an inch off here, it starts to look tricky. There’s a lot in the identity of a person. The variety of faces you get is pretty fascinating. The expression, emotions and identity that people attach to, it’s fun to think about.”  Proctor was profiled previously on The Krakens for his adventure paintings. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah and holds a BFA from the University of Utah and an MFA from Utah State University.

#15 zp1#56 #1 #39 zp2#52

You’ve said, “I’m less concerned with looking at something and making it exactly like that. I’m more interested in interpreting it and expressing the way I want to see it or the way I want to remember it.” Explain. There are a lot of talented and skilled people out there painting portraits. I mainly started doing it to pay the bills and subsidize the endeavor of an “art career.” My main goal in painting someones portrait is to capture their essence as well as their likeness. As I stare at their face I often find myself reflecting on their journey, what has happened to them in their life, and who will they become. I often wonder if they will cure cancer or invent the next great wonder. As you think about someone you really come to appreciate the battles they are fighting and the beauty they have inside. We never really know what people are dealing with and painting someone offers a unique vantage point into who someone is and what they are about.

Explain your Head Paintings project and the reception you’ve received. I number of years ago I decided to start a personal project, There is nothing terribly unique about it, but I thought if I painted 100 head paintings, that I would get pretty good at painting faces. The project started out fast and I worked hard on it, yet things started to get in the way and distract me from it, i.e graduate school, gallery work, and what have you. As the project progressed people started wanting to commission me to paint their heads and that created a good fit. That way I could paint faces and get better, while people pay me to do it. I am getting close to #70 and I have multiple people lined up to finish the project off.

Visit Zachary Proctor’s website.

Follow Zachary Proctor on Instagram.


David Malan: Oil Paintings


David Malan is an artist and illustrator who has worked with national and international clients including The Walt Disney Company, the United States Mint, and The Weekly Standard. He “employs a frank and accurate approach to portray the emotions of the subject, and uses straight forward portraiture with highly polished painting.” He was profiled previously on The Krakens for his illustration work. Malan lives with his wife and four children in Utah.

davidmalan_pioneer davidmalan_the-artists-studio 5_flower_14_x18__oil 4_davidmalan_pioneerwoman_14_x18__oil 3_dinner_24_x36__oilonboard 7_youngballerina_11_x14__oil 1_motherhood_16_x20__oil

You have said you are influenced by classical artists of the 19th century and the Golden Age illustrators. I was raised in a non-art house. In the pre-Internet days my exposure was limited, I’m interested to think that I was driven toward a certain kind of art with no real examples to look to. I remember in high school Norman Rockwell stood out and the sculpture work of Bernini. They were well known enough that I came across them but it was the accuracy and exactness of their depictions that impressed me. Slowly, late in high school and into college I began to discover this really wonderful classical art that had been obscured by the rise of the impressionists and lost from the public consciousness. Initially it was William Bouguereau and his unbelievable mastery of painting the figure. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Jean Leone Gerome, John William Godward, Frederic Leighton, Lawrence Alma-Tadama are other examples of artists who reached this incredible level of painting realism with lovely romantic figures. In college the world of illustration opened up and I found J.C Leyendecker, Rockwell’s teacher, who combined great ability with stylization. The illustrators had taken a high level of control then changed the world to whatever they wanted, this really appealed to me. NC Wyeth, Dean Cornwell, Maxfield Parrish are other great classical illustrators. I think the greatest in my mind is Alphonse Mucha, particularly his later oil paintings that are still difficult to find (see The Slav Epic), where he blended the illustration and the classical painting with some gorgeous scene that are as emotional as anything I’ve ever seen while demonstrating his total control of realistic accuracy.

You are active on Instagram and post your work in progress. What do you like and dislike about using social media? I have a pretty structured mind, once I start posting it becomes this task in my head that I need to do. I post regularly but I do have a love-hate relationship with social media. I started up a blog maybe 10 years ago and it was a wonderful space to display the work that I had done anyway. It is sad particularly with a digital piece of work to finish it then save it off somewhere and have nothing to show for it but a file somewhere. So I was happy to share it. But I also look though my sketchbook from pre-blog days and see this really free exploration, pages with half a dozen unfinished experiments. It was totally for me and there was no pressure to produce. I now live with this nagging feeling I need to produce a finished piece constantly and that each drawing should turn out which has only grown as I’ve developed a reputation. It’s all in my head so I shouldn’t blame social media but it’s hard to shake. I do appreciate the ability to get my name out and hear from other artists and fans from around the world.

Visit David Malan’s website.

Follow Dave Malan on Instagram.

Malan Working

Annie K. Blake: Here’s How I See It


Annie K. Blake is a painter with a great series called Of House and Home. She explains, “I explore the human experience, using the house as a symbol of complex inner lives and the variety of paths to build or follow, the limitations we allow or break through. The neighborhood, for me, represents our proximity but lack of knowledge of each other’s hidden color and mess, and I paint communities to encourage consideration of our dependence on each other and the beauty in our diverse yet shared experiences.” Blake was profiled previously on The Krakens for her series Cropped. She lives with her family in Utah.

anniekblake+unfurnished anniekblake+we+live+close+by anniekblake+proximity anniekblake+hive+ anniekblake+wars+of+our+fathers anniekblake+single+family+homes

Tell us about your path to becoming an artist. It officially started one night in 2012 when I sobbed to my listening husband, “I just want to put things on walls!” I’d spent a lot of time doing what I thought was practical forms of art–selling handmade goods or teaching art classes for kids. But after one existential crisis too many, I decided to ignore the voice in my head that was telling me fine art was too risky. I bought some new boards, cleared a few feet of space in our tiny apartment on the floor between my bed and the wall, and started. At this point it was all really more of an idea than actual work. Most weeks I was proud of myself for painting at all. I would work on Saturdays for a bit while the kids played with dad or I would paint for a few hours in the morning every once in a while when my husband worked a later shift. But mostly I made excuses. “Starting is hard! I need more time! There’s no reason to start painting when I only have an hour. I should help make dinner! The kids need something. I don’t know what to paint. My back hurts!” Despite my intense feminist leanings, I was thoroughly buying into the idea that had been pounded into my brain through many Young Women’s lessons–the idea that really focusing on my career was something for later in life when I could have more of those big stretches of time to concentrate and really dive into things. So I was a painter who wasn’t doing much painting, and I was miserable.

But my husband is smart, and he knows as well as I do that a woman who is constantly sacrificing herself at the altar of excuses and other people’s needs is not actually a very good mom or a nice person to be around. So he kindly suggested I get into my “studio” and work for one hour. So I did. I addd a few layers to a few paintings, and before I knew it, the hour was over. I didn’t get a lot done, but I got SOMETHING done. I went from a person who was grumpy about not having time for her own goals to a person who felt like I had been really productive somehow. I started doing this more often. I would sneak away for ten minutes while the kids played nicely (yes, this usually only lasts ten minutes) or I would tell the mom-guilt to take a hike and just put a show on for them. I was slowly letting go of the idea that it would take me a long time to “get into it” and I was just painting with whatever time I could find. All those weeks were passing anyway, but this way I had a painting at the end. I was running a marathon a few blocks at a time. It was super slow, but 26.2 miles is still 26.2 miles even if you walk and take lots of breaks. Today, a few years later, I still don’t get as much uninterrupted time as I would like, but it works. It gives me more time to focus on the pondering and idea phase of painting, so when I get in the studio (I have a whole room now!) I can hit the ground running.

Where would you like to see the Mormon art world go in the coming years? Up and out. We all speak different spiritual languages, and if I’ve learned anything from the scriptures it’s that God communicates with us in our own language. So the more artistic voices we see expressing truth, the more people can be taught through art. I’m glad the definition of Mormon art is broadening to include more styles and experiences.

Visit Annie K. Blake’s website.

Follow Annie K. Blake on Instagram.

Photograph by Justin Hackworth.