Ryan Callis Art

This is the blog where I talk about the context of each piece I make. It's affiliated with LOOKUPGOSPELCHOIR.COM, which is my blog about super rad stuff. RYANCALLISART.TUMBLR.COM is where I have art, art, and more art that I have made.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I am stoked on this piece.  It's old, but worth re looking at and writing about (to me).
The hikers are from a Maynord Dixon painting (reproduction thereof) who is to me the quintessential “California” painter as much as William Wendt or Karl Benjamin are.  The trail leads them to my Zion, The Big Picture.
That is all of the decoding that I will do.  Me story, es su story.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I call this painting "Tower Of Power".  I really like how the colors play off and with each other.  It started off as a call and response situation where I began with the under painting filling in the letters "Be Rad" which I hand wrote on the canvas.  In filling them in with paint, they made forms which then called the next move, and the next move, and the next move.  And the thing just happened by movement of the Spirit.

I was digging out on some Albert Ayler "Heart Love" action during the making of this. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015



This piece that I titled "Ah Um" based on the classic Mingus record was made by essentially writing the words AH and UM on the canvas and then building an image out of that framework using colors and shapes and colors and shapes.  But in researching a bit I ran across Lake Michigan having never heard of it existing.  A metaphor for my find of design giant S. Neil Fujita, who somehow had gone over my radar for all these years.  His work I know, and I own some of it, and invented things I've taken for granted for years, like the Columbia Records logo and pressing sticker designs on many of my records.  The freaking Godfather cover and puppeteer hand logo.  Daaamn.  And that Mingus was no slouch himself.  

But back to the painting.  It's not my favorite, but it led to some cool discoveries as my art making usually does.








The Fist Fight, oil and acrylic on canvas, 24” x 36”, 2012/2015

Fist fights are super interesting to me in that when applied well, a punch can possess phenomenal energy, or can look super silly when done by inexperienced people in rapid motion.  I once saw two cholo's in high school, whoop a rival gang members ass in such graceful and quick flow, that it looked like dancing.  I also like the old Jack Dempsy type of 30's, bad motion picture camera work type of fast boxing footage.  I tried to capture that motion.  

The second aspect of the piece that I like, or find humor or interest in, is that the figures, which seem and look male, look like they could be kissing.  I have oft found it humorous how super homo erotic, two tough guys, face to face, and then eventually "getting physical" do the same dance and ritual as mating animals.  That MMA, Pro Wrestling, and just plain fighting, are the pastimes of so many macho, hetero, tough guys, is very ironic to me.  I think it's all...well....kind of gay (not that there's anything wrong with that!!!).  

But aesthetically I like the idea of old Tom Waits song type, smokey, boozy, boxing halls.  That's where this painting is birthed, and then phychedilicized.  That would have been cool to watch I suppose.  Or goofy 60's pro wrestling, or remember the GLOW girls when we were kids???  But I digress....



Living out in the desert his year has yielded some really nice visual experiences.  This piece (above) was inspired by looking out off of the vista view point on Hwy. 74 half way up the mountain from Palm Desert.  Over our year out here I now feel as though I get it, I get the whole draw of the desert landscape and the super trippy atmosphere and vibrations of being one of very few living things in a moon landscape.  Huge skies...

Agnes Martin, Richard Tuttle, and of course , the O'Keefer among many have sung the desert draw...


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Geoff McFetridge made this for a Patagonia store the year.  Fully functional surf mobile.  So rad....


Monday, March 17, 2014

Another paper work from my series on the Dan Carlin podcast I listened to about WWI...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I'll start posting these pieces.  They were made while listening to a really intense podcast on WWI and the ramifications of an old world European mindset facing the modern insanity of the German army.  In short, these Russian or French soldiers would run onto the battle field, en masse, wearing old fashioned decorative uniforms, and marching in order, and would get mowed down by German field guns.  These old world armies were fighting in a style that Napolean would have used 100 years before.  More French soldiers died in the first two days of war, then Americans died in the entirety of the Vietnam war.  Whaaaaa?????  Dan Carlin's Hardcore History….

This piece is 10" x 14", oil and acrylic on Arches watercolor paper.  I dig how the soldier, with calm French cool, is looking at his new ventilated skull….

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I was thinking about Plato's cave after this all began to come together.  I was/am also looking at a lot of Van Gogh right now, and I think he looks a lot like me.  So one of these figures is me, the other might be Vincy.  The image outside of the cave is that enlightening answer to it all:  It's OK!!!  Jesus has our back suckas….

9" x 12", oil, acrylic, and collage on canvas board, 2014

This is a portrait of a friend(s) holding his/her baby.  It's an over head view of this person lying down on a striped picnic blanket.  The baby is abstracted and made of forms that were generated by breaking down Zelda's name into it's per letter, numeric value, and then letting the system build the figure.

I think it turned out weird and awesome.  Lance kept warning me about the red Chuck Taylors at the top of the piece, but I met this couple in college, in our Chuck phase of life, so it made sense.

It's on linen, which was also cool, 3' x 4', oil and acrylic, 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Don't Waste Time"
12" x 9", acrylic and oil, on Arches watercolor paper, 2014
"Slacking", 9" x 12", oil and acrylic on canvas, 2014

If you grew up in the 80's and 90's you will remember the 90's.  A rehash of 60's distrust and youthful culture mixed with a healthy dose of Seattle-ness and corporate "college rock" made us a nation of "whatever" heads.  Slacking is a look back for me.  Kids these days take their ability to slack for granted.  90's kids refined and defined it…..  Greatness was no longer the goal of young people, ambition, excellence,,,,,whatever.  Remember Reality Bites?  Remember MTV when it was rad.  Remember sitting for hours doing nothing at the mall?  I do.

Oh and Slacking is my inside joke, since "slackin'" would be the slackier way to spell it…..

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pharcyde's question for the ages…...
I sketched this lady out of a Giotto painting (she was an angel) and she looked like she was hanging 10 so voila.  Super post modern.  I have been obsessed with Giotto lately and so should you…..be…...
"Ring The Alarm", 24" x 36", oil and acrylic on canvas, 2014

This painting is my third in a series of self portraits based on characters out of P.D. Eastman books.  The characters I chose shared characteristics that I right away vibed with.  This fella was named angry Mr. Parker.  I have sort of an anger problem, my grandpa was an angry man named Parker, and I love that he is angrily, and violently ringing the church bell.  My work is totally about ringing the church bell, but sometimes I have a crappy attitude about opening my self to God...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dawn Patrol, 24" x 24", oil and acrylic on canvas, 2014

Oldy but goody that I finally photographed...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


“13th Floor Elevator”, 24″ x 36″, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2014

I was listening to them a bunch while making this, and then BAM, I realize there are 13 green triangles, so from there I counted down, 12 stripes, 11 stripes, 10 stripes, etc. etc. down to two orange corners, one gold dot in the middle, FINI.  Count down from 13.  It's my own nerdly satisfaction...

Friday, February 7, 2014

This is a shot of my work in this house….

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

So's I used to do's graffiti.  I wrote on all kinds of things.  I found these a few days ago.  A few pics from those days.  I really miss writing.  It was a ton of fun.  I got to paint in some great places with some great folks.  Trains were the best, and San Francisco in 99-2000, at night, mmmmmmm.

These were more 03-05, Tijuana, Los Angeles, and Long Beach, with my brother, or Chue,  or all by my lonesies….yo.




Thursday, January 30, 2014

Friends, Family, Lookers On, Latchers On!!!!

If you’ve ever wanted to own a Ryan Callis original piece of art, HERE’S YOUR CHANCE!

My good friend Mike Wunderley is getting married and his bachelor party is upcoming.  
It is very important to me that I go and celebrate Mike’s wise decision to marry Ruth.
He’s an awesome dude, who has been a good buddy for many years now, so I’ve gotz to make this happen...I love this guy.

But I made the financial mistake of having many kids and pursuing the visual arts for a living so I need to fundraise in order to be able to make this bachelor weekend.

So I propose that I will sell any painting on my website, for the price of the trip which is $250.  That’s right folks, any painting, any size, a meeeeezly $250.  Visit www.lookupgospelchoir.com and prowl and see what grabs your eyeballs.

I want you to look at Miike’s face in that photo, and imagine him not having me at his bachelor celebration……..As a bonus gift, we’ll make the purchaser an original piece of art, on location in Catalina…..