A barn kitty she warmed a few minutes.
Ruth is a self-taught artist from England. She loves to echo nature most of all - and believes that it brings imagination, creativity, comfort, and sweet love to everyone. Nature is a vital calming 'reset button' for children, especially.
Powered by dark chocolate, Ruth is often snatched up by breezes and colors and pint-sized things - like bugs, feathers, rocks, leaves, shells, and creatures of all kinds. You might also find her gardening, hiking, dancing, and riding her bike really fast through the countryside in an odd looking helmet.
She now lives in Iowa with an adorable husband, a dog, two cats, and six marvelous grown-up kids between them (plus handfuls of grandbabies!).
Long ago she illustrated a well-loved classic The Kissing Hand, then Sassafras, and recently Happy Mamas. She is a member of SCBWI and the Colorado Watercolor Society. Ruth is proud to be represented by Deborah Warren of East West Literary Agency.
THE LONGER, PERHAPS BORING, VERSION:
Born in England, the third of seven children, Ruth lived in 6 countries before coming to America at age 16.
From a tender age Ruth drew incessantly. Regularly presenting her mum with multiplying drawing gifts, her siblings all began to follow suit on every available scrap - and drove her mum up the wall!
While in middle school, poverty stole hope of sufficient art supplies, so Ruth resorted to sneaking into neighbor's rubbish bins after the holidays for lovely white backs of used Christmas cards to draw on. Then she convinced her siblings to raid a nearby paper factory trash cans with her routinely. The workers even became fond of them and began to set aside the largest and best scrap stacks, accompanied by big fat smiles. Ruth and her siblings busied themselves indoors on cold days and made paper chains, origami, tiny books, pads, and even tiny houses with furniture from paper. And tea sets from egg boxes.
Required to stay outdoors during warm weather, they roamed together all day in nearby parks, woods, and along miles of wind-swept beaches. These became Ruth's favorite places. Love for peaceful nature outgrew everything else. She adored the wind and rain as it caressed her hair and face; she stared endlessly at magnificent shapes of bare trees and waving grasses and birds soaring above - all a deep solace in her very tumultuous world. Images burned in her vision and drove her to pencil and paper at home.
Ruth won a few art contests when young - a local library contest, and was a BBC TV contest runner-up at age 12 (she won a big fat art supply kit!). Desperately wanting to be an artist pulled her forward through the murky nights and hazy days of childhood poverty and abuse. She did win a full art school scholarship at age 17, but a step-parent disallowed it, casting the dream unimaginably far away. Locked it up high in a tower, in fact. But she still drew her heart out, and dreamed.
A neighbor owned a graphic arts shop, and 18 year old Ruth eagerly approached in hopes of some creative work. As soon as she showed her drawings she was hired on the spot to train as a graphic artist! Eventually, she learned design (plus typesetting, darkroom equipment, printing processes), and worked as graphic artist, designer, and print-buyer in several ad agencies, and also freelanced over the years.
Enter adulthood. Once her first child came along, Ruth's art world took a magnificent turn. She began to read picture books to her baby girl hour after hour every evening. They spread books out all over the floor, and checked out the maximum allowed amount every week from the library (35). Her vision exploded to life! A bright world swallowed her deliciously up. As she poured over every rich image and wonderful story, a new and relentless wind took her sails. She reflected afresh her own childhood fondness for Beatrix Potter's stories, Winnie the Pooh, Wind in the Willows, and Paddington Bear, among others. And felt rich.
Again, Ruth took a leap. A local author sold books in the store she was working, and Ruth was determined to make friends with her, to ask if she needed an illustrator (no, this is NOT the way it works, but there was no internet to tell her otherwise!). Yes, Audrey Penn loved her drawings and gave her the manuscript for The Kissing Hand - what a dream! She quickly taught herself to paint (yikes!), created a well-planned storyboard, and spent the next year working at nights while she continued to work part time at the store with her baby. It was long, lonely, hard work. But she was driven to do it. It gave her a hope and joy she couldn't explain to anyone.
The books did not turn out to be as lucrative as she thought, though. In fact, they paid very badly. She was promised royalties and never got them, and then had to fight for pay. Eventually, untold sleepless nights and lack of support drained her dream dry - and she had to beach the boat.
Years later, Ruth approached a private local school to teach art. She studied like crazy. The process of researching and writing an accredited art curriculum (2 year process) rounded out her own lack of art education and gave her confidence. She taught fine 'classical' art to elementary and middle school for four blissful years.
After falling in love with watercolor (self-taught on 2nd book, Sassafras), Ruth began to improve her skills. Her love for watercolor and typography (lettering) compel her to combine the two in some of her works. She began to exhibit and sell works in galleries and art fairs.
BUT NOW, with kids grown, Ruth has returned to her first and only passion - picture books! She's been studying, making book dummies, writing, drawing, painting, and illustrating her 3rd book! Ruth hopes this is a NEW beginning. What joy!
She currently lives on the west edge of Iowa with her husband, two cats and a dog - and they have six grown children between them. Aside from the sketchy world of illustrating, she just loves to garden, hike, and ride her bicycle into the gorgeous countryside.