Featured Artist: Malissa Ryder

Today I’m excited to be sharing the lovely work of another local artist! Malissa Ryder creates watercolor paintings that seem to glow on the paper. They appear exquisitely simply, but deceptively so. Malissa says of her own work that she is guided by the concept "simple form, complex color" and that sums it up perfectly. Malissa’s simple shapes become a world of color and textures upon closer observation.

Malissa received her BFA in painting from Rhode Island School of Design and spent many years afterwards living and working in New York City. She made her living in computer animation, graphic design and museum work. Now, she calls Athens home:

“The opportunities were wonderful in the city, but I could never make ends meet enough to really grow as an artist while living there, and that was one of the things that drew me to Athens, where, at the time, the cost of living was not as high, and space was more affordable.” - Malissa

Watercolor is Malissa’s chosen medium for several reasons. It offers opportunities for exploration and improvisation while also providing technical challenges. Malissa also wanted a medium that was biodegradable. Since watercolor, unlike other paints, does not have a plastic binder, it was a perfect choice.

Malissa finds inspiration all around, and most recently has been influenced by the colors and tones of winter. “The branches and plants have gone dormant, and the ground is coated with frost or ice in the  morning. You can see the hawks at work, and a wide variety of birds doing their thing, and they’re usually well hidden in summer and spring.”

When inspiration strikes, Malissa first loosens up by going outside. For her creative set up, she prefers to keep things simple and often limits her color palette. This lets her work quickly and experiment to flesh out her ideas. Working with speed has been a historical strategy for Malissa, who began her painting journey with the desire to “cover a lot of ground, and test and try things out kind of quickly”. At this stage, Malissa is excited to revisit past ideas to develop them further. She’s also looking to future growth in her work, as she finds herself drawn to the weavings of Anni Albers and other textile artists.

To stay abreast of Malissa’s journey, you can follow her on instagram @malissaryder and check out her website.