Artist Interview: Ruth Chase – Charcoal Artist and Teacher

Illustration by artist, Ruth ChaseTell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
OK, I go by Ruth Chase. My life has had many different plot changes along the way. I was raised in Venice Beach, CA by my mother, mostly, who had very little education, didn’t drive and we had to move a lot. To escape the future that had my name on it, I applied to three of the best art schools in the US taken from a list at the public library. I wasn’t aware of my creativity at the time, but I thought art school was something that I could do since my primary education was so poor. The only thing I wanted was to go to college, any place that would take me would do so I could have an education and a better life than my mother had. That is what I did. At the age of 21 I moved to San Francisco and interviewed at the San Francisco Art Institute and I was accepted into the painting department with my drawing portfolio, right there in the interview. Funny, I had never even picked up a paintbrush outside of preschool but I was determined to do it.

Cut to now, I have a nine year old daughter who I, in part, homeschool, and I also teach art and show my work mostly in the USA. I still oil paint; however, the recent series in charcoal, Becoming a Better Sinner has been something I never saw coming after taking a slow work break to raise a child.

Illustration by artist, Ruth ChaseHow would you describe your style?
Urban surrealism or contemporary surrealism. Sounds good to me.

What’s your inspiration?
Theology, belief systems, and neurology really turn me on. And as it turns out, this is what my art is about too.

What is art to you?

Illustration by artist, Ruth ChaseHow do you keep motivated?
I mostly read books about my favorite topics and listen to music. I love all types of music, my favorite being Latin jazz especially from Mongo Santarmaria and Ibraham Ferrer, Give me Héctor Lavoe and I completely transcend into another space all together. The problem is it can also distract me from my work because I’m dancing as much as I’m working.

How have your surroundings influenced your work?
My work is all about my surroundings, past, present and future perceptions of them.

What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
I have nothing to accomplish with my work; however, in teaching art I hope to offer life changing opportunities.

Illustration by artist, Ruth ChaseHow have others reacted to your work?
People mostly love or hate my work. I have grown to appreciate those reactions. I don’t make art to please the eye as much as I make art to speak up about what’s going on in my inner world. When someone has a visceral reaction in either direction then I know I’ve been real and it’s showing in my work.

What do you want others to take away from your work?
Anything they want. Art speaks to people, even when they don’t care for it. It pulls at their emotional strings. Whatever that is, I dig it.

What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
Don’t hold back in your work. And by all means learn a creative trade that won’t mess with your head so you can feed yourself when your art isn’t selling.

Illustration by artist, Ruth ChaseWhat’s the best advice you’ve been given?
“The best teacher you will ever have is yourself asking the right questions” I live by this.

Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
The greatest gift you have to give your art is yourself. Don’t entertain thoughts that hold you back from being in the moment of whatever comes out of you in any way, shape or form. Let yourself be surprised by what you’re capable of.

What are your thoughts on art school?
Art school didn’t teach me how to be an artist. What it did teach me was how to be a critical thinker and what it was like to be in a group of like-minded people and feel normal.

Illustration by artist, Ruth ChaseHave any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
Hell Yeah!

I started teaching my classes at retreats and I’m looking forward doing more of them.

I am ready to get into the mix with all I have to give. A few international exhibitions would be AWESOME!!

What’s your dream project?
It would be so magnificent to have a public installation of my work anywhere in the world. Something that would take some time and would last. If you know of anything, feel free to call or text me, 530.409.2330. I’ll also except pigeon mail service.

Illustration by artist, Ruth ChaseWhat art supplies do you use?
Wood or paper with vine charcoal, compressed charcoal, clear coat.

Any other artists that you would like to recommend for others to check out as well?
A few of my recent favorites are:
Lyle Carbajal
Marion Lane
Milton Resnick
Agnes Martin

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