November 11-30, 2023: I'm currently running a huge sale to fund my January 2023 Painting-a-Day Challenge & help you wrap up your holiday shopping! Practically everything in the shop is 20% off the display price. Your discount will be applied at checkout. Scroll down to learn more.

MY STORY

Hi there! I'm so happy you've decided to visit my slice of the internet, and I'd like to introduce myself to you. I'm Bryana: a poet and painter who grew up in Türkiye; has since lived in Texas, Arkansas, and England; and now resides in Eastern Pennsylvania with my husband and a rotating array of short-lived basil plants. 


As a third-culture kid who has inhabited seventeen different houses on three continents, I'm equal parts open-minded, risk-averse, and screwed up. I love talking about non-toxic spirituality, exvangelicalism, and women's global liberation. You could also get me Very Engaged in a convo about why Anne was the bravest Brontë sister, or how John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy come so close to a critical examination of patriarchy and yet remain s o o o far away. 

In my spare time, I enjoy volunteering at my local Boys & Girls Club, exploring the Atlantic coast, and zealously avoiding driving. I listen to Enya with gusto, and if that makes me basic, I don't even mind. Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for progress shots, messy hair photos, tiny poems, and glorious finished paintings. Follow me on Twitter for feminist theory, poor attempts at humor, and long threads unpacking unhelpful sacred and secular teachings about sex.

Painting

I knew I wanted to be an artist from almost the earliest point I can remember. As a child, I spent many happy hours drawing horses and flowers and placid nuclear families on sheets and sheets of copy paper. In highschool, I invented my own handwriting font and filled a stack of homemade journals with watercolor sketches and lettering practice. In college, I launched a little Etsy shop where I infrequently sold hand-painted bookmarks with calligraphy quotes from my favorite authors. And from 2018-2022, I sent out around 7,000 illustrated snail mail letters to 30+ countries as part of a project called the Letters From The Sea Tower.

In 2022, I began working with gouache and acryla gouache, and took up painting soulscapes and seascapes to tell this planet's shining stories.

I paint seascapes because the ocean is a ceaseless well of wonder to me. I've adored it since childhood, when I lived on the coast of the Black Sea and was first captivated by Ted Nasmith's illustrations for The Silmarillion. In its eddy and crash I find enough variety and verve to tell most of the stories burning on my tongue.

I paint soulscapes to tell the other stories. What are soulscapes? That one is harder to say. I use the word to describe a series of paintings directly representing my sometimes-turbulent inner life with simple but vibrant depictions of a character I've created for this purpose. My character doesn't have a name yet, and she doesn't even a mouth, but she has so much to say. She has stories to tell about Grief, and how routinely it's being stifled in what is sometimes called the House of the Lord. She wants to talk about new ways of being and perceiving women in a world where female has not meant "person" but "sexual plaything" for as long as anyone living can remember. She wants to remind us again and again that our we is somebody else's they, and our us is somebody's them. She wants to be open about her vulnerabilities but brave enough to plunge ahead by the light of her one candle even though it was not recommended. She has dreams for how we can do better. There's no stopping her.

Poetry & Workshops 

I grew up in a home where thousands of books lined the walls. My childhood was filled with imaginative adventures inspired by rich literature and powerful stories, and although I have since developed a passion for modern and contemporary poetry, I still derive a lot of joy from studying the classics and sharing their ongoing relevance in fresh ways. My favorite authors include George Eliot, W.S. Merwin, George MacDonald, Anne Brontë, James Baldwin, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Naomi Shihab Nye, e.e. cummings, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the Brownings. In their own ways, each of these authors have given me Puzzle Pieces—small fragments of a beautiful whole that catches the light now and then and makes me catch my breath.

I hold a B.A. in English from Hardin-Simmons University and have been writing and publishing since high school. My poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in over three dozen literary magazines, including Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Blue Earth Review. (See a more exhaustive publications list here.)

In 2021, during a particularly lonely time in a new city, I began timidly hosting online poetry workshops to bring writers together from around the globe. I was blown away by how meaningful and intimate these Zoom gatherings became, and how fervently the participants expressed their enjoyment of them. After a year's hiatusand some persistent badgering from former enrolleespoetry workshops are set to return in 2023, and I couldn't be more excited about it! You can enroll in an upcoming workshop here.