With their vibrant colours, smiling sunbathers and gleeful swimmers, Ruth Mulvie’s paintings are pure joy. Ruth creates her utopian wonderlands from her loft studio in Brighton. Found imagery and old photographs form the basis of her work - with buckets of colour thrown in.
Where do you get your inspiration for your delightful paintings?
All over the place! The last group of paintings I worked on was called ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ after the Hieronymus Bosch painting which depicts ideas of Heaven on Earth with magical creatures and exotic nymphs. I wanted to explore this idea and combine fictional landscapes and animals with women in fantastical places.
My work is always positive and joyful, and sometimes humorous. I work with found visual imagery and often old photographs that I am interested in because of the way they have been filtered or processed to give heightened colour.
What do you love about your studio?
It’s my safe haven. A private space. It’s up in the warm loft of our house. It’s large and airy and can fit all of my work in. I can see the sea from the window on one side and the South Downs from the other. It’s such a privilege to be an artist, and when I get into my studio I feel like I’m home.
Can you tell us about your process?
I start out thinking about the paintings as a group. I have several themes that I like to work with - for example the seaside, beauty pageants, theme parks, pools and women.
I find and collect images and I work up my scenes using digital collages which allows me to distort perspectives and play around with the compositions.
Then I start to work. I map out the paintings first with underpainting and then I build them up using several layers. I try to see my images in terms of chunks of colour, and spaces. I mix all of the colours carefully and apply the paint mostly quite evenly.
I usually have 6 or 7 paintings on the go at a time in my studio so I can work them all up as a group and see how the colours flow between the works. This means I’m always working on something new.
Do you have a favourite inspirational quote?
When I get stressed I love the TS Eliot quote…“The journey, Not the destination matters...” and that helps me to enjoy the here and now ad not panic about deadlines for shows.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I’m working on a new series of paintings. I have two themes…the first ‘Girls Rule The World’ is a series of paintings with women in various places and spaces. The second is a return to the Victorian Seaside, so working from photographs and translating them through use of colour into my own unique interpretation.