Friday, February 1, 2013

An Artist from the Isle of Bute, Scotland, U.K.- Ruth Slater

                                  Soaring to Success
                  Interviews of Artists, Writers and Photographers
                     their work, creative spaces and techniques

                                                   by Joan Carver

    I find it so interesting to hear from other artists across the world. We are so much alike in our passion to create art - yet our lives are so distant from one another.  I am grateful to "meet" and get to know these artists through our amazing technology.  Thrilled to be able to share these interviews on my blog for others to enjoy their interesting stories. 

                             Interview with Isle of Bute, Scotland, U.K. artist :
                                                 Ruth Slater   
1. Introduce yourself: My name is Ruth Slater, based on the Isle of Bute, Scotland, UK. My passion is drawing and painting with a bit of textile art and sculpture thrown in!

2. When did you know you wanted to be an artist, writer or photographer?
When I was eleven I went to high school and realized that my real strengths lay in art and design. I struggled in English and Math’s and when I was allowed to use my creativity in any subject I realized how much I thrived. I also had an amazing art teacher called Mr. Fiddes who worked as a professional artist in addition to teaching. His work consisted of huge canvasses and mural which my Mum would drive me to see in the town. He was a bit different than any other teacher I had at the time and seemed to suggest that there was more than what we were officially being told we could do. I saw him about ten years after I had left school and we were exhibiting at the same exhibition. I won the award from the judges with a small lino cut of a crow and he was the main exhibit with a huge triptych, it felt such a momentous milestone.

Ruth's Art Studio

3. What are your fears? 
My fears are paying the bills if I’m a full time artist, losing inspiration if I’m trying to make a living so I stop experimenting.  I know I’ll work hard enough but what if people don’t really like my work to pay proper prices? With a young child and a self employed husband it might be too much of a risk if I was ill or my work simply didn’t take off.
To be honest even though I can rationalize I need to move gradually into this role and maybe as I get things like Etsy more established I can cut down on my teaching job when I know the money will come in.

4. What makes you different…unique from others
My location makes me unique to start with, based on a small unspoilt island off the West Coast of Scotland. I’m inspired by the dramatic landscapes that surround me and I’m very lucky that my studio faces the Isle of Arran and Mull of Kintyre. I use what surrounds me to paint on and inspire me e.g driftwood, animals.
Although I experiment with different styles and try to develop I come back to the same subjects, Highland cows, chickens, seascapes, my daughter’s shoes, wild birds and people who appeal to me. A new style I started working on a few years ago was Wire Work in drawing, it has been really popular both in originals and cards. I’d like to take this further into mugs and maybe paper napkins etc.

Breathtaking view from Ruth Studio window!

5. Any secrets to reveal about the tools you use or your techniques?  Tips or tricks?  
I always paint in my coffee merchant apron from when I worked at Whittard’s of Chelsea. Part of wearing it reminds me of how far I’ve come and the other is it feels like a comfort blanket when I’m painting and I don’t feel properly dressed without it. I write inspirational quotes on the walls of my studio to remind me each time I look up. One from KKR ( is right in the middle at the moment, Thank you life for…

Lone Sheep on Driftwood

I’ve also made short rhyming stories about events that have happened since my daughter has been born and intend to make them into a set of children’s books called Ballinalay Tails, as most of them are based on the animals we have here, four donkeys, two pet sheep, chickens, ducks, turkeys, cat, dog and quails.
Most of the things I use are recycled and I do talks on making and being creative with pre-loved things. I love working out a way of incorporating packaging paper into a painting or adding driftwood into a box frame.

Chicken on a recycled envelope

6. What are your goals & inspirations?
 In 2 years? October 2014, A successful Etsy selling my full range of cards and prints. A studio open to the public on the last Sunday of each month with delicious refreshments, for chat, sales and new friendships.
5 years?  2017, working as a full time artist with talks, demos and exhibitions regularly. Card sales are worldwide and my name is starting to become recognized as a professional artist.
10 years? 2022, My ‘Artours’ bus is up and running around the UK. Bringing mobile art lessons to remote locations, whatever the weather, along with on board art shop. My daughter travels with me in school holidays and we see some of the most amazing places and meet interesting people who love art.

Red Shoes

7. Where is your creative space or studio?   
I am really lucky to have a custom built studio in the house. We built our house four years ago and when we planned it a studio was a must. The main studio is  and led into through a room that we can use as an exhibition space, playroom, and open plan bedroom, whatever we need at the time. Most recently at the Open Studio event people were able to browse, sit and have tea and coffee or step out onto the Velux platform we have built in to help me draw the landscape. Unfortunately due to the lack of time in the studio it is frequently very messy and I would love to have it working more efficiently.

Another angle of the art studio

8.How much time do you devote to your work? 
I work as a secondary school teacher with teenagers from Mon-Weds, on Thurs and Fri I spend the day with my three year old daughter. She loves to draw in the studio so I can get card orders and small things done while her attention holds. Most of my work is done in the evenings when she has gone to bed or bartered time with my husband and in-laws at the weekend. School holidays are great as I still get my three days, as my daughter still goes to the child minder and I work as furiously as I can to use the time effectively. When I am able to I use my lunch break in school to work on reading or drawing projects, ten minutes here and there all add up in the end.

"Come on Then"

9. What are your “whispers” or callings begging you to do?  (Paint, write a book, sell your items on-line)  What made you decide to take this e-course with Kelly Rae Roberts? What do you want to achieve?
I took the Flying Lessons e-course to give me the confidence and knowledge to take my business where I know it can get to. Sharing the experience with others in the same boat has been amazing and much more than I could ever have hoped for. It has pushed me to learn but in such a positive and enticing way which has shaped all of us share success.
The whispers call me to paint big canvasses with movement and depth, inspired by where I live. I really see my books based on daily life here succeeding and becoming a set to treasure. I would even consider working in conjunction with an artist I admire to illustrate the stories.

10. Do you keep a daily journal or sketchbook, or write in a diary? 
I keep a daily book with everything that inspires me from clothing tags to receipts. I sketch, take notes stick in articles and always carry it in my bag. I have kept book like this since 1998 so have amassed quite a collection and will go back through them to remind myself of ideas and inspiring quotes.


11. How do you market yourself? How do you plan to get “the word” out there?? 
I use my website,, Facebook , blog and twitter @ruthslater to promote my work but seem to spend more time on these ‘promotions’ than actual work lately! I’m trying to set up my Etsy shop currently but sell my work locally in shops and the odd craft fayre. My card range sells well and as I print them myself I am able to change lines that are slower and extend ideas that are good sellers.

12. What type of music (if any) do you listen to when you create?
I listen to radio plays while in the studio working, I find that by concentrating on the dialogue the right hand side of my brain works more creatively. Other than that I have BBC Radio 2 on for good tunes and interesting discussion.

13. Who is your favorite artist?
This will sound contrived but Kelly Rae Roberts for me really sums up everything I would like to be, her focus, drive and positivity are very infectious and I love how you feel she is talking to you personally. I also follow Carla Sonheim as I love her style and methods.

Ruth's  lovely family..husband and daughter.

14. Are you encouraged to follow your creative path by your family or friends?
Oh yes most definitely, my husband is my greatest supporter and he is great for constructive criticism and tweaking ideas that are nearly right. My mum is lives quite aways from me will email me to say she’s read my blog and is forever promoting my website to everyone she meets! My in-laws are very proud and on the island word of mouth is very important so I have been privileged to have some excellent commissions via them. I know all of them worry that artists don’t make ‘proper’ livings so I have to make a success and not rush my transition to full time self employment!

15. How do come up with titles for your work?
Oh this is nearly impossible every time! Sometimes I go for humorous other times a quote or something poignant. I try not to be too ‘arty farty’ as some would put it, I feel it doesn’t fit with who I am.

Painting homegrown produce!

16. Do you work on one project at a time ..or have several going on at a time?
White Bull by Ruth Slater
Several all the time.

Thank you so much Ruth for allowing us to get to know you..and giving us a sneak peek into your life as an artist in Isle of Bute, Scotland in the U.K.!
Your artwork is delightful. You are a very talented artist and we will all keep an eye on you because your wings are ready....we will be there to watch you SOAR!! 

I owned an art school in Charlotte, NC for 16 years before moving to Jacksonville, FL., so it  thrills me when a classroom full of students, given one assignment, produces such a variety of ideas. …We are all unique, we are all special.  We all have a different path, a different way of approaching our art. That is exactly why I want to do these interviews, to celebrate what makes us, US!  
If you are an artist, writer, or photographer and would like to be showcased with an interview on my blog, simply contact me and I will certainly consider you for a post.   Thank you for participating : )               
                                               Joan Carver       (e)       904-230-6155

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