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Ryan Beck captures special memories of favorite coastal landscapes that are popular among local interior designers

Ryan Beck captures special memories of favorite coastal landscapes that are popular among local interior designers
June 2024

Learn how her creative process has evolved and where you can find her work

Artist Ryan Beck’s paintings of special places and moments spent raising her family on Sullivan’s Island and Mount Pleasant are sold through women-owned businesses and are popular among local interior designers. 

Growing up in Cape Cod, Ryan Beck recognized her deep connection to the ocean. She also immersed herself in art, taking all the classes she could. It seemed logical that she would pursue art in college, but, after her first year at Prescott College in Arizona, the sea called. She dropped her art classes, changed her major to marine science and policy, and went on to do research aboard vessels off Washington’s San Juan Islands and study the coastal environment off Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico. 

After getting married, Beck completed a master’s degree, and later moved with her husband to Germany and then to Fargo, North Dakota. When their second child was born medically fragile, the couple’s priorities shifted. Beck wanted to raise her sons by the sea. The family used to vacation on Folly Beach, so in 2014, they moved to Mount Pleasant, and Beck returned to working full-time as an artist. 
Today, Beck is pursuing both of her passions, painting her favorite coastal views with bold brushstrokes and an eclectic color palette. Here, she shares how she captures special memories.

Artistic Style: I like to use brushwork to suggest the subject or reality, instead of rendering it, to capture the differences between light and color. I incorporate layers into my artwork, building on top of one another and adding texture. I want it to look like a painting, not a photo, and to have imperfections. Sometimes, I create very muted paintings, and other times, I use vibrant hues that are a little bit more playful. 

Inspirations: I love John Singer Sargent and his use of lights and shadows. I admire how Edward Hopper creates so much drama in commonplace themes. I like to incorporate all of those elements. I have a little piece of them inspiring me in each piece. 

(Left to right) Coffee Talk (acrylic on cradled wood, 16 x 16 inches, 2023); Summer Strolls (acrylic on wrapped canvas, 30 x 30 inches, 2023) & Sullivan’s Golden Hour (acrylic on wrapped canvas, 36 x 48 inches, 2023).

Creative Process: I work en plein air sometimes, especially to make color studies. I’ll paint at the beach, or I’ll use reference photos. When I start painting something I’m drawn to, I lose track of time. It’s those moments when you picture yourself in the place, when you capture that moment, when you know you want to make this moment a memory. When that happens, I decide on colors and the palette I want to use. Occasionally, that changes while I’m painting.

Favorite Subjects: I fall in love over and over again with the Pitt Street Bridge and Sullivan’s Island. I have a couple of local favorite places that I love painting. I paint for myself a lot. I like to paint places that hold a special part of my family’s memories or those times when you catch yourself being fully present. Things like laughter or what the air smells like, those things are easy to miss. I’m always telling my kids to take a mental snapshot.

Finding Balance: I experiment a lot. I’m incorporating more and more mark-making and experimenting with different layers, textures, and mediums, including collages. I paint every day—it’s a daily practice and part of my routine. I feel like when I’m playing and investing that time in myself, I’m discovering a whole new layer. I’m always investing back into courses and classes with artists I love.

On Detachment: When I first started painting and drawing as a young girl, I was really attached to attention to detail. I wanted people to know I was a good artist, meaning my art had to look like an image. When I dropped the formal art classes, I was unattached and untethered from the opinion of the masses. Then, when people started buying my work, I started tightening up. Now, years later, I’m back to creating for myself. The greatest work comes from being untethered to the outcome.

Power of Support: I exhibit in local events such as the Old Village Holiday Market, the Daniel Island Water Festival, and Art on the Beach. I also have my art in women-owned businesses in town, such as Kate Miles Design Studio, Shanty Shoppe, and Megan Molten. I can’t emphasize enough the importance and power behind the incredible women who mention my name for opportunities. It is so important to have people in your life that encourage, inspire, and truly celebrate your business success.