A Painting Retrospective

Art Acrylic Painting

A look at most of my acrylic paintings in reverse chronological order.

Ryan McShane https://ryanmcshane.com


I felt called to make this painting. It didn’t turn out how I expected, but my appreciation is growing for it. I painted three layers, mixing all of the paints directly on the canvas.

A Study in Purple: 9-8-2023

Figure 1: A Study in Purple: 9-8-2023

Here’s a close-up showing some texture.

A Study in Purple: 9-8-2023

Figure 2: A Study in Purple: 9-8-2023


One of my Christmas presents was a course with Lynne Adams (lynneadamsart.com). We each recreated the same painting of hers with her guidance over five in-person meetings. I felt like I learned a lot from her at this workshop. In particular, it led me to think about randomness in art – this led to a set of generative art I made last December.

Lynne Adams Replication: March 2022

Figure 3: Lynne Adams Replication: March 2022

Here’s the reference painting by Lynne Adams. She painted it on the spot – in oil. It’s a painting of one of our favorite hiking spots: Amethyst Brook. We spotted her work at a local art show, and while we didn’t feel like we could afford one of her paintings (which we really liked), we liked the idea of painting one for ourselves. You get what you pay for!

Lynne Adams Original: Date Unknown

Figure 4: Lynne Adams Original: Date Unknown

And, in preparation for this painting class, I cracked open a book I had been meaning to work from, Artist’s Painting Techniques, which I picked up at Anderson’s Bookshop. The instructions demonstrated how to paint with white and primary color (paints) only. It also felt appropriate to finally do a fruit still (even if I wasn’t actually looking at fruit).

A Study in Primary Colors: Fruit Still

Figure 5: A Study in Primary Colors: Fruit Still


One of my Amherst College colleagues, Hahyung Kim, put on an a series of events for the College community where she brought paint and canvases and let everyone paint for two hours. Knowing I had very little time, I put each of the two paintings together in about two hours. The painting on the right was the first time I tried to mix paint entirely on the canvas. These were my first paintings in ten years!

Abstract Quickies: July 2021

Figure 6: Abstract Quickies: July 2021


I never finished this painting – I had intended to cover it in colorful circles and outline the geometric doodle in white. I still have a mock-up on an old computer somewhere, but now it feels wrong to finish it.

Unfinished Doodle: late Summer 2011

Figure 7: Unfinished Doodle: late Summer 2011

After leaving my first teaching position, I found myself with unexpected free time. This was my first time painting since high school, which seemed like an eternity at the time. This turned out nothing like I envisioned it as, but I might like it more. I used acrylics as watercolor, initially, then used undiluted acrylics.

Abstraction: early Summer 2011

Figure 8: Abstraction: early Summer 2011


I’m not actually sure when I painted this – maybe in 2011? But it came from a perspective drawing assignment when I was taking Art II. The painting was not part of the assignment.

Perspective in Blue: 2003 and 2011

Figure 9: Perspective in Blue: 2003 and 2011

When I think of paintings that are “mine,” this is almost always the first one I think of. It was my very first foray into acrylic painting. I set out to replicate the cover art from a band I liked at the time, maybe because I thought the cover might be easy to do? It looked like there wasn’t a lot of variation in color. I was really nervous about the whole process and estimate that I spent 40 to 70 hours on the painting. I spent many hours just staring at the canvas, thinking about what I should do next. I think I used a burned CD as my palette, and I still have it somewhere. I chose not to add her piercings, partially out of fear and partially because I simply didn’t like them on her.

My art teacher picked a few of us to go to a local art competition. The judge that spoke to me liked what she saw, “it looks like the color just melts into the background.” But then she found out that I had used a reference image (which I had taped to the back of my painting, along with a description of my work… she must not have read it). That judging experience had a lasting effect on me.

I’ve never tried as hard on painting since then; all of my other work has been completed in a matter of 1 to 8 hours.

Godsmack Cover Replication: 2003

Figure 10: Godsmack Cover Replication: 2003

Godsmack CD Cover: 1998

Figure 11: Godsmack CD Cover: 1998