About Ruth Ellen

Artist’s Statement:

My art is based on the figurative genre. Observing everyday encounters, events and endeavors, I find insights into how I want to portray the people I draw and paint. While figures are the constant, what changes is the degree of realism or abstraction I’ll use as I play with the design, or play with the paint.

Much of my recent work has been on a large format with a plethora of figures in invented settings. The process of creating the scene, involves finding opportunities to capture movement for the characters and what they are doing, but also to create animated surfaces of one kind or another. If I’m working with a single figure not in motion, I’ll want that character to be important to a larger sphere of pending activity. While working on a piece, I become involved in the moments happening among the inhabitants of the canvas, and in the end, hope the viewer will also become engaged.

Professional Watercolor and Fine Artist in Santa Barbara, CA

This is My Story


As a graduate of Manhattan School of Music with a French horn major, I embarked on a thirty-year music career.  While living in Japan, I discovered painting and found my new passion. Nearly all my work is figurative in nature. As such, I’m always experimenting with various approaches and painting styles. My quest is to capture a sense of movement with the characters or the space they occupy.

Though I grew up in a rural setting and love the idea of aloneness, I am drawn more to life in the city. Fond memories of music making, market places, walking through parks, daytime and nighttime, feed the inspiration for my paintings.

My paintings have been awarded in many national and international exhibitions: including medaling in American Watercolor Society , and winning top honors at San Diego Watercolor Society‘s International Exhibition. Most recently, I earned a coveted Signature status from both American Watercolor Society and National Watercolor Society. I’ve also attained Signature membership in San Diego Watercolor Society, California Watercolor Association and Watercolor West.

women holding paint brush in front of paintingFor the last several years, I have also juried exhibitions and demonstrated my work for art organizations and been an invited artist instructor for workshops in several western states and as far south as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Limoux, France.

A number of books and magazines have published my work including Watercolor Artist and Palette Magazine. As a founding member of Santa Barbara Studio Artists, my working studio, Whistle Stop Art Studios in downtown Santa Barbara, hosts year round studio tours. There are art classes and workshops on-going at the studio as well. The next Open Studios is coming up on Labor Day weekend.

My Recent Work