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Sugar Land’s own HeARTist

Artist Ruth Stubenrouch shows her work in the studio. (Photo - Kevin West)

Artist Ruth Stubenrouch shows her work in the studio. (Photo – Kevin West)

Ruth Stubenrouch Touches Lives Through Service And Art

Text By Cheryl Alexander   Photo of Ruth By Kevin West

Though I first knew Ruth Stubenrouch only marginally through my support of local artists, I realized the scope of her influence when I was invited to attend her surprise birthday party a few years ago. I already recognized her talent, kind heart and generosity, but when 150+ people showed up to Ruth’s party to surprise and wish her well, I understood that she is a woman who has touched countless lives through her goodwill and philanthropic spirit, not to mention her art.

Since then, I’ve enjoyed getting to know one of Fort Bend County’s most loved and respected artists through our work together on the Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation (SLCAF). “Volunteering is a large part of my life,” said Ruth.

Ruth has served on the SLCAF board of directors for the past five years. She worked for 14 years to bring new life to Sugar Land’s oldest public building, the historic Lakeview Auditorium, now renamed the Sugar Land Auditorium. With Ruth’s help, the SLCAF also has re-chartered to promote all the arts in Sugar Land.

Ruth also serves on the executive board of Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, where she is especially involved with acclimating new members and visitors into the congregation. In conjunction with the Alzheimer Society of Houston, she teaches art to early onset Alzheimer patients and their caregivers at the Sugar Land Art Center, which donates the supplies and space.

“The participants love it,” said Ruth, “and so do I. Many of them have never painted before and at the end of the six-week courses, we have an art show and luncheon where the artists show their creations to family and friends.”

Ruth’s own interest in art began when she was a young girl. One of her family’s neighbors was an artist and teacher, and Ruth loved to sit and watch her paint. One day the woman gave Ruth some paper and paints so she could “play” while the artist worked.

“She was my first real teacher,” said Ruth, “and she inspired me to seek beauty in everything I see and do.”

A desire to surround herself and be absorbed by beautiful art has been a long-driving force. When she and her husband Randy first married, Ruth set a precedent that they would only have original art in their home.

“We would buy art from art students and scour small galleries for original affordable art,” she said. “One of our best buys was a Picasso litho. We stretched our budget, but it was so special to have.”

This self-taught appreciation for original art and those few hours observing her neighbor set Ruth on her creative path, and for years, she organically put paint to canvas. Then 14 years ago on her birthday, her husband gifted her with lessons with Caroline Graham, where Ruth learned composition, perspective and design, along with a professional watercolor technique.

In 2010, Ruth took lessons with Lani Anderson at the Sugar Land Art Center and Gallery. There she learned how to bring her watercolors to life through color and shading, and was introduced to acrylic painting. Ruth’s fascination with acrylics is apparent in her work where she’s employed alcohol, sand, fabric and liquid paints to create texture and variety.

“My whole world changed with acrylics,” said Ruth. “I can do so much in this medium. I feel absolutely free when I create a large acrylic abstract. The bigger the better. My large abstracts with resin finish have been my biggest success. Plus, they make me smile.”

Ruth credits the bright, bold color in her recent watercolors and acrylics to a workshop she attended with Stephen Quiller at his studio in Creede, Colorado.

Over the years, Ruth learned to paint what makes her happy. One of her favorite methods is to take lots of scenic photos when she’s traveling, then create a watercolor memory from the trip. One of her best “memory” paintings captures an April trip to Paris, where she was one of only five artists invited to paint privately in Monet’s Gardens.

“From that trip, I created eight meaningful paintings,” she said, “and my version of the Japanese bridge hangs in my home today.”

In her work with students, Ruth encourages them every step of the way to never give up on their passion to create.

“Prior to my work as an artist, I worked for more than 20 years in a stressful sales position. Before I ever made money with my art, I painted to fulfill my passion.”

When Ruth retired, she decided that if she could sell other peoples’ products, she could sell her artwork as well. She rented a studio at Sugar Land Art Center, became the gallery manager and began to show her own work along with the other local artists there. She also began marketing to interior designers and gallery owners to expand her network.

Additionally, Ruth encourages students to learn something from every class they take. “Whether it is drawing, pour-painting, collage, watercolor, acrylic, whatever,” she said, “each class helps to define you as an artist.”

Her first art sale came as a result of a class she attended where they did a study on boots. The boots were piled on a table and the students were instructed to pick a pair for a composition. Ruth’s painting sold, and for the next two years, she created more than 20 boot paintings. No two were ever alike, and many folks commissioned her to paint their boots.

“Now,” she said, “I ONLY paint boots by commission.”

Ruth’s current mission is to use her knowledge of color and design to paint great art and create images that reach someone’s heart.

“Sometimes, when people see their commissioned painting for the first time, they get all choked up,” she shared. “There is nothing more liberating than to see a wellspring of emotion arise as a result of something I have created.”

A thirst for beauty continues to inspire her. “I’m constantly aware of my surroundings, looking everywhere and at everything,” she said. “I am first and foremost an artist who sees every shape, color and texture appearing as if it were on my canvas.”

Ruth’s work has been exhibited at the Art League of Houston, the Galveston Art Walk (Tremont Hotel), Artoberfest-Galveston, Watercolor Art Society of Houston, Sugar Land Auditorium, Museum of Natural Science-Sugar Land, Sugar Land Regional Airport, Marilyn Dickey Open, Imperial Artists Member Show, Sugar Land Art Center and Gallery and is currently on display at the K & D Contemporary Furniture and Design Studio in Houston.


Summer Forest. (Photo - Lani Anderson)

Summer Forest. (Photo – Lani Anderson)





Kicking Back in the Keys . (Photo - Kevin West)

Kicking Back in the Keys . (Photo – Kevin West)


Morning Drink. (Photo - Kevin West)

Morning Drink. (Photo – Kevin West)


Stubenrouch at work on Can’t See the Forest for the Trees. (Photo - Kevin West)

Stubenrouch at work on Can’t See the Forest for the Trees. (Photo – Kevin West)


Sunset in the San Juans. (Photo - Lani Anderson)

Sunset in the San Juans. (Photo – Lani Anderson)


Fireworks. (Photo - Lani Anderson)

Fireworks. (Photo – Lani Anderson)

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