Montgomery, AL: Ruthie Carlson
When Ruthie Carlson answered the phone from her Alabama farm there was a touch of southern drawl that was equally matched, and we were instantly transported to her front porch, sipping lemonade and catching up like old friends.
Ruthie’s genuine enthusiasm for life is contagious and is embedded in everything she does; whether it is spending time with her supportive husband and five precious, (and equally creative) adult children or nurturing her artistic process in her home studio. As a deep-rooted, faithful soul, Ruthie creates amazing art that is true to who she is and has always been encouraged to “just be you”. Ruthie’s signature subject, sheep, are unique and touching with layers and layers of meaning, garnered from personal experiences and the stories she has captured throughout her life.
While Ruthie did not get formal art training until she was in her forties, a day has not gone by where she did not have a paintbrush in her hand. Ruthie’s father, creative in his own right, exposed Ruthie to the business of art when she was just a little girl, showing her creative spaces, artist’s tools, and an endless supply of magic markers that any child would love. With her dad by her side, encouraging her to experiment, Ruthie fell in love with the creative process and knew she would be an artist, someday.
As her children grew older, Ruthie found herself with more time to dedicate to her heart’s passion. Daily practice has fostered more confidence. Ruthie no longer wonders what she will do when she enters the studio. Her process is more innate and she gives herself the physical and mental space to create and wander. Ruthie is an explorer, not afraid to try something totally new and sometimes wacky - like the time she painted and glazed a rock, just because she wanted to see how it would turn out – which she now proudly displays in her studio. Rarely discouraged, Ruthie is not afraid to start over - “there is something very freeing to paint, step back, take a look, and then wipe it clean”. There are lessons in the process that Ruthie loves even more than the final product.
Ruthie’s loving heart shines on everyone she meets and she puts just as much time into connecting with people who collect her work as she does creating it. Ruthie adores going to art shows and meeting people, sharing the idea, the mood, and the story that influenced the art she has created. While she does not describe herself as planner, Ruthie is very organized and pays close attention to what “shows up” in her life. Opportunities to take a class, attend an art show, or be with the people she loves always get her attention. Practiced at living in the moment, Ruthie knows it is all meticulously curated by the Lord.
Brooke Glassford at Colorbox Photographers
Take a deeper look into this amazing artist - Ruthie Carlson
How has your work evolved?
This question made me laugh out loud as my mind traveled down memory lane and all my creative ventures. I'm that girl that a goes shopping and never buys anything because I think I can make it! Whether it's a new dress or a headboard, I have to try and make it. I've never actually worn anything I've made, but don't think I won't keep trying. That's just the thing, I adore a "creative life." I love sewing, painting, drawing,…the list goes on. My daddy tried to encourage me to focus on one thing, but I couldn't do it for fear of missing out on learning something fun and new.
My sweet husband convinced me to take a few college art classes when I turned 40. That was a real turning point in my artful journey. I only took a few classes, but I learned so much. That knowledge gave me the confidence to pursue art more as fine art. Then through artists workshops and good old fashioned hard work and practice, I began to find my style and truly fall in love with oil painting.
What is your process for creating?
I have just recently become an empty nester, though I don't know why they call it empty. God has sweetly blessed me and my nest is so full! However, since my babies left for college and I'm not in the carpool line, I actually have the time to paint. My studio is on the third floor of my house and I paint almost every day. I think that's the key, to paint every day. I get in my studio after lunch and usually paint till dinner.
What are you most proud of?
My absolute favorite thing about my artful journey is traveling this path with my children. At one time all five of my kids were under the age of five and though that might have been overwhelming to some, I saw it as a built in art class. I loved every minute! We did it all from side walk chalk, to painting rocks, paper mache, collage, crayons, markers, on and on, simply heaven.
Today three of our children are out of college and working and two are still in college and art is still a big part of their lives. I absolutely love that! They do all kinds of things including etsy shops and participating in pop up markets. I've loved watching their skills and products grow. My most favorite thing is doing weekend markets with them. I can't even begin to communicate how much fun we have and how fascinating it is to watch them meet new people, sell their products, and cheer each other on. God has blessed them with gifts and talents, and it is my absolute joy to be with them and share this artful adventure!
What inspires you?
My first thought is what doesn't inspire me? I'm that girl that wakes up every morning with one hundred ideas swirling around in my mind. I do try to write them down, but they're all on tiny scraps of paper spread out all over the house. (that is a true statement) I have a million journals, but I keep notes on scraps of paper.
I love every day! I really do. Each day is a gift from the Lord and I can hardly wait to wake up in the morning and unwrap my day and be surprised by it! The Lord has also given me a husband that loves me and encourages me in my painting. He has never picked up a paint brush or read an art book, but he challenges me with questions and ideas and inspires me to reach for the stars.
What do you want people to know about you?
Honestly, my most favorite thing in all the world is that when I was four years old and I went to a back yard vacation bible school. There Mrs. Joseph taught me my first bible verse, John 3:16. She explained that God loved me so much that He sent His only Son to die for me, and if I believed in Him I would one day live with Him in heaven. Jesus called me by name and I am His. Isaiah 43:1.
My love for painting is my gift from the Lord. So, I love every chance I get to give it back to Him by sharing His love with others. Because at the end of the day, it's really not about me, it's all about Jesus.