Ruth and her Work
Ruth Marilyn Browning (born Ruth Marilyn McDonald) was raised in scenic Owen Sound, Ontario on the shores of Georgian Bay. As a young girl, she was a part of an artistic and musical family. Her Mother and several Aunts were oil painters, some of whom studied with serious local artists. Her brother Jerry was a professional photographer who owned a photographic studio and gallery in Owen Sound. Both of Ruth’s brothers were musicians who played in Lloyd Kibler’s dance band in the late 1950s. (Mr. Kibler had been a member of Guy Lombardo’s band The Royal Canadians.) Ruth herself was a member of the Owenaires women’s choir. She also wrote poetry. Ruth did not paint in her youth because she never liked the smell of turpentine and oil paints.
She met Gerry Browning in 1957, married in 1959 and raised four children who have all grown into: “musical, active, creative people who have raised children of their own,” Ruth said.
When Ruth’s children were in their teens, she began taking her photography to another level. “I had always been less a photographer of people and more a photographer of places,” Ruth said. “And I enjoyed capturing scenes from our travels including trips to Grenada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Scotland, England, Ireland, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and various parts of Florida, including Vero Beach.”
When recovering from breast cancer several years ago, Ruth found that she needed something more. “A friend, who was an experienced painter, invited me to bring some acrylic paint and a canvas over to her place. I picked the items up at Michael’s having no idea that my life would change that day. My very first painting was from a calendar that had been hanging up at our rented cottage in Grenada. It was a picture of the ocean, sand and boats pulled up onto the shore. I started painting with acrylics and I was hooked.”
Working from Photographs
Ruth calls her acrylics “paintings of discovery.” She works from her own photographs, which have been carefully composed. While she is painting from her photographs, she often finds what she calls “secrets” – unexpected textures, for example. “When I was working on a painting one of my grand daughters named ‘The Walking Trees’ I remember looking at the photograph I had taken of birches hanging down into the water and seeing for the very first time that flat stones were coming up to the surface of the lake to create golden almost abstract shapes in the water. I had taken the photograph to get the basic layout for the painting. But once I started painting from the photo, I made the discovery of the rocks. I tend to choose subjects that have texture and use layers of paint to bring them alive.”
“I also like to work from photographs because light changes so quickly. When I work from one of my photographs, I can take as long as I like to paint the morning and evening light and all of the wonderful shadows that accompany the light.”
“When I paint I feel peaceful and excited about what is happening with my brush. It is such a good feeling when things are coming together perfectly. I lose all track of time when I paint. Sometimes, I start painting at 8:30 in the morning and then suddenly realize that it is now 2:30 p.m.!”
“Colours fascinate me. Getting the right colour for me is trial and error. I find it fun discovering how to make the perfect colour for a shadow in the snow, for example.”
“After I have
completed a painting, I give it something I call ‘Cooking Time.’ I usually give
a painting two weeks to cook. During that time, I look at it and think about
it. Sometimes I see things I have missed. Other times, I simply want to change
the painting in some way.”
Ruth enjoys painting buildings/architecture, seascapes and landscapes.“I also love the human form and have recently been exploring the art of painting portraits.”