Ryan McJunkin, Trees are Trees

Oakland artist Ryan McJunkin debuts new work Saturday night in a show called “Trees are Trees.” The title is analogous to Ryan’s no-nonsense manner of being. He is a very straightforward guy and so is his work. Straightforward and prolific. This will be the first time we have a print rack at the wine bar in order to accommodate orders for his serial work.

Obi: Describe for us a bit of your biography Ryan, I know you have had your studio at the Compound in North Oakland for some time, how did that end up happening?

Ryan: I grew up on the peninsula in Silicon Valley and took classes at De Anza and Foothill community colleges. Then I lived out in New Mexico and Arizona, where I took more classes and spent as much time as possible out the canyons and National Parks of the western states. I transfered to art school in Baltimore for five semesters, graduated, then moved to San Francisco and eventually ended up in Oakland about two and a half years ago. I started visiting the old Compound on San Pablo, since it was just four blocks from my house. I shared a dark, damp space in the back and then moved happily into my own well lit space when the Compound moved to the new location on 65th street in Oakland.

Obi: There is clearly a correlation between the photo images you print and the nature of your line work in your paintings. How did that come about? What is you printing process?

Ryan: My paintings often start by pouring fluid paint and tilting the canvas to control the direction of the resulting lines. The way the streams of paint branch out are very similar to branching patterns in nature such as rivers and tree branches, veins, etc. The hard part is the drawings are so crude I need a massive canvas to really get the effects I like. I found using compressed air instead of gravity to get the paint moving  gives me more control and allows me to work on a smaller scale. I often draw using this method, and then layer it with computer assisted techniques when I create the stencil on the silk screen. So the resulting stencil is a combination of both digital and hand drawn methods that blend together seamlessly. This process is usually repeated for each color, so a multi-color print may contain dozens of layers.

Obi: Why trees? You are a talented figure painter as well, could this show have been called “figures are figures?”

Ryan: Trees just felt like an uncluttered vision for me. They are an essential part of the human experience for most people and one that is truly taken for granted. My grandfather was a landscape painter and I grew up with his paintings in every room of the house.  So it is a bit of an homage to both my grandfather and my dad, who was always supportive in my art making, and trees just seemed the most appropriate.

For more info go to ryanmcjunkin.com

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