Shelley Rugg: Tree Portraits
As a transplant from the City to the Country, I began to ask myself what was capturing my attention. I discovered it was trees…trees with bare branches in stark contrast to the skies of Northern California, which are often overcast. Sometimes the trees have lost their leaves for the winter, and sometimes the trees are dead, yet continue to stand as a reminder of their greatness. And sometimes they lay down, too weak to hold themselves up any longer.
As I began marking the flow of lines that are the tree branches, I would find myself lost in a Zen activity of seeing. It became a meditation of following the branches, and an exercise of finding order and grace out of what seemed like chaos. Out of that chaos of branches came an aesthetic order of straights and curves and repeat patterns of movement.
By the time I complete one of these paintings, I have become very intimate with the nature of that tree, and the way the birds relate to its branches. It is for this reason that I think of them as portraits. To sit with the paintings becomes a meditation with nature, and a process of discovery from seeing the whole, to noticing the many minute details.
And then there’s the sky, filling all the spaces in between.
Although just about every reference photo I shot featured a completely gray sky, I took the opportunity to experiment with different color palettes. By remembering the variety of skies I have seen, I brought those memories to the skies I was painting. Where I live, my house faces the sunrise that I get to see every morning, unless the mountain I live on is engulfed in clouds, effectively making the rest of the world disappear.
When birds appear in the tree branches, we can recognize the tree as a home. It reminds us about the interdependence of all living things, including ourselves.
Artist Reception with Shelley Rugg
This virtual event will feature a conversation with the artist discussing several pieces, followed by a Q&A session. Registration required; register via Eventbrite. This event is free; donations are encouraged. To donate, please visit our donation page here and mention this event by name in the comments section.
About Shelley Rugg
Shelley Rugg grew up and came of age in Long Beach, and now lives in Marin County where she is literally surrounded by trees. Shelley studied drawing and painting at CSULB and is best known for her portraits of people. Rugg worked for many years with differently abled artists, supporting their processes in visual and performing arts. She was very engaged in the Long Beach Artist Community, and through her relationship with the artist group, FLOOD, helped produce the SoundWalk event for almost a decade in the East Village Arts District. Currently she is the Gallery Coordinator at Gallery Route One in Point Reyes Station.
Purchasing art –
To purchase original artworks, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Prints of these and other works are available for sale here: https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/shelley-rugg. A portion of the proceeds goes to support the Dance Palace.
Follow Shelley Rugg on Facebook and Instagram at: @shelleyruggarts