Ryan Brown

Lawrence, Kansas

I attend Free State High School, where I primarily take video classes due to my interest in creating short videos. I am completely self-taught. I have never been formally trained and haven’t taken a drawing or painting class at my high school. I love to create art with different mediums, but I was hesitant to try painting. I’m so glad that I gave it a shot.

Shea Butter is a critical staple in the Black Community. We use it to protect our hair and enrich our skin that comes in so many different beautiful shades. Shea butter is something that holds the Black experience together. The paintings that I have created are an ode to the Black Community. I want to show the rawness of different skin tones across different people in the portraits, therefore conveying a powerful tone through each painting. Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of Black representation in art and artists. Being able to showcase the large range of diversity in my people through my craft is incredibly empowering.

My work is primarily acrylic. I use light brushstrokes and blend with my fingers to create a smoother look. This helps me to create the structure of their faces. Black people come in all different shades and hues. I showcase this through the use of different color palettes. This is essential to the aesthetic of each painting. My inspiration for my work is the beautiful Black bodies that I find on social media platforms and magazines. I look for people with striking features that I can fuse together with my own ideas. When I find someone that inspires me, I draw them by hand onto my canvas and then paint it shortly after.