When she was a kid, Briah Ryan loved crayons, but never for coloring purposes. She would melt and break them, and she once got in trouble at school for pressing crayons against the radiator throughout the day.
“That’s when I learned I was an artist because I had to find out what would happen,” Ryan said. “There’s a lot of curiosity and creativity, and you always say, ‘Well, I want to see what’s going to happen when I do this.’”
Ryan is the Mountain Road Library’s Artist of the Month for April. She has since moved on from crayons, and her exhibit features different types of acrylic paintings. Ryan paints with three styles: sgraffito, meditative and mindful.
Previously, Ryan made stained glass, but she switched to acrylic paintings.
“I’ve learned a lot more about structure, as far as planning paintings,” Ryan said. “I’ve definitely learned a lot more about technique: which brushes to use; where to get what kind of strokes you want; how to add texture to paintings, which is one of my favorite things to do.”
Ryan now teaches classes through her Sgraffito Painting company. Before she started the company, Ryan was working as a counselor in inner-city Baltimore, and her clients were struggling with addiction. Toward the end of her time in Baltimore, Ryan was meshing art and therapy.
“It was amazing to see the transformations: their use of color changes over time, how their confidence increases over time, and they learn to appreciate that they have a unique style,” Ryan said. “In a world that encourages you to be the same and then be different, in can be confusing. When they are able to say, ‘Look, I’m different in this way, nobody else can make this painting,’ they get excited, and then they get empowered.”
At one of her private classes, Ryan met a family who had recently purchased a house. They hired Ryan to paint a wall mural in their daughter’s bedroom, as well as nameplates for both children’s rooms.
“I’ve never had to draw out a mural or anything like that, so that was new for me,” Ryan said. “She came up, and she said, ‘I want these things in my picture.’”
In addition to being featured at the Mountain Road Library, Ryan also has paintings in the Painters & Poets Exhibit at Wimsey Cove Framing and Art in Annapolis.
The reception for Ryan’s work at Mountain Road Library will be on Tuesday, April 23, from 7:00pm-8:00pm.
“Creativity is an important factor in self-growth. I think a lot of people feel that they aren’t creative, but creativity is included in a lot of different parts of life,” Ryan said. “People get in their mind that you’re creating a piece of art, when really, it’s everywhere.”
Ryan’s work can be found at www.sgraffitopainting.com.