One of my greatest pleasures is discovering new artists, new works and spending as much time immersed in them. Coming across Marie-Rose Ruffalo's work on Facebook was like being on an archaeological dig for days and before you discover something that takes your breath away.
Moving from Facebook to Marie-Rose's website I discovered more of her work that is vibrant, infused with energy, colour and sharp shapes that hold the viewer in a tight grip that one is inclined to submit to.
There is an erraticness to Marie-Rose's style that produces a calm contemplative mood in the viewer. With EYE OF PROVIDENCE #395 one becomes trapped in the boldness of the piece as we allow one's eyes to scan each shape looking for a way out but only to be drawn deeper into the piece. The explosion of colour, shapes and the uniqueness of style is brilliantly countered with TERGIVERSATION #630, AMERICA'S CUP #127 and PIQUANT #123 pieces really enter your soul and are utterly captivating.
Hi Marie Rose, thank you for talking to TNC, how is everything going?
Hello, this recent interest in my work has brightened up my spirits, so I think I can say I’m feeling pretty good today, thanks for asking. And thank you so much for your interest in my artwork.
Before we start I wanted to talk a little bit about your greeting cards, how long have you been creating these?
I have a long history of sending greeting cards to friends and relatives. We live on a remote peninsula in mid-coast Maine USA, far-away from the outside world and from old friends and relatives. I previously used a “card bank” to prevent getting caught short when realizing that I forgot someone’s special event. However, concurrently I was working on art pieces in a variety of mediums and sizes. One day it occurred to me that instead of sending a greeting card, why not send a small art piece that I created, which I had in abundance. The response to my labour was so positive, and per many of the recipients’ suggestions, I decided to put cards on my website for sale.
What drives your passion and inspiration for your greeting cards?
I believe that when you receive something original, the result of someone’s labour, as opposed to buying something off the rack that has been reproduced many times, it has a more special meaning.
Congratulations on your recent exhibition at Red Cup Coffeehouse, do you ever get nervous when you exhibit your work?
Of course, I’m nervous when I put my art out there to be judged by others, despite constant reassurance that my work is appreciated by objective observers.
Can you tell me a little bit about this latest exhibition, how did it come about?
Daniel & Silvia Campbell, owners of the Red Cup Coffeehouse, in Boothbay Harbor, Maine are very good friends. They love my work and suggested I have a summer show.
"My art is oftentimes bright, sometimes dark, but always therapeutic for me."
For those who will see your exhibition at Red Cup Coffeehouse what can they expect to discover about you and your work?
It’s different! I’m different! I live in a very small fishing village in New England. There are 2,000 people living here year-a-round. In the summer, however, the population balloons to over 20,000. Tourists come here from all over the world to enjoy a nautical experience, which includes art depicting seascapes, puffins, lobster boats and Colonial style architecture. I live in an A-Frame house and create abstract art. My hope is to expose some of them to an alternative reality.
How do you go about choosing artwork for exhibitions like this?
I let the exhibitor choose what they prefer to exhibit from a large selection of my art pieces.
Have you always had a passion for art?
I’m very passionate about the detailed work I do while creating my signature harlequin patterns. I began creating representative art pieces in my very early teens while attending Catholic school art classes. But about 30 years ago, after a failed marriage, loss of a son, and realizing that life was not Ozzie & Harriet, I started expressing myself in the art that reflected the mood I was in. My art is oftentimes bright, sometimes dark, but always therapeutic for me. There are some pieces that I’ve spent months, sometimes years, attempting to achieve that depth of vision while painting on a flat surface.
Do you recall the first piece of art you completed?
Yes, I created stick people families and houses to tell a story. I was an only child, often playing alone, and loved to imagine fantasy characters and happy endings.
Has your process changed much since you started?
I have no process. I’m left-handed! The work comes directly from the right hemisphere of my brain’s neurons onto canvas, paper, or whatever, with paint, ink, paper, or whatever, absent of thought. And if it doesn’t suit me, I just cover it over and try something else.
Has it gotten easier over time to say goodbye to your work and let others enjoy it in their own space?
I happily let my work go to anyone who really loves one of my pieces enough to hang it in their home or place of business. Although I know it’s prideful of me, I can’t help feeling really good to unexpectedly see my work out there in the world.
If you could host a dinner party with 5 fellow artists, past or present, who would they be and why?
If I hosted a dinner party of 5 fellow artists I would invite:
Vincent van Gogh - I would ask van Gogh about the possibility that the lead in oil paint consumption (licking brushes) could have contributed to his mental illness and his later masterpieces in Arles? I love his colour and texture.
Willem de Kooning - I’d ask de Kooning if he believed his work was more, or less, creative after given an Alzheimer diagnosis? I love his shapes.
Pablo Picasso - I would ask Picasso if he considered himself a misogynist, and if so, did it contributed to his creative achievements? I love his harlequin period.
Jackson Pollock - I would ask Pollock if alcohol played a significant role in his creative method of paint application? I love his colour and texture.
Henri Matisse - I would ask Matisse if he transitioned from oil to cut paper as a medium because he lost confidence in his brush stroke? I love his cut paper pieces.
And I would also ask them collectively whether they thought having purported mental health challenges contributed to their creative genius? I have long suffered from clinical depression and believe it helps me creatively.
Do you have a favourite quote from an artist?
This is not actually a quote, but more of a short story of Picasso’s youth, which I hope has a semblance of truth. The story is Picasso’s father was an accomplished classic painter, art teacher and critic. So when Picasso completed a master’s like art piece by the time he was 12 years old, his father told him he had exceeded his ability to teach the young Pablo anything more about art. Picasso said from that point on he tried to create art through the eyes of a child.
If you could describe your art in 5 words what would they be?
Emotional, Abstract, Different, Textured and Colorful.
What advice would you give to an up and coming artist?
Follow your internal instincts, don’t let outside criticism be your guide to the type of art you want to create.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your work?
I would hope that some would say “I think that art piece would look nice in our living room.