Kari Ganoung Ruiz: Small Bits

Kari Ganoung Ruiz: Small Bits

I’m back! Thank you Main Street Arts for inviting me to offer my thoughts in another blog entry; this one corresponding with the opening of the Fifty Landscapes exhibit which includes 4 of my paintings.

As nature awakens after its winter slumbering, so to does the painter feel the pull of nicer weather.  Spring is an excellent time to gather thoughts about the why and the where; to put together a map and plan as a guide throughout this plein air season.

When I started on this journey, I didn’t have a clear view of what to paint. I only knew that it was super important to paint from life; to step out of the artificially lit studio and experience nature in person. People said “paint what you know”, so I went back home to the family farm.

Shady Recess 8"x10" oil on panel, one of my very first plein air paintings!
Shady Recess 8″x10″ oil on panel, one of my very first plein air paintings!

As the painting season progressed, I got out in nature with all my gear as much as possible; attempting to capture a wide range of subjects. The big vista, a little outdoor vignette of a scene; where was I heading? Then this happened:

a pivotal moment while painting in the Adirondacks... The Flume Rocks 8"x8" oil on panel
a pivotal moment while painting in the Adirondacks… The Flume Rocks 8″x8″ oil on panel

During the 2014 Adirondack Plein Air Festival, I went to paint the Wilmington Flume, a series of awesome waterfalls along the Ausable River. I spent a while at the location, attempting to figure out how to capture it. The day was getting long and in frustration, I turned my little cardboard viewfinder away from the big scene. Suddenly, this group of boulders snapped into focus; I found my painting! At this moment I found my raison d’etre: to explore the beautiful intricacies of light and shadow in the small bits of a greater scene and find the essence of the place and moment. I was hooked!

Painting on Oak Island, Waterloo NY during the Memorial Day festivities. Photo by Lisa Duprey
Painting on Oak Island, Waterloo NY during the Memorial Day festivities. Photo by Lisa Duprey

This has continued to be the focus of my plein air and studio work. Sometimes I’ll get caught up in the majesty of a giant vista, but I’ve found that the magic is really in the subtlety of the zoomed-in scene for my work.

The big vista at Frederic Church's Olana in Hudson, NY
The big vista at Frederic Church’s Olana in Hudson, NY

At Olana in Hudson NY, I was caught by this view from the Bell Tower where Church would paint and have visitors view the sunset with him. The house and the entire property was designed by Frederic Church to take in the grand vistas of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. (uh, awesome!) I decided to tightly crop the view and turn my panel vertically. This piece is included in the exhibit:

A Quiet Sunset 8"x10" oil on panel
A Quiet Sunset 8″x10″ oil on panel

Well, that will do it for now… it’s time to get out and paint!

Follow along with Kari’s painting adventures at KariGanoungRuiz.com and her new blog GoPaintOutside. Stop by Main Street Arts to see Kari’s paintings in our current exhibition, Fifty Landscapes (runs through May 13). 

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