Artist Ruth Dronsfield works in a variety of media – from acrylics, watercolour, charcoal to graphite, ink and mixed media. She originally trained at Central St Martins in 1990 and worked as an exhibiting artist for a number of years before taking time out of exhibiting to raise her three children. In 2011 she decided to return to her practice and start exhibiting, as well as begin to teach art to adults. Ruth says of her work, “Making Art has become many things –a way of seeing the world, the making of something beautiful, interesting or decorative and also an expression of my outlook on life and the joy and hope I have found in my own Christian faith”. The Jackson’s Art Blog asked Ruth to tell us more about her work.
Lisa: How would you describe your work?
Ruth: Celebratory, colourful, observational and expressive painting and drawing.
Lisa: What is your artistic background?
Ruth: I was educated in London with opportunities to see loads of great art growing up and studied BA Fine Art at Central Saint Martins School of Art in Lodon in the late 80’s. I trained as an Art Teacher at the Institute of Education ,University of London and have taught in various types of schools. Now I teach adults in my own privately run classes which I call ‘Creative Art Classes’ and tutor children on an individual basis.
Lisa: When did you first realise you wanted to be an artist?
Ruth: I have vivid memories of spending loads of time drawing as a child and really enjoying picture books. At about 14 years old I was truly ‘wowed’ by a Pierre Bonnard painting in the Tate gallery and became enthusiastic about painting. In the sixth form a very encouraging new teacher helped me to think that pursuing art was a real possibility.
Lisa: What do you like about working with watercolour?
Ruth: I like the range of possibilities.
Lisa: What are your favourite brand of paints and why?
Ruth: I currently work with Winsor and Newton Artists watercolours because I like the clarity and strength of colours, but I do have few other favourites which added in to my palette too such as Daler Rowey warm orange and a couple of Maimeri Blu colours.
Lisa: What inspires you to paint?
Ruth: I am a Christian so prayer and reading the Bible are a significant part of my life. The vivid imagery and poetry in the Bible have inspired a lot of my work, and my belief in a Creator God has made me really look at and be inspired by the visual world around me. My latest exhibition was called ‘Journeys through Local Places and Elsewhere’ with a running theme of the experience of favourite landscapes, but also more abstract work about the journeys of everyday life itself. Seeing other artists’ work always gets me full of ideas too. The recent Matisse exhibition at Tate Modern was wonderful.
Lisa: Can you tell us a bit about your ‘Creative Art Classes’ – who attends and what you like to teach?
Ruth: In my classes I teach that being creative with visual art can be accessible and possible for anyone who is interested. I offer teaching in techniques and ideas across a broad spectrum of 2D art forms for all abilities. My clients range from the beginner and those who haven’t made anything for a long time to those wanting a new class or who are quite accomplished and looking to work in a creative group atmosphere.
Lisa: How do you go about constructing a composition for a painting? Do you make drawing before you paint?
Ruth: I usually get hold of an idea and make several drawings and paintings around it, ending up with a series or collection of work. Sketchbooks are very important to my practice. While my three children were little I mainly worked in sketchbooks and when I resumed painting on a larger scale in 2008 the sketchbooks were my starting point.
Sometimes I make careful drawings for a composition, but sometimes the composition evolves as I make the work. I also use common methods like looking at a composition in a mirror or upside down, and taking photographs during the process to help me really see what I am doing and to make compositional judgements.
Lisa: Can you give us one hot tip for painting in watercolours?
Ruth: Learn and practice techniques and methods, but don’t turn them into rules.
Lisa: Where online or in the flesh can we see more of your work?
Ruth: My website www.ruthdronsfield.co.uk