Ruth Thiessen of rural Waldheim, Saskatchewan loves nature and rural life with its abundance of wildlife and colours, and her love for horses is very reflective in her paintings and pencil sketches.
She said that her father was instrumental in nurturing her inner ability to draw. From spending time drawing and colouring with her at a young age to being her biggest critic as she developed into a budding artist, he was encouraging. She recalls winning her first art competition in grade school with her pencil sketch drawing of a scroll.
“I look at that drawing and wonder what the others looked like if I won,” says Thiessen.
Thiessen continued to pursue her talent in the 1970s with painting classes from a community college. She used a variety of mediums including oil, acrylic, pastel, graphite and coloured pencils but uses mainly oils and graphite now.
Taking advantage of the quiet time that painting creates, it has become a form of relaxation and a way to unwind. Painting requires direct focus and concentration and as she sketches she allows the picture to take form. The intense concentration provides a diversion from work, farming and everyday life.
“Every painting is a challenge and I call it my ‘favourite headache,’” says Thiessen.
A highlight of her career was the attendance of a four-day seminar in Wyoming with professional artist Robert Bateman. The artists in attendance had an opportunity to witness Bateman at work and receive first-hand painting tips from the world-renowned professional.
“It was an experience I will never forget,” said Thiessen, who learned and has applied some of his techniques to her own works of art.
Another distinguished honour was when she participated in a mosaic mural entitled Le Cadeau Du Cheval “The Gift Horse” which was unveiled at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta on September 3, 2008. The mural brings together individual paintings created by many different artists into one unifying image.
Thiessen was chosen to be one of 179 artists worldwide to participate in the massive masterpiece that consisted of 238 16×16-inch paint board tiles strategically placed to form one huge mural, depicting the equine species. She received her pre-stamped tile board with a background col-our and/or outline, depending on where the tile was being placed in the overall artwork. She painted it according to the horse theme and sent it back to be assembled. Panel by panel, piece by piece the overall design measured 22.6×18.6 feet and took 18 months to complete and assemble.
One hundred and seventy-nine participating artists ranged from the aspiring art student and recreational artist to professional and internationally acclaimed artists representing many corners of the globe.
Mediums used included acrylic, oil, scratch board, fire on wood, watercolour, gold leaf and photos.
Thiessen’s tile No. 204 titled “Fearless and Mighty” depicts a rearing horse during an electrical storm and is situated near a William Shatner tile. She used acrylic and fast-drying oil to create her original painting.
Living in a rural location has also provided Thiessen with an opportunity to capture wildlife on digital camera right outside her farmhouse door. A couple of her framed wildlife prints was entered in the Reflections of Nature competition in Saskatoon where she received ribbons. She was also awarded grand prize in a photo contest of Sask Tourism 2008.
This Saskatchewan-born and -raised artist is making a name in the art world. Besides commissioned works sold across the country, her artwork is published in Equine Vision, Horses in Art magazine as well as several other magazines.
There is a tremendous amount of talent in rural Saskatchewan that goes unnoticed, but many are appreciative of Thiessen for sharing her passion with the world. Her passion for art, her passion for horses and her passion for life.
Vivian Nemish writes from Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan