Artist Grace Leigh Ryser On Why Creativity Is So Hard For Adults — And How You Can Change That

Artist Grace Leigh Ryser On Why Creativity Is So Hard For Adults — And How You Can Change That

When artist Grace Leigh Ryser teaches an art class, she will often ask her students to paint without painting something, to not have an objective, to just put brush to paper. It’s really hard for adults. They come back with paintings of bushes, dogs or buildings — missing the point of the exercise.

“Creating artwork is so stressful for a lot of people, mostly beginners,” Grace said. “But what I try to get them to do is to kind of let go of the expectation.”

An Artist’s Journey

Maybe letting go of expectation seems easy enough for someone like Grace. She began art at a young age, before she was old enough to look at her neighbor’s paper and think it was more artful than her own. She grew up learning pastels in her cousin’s basement and tagging along to her older sister’s painting classes and she just kept doing art because it simply “stuck.” Eventually, she recieved a Bachelor of Fine Art in Drawing and Painting from Utah State University. Today she creates travel art and portraits.

The art she creates has a style that’s all her own. Browse her website or scroll through her Instagram and you’ll see ripped drawings augmenting exotic locations, portraits created with larger-than-life colors, and mixtures of invention and reality that make the real surreal.

While the paintings of bright purple faces and cutouts of mermaid tails photographed over girls in pools seem like the work of someone who doesn’t conform to expectation, even Grace isn’t immune to the expectations she teaches her students to overcome. 

Instagram/courtesy of Grace Leigh Ryser

Overcoming Challenges

When asked what was challenging about her work, she said, “The hardest part is making money off of what you really want to do.” But Grace believes that expecting money is one of those objectives that can be damaging. For herself, she chooses to focus on the process: doing something she loves, and has the faith to allow money to come secondary. Grace said, “I choose to believe that money and abundance come to me easily by doing what I love and enjoying what makes me happy.”

For Grace, the process of choosing to overcome expectation is ongoing, but she hopes to help others join her on that journey. Grace wrote, “I’ve spent the last few years in emotional, spiritual, and overall self-exploration and have found an enormous amount of peace. I want to help others find the same. So I turn to my love for art and creativity to help share messages of hope, healing and love.”

The artist uses social media to distribute these messages and help others find this peace. She said, “I create artwork with concepts I believe that I think promote healing and enlightenment and awareness.” of Grace Leigh Ryser

Believing in Wholeness

For example, while learning to be accepting of her imperfections, Grace created a series of paintings. One was titled, “I Simply Am.” As Grace describes it, “It’s just a portrait of me sitting on the ground.” The purpose was to express that we don’t have to wait for some future moment to be whole. “I created that piece with the concept that I simply am. I am whole and complete in this moment.” Creating it was a process of accepting that truth.

Even though her result was beautiful, Grace genuinely believes that the result isn’t the point of creation. She said, “The point for me isn’t the outcome. The point is to create and see what comes of it. The point is to put yourself in something.”

And that’s what Grace wants her art students to see: that not only is art about the process of creation, but so is life. She wants her students to believe that satisfaction isn’t found as much in the expectation of achievement but in the process of creating that achievement.

grace leigh ryser with nomatic bag in iceland

So much of Grace’s art is created on the move, traveling around the world. To carry everything she needs and to keep all her supplies organized, Grace uses the NOMATIC travel bag.

At NOMATIC, we celebrate Movers & Makers like Grace who are living LIFE ON THE MOVE. To find the most functional gear to help you live your life on the move, check us out at