STORY

Baptism into the body of Christ is the center of my identity.   It is his claim that renews and uplifts.  I did not begin to comprehend the power of this work until I was almost twenty years old when  -at art school of all places  - I came into my first meaningful acceptance of God's gift through faith in Jesus.  The revelation of grace illuminated life's purpose and it has been a winding road of reconciliation ever since.

Art remains integral in the process of accepting and wrestling with the reality of being unconditionally and lovingly adopted into the family of God.   

We all look for meaning in life.  It was this search, coupled with a love for art, which originally drove me into the library in high school to pour over books on Picasso, Matisse, and the like.   Inspired, I worked hard to create a portfolio that would earn me entry into CalArts, a place where rich, creative exploration was encouraged and revered.   CalArts also boasted impressive alumni, multi-disciplinary opportunities, and connection to creative industry. 

 

A year in, I became disenchanted with the repetitive nature of animation.   I discovered that painting and drawing, with their immediacy, were my real passion.

 

Three teachers profoundly influenced my development as a young artist: Eva Roberts, Cornelius Cole, and E. Michael Mitchell.   Mike was the key mentor and much of what I understand about art is colored by his input.  His life drawing class, where I learned to value and trust my own eye, was the best attended course in the school because of his ability to discover and nurture honest voices in young people.  After graduating with my BFA in 1999, my first job was assisting Mike in class; it was a great experience.

Mike's work was as nuanced and intuitive as his teaching method.

It was in this same period that I woke to my need of salvation.  Self expression was not enough.   Relationships were not enough.  Ambition was not enough.  Through the word and the love of others, I discovered that meaning was ultimately found in relationship with the living God through faith in Jesus.  The abstract potentiality of God was transformed into a knowable presence through faith.  In him, I found peace I had never previously known.  This epiphany,  which is ongoing, is intellectual, spiritual, and relational in nature.    

I interned twice with Walt Disney Imagineering and following graduation went to work for them as an animator and conceptual artist for a year.    It was excellent experience, though corporate-wide lay-offs and a national recession changed my career arc.  Even as I focused my artistic efforts on freelance illustration,  book publishing, and comics strips, I found my way to the landscape industry.  

What started as a "job that I planned to quit"  slowly grew into a sustainable, long term career.  I was surprised to find that I enjoyed my work and I completed CSUN's program in Landscape Design.  This unexpected pathway led me to leadership and management opportunities in an entirely new and complex arena- as well as allowing me to provide for my family.  I am currently fortunate to serve as a division leader at one of California's largest landscape firms, Landscape Development, Inc.  As of 2020, I am enrolled at California Lutheran University's MBA program., where I am working to enhance my leadership and business acumen. 

My freelance clients include The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Honda Center, Spinmaster Toys, and the Anaheim Ducks.  Two of my books are published and remain in print.  I developed a syndicated comic strip and also worked as a political cartoonist for The Santa Clarita Signal.   I have never found runaway success, but IT DOES NOT MATTER (Click here to see hear Jordan Peterson explain WHY).  

 

Art remains a critical, exciting piece of my life's puzzle; one more evidence of God's redemptive power in my life.   My great hope is that you will be encouraged in your own journey through engagement with this site.

Ryan Metlen

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Galations 6:14

The complexity of our lives makes it nearly impossible to adequately, fully give expression to our experience; much less the depth of our thoughts, lessons, sufferings, and joys gathered along the way.  Moreover, an honest account of these will inevitably include our disappointments and struggles.  To a large extent the way we interpret the past and define our ongoing narrative does have power in determining what we become.   Vulnerability in assessing our lives comes at a high cost (it opens us to the potential criticism and rejection)  and yet, it can be argued that it is only through transparent communication that we find real connection with one another.  

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