It all started with a photograph, says Ryan Tannascoli, referring to this week's CityBeat cover art.
'It was photographed by Nick Cunningham, who is a local photographer here in San Diego,' he says.
Using a photograph as a basis, Tannascoli then used blind contour drawing to develop his painting, explaining that the technique forces artists to truly focus on a subject. In Tannascoli's hands, the sketches multiplied and became the pieces he later used to create the oil-based painting, Kris. The namesake portrait is of Tannascoli's friend, musician Kristofer Towne of the San Diego band A Scribe Amidst the Lions.
Tannascoli (ryantannascoli.com) uses the technique often in his work, taking note of what he exaggerates or emphasizes and focusing on the emotions they evoke. The final painting might feature oversized hands, an offset brow or a long and lanky figure.
'I really enjoy doing faces and hands, in particular,' Tannascoli says. 'Faces always seem to show a lot of emotion, especially when musicians are playing, and I just like the line work in hands. I just find the shapes really interesting, and they convey a lot of emotion.'
Despite the many possibilities, Tannascoli's subjects of late have included musicians, which is no surprise since he's one, too.
'I play in a couple of bands here in San Diego, and so you meet a lot of other musicians,' he explains. 'I really enjoy going to shows and seeing other bands, which I tend to do on the weekends. Most of the people in my paintings are friends of mine.'
Tannascoli taught himself to play the mandolin and is a member of Golden Red and River City.
'I grew up playing guitar, and I always liked the sound of the mandolin—the kind of high-pitch sort of peppiness or joyfulness. It's kind of a fun-sounding instrument. I picked one up and just taught myself and, through playing it, found I really, really enjoyed it.'
While he's a self-taught musician, Tannascoli is an animator by training, with a degree from the Art Institute of California-San Diego, and only recently began to focus on painting.
'I've always been drawing since I was a kid,' he says. 'But right after high school is when I really started painting. And I've always done it in my spare time but focused on it more seriously the last couple of years.'