Picasso said that “every child is an artist… the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Artist Vicki Carruthers has figured it out. With bold, fearless colour, this Muskokan paints the world in shapes that capture the essence of a child’s delight and wonder. Asked why she paints, Carruthers says, “To share my love of life and the joy I feel!”
Vicki’s painting journey began in early childhood with a gift from her grandmother: a set of watercolour paints. The two spent hours in the studio painting alongside one another. Vicki was later encouraged by her parents to pursue art in school, and she went on to earn a Fine Arts degree at Queen’s University. Following her education, she was hired to design and build the mechanical window displays at Simpsons in downtown Toronto. She also worked with Jim Henson designing sets for Muppet displays in his stores across Canada. Vicki went on to teach art at a children’s summer camp where she painted alongside the kids. She credits that experience as the inspiration for the bright and cheerful work she does today.
There was a point at which Vicki became dismayed that her painting style would never be accepted by other artists. That ended once she was introduced to the art of Canada’s Norval Morrisseau — a life-changing experience. Seeing Morrisseau’s use of bold colour and design, Carruthers was finally able to embrace her own style, adopting one of his quotes as her life mantra: “I want to make paintings full of colour, laughter, compassion, and love. I want to make paintings that will make people happy, that will change the course of people’s lives.” Vicki fell in love with the master’s use of red, so much so she “stole it!” for herself. Carruthers’ paintings featuring red skies are now among the Muskoka artist’s bestsellers.
“I want to make paintings full of colour, laughter, compassion, and love. I want to make paintings that will make people happy, that will change the course of people’s lives.”Norval Morrisseau
It was with that confidence that Vicki left teaching 15 years ago to focus on her own work. All she wanted to do was paint; she never imagined where that would take her. She had a few small solo shows at which her paintings sold out, then experienced great success participating in Toronto’s One-of-a-Kind Christmas show. Over time a clientele developed.
Working through the summer months from her island cottage on Georgian Bay, Vicki says it takes up to a month to complete an original painting. With her work in high demand, Vicki is now offering professional giclee prints of her paintings on canvas, as well as prints on watercolour and poster paper. These additional products have allowed her to share her joy-filled work with a broader audience through a variety of price points. Her professional giclee prints on canvas come fully framed, ready to hang. They’re guaranteed to last more than a hundred years! For young people and those on a budget, this means they can have beautiful work on their walls that has the look and feel of an original painting. “Each painting is like a child to me,” she admits. “I like to know it’s in a happy place.”
Vicki’s artistic journey has come full circle from her earliest drawings of shapes filled with colour. “I see the world in shape,” she says of her style. When the artist eliminates detail and employs her imagination, she realizes “trees don’t have to be brown!” The artist found what works for her, what expresses who she is and how she sees the world. She says she is “incredibly grateful to be an artist. Life is precious, spreading joy and love through my art has been a gift and means the world to me.”
“Each painting is like a child to me, I like to know it’s in a happy place.”Vicki Carruthers
Learn more about Vicki Carruthers and join her mailing list for updates on new paintings and workshops at https://vickicarruthers.com/, Instagram @vickicarruthers_art, Facebook: Vicki Carruthers. All images and photos are courtesy of the artist.
About the Author: Muskoka writer and visual artist Wendie Donabie paints pictures with words and flavours her creations with alliteration, similes and metaphors. When words won’t do the job, she turns to her easel and paints what stirs her heart and soul – most often her love of the natural world. Wendie has published work in magazines and in poetry and literary collections. At this time, she is working on a murder mystery set in a forested resort area somewhere in North America. Wendie is co-founder of Muskoka Authors Association, operates Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery and is one of the organizers of ARTrail Muskoka. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and www.WendieDonabie.com.