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06 Jul 2022

Local artist turns passion into business over lockdown  

“Most people who knew me wouldn’t have known that I painted in my spare time, so I think people were surprised” 

Local artist turns passion into business over lockdown  

Art teacher, Ryan Coyle, found the confidence during lockdown to share his art with the world

Ryan Coyle, an art teacher at Saint Patrick’s and Saint Brigid’s College in Claudy, found the confidence during lockdown to share his art with the world. 

Since then, he has received commissions near and far and is fully booked for the coming months.  

Ryan, who moved to Strabane from Derry with his parents when he was three weeks old, always liked drawing as a child but wouldn't say that it was his main hobby, “I'm sure the others that were in my in class at school would say that I was decent at art but I would not have stood out as someone with a particular talent,” he said. 

“Drawing was my thing. Painting was something I completely avoided - I had no confidence in it. Nowadays, it's become the only medium I work in. I love it.  

“I think I developed my painting through the little bits and pieces I was doing with my students from day to day. The first proper piece I did was the portrait of Seamus Heaney. That was around six years ago. Since then, painting has become a real passion for me.” 

Ryan’s wife, Roisin, has always pushed him to share his work on social media. Over the first lockdown, Ryan finally gave in. 

He said: “I was so nervous putting the first piece up but I was completely overwhelmed by the response I received.  

“Most people who knew me wouldn’t have known that I painted in my spare time, so I think people were surprised to start with.  

“People started asking me to do prints of the portraits of Jack Charlton, John Hume and Samuel Beckett, and so I did.  

“Then others would ask me to do paintings for them and that has grown into what I do today.”  

Ryan’s love for portraiture began when, at a young age, he saw Van Gogh’s ‘Postman, Joseph Roulin.’  

The 40-year-old's love of portraits snowballed from then on and now it is what he enjoys painting the most, with a particular love for painting people of interest from the island.  

“In my work, I am normally trying to promote a shared view of our community – portraying people we should all be able to celebrate regardless of background,” he said. 

“When painting someone’s portrait I need to feel that the image captures something of that person's personality as I see it.   

“Recently, I have been commissioned to do a few landscapes which I have also enjoyed but the portraits seem to come more naturally to me. 

“I would say producing art has only really become a career goal in the last 12-18 months. I never would have thought that anyone would have been interested in having my work on their wall and I am really grateful to everyone who has invested in it.  

“I do think it will always be something I will do on the side though. I enjoy working with the students in school and I think I’d find it difficult to leave that behind.” 

Ryan’s most recent commission - to paint the late John Hume for a customer in Spain - was a special moment for him, “I was over the moon to have been asked to work on this specific piece.  

Ryan recently completed a painting of the late John Hume

“It's the second time I've painted him. I came across this image a while back and I was eager to paint it as soon as I saw it.  

“I was delighted when my client chose this as the image she wanted. John Hume was a true great. What he did for the people of Derry is immeasurable and he is loved across our community.  

“I recently passed a few prints of this piece to some of the Hume family. It is very rewarding to know that they have got my paintings of him in their homes and that makes it all very worthwhile to me.” 

Ryan is currently loving the balance between producing his art and working as an art teacher. The ex St Columb’s student has a young family and is extremely busy between work and home.  

He added: “At the minute I am absolutely loving it. I am reluctant to take on too much as I would never want my art to become a burden. I am in a lovely position in not having to rely on it - I can let it evolve organically.”  

To keep up to date with Ryan’s work you can follow his Facebook page: 'Ryan Coyle Fine Art’ or his Instagram: 'ryancoylefineart’ 

Ryan can be contacted on either of these two platforms or at ryancoyleart@outlook.com 

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