Life is lush and bountiful in Debra Ruddeforth’s world. Whether it’s a profusion of wild irises, fruit spread on a linen napkin, or hydrangeas in a basket, Ruddeforth’s art is very easy on the eyes.
It is not to say there is anything shallow about her oils, pastels, and watercolors. Ruddeforth doesn’t recall a time that she was not an artist. She began her formal training with the inestimable Robert Douglas Hunter, who taught her at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston. Today the artist, a signature member of the Copley Society of Art in Boston, has a packed schedule of painting and gallery work.
The Brewster resident couldn’t be happier that her work is soul-filling rather than heart-wrenching. “That’s my purpose in painting, to have people feel an emotion or memory, to make them happy,” she says. “There’s enough going on in the world that if I can make someone smile, I’ve done my job.”
Ruddeforth has experienced change in both medium and subject. She began by working in watercolor, but today leans toward oil and pastels. “I’ve always loved pastels,” she says. “I’m very pleased with what I’ve produced.” Her subject matter has evolved from flowers and food to still lifes with decorative items such as Chinese porcelain and copper. The copper—deep burnished pieces painted from a collection of her late mother’s—is a more recent development for her. “I’ve always loved beautiful things,” she says. “I love to set up still lifes.” Ruddeforth continues to experiment, not knowing what will come next. “I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied,” she says.
She finds inspiration all around her, in her home, in the open spaces of the Cape, and in life’s little moments. Ruddeforth’s husband, the photographer Tom Ruddeforth, takes many shots for her to consider. “He’s my eyes. He knows what I like,” she says.
People think she has a “dream job,” Ruddeforth says, and she often agrees. But, she adds, “If you work and aspire, you can be an artist. You have to take that first big step.” It’s not easy, she says, estimating that she works 75 hours a week. But it’s all good. “Some days when I’m exhausted, I have to remind myself, I am living someone else’s dream,” Ruddeforth says. “And I count my blessings.”