Summarizing one's story is difficult and intimidating.  The complexity of life makes it nearly impossible to adequately, fully express our experiences; much less the depth of our thoughts, lessons, sufferings, and joys gathered along the way.   Moreover, an honest account of these requires sharing our weaknesses as well as our strengths, which we are oft remiss to do.  Vulnerability comes at a high cost, as it opens us to potential criticism and rejection.   

 

And yet, it can be argued that it is only through honest sharing that we find real connection with each other.  Such connection, being necessary for life, is the best part of being alive.  

 

Artists speak in "tongues" and I believe that the call is to boldly  share for the edification and renewal of others.   The Apostle Paul makes it clear that we belong to a larger body in Christ.  It is through communion with one another that we find meaning in life.

 

 "Where one or two are gathered in my name..."

Baptism into the body of Christ as an infant is the center of my story.   It is his doing, his claim that renews me.  I did not even begin to understand the power of this work until twenty years later 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.   

 

How easy and predictable to search for meaning elsewhere!   

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.   I was determined to make a splash.

 

After my first year, 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.

It was in this same period that I came to an "end" of myself and woke to my need for salvation.  Self expression was not enough.   Relationships were not enough.  Family was not enough.  Ambition was not enough.  Meaning, ultimately, was to be 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.   

Soon after graduating, I went to work for Walt Disney Imagineering as an animator and conceptual artist.   Steering further away from animation, I focused on illustration, publishing, and comics strips.  

 

My creative 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 partnered with two others to create and develop a syndicated comic strip.  I also worked as a political cartoonist for The Santa Clarita Signal.   It has been a lot of fun and I've learned a ton.  I have never found runaway success, but IT DOES NOT MATTER (Click here to see hear Jordan Peterson explain WHY).

Like many creatives, I found it necessary to find steady income elsewhere.  I worked a starter job in the landscape industry which slowly grew into a sustainable, long term career in construction.  I was surprised to find that I enjoyed my work and I completed CSUN's program in landscape design.  This unexpected career enabled me to develop leadership and management skills in an entirely new and complex industry - as well as to provide for my lovely wife and our four children.  I am currently fortunate to serve as a division leader at one of California's largest landscape firms, Landscape Development, Inc.   

And, I still get to make art to share; now without the pressure of attempting to sell it.  I make art that interests me.   It remains a critical, exciting piece of my life's puzzle, one more evidence of God's redemptive power in my life.

Ryan Metlen

Galations 6:14

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