Ruth Brace - The Gardening Artist

Ruth Brace - The Gardening Artist

Tell us a little about what you make? 

I am a 2D mixed media artist and printmaker and I create original semi-realistic framed artwork on canvas, paper and wood and also mounted lino and drypoint prints. To complement my paintings I make a range of smaller items including decorative hangers, boxes, art books, jewellery and greetings cards.

What inspires you and where do you find that inspiration? 

My work is inspired by all things nature. I live on the coast in wonderful West Wales and the beautiful land and seascapes that are right on my doorstep are my main source of inspiration. I retrained as a professional gardener some 20 years ago now and still do some self-employed gardening alongside working as an artist, hence calling myself The Gardening Artist. The great outdoors is my office and as such I am surrounded by plants, insects and birds that inform and inspire my artwork on a daily basis. I am drawn to the different textures, surfaces and patterns found in nature especially wildflowers, hedgerows, trees, rocks and cliffs and how these can be sculpted by the environment in which they exist. I enjoy interpreting this through mark and print making and I aim to capture the atmosphere and a sense of place through the changing seasons using a mixed media, collage based approach. 

Tell us about your favourite medium 

That is a tricky one as the nature of my work often involves using a number of different mediums altogether! I have an experimental approach to my work and like to combine different processes and media, often ignoring the rule book and using ‘what if’ as my mantra instead. The majority of my work involves acrylic paint but I also enjoy using watercolours, specialist printing inks, fine art pens as well as drawing with stitch & thread either by hand or using free motion embroidery using my trusty sewing machine. Photography also plays an important role in my work. 

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of being an artist or maker? 

The favourite thing about being an artist is that I get to be creative all day long. I love experimenting with new ideas and learning different techniques. Its great that no two days are the same and that I have the freedom to work the way I want to. One of the best things is when people are moved by my work enough to want to take it home with them. I get so excited to see work heading to its new forever home. 

As an artist I am often working alone which can feel isolating sometimes, but fortunately there is a great artistic community here in West Wales so there’s plenty of like minded folk about that can act as a great support network. There is also the self doubt that can creep in occasionally that my work might not be good enough. 

What does being a member of the Ceredigion Art and craft trail mean to you. 

As a new member I am really looking forward to being a part of a supportive and proactive artist and maker community here in Ceredigion. I am hoping it will provide me with greater exposure for my artwork and am especially excited to be opening what will be my first ever dedicated art studio later in the year where I can share my work and processes with visiting public. 

What are you working on at the moment? 

I always have a number of projects on the go whether it be experimenting with new ideas or getting stock ready for galleries where I sell my work. One exciting project I am working on at the moment is a large canvas for an upcoming early summer exhibition that will coincide with the unveiling of a new statue in Llangrannog, to celebrate the life of Sarah Jane Rees known as Cranogwen. The exhibition will be taking place in Canfas in Cardigan from early June. 

How do you know when your work is finished? 

This is always tricky! With some pieces I know straight away that they are finished and don’t need to give it any more thought but with the majority of my work once I have got to the point where I think it is finished, I pop it up on my shelf of contemplation which is opposite my work bench so I can look at it for a while from a distance to see if it really is finished or needs something else adding to it. 

What is the biggest challenge of being an artist/maker? 

For me it is self belief and not giving in to imposter syndrome and feelings of not being good enough. I have a tendency to be a bit of a perfectionist which can be restricting and lacking in self confidence can also act as a barrier to getting my work seen and out there. 

What advice would you give to new artists or makers at the start of their creative journey? 

I still feel that I am only in the early stages of my artistic career but my advice would be to believe in yourself and your work, be brave and put yourself out there and develop a good network of like minded and supportive people who can help and advise you as you make your way along your creative path.