“My earliest paintings were in my mother’s cookbooks,” Ruth said. “I was around three years old when I scribbled some trees and a house, and my mother saved those.”
Born in Washington State, Ruth and her parents moved to Illinois, but she spent most of her youth in South Carolina. Despite her natural talent, she decided to pursue a business degree at the University of Georgia.
“I was always drawing and painting but I needed to make a living,” she said.
But after the first year there, she changed her major to art education and commercial art and was fortunate to study under the well-known Lamar Dodd (The Lamar Dodd School of Art is one of the nation’s largest university programs with more than 1,000 majors).
For two years after graduation, she taught art in high school and evening classes in adult education in Savannah. She came to Tampa in 1966 and met her late husband, Harry, at a teacher social club. He was an electrical engineer who spent 30 years as a professor at the University of Florida. They were married for 46 years before he passed away last September.
“He loved this place,” she mused.
They had heard a lot about Concordia Village of Tampa and knew several people who lived at the community. So when they made the move in November of 2017, they were prepared to enjoy the worry-free lifestyle. And the surroundings became inspiration for Ruth.
“I walk the beautiful grounds with my pet poodles, Mandy and Chardin,” Ruth said. (She has named all of her dogs after painters, including Monet and Matisse.) “And I find many interesting plants, flowers, statues, birds, buildings and small gazebos as subjects for my paintings.”
Her favorite creation she called “The Birdwatchers 3.” It is the only painting her husband is in and the 3 indicates that this was the third painting in a series.
Concordia Village of Tampa provides small classes in pencil and watercolors in the Art Room every Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. She expounded on some other opportunities Florida offers for artists.
“The Florida Watercolor Society and lots of local art clubs make this place a paradise,” she said.
Having shown her work at a gallery years ago, she still teaches at age 81.
One piece that particularly captures her attention is “Girl with a Dog,” by French impressionist painter Auguste Renoir. His loose style, natural settings and the way he handles colors have served as a model for her work.
Her daughter Debbie lives in Colorado. Son Arthur also lives in the area. Ruth also has a son who lives in Chattanooga, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
To learn more about this outstanding retirement community in Tampa, call us at 813-977-4950 or visit www.ConcordiaTampa.org. To request a free copy of the 2019 Concordia Calendar, “Brush Strokes,” call the Public Relations Department at 724-352-1571, ext. 8266.