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On Life and Watercolor, Malissa Ryder Gives Us a Dose of Inspiration

You have to see these gorgeous paintings.

Malissa Ryder Watercolor

Livingly's Inspiring Artist series asks talented women of all creative mediums to share their work and how they live life beautifully.

Inspiring Artist: Ana Zaja Petrak

I first discovered Malissa Ryder's artwork on DesignLoveFest, where her featured watercolor paintings struck me as soft yet stunning. For me, they captured the essence of the ocean—I could feel the warm sunsets and quiet sea breezes radiating off the page. Her pieces also happen to be the kind of artwork that could fit seamlessly in any home with any decor. Unique and versatile for the win!

Last week, I had the pleasure of asking the lovely painter some questions about the art she makes, the risks she takes and how she lives a beautiful life.

How would you describe your paintings?

Right now I am really immersed in working in watercolor on paper. I love the feeling of being rooted in the more traditional technical aspects of the medium, while at the same time trying to push the technique's flexibility. I’m interested in how ultra-sensitively watercolor records what has happened on the page. It’s like a dance in a way.

Original Watercolor, Malissa Ryder

Do you have a favorite piece? What makes it special to you?

I think the pieces I’m really excited about currently, are the larger-scale works I’ve been making. I’ve heard watercolor described as driving without brakes, and it can really begin to feel more like that as you scale up! But it’s exhilarating to take risks with bigger pieces, and to commit to your mark-making whole-heartedly on larger sizes. I think that dynamic is emphasized in watercolor because once a mark is there, it’s there. You really can’t remove it. You just have to move forward and work with it.

Mirroring Greens, Malissa Ryder

Who or what inspires you?

So many things, and many people as well. Sometimes it’s music, or a single color. It might be the heat of the day, or what you see on a walk. Lately it’s been the sound of lots of cicadas and frogs and crickets in our neighborhood at night. It is the loudest chorus, and yet it is incredibly soothing.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Be yourself.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken?

I think that beginning to show and manage and sell my own artwork felt like a very risky, frightful thing. It still does actually, but I try to work through the insecurities and doubts that come up with that, and continue to make and put my work out there.

I’ve heard watercolor described as driving without brakes...once a mark is there, it’s there. You really can’t remove it. You just have to move forward and work with it.

–Malissa Ryder

Where is your favorite place in the world?

I love to be outside. And I especially love to be walking outside.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Listen to your heart,” by Roxette and “If you think small things don’t make a difference, try spending a night in a room with a mosquito!” from the Dalai Lama.

Magenta Fade Watercolor, Malissa Ryder

What does living beautifully mean to you?

This makes me think of another quote, also from the Dalai Lama, that says “If you want to make someone happy, practice compassion. If you want to make yourself happy, practice compassion.” I think this could lead to a beautiful life.

Malissa Ryder
Malissa Ryder

Shop Malissa Ryder's paintings here