contemporary realism flowers
Matt Ryder, "Ascension," 2022, oil on linen, 10 x 20 in., private collection 

There is a lot of superb contemporary realism being made these days; this article by Allison Malafronte shines light on a gifted individual.

Contemporary Realism Artist of the Week

Matt Ryder (b. 1981) is a British painter based in Dubai who is steadily becoming better known in the U.S. His journey in art started early but took a bit of a circuitous path — in his 20s Ryder left art school and abandoned painting for 10 years after a discouraging experience with an instructor — but eventually he returned to his true passion. In 2005, he moved to Dubai to embark on a full-time career as a professional painter and has never looked back.

For many years, large-scale landscapes from the scenic mountains and deserts surrounding Dubai were Ryder’s forte and focus. “It’s very difficult to explain the feeling of standing at the base of one of these mountains, how grand it is,” the artist says in a short film describing his work and motivations. “The way the light filters into these big mountain ranges, it’s very reminiscent of America’s Southwestern landscape. The paintings I’m doing, they are big, they are bold. I work on a large scale generally when I’m in the studio in order to capture this grandeur.”

Ryder then started exploring a subject he has long loved: flowers. A crowded genre to be sure, but Ryder nonetheless found his place in this arena, and today he paints large floral scenes as if they were vast landscapes, even if just a few flowers are center stage. Other times, he’ll paint smaller, detailed floral portraits, as in “Ascension,” illustrated here. Designed in a 2:1 format, these garden roses get all the glory and attention, with the artist taking time to give each pillowy bloom the variegated color and fine detail it deserves.

Regardless of the subject, Ryder’s love of light and the way it creates movement, rhythm, and patterns in and around objects is often the theme. “I always seek light patterns and shapes that will form interesting and strong compositions,” he explains. “I find that the more I paint, the more I’m drawn to naturally lit subjects, whether it’s a still life by the window or a desert landscape.”

“I have a very clear vision of the future,” Ryder says. “I know where I want to be, and what I have to do to get there. Now it’s just about putting in the work to make sure that happens.”

In Matt’s art video workshop, he demonstrates color vibrancy, value relationships and control, edges, effective color mixing, and so much more.

This article was originally published in Fine Art Connoisseur magazine.

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