Diary of a nature nerd

Or so he calls himself. Daniel Ryan's traveling exhibit, 'Beyond the Mist,' hits Laguna Beach this weekend.

April 10, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Daniel Ryan's "Celestial Spring."
Daniel Ryan's "Celestial Spring." (Coastline Pilot )

Daniel Ryan is a self-described "nature nerd."

An outdoors enthusiast, the San Diego resident goes hiking and camping whenever possible, armed with his trusted Olympus digital camera or Mamiyaflex from the 1950s.

Diligently recording vistas, the 28-year-old artist uses his experiences to fuel oil-on-board landscapes. He has also coined the term "folk surrealism" to describe his work.

"I like to push light and color," Ryan said. "My work usually uses dramatic light and vibrant, almost abstracted color."

More than a dozen of Ryan's pieces — originals and prints — will be on display in "Beyond the Mist" at the Exclusive Collections Gallery on Saturday and Sunday. He will be on hand to talk to guests from 6 to 9 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on both days, respectively.

Although Ryan has had works shown at the gallery before, this weekend will mark his first solo exhibit there.

"Danny is one of my favorite artists," said Krista Franz, the gallery's director. "When I look at his work, it brings me back to my childhood years playing in the trees of Idaho. There is a fine line between imagery and realism for me. They are very whimsical and keep me guessing what is behind each tree and beyond the misty backgrounds."


Part of a military family that always had room for a studio no matter where they were transferred, Ryan was heavily influenced by his mother, a graphic artist, and picked up paintbrushes at an early age.

During his stint at San Diego State University, he first chose to major in psychology, but later abandoned it to pursue art full-time. He graduated in 2008 with a degree in painting and printmaking.

"Art is a huge part of me, as well as my family," he said. "It's something I couldn't see myself not doing."

Having encountered James and Ruth-Ann Thorn, owners of the EC Gallery, several years ago, he spent time working for them and even displayed a single painting in their Seaport Village gallery in 2010. The couple kept tabs on Ryan's creative trajectory as he began hosting showings all over San Diego County.

The youngest artist in the gallery by nearly a decade, Ryan recently had a similar show in EC Gallery's location in San Diego and will follow the Laguna exhibit with a stop in Las Vegas from April 19 to 21.

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