Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday Spotlight On: Ruth Hayes of RuthsArtwork

I recently joined a new team, the Etsy Treasury Team, to expand my horizons outward and in doing so, came across a bunch of wonderufl artists.  One of them is Ruth, of  RuthsArtwork, and she is an amazing realist.  Creating mostly architectural illustrations, I truly admire her ability to capture the personality of buildings so beautifully.  Realism is hard enough.  Breathing such life inot architectural illustrations is near impossible, but she manages it wondrously.

Indiana Main Street Pen & Ink Illustration

Tell us three things about yourself we may not know. 
I have been with my husband for 35 years and we have an adult daughter and son. I have a Master’s degree in animal behavior but have worked mostly in CAD for architecture for my husband’s timber framing company as well as create my artwork I am mostly a self taught artist, because when I went through school, realistic art was not considered “real” art and actively discouraged.

That's awesome that you're self-taught. I am as well.  What's your medium and how did you get into it?
I mostly work in pen and ink with a firm pastel overlay. When my husband started his company, we couldn’t afford to pay someone to do our advertising art. As the artist in the family, even though I had done mostly animal art, the task fell to me. Pen and ink suited our purposes well and eventually I began experimenting with color overlays. I had a large set of firm pastels that my mother had given me in high school, so I tried using that. After a short while, it became my preferred color medium. I’ve been using it for architectural portraits for almost 30 years now.

That's a long time working in one avenue.  Of everything you've created, what is your favorite thing you've ever done?
While I love some of my stone barn pictures a lot, my favorite thing after all these years is a pen and ink sketch of a floating ing pelican I did in the late 70’s.

Pennyslvania Stone Barn Original Pen & Ink Illustration

With everything from birds to barns, you must take your inspiration from a lot of places. How do you capture it?
When we travel, I always try to take my digital camera with me. I have a very nice wide angle telephoto lens and both my husband and I like to pay attention to the architectural surroundings. It can be older city home and business buildings or old farm houses and barns. I like to look for structures that have intricate architectural details or beautiful stonework. And I never pass up the chance to take pictures of animals when I can, as a change of pace.

Is there anything you wish you'd created?
Sometimes I wish I could sculpt. I love the work of the French sculptor Rodin. Just about anything by him.

Art has taken up a lot of your life.  What do you do when you're not creating?
I am an avid reader, mostly of science fiction, mysteries and popularized science discoveries. I like to plant flowers in the beds around the house – but weeding – not so much. I also have an aged horse, so several times a week I go to the stable and play around with her. And in the summer, you can often find me listening to my White Sox baseball team on the radio or on the tv.

If you had to give up your medium and take another, what would you love to work in?
I think I would like to try to learn more about watercolors and other paints. Because I never took many classes in art, I never really had anyone help me learn some of the intricacies of other painting media and I would like to at some time.

Speaking of intricacies, is there anything you've ever attempted that ended up turning out much better than expected?
When I first started making the ACEOs and gift tags, I decided to make big sheets of watercolor washes. I didn’t really know what I was doing so I just experimented and when I cut them up and then drew on them with the ink, I was surprised how nice they looked.

Red Flower ACEO and Gift Tag

If anyone one dead or living could own one of your pieces, who would you want it to be?
I wish I had made something for my paternal grandmother. I didn’t realize what an extraordinary person she was while she was alive and sharing my art with her would have been wonderful.

If you had to explain to an eight-year old what you do, how would you go about it?
I would say that I take a picture of your house and draw it so you can remember what it looks like after you grow up and move away.

What's your favorite part of the process?
I enjoy the laying out of the drawing in pencil and then when I start to ink. I also like the final moments when I spray on the fixative and the pastel colors pop into the final hues.

Where can people find you?
Shop address:

One last random, weird question.  If you could travel to any place and time in history where would you go?
I really want to know what the dinosaurs looked and sounded like.

I think my husband would agree with you.  Thanks for putting up with my silly questions. 


  1. Thank you very much for sharing! Ruth's work is fantastic!

  2. I loved reading about Ruth and her process/progression as an artist! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. These are amazing! I work in Pen & Ink, too, but I haven't introduced colour, yet. Hard pastels have a great effect, judging by your artwork, Ruth. Have you tried using coloured pens? if you have, which do you think is better?

  4. Great article! I'm on an Etsy team (FFAW) with Ruth and it's so fun to read and learn about fellow artists and members. Very well done. You are so talented!

  5. Zenobiasouthcombe, sorry, I have never used colored pens. I use mostly the hard pastels and occasionally watercolor and colored pencils. I do use a gloss fixative which pops the pastel colors. After all this time, I can pretty well judge how the color shift is going to go. It is a matter of experimentation and experience. Thanks for all the kind words, everyone, and for the interview, Cursive Arts.

  6. Great feature and Ruth thanks for sharing, you know I love your work

  7. What an enjoyable interview! I loved learning a bit about Ruth and her incredible art work. Ruth is very talented!

    Nice blog article, Jessica! And so nice to have both you and Ruth on our team. :)