Monday, September 7, 2015

A Mermaid in the Making

Not every painting gets finished quickly or: Patience is a Virtue

Sometimes paintings take a while.  And that's what happened with this painting.  I started her in January of this year and just finished this last week.  I got midway through the painting and got busy with other things. But she was never abandoned. I kept her in view and was always aware she needed to be finished. I kept track of my progress and below you'll see some of the steps along the way.

Initial sketch


The drawing gets more detailed.
I struggled with the question, "What do mermaids see out their windows?" I thought they could see Paris rooftops, or the cannels of Venice. 
 My grandson said, "Squirrels."
I drew the scales on her tail with white chalk and then painted in the scales. When they where dry I wiped out the chalk and that left the separation between the scales in the terracotta

photo credit Pam Hobbs
While I was working on the painting a reporter for the New York Daily News came into the studio.  He was doing an article about Key West that focused on things that were off of Duval St. (Our main touristy street) and he asked if he could include my studio.  I said, "Sure." I was thrilled to the max! 

Many of Key West's charms lie outside the tourist-heavy Duval St., including great food and a thriving art scene

Here is a link to that article.
 This is the point where I stopped working.  When I started up again I took out the sailboat. I decided it was cheesy and the painting wasn't about what was outside the window, but about the act of looking.

Almost finished, after this I softened the clouds on the horizon.

I haven't found a title I'm thrilled with
Maybe Beauty in the Deep
acrylic 40 x 30'

What's Next?

Next the painting is off to the photographer.  I like it well enough that I will offer Giclee prints on paper and canvas.

What's coming up soon in Key West

Women Fest Key West starts this week.  For a list of events Click HERE

 For those of you reading this in your inbox Click HERE to see it in it's original format.

About Maggie

Maggie Ruley is a studio artist in Key West Florida. She has lived and worked in Key West since 1986.

She is the owner of Maggie Ruley~Island Inspirations gallery in Historic Old Town Key West.

Her colorful paintings and tropical pottery can be found in many island homes and have been featured in the Key West Citizen and other publications on numerous occasions.  Her handmade ceramic flip flops have been sold in gift shops all along the east coast and in California and Hawaii.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunset Cruise

Bikes are fun

 We've been having some wonderful sunsets lately here in Key West.  The kind with giant pink clouds on the horizon that are always a favorite subject of mine.  I've been wanting to paint more of these iconic Key West beach cruisers, so I decided to combine the two. 

 Bikes like this are common all over the island.  No hand brakes and seat and tires that are a little wonky.  They often have a dog in the basket, but I gave this one some sunset colored flowers.

 Bikes are a great way to get around the island. And if you come for a visit they are super easy to rent.

Beach Cruiser
acrylic 24 x 24 "
©Maggie Ruley 2015
September is a great time to visit Key West the crowds are gone and the water is still  warm.  If you are coming for a visit be sure and let me know
A great place to rent bikes is Eaton Bikes. It's right around the corner from my studio. I love that they have local artists painting "art bikes" for them.

Front door of Island Inspirations
with Beach Cruiser
photo Maggie Ruley

What's coming up in Key West

There's always some sort of festivity going on here and next on our list of "Things to do" is
Key West BrewFest

6th Annual Key West BrewFest

Key West BrewFest
September 2nd – September 7th, 2015

Because the last 5  BrewFest’s have been so much fun and such a success, we’re doing it again and creating a 6 pack! Join us, in Key West over Labor Day weekend, September 2nd – September 7th, 2015. The Southernmost Hotel Collection has teamed up with the Key West Sunrise Rotary of the Conch Republic to host Key West BrewFest.  All proceeds to benefit the Rotary Club and their charitable efforts.  Events from beer dinners, beer brunches, happy hour parties, pool parties, late-night parties, seminars and the Signature Tasting Festival Event are some of the great activities we have on tap for you! And, try tasting over 150 beers in one weekend!

Monday, August 17, 2015

It's All In the Story

Bermuda Rooster
Photo, Ed Galda

It's all in the story.

Okay, so I get an email from my cousin Ed, well not really my cuz, he's my cousin's husband, asking me to do a painting of a rooster based on the above photo.

First thought: What's not right here?  The rooster is mostly in shade and he's just a tiny part of this photo. So I'm not really sure what he wants. 

 But then, he gives me the story and I totally get it. Here are some tidbits  you need to know.  My cousin's daughter, April, is a professional athlete. She races all over the world in cycling races.  I love my cousin and her husband to the moon and back and the fact that they are her hugest fans is totally cool.

He tells me what happened and why he wants the painting and that is everything I need to bring his story to life. 

Here's what he wrote to me:

"Here's the story behind it.  On Father's Day 2013 we were in Bermuda.  April had a bicycle race (Bermuda national championships) and volunteered her father to be driven to a street up in the hills, given a stop sign and a vest, and told to control traffic at a tricky intersection (with no bathroom and little shade) for 3 hours.  I would step under some trees off the road periodically and this chicken seemed to take exception to my presence.  I turned to look at him and was met with this aggressive pose.  It's one of my favorite Bermuda stories"

Well, once I knew he had an aggressive rooster story to tell I was on it.  Here is my take on his story.

Bermuda Rooster
acrylic on canvas
©Maggie Ruley 2015

When I painted his rooster I was very careful to keep the coloring and the stance the same as his photo but I had to bring the rooster's face into the light so I could give it a mean glare.

P.S.  I loved how he would stand in the middle of nowhere for his daughter and face down a rooster.  We have lots of roosters in Key West.  They can be tough.

P.P.S.  Here is the testimonial I got from him when he received the painting.
"Love the painting more and more each time I look at it.  You did capture everything so well.  You've moved up on my list of favorite artists and are now ahead of Monet, tied with Miro, but still behind Van Gogh and Delacroix."

Really?  Tied with Miro?   I love Monet, not a fan of Miro.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Words of Wisdom from Picasso

That is so true, the best way to stay inspired is to keep working.

I'm experimenting with ways to make my paintings feel a little like my pottery. So I quess, one form of my work is inspiring another.

Painting in progress with pottery plate for inspiration
Maggie Ruley handmade ceramic platter and
acrylic painting 18 x 18"
©Maggie Ruley 2015

Painting in progress
acrylic 18 x 18"
©Maggie Ruley 2015

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Finding Inspiration

Misty Dawn
acrylic 20" x 16"
©Maggie Ruley 2015

Finding Inspiration

We have been having some really lovely sunrises lately and my friend Judy Pino has been taking some wonderful photos of them.  I'm always inspired by them when I see them on Facebook. Scroll down and see how she has captured those peach tones, just yummy. 
I paint a lot of sunsets, but somehow the sunrises seem softer, quieter.  So I glommed onto her photo and painted Misty Dawn. Inspiration isn't about copying something, it's about discovering something.  I'm going to say that again, in case you are just skimming through this.
Inspiration isn't about copying something, it's about discovering something.
Judy and I have been painting students of Jim Salem for years. He is hugely inspirational to all his students. I've talked about Jim's painting classes in the past, and if you want to be so inspired, do yourself a favor and click on his link.
Dawn photo by Judy Pino
used with permission
Thank you Judy!
©Judy Pino 2015
Judy is also an avid painter and world class fisherwoman.
My painting students are always looking for fresh ways to paint palm trees.  Palms are harder then they look.  I tell them the air around the palm tree, the negative space, is what makes or breaks a palm.
My students decided they wanted to paint the sunrise palm.  I gave them a quick demo (that sold before I got a photo of it) and off they went to create their own palm trees.
It was a very small class that day
students of Maggie Ruley
photo Maggie Ruley 2015

Note to Readers:

I've decided to post more often.  I paint all the time but I often don't  blog because I feel like I don't have anything IMPORTANT to tell you.  Well, that's the way studio life is.  You just keep painting and very often there isn't anything earth shattering about the piece.  You paint, you learn, and hopefully, grow.  I'll be sharing more of what I paint, but sometimes it might just be a picture and a short blurb about what happened that day. And some days I'll have some fun things to tell you.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Naked Ladies, Caution!

First of all......

A great big thank you to all of you who sent in votes for me to win the Bubba Award.  You are the best.  I still don't know if I've won.  I'll find out Saturday night at a special event that is a benefit for the Bahama Village Music Program. It's a great program and special to me.  My first Key West studio was in Bahama Village.

I felt the need to stretch........

Summer is a great time to tackle the little niggles that nag at you.  So it's time to paint the things on my list I have been avoiding.  One of them is people.  I did a lot of figure drawing in college, but not much since.  So last week I did a small series of nudes.  They started out as serious figure studies, but them I felt the need to jazz them up a little.  So I combined that with my secret envy to be a Victoria's Secret Angel. ( I mean what girl doesn't want to strap on a pair of wings?)

acrylic on paper
15" x 11"
©Maggie Ruley 2015

St. Teresa in Ecstasy
Acrylic on paper
15" x 11"
©Maggie Ruley 2015

Ebony Locks
15" x 11"
acrylic on paper
©Maggie Ruley
she didn't want to be jazzed up, she is totally confident in her own skin. #mustbenice


This week in Key West.......

It's Hemmingway Days.   Lots of activities remembering one of our famous citizens.

Hemmingway Days 2015

remember you can find me on Facebook! Click Here.

St.Teresa in Ecstasy
 Famous Baroque Sculpture by Bernini, of Teresa of Avila, in the Cornaro Chapel.

#angelpainting #stteresainecstasy #victoriasecretangels #acrylicpainting #keywestart #maggieruleypainting 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I Need Your Vote! and Here's Your Rainbow!

Some very exciting news!

I have been nominated by the Keys Weekly Newspaper for a Bubba Award.

I have been nominated in the category of "Best Artist" and I am up against 2 strong contenders; Koz and Wyland.  (I know this sounds like pre-mature sour grapes, but Wyland doesn't even live here.)

It's on-line voting and I'm giving you the link. You don't have to fill in any category other than Best Artist, but you will have to scroll all the way to the end of list to find the category.  For some reason "Best Artist" is all the way down the bottom with the banks.  Go figure?

Now there is no real prize other than bragging rights, but I'll take them so please vote for me!

Maggie Ruley for "Best Artist" click here to vote!

Now for the Pretty Stuff

Twice as Lucky
Acrylic on paper
22" x 30"
©Maggie Ruley 2015
Unframed $395
I've rarely considered painting a rainbow because I think they are the sacred territory of second graders. A second grade girl will always paint rings around you when it comes to rainbows. But after this morning's car ride I had to give it a whirl. So I channeled my Robert Burridge workshop stuff and painted my first rainbow!
Rainbow on the Over Seas Highway
©Maggie Ruley 2015
Here's the photo I shot with my phone while driving.  Shhh! don't tell the Fuzz.
Did you know you can find me one Facebook?  Here's my Page.

See, it's really big.  I love blues and greens.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Glitter of the Universe

It's Just Magic
Inspirational Photo
©Maggie Ruley 2015

I just returned to Key West from a long and lovely vacation.  Part of that time was spent on Hilton Head Island.  Long walks on the beach are a great way to get to your "creative place", seemingly without any effort on your part.  Maybe it's the sparkle on the water, it's kinda like the glitter of the universe. Maybe it's the sound of the water, the language of the universe.  Maybe it's just magic.

It was delightful to get away and it's great to be back.  I was able to rejuvenate as I get ready for my one year anniversary of my studio and gallery,

Maggie Ruley~Island Inspirations
933b Fleming Street
Key West, Florida 33040
305 304-1013

P.S. Have an inspirational Sunday!
P.P.S. Did you know you can follow me on Pinterest?
Email subscribers: If you want to read this in its original format click HERE

Thursday, June 25, 2015

One Extra Large Tropical Key West Cottage Painting, coming right up!

Beebo and Walser
acrylic 30 x 40"
©Maggie Ruley 2015
I recently taught a one-day workshop based on my
20 Minute Painting Technique. One of the attendees was from Naples, Florida. During the workshop, which was on a Thursday, she commissioned a 30" x 40" painting and was very specific about a number of items and colors.  She wanted a colorful, tropical Key West cottage painting. And by the way, she needed it by noon on Saturday.  Since I was teaching
a 20 minute painting technique I should be able to whip it out, Right? So I put a hustle one it and I had it finished on time. When she picked it up she loved it so much she commission two more. But no sweat I had 6 days to finish those and then ship them to her over night.
acrylic 20 x 16"
©Maggie Ruley 2015
acrylic 16 x 20"
©Maggie Ruley 2015
Under painting for Beebo and Walser
By the way a shout out to my very good friend Janet Burner of Sabino Pottery for lighting a fire under my ass to get me posting.  To see Janet's wonderful pottery click HERE.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dr. Ray does the Happy Dance

 My client Dr. Ray is doing the Happy Dance with his portrait.  Which is a huge sigh of relief for me. You work so very hard on portraits and you want your customers to be happy. Dr. Ray had a very specific wish list for his portrait.

 He didn't want an ordinary soft lines portrait.
 He wanted:
  • a chunky and kind-of-fractured style
  • his stoner eyes and his laugh lines to show,
  •  his sunglasses on (how are you supposed to see his laugh lines?)
  •  a smirk-y smile, even though I told him teeth in a portrait can look cheesy
  • his hair to look unkempt
We spent a lot of time together to make sure we got it right. He loved it and best of all his wife had tears of joy, which is good, cause it was a surprise gift to her from him.
Dr. Ray
acrylic on canvas
©Maggie Ruley 2015
P.S. I think I repainted the mouth about 15 times.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Honor your talent

Fleming St in Bloom
oil on canvas
©Maggie Ruley 2015

 I had some customers in the studio the other day who expressed great surprise that I wouldn't be in the studio on Wednesday because I would be in a painting class.  Why would I chose to take a class when I have a certain skill level and a great place to use those skills?  Good question. The answer is because one way I can honor my talent, honor my customers and fans, and honor my students (Yeah, that's right, I teach classes now-more on that another time) is to be always in a state of learning.  Most often I learn from my mistakes, but it's really great to learn from other artists. So, in the month of April, I have been taking a plein air oil painting class from Mike Rooney.  Mike is from North Carolina, spends winters painting in Key West and part of the summer painting in Cape Cod and Maine.

 It's lovely this time of year in Key West and the Bougainvillea in morning sunlight was right in my own Fleming St. neighborhood was irresistible.

Using oil paints is not my greatest skill set, that makes this class a challenge. We don't get to be better painters doing the things we are good at over and over. Mike does a great job of giving us instruction and I'm enjoying the class. Here is his painting set up, simple and functional, along with his system of finding correct values in sun and shadow.

On a final note I want to thank everyone who stuck by me when my blog was hacked and those of you who have patiently waited for me to decide it was safe to post again.  You are the best! And I want to thank this blog that helped me solve the problem.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Morning ritual

Here in Key West, our daily paper, the Key West Citizen, is a morning paper.  Our coffee of choice is Cafe Bustelo. I had sunflowers leftover from my painting class and thought they'd look pretty in the can. Plus I needed some still life practice.  

Here is the progression of the painting:
The initial block in is on a blue violet ground.

The major shapes are blocked in, but there are still corrections to make.

The finished painting.
Morning Ritual
acrylic 14" x 11'
©Maggie Ruley 2015

The set up.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Holidays

Hello Dear Friends

Inside "blog land" I am happy to report that everything is warm and fuzzy.  I made some security updates to my blog and for the last month it has been free of "icky content".  So today I am declaring my blog back up and running. And you will be hearing from me again.

Outside in the "real world" there is a whole lot of "icky" going on.  So from the bottom of my heart I am wishing you all a wonderful holiday season.

And my wish for the world is PEACE and Joy today and all days.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Crazy eyed

The fact that my blog has been hacked it making me crazy.  Anybody have any ideas how to stop this?  Google isn't being very helpful.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bright island days

Bright Island Day
20" x 24"
©Maggie Ruley 2014
giclee prints available
giclee prices
This cute little side-by-side painting was in progress when a friend asked if it could have a cat element added to it.  She sent me photos of her cats and here they are added  to the scene.  Can you find Rocky and Puck?
This is what my first house in Key West was like.  The front door went straight through to the back door.  The kitchen was in the back hall area. It was cute, but no AC.  It was on Whitehead St.
Small Print.  I have a spammer putting inappropriate content on my blog.  I am taking steps to get rid of them. So far I have not had much success.  Regrets and apologies to all.
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