Making mistakes is not a waste of time. It's a learning opportunity. It's, like, you just have to kind of change that frame of mind.
This is the Bold Artist Podcast.
You have answers, and you're expressing them in your art. Your art is important, and it needs to be seen.
Welcome. And let's get started with today's episode.
Welcome to the Bold Artist podcast. Today. I am here with guest artist, Liz Ranney, of Kelowna, British Columbia. Welcome to the show, Liz.
Hi, Marijanel. Thanks for having us.
I am so happy to have you.
Yes, thank you.
No, we're, we're, we're happy to have you.
And you know...
i'm just so used to saying us because it's always me and my husband
And, you know, that's
So used to that.
So true. And that, we will be talking about on the show because Liz, you're an amazing artist, but I know you also work with your husband, as well, who is an artist. And, and you are just such a unique person that we have wanted you on the show since day one. And.
We, we pursued you earlier in the fall asking if you'd be on the show, and it didn't work out at that time. And so we are so thrilled you're here now. And so welcome.
It's good to be here. That's awesome. Thanks.
Yes. So Liz, can we start out by you sharing with our audience a little bit more about yourself?
So, I am an artist. I've always been an artist. Um, I'm a mom, I'm a wife, I'm a painter, illustrator, mirror list graphic designer. I do a little bit of teaching. Um, yeah, just kind of like an all around creative person -- need to be always creating.
Yes. And you know, that creativity shows in your work. Your work, isn't just one element. It is so much imagination and creativity bundled into one of your artworks. That, that is something I can't wait to dive into with you today is just what drives the creativity that we see in your work, Liz.
Yeah. So I, I don't actually know where it comes from. Um, but I am a very visual learner, and I, I retain images in my head. So when we're, when we're traveling, when we're camping, when we're going on a walk, if I see something that I think is beautiful, or like really kind of wonderful, I guess I kind of make a mental snapshot of it, and it finds its way into my work later.
Wow. Well, it's evident that there is something so profound and unique in your work. So, for those of you watching on YouTube, you will see Liz here with some of her work displayed behind her. You'll also see a magenta glow going on with Liz, because that's just some sort of camera mystery that we've had today, where Liz is a shade of magenta, lilac. And so we'll just call it bold color purple today. And, um, and those of you listening, listening on the audio show, you won't be seeing, um, what we're seeing on YouTube. So, Liz can describe the work that you do and particularly the pieces that we see behind you today.
Yeah. So I, I have always been kind of an illustrator, uh, especially in my paintings, the illustration finds its way into my paintings. And for probably the past six to 10 years, I've been trying to kind of fuse those ideas together. Uh, so like I use a lot of line. I use a lot of bold color. I use a lot of, kind of more graphic, um, like passages of color. So, it, it really does kind of combine the sort of like collage and design with paint passages. And so, um, I've been trying to fuse those two together so that I can do my work over multiple mediums. And so, yeah, that's, that's been something that I've always been trying to explore in my work and, you know, in university they tell you, you know, you have to stick with one thing, and you have to get really good at it. And I was kind of like, no, I don't, I don't like that. I don't want to, I want to be able to kind of express myself on multiple different, uh, platforms and with different, um, materials, and be able to kind of say like, this is my style. And it also translates in this medium.
Mm-hmm. And so what I'm seeing here are generally portraits behind you with some other element, creative element, coming from the faces, or the hair or, um, the head. And so the, I see birds, and foliage, and landscape, and it's all sort of emerging, but there's geometric shapes, as well. And like you said, the use of strong lines, and bold color, and it's so very unique. So, how long has it taken you to discover this style, Liz?
Um, I think I first kind of came into this in University. Uh, we were doing like, you know, huge paintings because in university that's the kind of the challenge. You push yourself to make the biggest work that you can. And, uh, so I ended up making this giant portrait series, and they were very colorful, very expressive. And I kind of was like, oh, I like that. That is something that like really feels good to make. And, um, at that point I got a lot of good feedback on them, too. And it was kind of like, ha, like I found it. And, and so I kind of just kept on pushing it to get a little bit further, and further, and further. And, and of course I wanted to kind of, I didn't want to stop doing abstracts or realism. I wanted to kind of find a way to, to bring them all together, to merge them. And, uh, create something that like felt good to make, so that it wasn't kind of, um, putting myself in a corner, but that it was, you know, I still had the freedom and the flexibility to keep kind of all the styles in one, but, you know, explore different avenues as I wanted.
And it would still be my style.
Mm-hmm. Now you mentioned that your work... That you lean towards illustration heavily. And do you happen to have a definition for yourself of what the difference between illustration and fine art even is? I know I've, I've discovered a definition for myself of how I describe it. But I'm curious to know how, how you describe that to someone. When you say that your work is illustrative, and yet it's fine art. What is the difference between them?
Well, so I don't know if I would say that it's either illustrative or fine art. I think, I think it just comes down to like the mark making and the tools that you have. I think, um, like, you know, I know a lot of illustrators, and I consider it very fine art, you know? It's very intricate. It's very, um, expressive. It can be, it can be very different from one end to the next. It could be pen, it could be pencil. It could be all of these different things. It could be digital even. And so I think there's not like, I don't have a way of explaining kind of the differences, but I think that I would kind of boil it down to the mark making. And, um, the, the texture and the quality of your, of your marks. Yeah.
Yes. And that is what I see when, when I look at your pieces. I see a story, and that is what I think of when you say that you have an illustrative side or that illustration is coming out, I see the storytelling, and that there was perhaps a motivation in you to relay a message. Are you, do you have that in you, are you desiring to give a message when you create your art?
So, I, I, I don't actually, I, I like to convey moods and emotion. Um, and then from that the viewer can kind of attach their own personal stories to it. Because, you know, we've all seen the landscapes. We've all had feelings of being in that place. Um, we've all, you know, felt the expressions on our face and felt, you know, it's like kind of heavy or it's light or it's, uh, moody, or it's dark. Like there's lots of different, uh, expressions that you can attach to a painting that people connect with on a deeper level. And so I don't always want to attach too much of a story to it because then it becomes not connective. Um, so for, for my work, I kind of like to play on, you know, if I wanna bring a landscape into a portrait, uh, because I, I do think that landscapes have their own personality, even though, you know, the personification of that particular landscape, it might be, you know, like, I, it might be a grouchy old man. It might be, you know, someone who's very happy. Um, but I do like to use that, to kind of enhance the mood and the feel of the piece
Mm-hmm. Yes. Well, I can definitely, uh, feel it and see story, see story being relayed within your image images. And so how do you decide what elements you're gonna tie into? Let's say, if you start with a portrait. How do you even decide what you'll do next? Do you have a whole, um, process, or how does that unfold for you, Liz?
Um, well, okay. So if it's a commission, then oftentimes it might be a very specific thing that my, that my client, wants to have in the painting, but if I'm doing work that I'm just kind of, you know, doing for myself and being creative, it's very intuitive. Um, I'll often start with a face or with color, um, just moving the color around. And from that, I can kind of see a few steps ahead and just say, like, I'm gonna, you know, I'm gonna put a, a piece of lavender kind coming out of there just because it feels right. Um, or, you know, or some geometric shape in there, because that feels right. And so it, it changes different, different elements coming into play. Yeah,
No, I love that you say that you go by the intuition and what feels right. And that is something that I so long to see artists develop within themselves because a lot of times we'll develop our eyes and we'll develop our skills according to what we're taught, but not develop that intuitive side of what feels right to create and be creative. And, uh, and so I love to hear you say that. And do you have any other words of wisdom on just how to get more creative in our work?
So, one thing that was huge for me was daily practice. And, um, you know, that seems really daunting to someone, but it doesn't have to be painting a full painting every single day. It can be sketching something horrible in your sketchbook. It doesn't have to be a big masterpiece, but kind of just like using your hands, using that side of your brain that gets creative. Every day actually makes it huge difference. I can see it in my work. I can see a noticeable, uh, progress in my work, just because of doing kind of like a daily exercise.
And, and are you a big fan of using the sketchbook? Is that some advice that you would give to people?
I definitely would. In recent years, I haven't been able to kind of keep up with that just because of life and all the things. Um, but definitely keeping a sketchbook somewhere where you can see it, you know, if your day is busy and you keep a sketchbook, you know, on a table where you, you go past every day, you know, just kind of cuddling up on the couch at the end of a long day, watching a show or whatever, draw something in your living room. It doesn't have to be anything crazy, and you don't have to put too much pressure on it. No one has to even see it. But I think that the biggest thing is to kind of flex those muscles every single day.
Yeah. So when you do that yeah, exactly. When you do that and you have your sketchbook on the go and you're, you sit down on the couch and, and put something down on the paper, what is it that you do? Do you give yourself a, a quick challenge? Or do you look around the room and draw some, an object that you see? Or I'm, I'm just wondering for a practical tip. 'Cuz honestly I have my sketchbook sitting there, and sometimes my mind goes totally blank. And I think, you know, I'm an artist, I should know what to put in my sketchbook.
But I don't.
Yeah. Um, so I actually like, for me, I'm a portrait based artist. I've always loved making portraits. I actually practice making a face with no source image. And so I will try to create a realistic looking face without looking at anything. So, I'll say I'm gonna draw an old man. And then from there I start kind of with the nose, and I say, okay, he's gonna have a kind of interesting nose. And then I kind of work out from there. And then by the end of it, you have this face, and you say that could be someone.
So, it's, it's very, just kind of like go with the flow mentality. Like it doesn't always have to be a portrait. If you're a landscape artist, it could be, you know, let's, let's create something with a little bit of depth in it. Let's create something really intricate, like a leaf or, it could be anything, it could be a doodle. It doesn't have to be, you know, anything that you plan on using later, it, it might just be, like, something very simple. And from that you might actually decide, oh, I really like that. And I'm gonna work it into my paintings, or I'm gonna work it into my drawings.
And I love that you said you, you try to challenge yourself without the source image to copy. Because I think we often rely on what we see to duplicate what we see. And yet that right there tells me why this has been so key in stretching your creativity, is because you're, you are stretching your imagination and drawing from imagination.
In your daily practice. So... Yes. So, thank you for sharing that. Now, if there are artists listening today who, um, they see your work and think, okay, this is so for me, I really wanna go in the direction of, of Liz. They've already been practicing portraits, and they understand the principles of bold color, but they wanna start adding, uh, geometric shapes, and block your color, and elements. Where would they even begin to start?
I think they would start by getting over the fear of failure. Because I I've taught so many classes where, where we're, we're working on, you know, a kind of smaller for me, size canvas, and people just sit there and stare at it. And I say, you know, just put some color on. Just put anything on, put it on, and then you could always take it off again because you know, the, the wonder of acrylic paint is so forgiving. So, it dries so quickly, and you can change it. You can move it around so easily that I think people get kind of scared at, you know, the, the sacredness of the materials. Or, you know, that they cost so much. Or whatever it is. They don't wanna mess it up. And so, uh, that is a big hurdle for a lot of people is to just kind of go for it. And it's just like, you just have to kind of say, whatever happens is going to be great, and I can change it. I can take a step back, and I can come back to it later, fix it, whatever. But I think, yeah, the fear is a big thing for people.
Yeah. And do you, do you find that they go blank? Like just kind of not knowing what to do or, you know, they might have the idea of, I'd like to add a tree, or a road into this portrait. And they just don't know where to start. So, is that part of the experimenting process where they just have to start, like, just get over the fear and start painting it?
Just get over that hurdle.
Yeah, yeah. And see how you like it and, and what if you don't like it?
Then you paint over it, you know? And so, and consider it practice and consider it learning.
Exactly. It's not wasted time. It's not, you know, making mistakes is not a waste of time. It's a learning opportunity. It's like, you just have to kind of change that frame of mind. And I think that the hurdles, and the roadblocks that people often get when they're starting something totally new, is either they overplan it, and they don't give themselves kind of creative space to, to kind of see where it could evolve. Um, or they just, they just don't start. And they, or they use like too little paint 'cuz they're being too careful. And it's it. You just really have to kind of let yourself go into the work.
Right. Yeah. I like what you said there that you can, you can also over plan something, and you just don't give yourself a space to be creative and see where it evolves. I really, really like that. So, Liz, let's move now into hearing a little bit more about your life, and you are also, um, so tell us, tell us about your, your life and, and you mentioned in the beginning that you also paint murals. So, I really wanna hear about that too.
Yeah. Okay. So like a day in the life of Liz.
Um, my days are very, uh, varied, I guess. They're not ever the same. No two things happen the same, except for I pick my daughter up from school and I, I bring her to school and, and um, you know, I could be working on a graphic design project, could be making a beer label. I could be creating an illustration for a client. I could be going to scope out a mural site. I could be placing a paint order for one of our murals. Or I could be doing like solid admin all day long. Or, you know, I could be working on a painting commission, but in between that I've got my three year old at home, and we do snack time. We do play time. We do, you know, potty training. We do all this stuff. So it's very full. It's very, it's very kind of chaotic, but at the same time, like it's got it's uh, pretty predictability too. It's I always tell people, I'm trying to find a balance. I'm trying to find a balance and, and there is no balance. I don't know why I'm continuously trying to find it.
It's called a balance. It's -- this is one of my lines. I like to say, it's called balancing with an I N G. There's no such thing as balanced with the E D. It's just always balancing.
Yeah. And, and so you managed to have a quiet hour for the podcast today, so thank you very much for arranging that. I know it's tricky with young ones, but now is it true that both you and your husband, you are in the arts full time? Like this is your thing. This is what you guys do to support yourselves.
Yeah. So we, we were for awhile, and then when COVID came along, it was like, okay, like this isn't really working anymore. We cannot both be relying on unstable incomes. And so, uh, Dylan actually got into contracting, and so he owns his own kind of contracting business. Which works great because then when we are making our murals and planning that it's, we've got a flexibility to kind of work our schedules around it. And so, um, so he's doing that as well as music and uh, yeah. And then we're, we're painting murals.
Yes. Yes. Well, what, what I was really getting at and asking that question is letting the audience know how very incredibly talented this couple is. Because they're not only, um, amazing and strong in the visual arts, but, uh, Liz is also married to a musician, and, and so many creative talents are packed inside of you two as a couple. And you paint murals together. So, um, tell me about that.
So we painted, okay. We, before we were even together, it was university, and we had an opportunity to paint, uh, the side of an older hotel for it. It was like an Alice in Wonderland themed, uh, hotel renovation project that the university was putting on, uh, using the art students. And so we... Dylan had this, this big giant wall. It was middle of winter and, uh, it was outside and uh, I was like, well, I'll paint it with you. Like I'd always wanted to paint something so large, you know, like I, you know, canvases were big, but I just wanted to kind of challenge myself. And so, there we were like out in the middle of January painting this outdoor mural, and we were freezing, and didn't really understand latex paint and that it wouldn't actually dry if it was too cold. And, you know, we're using all these donated paints, and all these kind of Mitch, mix and match like colors and brands.
And, and so we ended up creating this mural, and we had so much fun. And uh, we were like, hey, we can, we could do this again. Like this is a thing to do. And, um, we, yeah, I don't know. Then we got together, and we ended up creating like six or seven more murals around the Okanagan and uh, yeah. And then after we got married, we didn't really make any murals for awhile. Um, but then it wasn't until kind of recent years where we, we just decided to turn it into like a viable business that, that was actually, you know, reaching clients and, and getting things done the right way and, and all this good stuff. So it, yeah, it's, it's been a lot of learning. Um, but we've, we've turned it into a business, and it's been incredible.
Well, I know that I have, have observed you both from Instagram and just knowing you through lots of mutual friends, and I've, we've, we've gotten to meet in person before, and I have just always admired your, your creativity, your ambition, and really the courage that, uh, both you and Dylan have within you as individuals and as a couple to step out and do these really amazing things that you tackle creatively. So, um, yeah, so I definitely am an admirer of your work and your heart, Liz Ranney.
I'm very thankful that you've been on the show today. So, in closing, do you have any last words that you want to leave our listeners, just as a, a piece of encouragement as they're pursuing their arts and learning to find their own style and creativity, um, what would you leave us with today?
I'd say don't be afraid and, uh, don't try to, you know, like be someone else's art, like you need to be your own art, and find your own voice. I think often people kind of think that, you know, someone else's business model is working, so we gotta do exactly what they're doing because they've been successful. And that's not, that's not always what people want. They want you to be yourself. They want you to express your own voice. And I think that's just so important. And, um, yeah, just have that courage to, to step out, like you're saying. Um, and yeah, it, we could never be employees again, I don't think. We, we're now that we're our own bosses, and we are, you know, living how we want to live and, and making, making our own art. It's just, it's incredibly fulfilling.
Yes. And it shows. It shows. Your work is incredible. Thank you so much for being on the Bold Artist podcast today. We look forward to seeing your work and lives progress as we follow you on Instagram. And I wanted to let all of our watchers and listeners know that Liz's links will be in the show notes. So, do check it out, and give her a follow, uh, check out Liz's work. You'll be amazed, and you'll be inspired and wanna dig into your own creativity. Until next time, keep creating.