McPherson artist explores retirement emotions in new exhibit

Chad Frey
For Wayne Conyers of McPherson, retirement was a big deal. He had spent  44 years of teaching art, most recently at McPherson College, before retiring.

For Wayne Conyers of McPherson, retirement was a big deal. He had spent  44 years of teaching art, most recently at McPherson College, before retiring. 

It is working through his feelings of retirement that led to his newest work,  “Free Falling Series: Taking a Leap into the Great Unknown.” 

“I’m going to be in a freefall not knowing what in the world is going to happen,” Conyers said pointing out elements in the painting. “This totem, walking off the ledge, that’s me. There’s people who will be noticing how I’m doing along the way. The monopoly house is my security that’s tumbling down into uncertainty.”

Conyers started his teaching career in Baldwin, Kansas. He spent nine years there before venturing to McPherson. He retired from teaching in 2018, and opened his own studio. 

Conyers Studios , 532 N. Eby St. McPherson, focuses on promoting watercolors and functional pottery by Wayne Conyers through galleries and exhibitions.

His painting series on free falling is part of his new show “Whimsical Situations and Impossible Realities” at the Carriage Factory Art Gallery in Newton through Oct. 12, 2021.

Conyers said one perk of retirement is more time for painting — a piece that might have taken him years to complete in the past now take months, which by Conyers’ measure is fast.

Each piece has thousands of tiny tri-color tiles painted in watercolors. His work is meticulous and filled with what he refers to as “eye-candy.”

“One of the things that I’m very conscious of is the visual blending of colors rather than the physical blending of colors. I like to put several colors close to each other and then how does the eye blend those together to make a certain color or tone,” Conyers said.

In addition to the free-falling series, there are several additional themed series in the show – paintings based on the issue of appropriation, his interest in theoretical physics, personal issues and experiences and paintings just for fun.

On the subject of appropriation, Conyers has borrowed from “Green Stripe” by Henri Matisse to create “Red Stripe.” The basic shape of the woman is similar, but Conyers has definitely made it his own with incredibly detailed bits of color.

“I have no problem with appropriating the images of others and making them mine in some way. Just copying, that’s something else. Appropriation of images and working with those to make them personal, is something I have a lot of fun with,” Conyers said.

The five paintings known as Quantum Chromodynamic Fluctuations #1-5 have more of the appearance of a quilt than a complicated physics concepts but knowing the process that goes into them gives them meaning and depth.

“Whimsical Situations and Impossible Realities” is on display in the Susan Koehn Gallery at Carriage Factory Art Gallery, 128 E. Sixth St. in Newton through October 12, 2021. More information is available at

View the video catalog and some insights from Conyers here: