Arts and Entertainment

Wild art: What’s next for animal-inspired Valley artist Marcia Tuttle Ryon?

Courtesy images Animal art seems to come alive in the hands of North Bend artist Marcia Tuttle Ryon, who painted “Lion Heart,” above, inspired by a trip to Africa, and “Trust,”
Courtesy images Animal art seems to come alive in the hands of North Bend artist Marcia Tuttle Ryon, who painted “Lion Heart,” above, inspired by a trip to Africa, and “Trust,” 'Kudu the Great, below.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

For half a year, Marcia Tuttle Ryon’s dignified big cats, African wildlife and city scenes have graced Boxley’s jazz club in North Bend. This month, the North Bend artist wrapped up the long-running show, to get ready for her next act.

She’s had one of the longest-running solo shows at the club, putting up 35 works including animal portraits inspired by her 2008 African visit and watercolors inspired by trips to Italy, France and Czechoslovakia.

Her works looked at home in the club, says Marcia. And with her paintings there, the club also felt like home to her.

“Everything fits together,” Marcia said.

Art is Marcia’s second career. After a successful 33-year career teaching elementary school and a second career as a classical pianist, composer and teacher, in 2003, Marcia decided to take her life in another direction.

“I always knew I could do some art,” she said. “But I didn’t have time.”

When she took a watercolor class, painting was a life-changing discovery.

“It just burst open,” she said of her interest.

She studied and painted still-lifes and landscapes, doing what the teacher said. It was when she painted animals—two dogs peeking out of a pickup—that things really clicked. Marcia had found her passion.

When she paints an animal, “It’s not like painting a landscape, or a still-life,” she says. Connecting, looking into her creation’s eyes, she’s drawn to bring the animal out of the paper.

“They talk to me when I paint them,” she says. “I try to bring out the personality.”

What’s next

Now, with her animals and street scenes coming down, Marcia turns to her next projects.

In April, she’ll help judge the student offerings in the Mount Si High School art show.

But first, she’ll continue a three-year tradition at Encompass, as the school’s artist in residence.

Marcia gets a charge out of working with young people, something she’s felt her whole life, and missed in retirement.

“They’re funny, they’re sweet, they’re innocent,” says Marcia, who gets a kick out of being involved in the learning process.

She intricately plans the Encompass lessons, which challenge her 3- and 4-year-old students to make bigger art than they’ve yet attempted.

In past years, students have crafted Marcia’s signature African wildlife, such as paper lions and giraffes. Her three-day project this year focuses on elephants.

“Every kid brings their own personality and ability,” says Marcia, who this month will help them make their own take on the animal, in different colors, with paint and paper.

The final efforts go up for display at the school’s Art Walk, held in the spring. Marcia will be there, exploring with students and parents.

“We’ll meet and smile over our wonderful project that came true.”

• You can learn more about Marcia Ryon’s artistic work at


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