Watercolor expert, North Carolina native, and former free-lance travel photographer, Ryan Fox transforms his years spent behind a camera into color-radiating works of art. Better than any post card you’ll ever receive (or send), his work sprinkles a sort of magical dust over landmarks well-known and non from around the world. His multi-step process and manipulation of the tricky liquid that is watercolor paint leaves us with works evoking a feeling well-known to avid travelers — wonder. Meet this week’s Artist You Need to Know.

Plaza de Armas Morise, Cusco, Peru. (Sacred Valley, Cusco, Peru). 22" x 18"

Plaza de Armas Moonrise, Cusco, Peru. (Sacred Valley, Cusco, Peru). 22″ x 18″

Why do you do what you do?
R: Each painting is a challenge- a puzzle.  What elements do I have to include to make it a successful painting?  Which colors will make this a good painting?  As an artist, I enjoy the limitless options you are presented with to create a good painting.  This inspires me to create art every day.  I always want to make a better painting- the perfect painting.

Luckily, this will never happen.  But I can hope. 🙂

How long have you been creating art and what was your path to becoming an artist like?
I have always been an artist. I received a BFA in art.  I always took drawing classes. However, I was a photographer for a decade and did not paint.  I returned to painting in 2011.  I always dealt with composition as a photographer.  I could draw.  Learning to paint became my new focus.  It took nearly two years of reading and studying other artists’ works before I began to paint.

What is your preferred medium to work in and why?
I love watercolor because of the difficulty and surprises.  With watercolor, you are always on the verge of ruining a painting.   I enjoy the ying-yang of being in control/out of control.
Have you traveled to all the places that appear in your works?
Yes.  I was a freelance travel photographer for a decade.

We know your work is layered. Walk us through what goes into creating a single piece?

Composition is the most important element.  Once I select my photographic reference I add/manipulate/modify the image until I have a good composition.  The next steps depend on technique.  With pouring and batik watercolors, you have to preserve your values as you slowly build up your darks.  When I create poured or batik watercolors, I often use as little as 5 layers, or as much as 20.  Some paintings take a day.  Others take a week.

Watch the Process Unfold

Would you agree that making art is a “labor of love”, why or why not?
R: Art is work.  It is labor- especially on those days when you create rubbish.  However, I love to do it.


What do you think is one of the most difficult challenges artists face in pursuing art as a career?
R: The difficulty is not creating the painting.  Selling the painting is the difficult part.  Every painting has a buyer.  Finding the right buyer for the painting is the challenge- one that is remarkably easier with the internet.  Instead of  traditional galleries where only a few hundred people might see a painting, sites like Vango allow thousands to view artwork at a touch of a button.


Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what would we catch you listening to?
R: This will surprise you-  either spanish rock n’ roll or German punk rock.  I understand spanish.  I don’t understand German (but I can pretend). I like listening to songs I do not hear on the radio.


What are you working on now?
R: I have several upcoming watercolor workshops in September.  There is nothing worse than embarrassing yourself in front of an audience.   I  usually paint 3-4 paintings in the same technique I teach prior to the workshop.  This month I am working on more poured & mouth atomized watercolor paintings.

What’s the most surprising aspect of being an artist (that people may not expect)?
R: Being a painter is easier than being a photographer.  I do not have to sit in the rain for an hour hoping the sun will appear for a few moments.  I can take a boring photograph and use it as the reference for a (hopefully) amazing painting.


A Glimpse at Ryan’s Art

cambodian painting

Cambodia Ruin Sunset, 10″ x 14″, watercolor on paper.

stonehenge, england painting

Stonehenge ruins at sunset – England, 15″ x 11″, watercolor on paper.

tunisian men

Tunisian Carpet Vendors- Douz, Tunisia. 15″ x 11″, watercolor on paper.

mexican village painting

Waiting for the Light- Guananjauto, Mexico, 11″ x 15″, watercolor on paper.

Watercolor batik painting on rice paper of ruined Roman temple at

Roman Temple – Tunisia, 9″ x 12″, watercolor on paper.

Want too see more from Ryan? See his full portfolio of worldwide watercolors here.

Stay in touch and see Ryan’s new work first😎

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