Art: from passion to profession


For the sixth time this week, Ryan Thomas-Palmer steps into the art studio she gave up half her room for. While it had once been U-shaped, last Christmas, Thomas-Palmer and her dad split it down the middle to build an in-house art studio.
Getting proportions to look natural and hair to look frizzy is now part of Thomas-Palmer’s daily routine, but things weren’t always that way.
“I actually refused to draw up until I was four, because I couldn’t color into the lines.”
She may have started her artistic career a little late, but Thomas-Palmer quickly made up for lost time, drawing twice a week until two years ago, when she decided she wanted to pursue art as more than a hobby.
“Last year, I started selling things because I got into an adult art fair.” Thomas-Palmer said “It was like a full day thing. You just sit with your art and people can come and buy it.”
Since then, Thomas-Palmer’s business has only expanded.
“I’m doing the same art fair this year, and in between that time, I’ve gotten a bunch of commissions.”
Among others, Thomas-Palmer has been commissioned to draw her babysitters horse, family portraits as gifts, and even a scrapbook. As she begins to sell more and more of her work, she finds herself transitioning away from drawing people she finds on the internet and towards pictures of family members\; in fact, her favorite piece is of her cousin.
“My sister took the picture,” Thomas-Palmer said. “It’s of my nine-year old second cousin when he had s’mores all over his face, and he was wrinkling his nose.”
Every artist has a different process of finding inspiration; conveniently, Thomas-Palmer’s is hand-held.
“Before I start drawing, I usually look at a bunch of pictures of art on Instagram, so that motivates me to draw better.”
Initially, the pictures make her feel like her drawings were awful in comparison, but by the time she’s finished with her piece, she aims to have made something better than what she used as inspiration. Thomas-Palmer sees herself as driven by competition in other aspects of her life as well.
“I don’t want approval, but I want to make other people proud of what I did”
Artistically inclined friends and an artistic family are important parts of both Thomas-Palmer’s support system and her artistic process. She often does drawings of her dad and sister’s photography, whose tight, detailed portraits allow her to focus on the nuances.
“It’s about how much you can put into one piece of paper, and making it look as real as a picture.”
Thomas-Palmer plans to study art in college and eventually make a living off of her work, but the details are still a little fuzzy.
“I have no idea how I’m going to yet,” Thomas-Palmer said with a laugh.
Her future plans may not be ironed out, but that’s part of the reason she draws in the first place.
“It kind of takes you away from your problems.” Thomas-Palmer said, “You don’t have to think about anything else other than drawing.”