Bev Ruiz’s bold expressions: The Vail Valley artist’s abstracts come to life through color, texture and layering
Fresh and free: These are two themes that have emerged in Bev Ruiz’s energetic paintings.
As a relative newcomer to the fine art scene, Ruiz has made a big splash. She first began painting as a hobby while working as a financial analyst, and when she became an empty-nester, she focused her attention on art, initially creating representational pieces. But things didn’t quite click until shutdowns during the pandemic led her to study abstracts.
“I didn’t feel the passion painting flowers and landscapes,” she says. “With abstracts, my personality, my feelings, everything just started coming out in my art, and I began to see the interest in my art because I was painting from within, expressing myself.”
She begins by scratching out marks throughout the canvas with a charcoal pencil, which establishes a sense of movement. Then, she adds up to 10 layers of acrylic, creating a sculpture-like appearance by hammering, carving into and sanding the paint.
“It takes off on its own,” she says. “I love the unknown. I love not knowing where it’s going to go.”
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Mosaics of rich color, bold brushstrokes, lines, shapes and layered textures cause the eye to move around the canvas.
“I work with shapes and patterns to create that movement, and color invokes feelings — yellow may remind viewers of a citrus scent or a bird,” she says. “That’s what I mean by freshness; you have to look around and see all the textures and patterns.”
Raised in New Mexico and now living in Denver and Eagle-Vail, Ruiz’s work reflects her love of the Southwest, as well as her Hispanic culture.
“Color in my culture is just ingrained in me. I can’t do neutrals. I try, and it just doesn’t work for me —it’s just how and where I grew up — and Colorful Colorado,” she says.
Observing things most people overlook inspires her art as she reimagines the vibrancy of nature and everyday life.
“I want my art to stir an emotion, and everyone has their own take on it,” she says. “I want wonderment, freshness, playfulness and also freedom in my work. The freedom is found a lot of times in the vibrant colors that has a sense of wonderment that just splashes around the canvas.”
All of her abstracts convey an uplifting feeling; even if she feels sad when she walks into the studio, as she layers colors upon the canvas it evolves and evokes its own message. She finishes each piece off with a positive-slant title.
She credits oil painter Quang Ho for helping develop her eye for art, as well as mentors Nicolas Wilton, Keven Weckbach and Peggy McGivern, with whom she studied. She also spends time working with about 50 artists at the Prism Workspace in Denver, which helped her understand and appreciate abstracts more deeply. She moved part-time to the Vail Valley a couple years ago and debuted her work at Art on the Rockies in Edwards. Curate Gallery in Edwards, and a couple galleries in Denver including the Santa Fe Arts District, also showcase her work.
Her overall goal involves reaching inward, appreciating everything she has seen and experienced, expressing herself and, through that, encouraging others to feel emotion though her compelling shapes and colors.
“Art is a lifetime journey and a process that is full of self-discovery,” she says. “I love the adventure of where the next painting takes me.”