Beyond the Easel: A Look at an Inspiring Artist's Life

We paid a visit to artist Ron Medley's Brooklyn studio to discuss the role that painting plays in his life and how he came to pick his paint brush again after years spent pursuing a career as a lawyer.

Read Ron's inspiring story from the January 2018 issue of Guideposts!

Hi Guideposts. My name is Ron Medley; welcome to my apartment-slash-studio in beautiful downtown Brooklyn.

I have been a lifelong artist, starting from a very young age. In fact, there's at least one drawing I did as a five-year-old that's hanging on my refrigerator right now. I was given a lot of encouragement when I was in elementary school by a very young teacher by the name of Judith Weiner.

I kept at it until I went to law school and learned to become a lawyer and kind of put my pencils and pastels away for quite a bit of time, till I got to the point where I felt comfortable professionally and didn't have quite the same degree of anxiety that I has as a younger man. I started asking around in terms of other people who were artists, how they did their work.

I began by painting members of my family, and that began because I would use family photographs as a model. So many of them were in black-and-white, photgraphs taken in the fifties that I kind of enjoyed imagining what they must have looked like in color gave me some good practice in the color palette, in tone, how light affects the way that colors look. Trying to imagine what that transformation was like from black-and-white to color, that was a lot of fun.

I don't think I have anything that I wouldn't try at this point; I'm getting a little more courageous, I think. It's a way for me to explore creation; you know, there were so many questions I had as a child about what is the earth and those things that roam across it. I had lots of pets. My parents were very indulgent; they let me have a virtual menagerie as I was growing up.

I'm curious about things, and painting was one way, especially in terms of human beings, of exploring my curiosity about people without being too intrusive. [chuckles]

What would my advice be to aspiring artists? My first advice would be not to be hard on yourself; whatever you can put down on paper or canvas, at that moment it's perfect. You can always go back to the same subject over and over and over again; all the great artists did. Don't be afraid to be boring. [chuckles]

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