Profile: Ryan Kohler www.UpCountryArtists.org

My name is Ryan Kohler.

I am an oil painter working in Skowhegan, ME. I received a BA in Art from the University of Maine at Augusta in 2011 with a concentration in drawing.

Each painting is a one of a kind original (no prints) of my own design and execution. My subject matter ranges from heavy machinery and architecture to florals, plein air work and still lifes. Although I do work from photographs occasionally, the vast majority of my work is done from direct observation whether it be in the field (plein air) or in the studio.

I am interested in the formal aspects of representational painting ie. composition/color/value/texture etc. but focus mostly on finding abstract yet implicit shapes and trying to find ways to simplify my subjects.

"Because They Can" February 2019

In the autumn, I tend to stray from my usual habits, and get curious about things other than painting. I work on the house, create music, hunt etc. This year, I apparently felt like switching over to acrylics. It’s good to break out of your comfort zone at times, and it sometimes pays to be curious. It’s good for the ‘ol noggin.

It feels like I do more experimenting than anything else lately. Little visual snippets and fleeting glimpses from my morning routine turn into abstract phrases of color.

Scape A - February 2019

Rocks and grass. Trying to achieve a sense of ascension. Also trying to teleport to this beautiful, warm, summer-in-Maine beach day.

"Rocks and Grass" - February 2019

Every once in a while, when you are traveling along on a familiar, boring, dusty, gray trail, you happen to glance in the right direction at the perfect moment, and are rewarded with a glimpse of something fresh and new. The excitement. You wonder if it was always there, or you just never had the capacity to see it before today.

Suddenly Aware - Feb 2019

I’ve probably painted this surface 20 times already. Some of them fight you and make your brain itch.

The Skinny - February 2019

New oil work. An 11x14 textured knife painting provides all sorts of little areas to get lost in.

"Sure Things" - March 2019

I used to think i was going to be a musician. A producer, specifically. I've always had a way of crafting what i thought to be dynamic melodies, and I can play most instruments (even if crudely) enough to get something good out of them. Not only that, but I have the technical know how (and proper equipment) to record them each individually, manipulate those recordings, sequence them, rearrange, re-pitch, sample and program drums, chop/trigger loops, and i even have basic skills in mixing and mastering.

I've never been great at playing in a band though. I’m too much of a control freak probably and kind of a loner too. But producing was another thing, and I’m sure I could be really great someday if I kept with it, but painting has completely taken over my life. I’ll always love what music can do for people, and I’ll probably always make music privately, but making art is what I was always meant to do. At some point this summer, an onlooker said my paintings have great rhythm. I thought it was the best compliment and considered that something to build on.

Here’s “Nine Notes” 36x48 inches, oil on linen.

Nine Notes, September 2018

Maine roads seem to be capturing my attention lately. When the sun cuts the trees in half I see only possibilities. Are they half lit or half in shadow?

"Scuffy Bumps" - February 2019

Here’s another 12x12 for you. It’s a road I travel often, in Fairfield. Some of you may recognize it, even though I have changed a few things to make the scene more like how I want to see it. Please be safe out there on the roads today, Mainers. #heavysnow

"Over and Under' - Feb 2019

Guess who won first place in the painting category in Brunswick, ME?! Now get this... I know it sounds selfish, but I paint for me. If no one in the world ever saw or bought a painting of mine ever again, I would still paint. I would paint aggressively too, because it genuinely thrills me. That being said, does it feel good to get some recognition along the way to let me know I’m on the right path? You’re damn right. Small victories feel good, and deserve to be celebrated. There’s a LOT of good artists here today, so I’m honored. Thank you BOAF. 🙏


Some would argue that a painting, just by being a painting, is automatically abstracted to a small degree, no matter how hyper realistic it is. My work falls on the scale somewhere, sure, but where doesn't matter to me. Thoughtful and efficient brushwork matters to me. Strong composition and accurate drawing matters to me. Mixing color with integrity matters to me. Fussy, overworked, lifeless paintings bore me something dreadful. You can be anything but boring. They say that no paintings is ever finished, just abandoned.

The trick is to know when to walk away.

I always gotta have a painting like this in stock. I love getting the colors in the painting really close to accurate before i start infusing colors from other areas of the painting into other areas where they aren't normally, if that makes sense.

For example, I'll pull the greens from the lawn outside into the shadow cast by the boots, and pull the red browns from the boots into the fence outside. It's easy to go overboard, and the color decisions are based purely on intuition and personal taste, but it adds interest and emotion if done right. It's a lot of fun tying an image together with this method.

"Shit Stompers" - October 2017

I’m starting an e-mail list and I’d love to have you on it. I promise I won’t flood your inbox with pointless crap, just occasional studio sales and opportunities for select paintings at discounted rates. If you’re interested, quickly message me your email address and I’ll make sure you are in the loop! Thanks in advance!


FB: RyanKohlerArtist - IG @ryankohlerpaintings


85 Mount Pleasant Ave., Skowhegan, Maine


All images and work Copyright 2019 Ryan Kohler. All rights reserved.


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