Sunday, September 2, 2012

"Royalty," acrylic figurative © Toni Ruppert

"Royalty" 16x20 Mixed Media on Pine Board
© Toni Ruppert
I wanted to paint some STRONG WOMEN.  I put a post on my Facebook page to see who could pose for me.  One of my long time friends, Pat, replied to me.

It was awesome to see her in person after so many years.  As you can see from the picture, Pat is very stately and beautiful. Deeply spiritual, she has a strong presence about her.

"Pat in Sepia" Photo ©Toni Ruppert
After sketching her that day and taking photos, I could not wait to get home and get a chance to work on it.

I started with a 1/2 inch blank 16x20 pine board which I quickly covered with color. I chose yellow and orange for the underpainting.  Those colors mean fire and energy for me - I wanted to ensure that came out in the final.

As I created “Pat” I made some decisions.  I know you can’t tell from the photo, but I used Sennelier pastels for the back ground.  I loved the effect and sprayed it to hold it.
Underpainting © Toni Ruppert
Progress © Toni Ruppert
I decided to place a silver crown on her and to accentuate the shawl.  Her actual shawl was so  beautiful, I wanted to do it justice.

I chose jewel-like colors to show this.

Playing with the shawl...

I work sometimes by computer. Blowing up the photo on my screen. Yes, my computer is turned on its head. That’s the only way I could rotate the photo just right. It worked....!!

Progress with the computer....

At this point, I slowed way down. I was having such a good time painting “Pat.” I took my time and enjoyed the peace.  At one point, Mike--my husband, took a photo of me painting.  It was like the perfect shot.

"Royalty" in Progress © Mike Ruppert
The next phase was what I call a cruise phase. Adding more and more detail, I painted the face and just played with it.

At the end, I knew it was not completed. I wanted to show a pendant with “something” in it.  I’ve been going through some tough stuff lately and so have some of my friends.  By God's grace, I am sustained.  I was moved to show something to depict what may lay underneath the beauty and composed state. 

I borrowed Norwegian Expressionist Edvard Munch’s painting Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature) otherwise known as “The Scream.” I painted the actual head screaming as her pendant.

I immediately knew the agonized expression on the face of the pendant was perfect.
Close up of "Royalty" ©Toni Ruppert
Adding the "scream"....

"Royalty" © Toni Ruppert

“Royalty" is now completed and ready to share. For more information about prints of "Royalty” click  to my Fine Art America site.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Barack Obama Learning Center - Daring to Dream

Board Members -  D. Carter, E. Proctor-Harris and G. Dudley ©Toni Ruppert
“This is a dream come true.” “It’s been twenty-five years in the making.” I heard this over and over at the Barack Obama Learning Center Grand Opening in the Village of Phoenix, IL.  On Sunday, August 19, 2012 - many residents, officials and well-wishers came for the ribbon cutting ceremony and open-house.  The energy was high and the smiles were genuine as the community welcomed its first library.

This is the first public building in the US named in honor of President Barack Obama
It’s good to know the history of this library.

Phoenix Library Board President Jessica Buckner
and Recording Secretary Martina Mahaffey ©Toni Ruppert

In the Phoenix Rising, a publication of the Village of Phoenix, writer Martina Mahaffey shared the history of Phoenix’s pursuit of a library of their own. The Phoenix Public Library Board of Trustees was established in April of 1987. Over time, the residents were serviced by the Harvey, IL Public Library. A “library room” was eventually established in the William Hawkins Multi-Purpose Center in Phoenix.  After four years of planning and visiting other libraries--the new library was established as a partnership between the Phoenix Public Library, the Village of Phoenix and the South Holland, IL School District 151.
Library Director -Kaleena Woodard
and artist Toni Ruppert. ©Toni Ruppert

I was there with a few hundred well-wishers to celebrate the library opening.  I was invited by Xavier Menzies, Library Director for the Markham Public Library in Markham, IL.  I had the opportunity to work with Menzies while creating art for the Markham Public Library. 

The Barack Obama Learning Center  - celebrated by many.

One resident, Barbara Stewart and I talked about the value of education and the seeds of knowledge established in us as children.  I was impressed to hear that her grandmother instilled in her a love of reading by having her “read” comic strip pictures and share what she thought the pictures were about. Barbara is now a journalist.
The Stewart family celebrates. ©Toni Ruppert

Mayor Terry Wells and Thornton Township
President Frank Zuccarelli ©Toni Ruppert

I reconnected with Art Burton, my former freshman advisor at Loyola University Chicago who now teaches history at South Suburban College.  Burton would often speak of his hometown Phoenix, IL. 

Dr. Florine Robinson and Toni Ruppert
©Toni Ruppert
Brett Fickes, Area Instructional Leader for Thornton High School in Harvey, IL spoke of knowing Phoenix Mayor Terry Wells for many years from Thornton High School where Mayor Wells teaches Modern U.S. History. 

I also celebrated with Dr. Florine Robinson, Chair of the Senior Citizen Committee for the Village of Hazel Crest, IL.  It was absolutely fabulous seeing her again - Dr. Robinson was the first person who purchased a painting from me.

What I Learned

I have 3 takeaways from speaking to people at the event including Mayor Terry Wells, former Mayor January Belmont and her daughter June Mitchell:

Phoenix Mayor Terry Wells
and Brett Fickes(School District 205)
©Toni Ruppert
Former Mayor January Belmont
with her daughter June Mitchell ©Toni Ruppert

  • If you’re going to do something, do it right. - The ceremony, the open-house and the library itself is first class.  
  • Teamwork makes the dream work. - This library was built via a “tri-partnership” as Martina Mahaffey called it in her article. I noticed an overlapping of the faith-based, political, community and educational arenas. Pooling resources together made this building possible.
Brenda Mason and Mae Buchanon
were in charge of the beautiful tables of food.
©Toni Ruppert

  • Human relationships are ultra important and perhaps more so than financial capital.  I noticed a genuineness as I connected with people.  Having good relationships builds projects...and public libraries.

If you’re in the Phoenix, IL area which is about 35 minutes south of Chicago, IL, do visit the library. It is a testimony to dreams.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Big Idea? Get an Adviser

"Higher Learning"  Watercolor/ Ink on Paper  ©AntoniaRuppert
“Many advisers make victory sure.”  I learned these wise words of King Solomon years ago when I was mentored as a young Christian.

In my last post, I mentioned three things that help put BIG IDEAS into action.  One of these three things was having many advisers.  I thought it might be helpful to you, my reader, to further explain this concept and how it is helping me reach one of my goals. 

Here is who I've sought advice from:
  • Amos Johnson, Jr. - Adviser to Christian Entrepreneurs
  • Centerpoint - Governor State University’s center for small businesses in Illinois
  • Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) - Chicago’s small business incubator

Adviser to Christian Entrepreneurs
Amos Johnson, Jr. and his Biblical Entrepreneurship Training Center -  I was introduced to him via a Facebook group for Christian Entrepreneurs. 

“What is my calling? How can I continue to focus on what God has called me to do with my creative gift?  Before getting advice from Amos, these types of questions swam in my head.

Working via phone with Amos has helped me get more and more clear about these questions.  I had not yet considered that God was truly interested in my business. Something to consider, right?

Business Development Advisers
Further, I asked the folks at Governor State University’s Centerpoint - .  This business center’s mission is to create a nurturing environment for entrepreneurs.  Bob, Dan, Don, Marlene and staff have helped me tremendously.  From one-on-one meetings about planning my business to an Entrepreneurial Bootcamp, they have provided practical knowledge.

Technical Specialists
While at Centerpoint, Don encouraged me to check out the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC).  I called and found their Procurement Technical Assistance Center to be world class.  They strive to help all Illinois based businesses build contractor relationships with local, state and federal government entities.  I’ve learned way more than I ever expected.  I am so grateful for their help.

Concluding Thoughts
I had a goal and needed help fulfilling it.  In order for me to go to the next level in my artistic business, I sought advice. In one of my affirmations, which I posted on my Facebook Page, I wrote:

My every step is guided.
I make right choices.
I give it my all--
heart and soul.

I would not be able to believe and declare this without the help of many advisers.

How have you sought out advisers? What’s your process for seeking out mentors? Please share in the comments below.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

How I Go for the Really Big Ideas

"Morning Meditation I"   India Ink and Acrylic on Paper   ©Toni Ruppert    
I had a big belly laugh this week. My sister texted me something funny my nephew BJ asked.  She wrote, “So out of nowhere, BJ asks me, “Mommy, how did I come out of your mouth when I was born?”

My sister said she was speechless.  I cried laughing.  Kids ask the darnedest things, don’t they?

Bj reminded me of how inquisitive I was as a child. I was definitely an explorer of new things.  That same curiosity leads me today as an entrepreneur.  I like to ask myself:
  • How else can I inspire and encourage with my work?
  • How else can I be of creative service to my clients?
  • What would happen if I went after “The Big Ideas?
  • Why go 2x when I can go 10x?”

That last question is from Dan Sullivan, author and founder of Strategic Coach.  In the May 2012 edition of Success Magazine Dan writes about 10 times thinking. The idea is to grow something important to you by 10 times.  The chosen 10 times goal  - while not an end in itself - would catapult you into a new set of abilities. With these new capabilities, you would then be able to go 10x in any area you choose in the future. 

I read this and a light bulb went off.  I thought this might help me put BIG IDEAS into action. I’ll share how this act of going 10x actually fleshed out in my daily life.  After some consideration, I decided to:
  1. Write my vision and make it clear

  2. Make victory sure with many advisers

  3. Work hard to bring a profit

Let me explain the first one.  The second and third action step will be explained at another time. 


Big Ideas Must Be Written

For me, implementing the 10x way of thinking started with scripture.  The Bible says, "Write the vision. Make it clear on tablets so that anyone can read it quickly.” - Habakkuk 2:2.   After taking in that scripture along with Dan Sullivan’s idea, I realized I already had a lined softcover book that I could write my affirmations in.  I also had an almost new 5 subject yellow notebook. I named it and am now using it for my BIG IDEAS which include: 
©Toni Ruppert

  • plans for my future art fair booth
  • 3-month goals with deadlines
  • charity goals(American Cancer Society - Relay for Life)
  • plans for paintings I’d like to see in public spaces across the U.S.
  • other awesome ideas gleaned from my advisers


Results of Going After Big Ideas

The last two to three weeks have brought some personal results and some bruising disappointments.

A personal result of writing down my vision has been that my morning routine is absolutely inspiring me - I get out of bed excited about the day. 

Additionally, after writing my daily affirmations,  I shared them once or twice on my personal timeline on Facebook.  After seeing them, my dear friend Leanna shared that she liked seeing them daily.  So I started posting the affirmations daily on my personal timeline. I am considering posting them regularly to my Facebook Fan page so everyone can benefit - let me know what you think, okay? 

It has not all been a bed of ease.  First, after collaborating with another artist on a BIG IDEA art project for a University, our idea and concepts were not chosen.  Bummer! Second, two mural projects for a local school district did not materialize as I’d hoped.  Ouch!  Finally, the super duper press release for my summer art camps was nixed by one of the park districts I'm working with.  Slammed!  (It was my own responsibility - I did not know the correct regulations and procedures that needed to be followed.)

Though this all happened, I find myself in a good place -- a place of trust.  The BIG IDEAS are flowing and I’m going after them.  Again, I will share more soon.  I leave you with one of the affirmations I posted this week:

Rising before the sun came up, I ran to meet God. This glorious day is here! I AFFIRM:

I can flourish.
I excel in strength.
He leaps with me.
I am lifted.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

101 Ways I've Created

One of my favorite childhood memories includes drawing on the "den" floor with lots of paper and crayons.  My Dad use to come home from Brach's Candy in Chicago and sketch.  I think back to how connected I felt to Dad when I created something. 

"Meet the Artist" Orland Park, IL  Public Library, 2010  - Photo by Van Westrop

I remember one time when Dad first showed me his drawing with an eraser technique. It was a cool way to blend graphite and create highlights.  As a child, I was in awe as he guided me. 

A lot has happened in my life since those early years.  Yet, I am able to create.  This week, I was led to remember ways and circumstances I’ve created over the years.  I came up with over 100 ways. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Almost Losing a Child; an Easter Reflection

"Kayla's Longing"  12x16  Watercolor  ©Toni Rupper

Last week I almost lost my artistic muse of 18 years.  My daughter was in a car accident in which the car was totaled.  I call her my muse because in addition to being a gift from God, she has truly been my inspiration and creative stimulus.

As an artist, I sit and reflect on Kayla as my creative muse.   I realize that many times, I’ve taken her for granted.  I’ve been on “artsy - auto - pilot” many times.

Kayla has posed for me and I’ve drawn and painted her through out the years. “Stay there!” I shout as I run to get my camera. “Hold that pose please,” I plead as I rush to get my pastels.  From the time she was a wee one, I’ve practiced my artistry with her. 

"Best Friends II"  12x16  Watercolor   ©Toni Ruppert

The Night it Almost Changed

As a Mom, I sit here and reflect on my daughter’s accident.  I came upon the night scene with flashing lights, police and my little car off to the side at a weird angle.  The car was on the opposite side of the road, turned backwards.

After being directed to park across the road, I made my way back to find her.  I hugged her and commenced the serious work of being a Mom to a teen who has experienced a car accident. 

Later, as my husband and I went to retrieve our belongings from the tow company, I saw the wreck in daylight.  A machine. Smashed, crushed and destroyed.  My daughter and her two friends walked away unscathed.

I praise God for his infinite mercy in this matter.  It could have been much worse.  I can not imagine a parent losing their child in this way.  As I said, my child has been my inspiration for close to 20 years:

"Dreaming of Innocence"  24x36  Acrylic  ©Toni Ruppert

"Kayla Sleeping"  12x16   Charcoal  ©Toni Ruppert

"Kayla Sleeping"  18x24  Mixed Media  ©Toni Ruppert 

"Kayla Posing for Me"  9x12  Pastel  ©Toni Ruppert

"Angel of Glory"  9x12  Watercolor ©Toni Ruppert

"Longing II"  12x16  Watercolor  ©Toni Ruppert

"Dreaming of Innocence"  24x48   Acrylic  ©Toni Ruppert

"Deliverance" 9x12  Acrylic  ©Toni Ruppert

Contemplating Easter

As last week fades more and more into the back ground, I reflect on art...and the Easter message of love.

Mary's son Jesus was crushed and it was no accident.

Isaiah 53:5
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Author and pastor Frederica Mathewes-Green offers her thoughts about Christ's crucifixion in her post, "Viewing the Crucifixion in a Different Light." 

 God did not spare his child.  I am a Mom and I cannot fathom the deep power of this kind of love.

 My friend, illustrator Gail Green said it best in her Facebook comment to me on my Facebook Page "...the message of Death and Resurrection is all the more poignant when we contemplate the deep pain of losing a child."

It is something to reflect on.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Give Up On Your Dream? No Way!

'Worship in His Presence"   36x48 inches   Watercolor and Ink  ©Toni Ruppert

My sister-in-law, Bridgette, called me the other day and asked me "Aren’t you glad you didn’t give up on your dream?” I almost ‘died’ right there because that day, I felt like I was in the middle of a Job-like experience and my current dream seemed out of reach.

But after speaking to Bridgette, I discovered that it’s all in perspective.  She reminded me of the year 2004 - a significant year for me.  That was the last time I worked as a secretary-who-really-wanted-to-be-a-full-time-artist. 

She brought to my mind how all I had hoped for at the time was to schlep my stuff to a Borders bookstore.  Maybe, just maybe -  “they” would give me permission to show in their cafe.   

After she said that, it prompted me to review my journal from March, 2004.  I saw: 

--I wanted to be in an art show and barely had an artist statement together
--I wondered if the local park district would let get a spare wall to paint on
--My Thursday night watercolor class with Lenox Wallace at The Center in Palos Heights was my lifeline and only artistic outlet
--I tried to share my portfolio with an admissions person at a local fine arts college
--I brought my portfolio to work to show to the public relations rep. - I longed to paint something  - anything - for my employer

Lots of dreaming, hoping and praying in March 2004.  

Then, in 2008, God prompted me to take a step of faith. That one step was to walk through a door HE opened for me. That door led to my second public art project for a city library. That second project was huge and helped me and two other artisans financially.

As I contemplate my sister in law’s question, “Aren't you glad you didn't give up on your dream?,” I know my answer. 

And there are more creative dreams for 2012 that I’m not going to give up on.
What dream are you not giving up on?

Monday, March 5, 2012

20 Minutes a Day (How to Get it Done)

Do you have an immovable project?  No sure how you'll tackle your next goal? Try working on it 20 minutes a day. Check out this 1.5 minute video where I share a concept that is helping me:

As I shared in the video, my latest oil portrait painting is being created in about 20 minutes a day. I get my paints out. I set my timer and get to work. Some days are good and some days... 

But since I’ve been at this for about 3 weeks - lo and behold, the painting has started forming.  I looked up after a painting session and saw the portrait beginning to take shape.

Why? 20 minutes a day. 

I obtained the idea from author Julia Cameron in her book, Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance.   In one of her suggested tasks, she advises readers to spend twenty minutes daily in their art form.  She also suggests utilizing believing mirrors - “friends who are friends to our work” to help us stay accountable. 

So I enlisted my friend Lisa to help me.  I checked in with her either before or after I painted.  She was tough too and yet very encouraging as I made progress.

Day 1 - Oil Sketch on Canvas - ©Toni Ruppert

Week 2 - Oil on Canvas - ©Toni Ruppert

 I lost count here but this was further along in the process...

This one below is where the painting is now.  Just a few more sessions and it will be completed.
"Granddad and Grandma" - Oil on Canvas - ©Toni Ruppert

Again, perhaps you have something in your path- a goal or a monster project.  These words have encouraged me as I take my 20 minutes and place them in God’s hands...

  • “Who dares despise the day of small things...”(Bible-- Zechariah 4:10)
  • “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Bible--1 Chronicles 28:20)
  • “The odds stacked against us as an artist immediately lessen if we are in fact doing our work.” ~Julia Cameron
I believe paintings and other goals can be completed with small actions.  So go ahead.  Locate that goal in your heart.  Find your timer and get started.  It’s “just” twenty minutes.

What huge projects have you completed using small doable actions?  What goals can you still achieve using the "20 minutes a day" method?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Your Future Success is Tied to Your Outlook

"Breaking Free" ©Antonia Ruppert - Acrylic, 8x16 inches
Something happened today, yesterday and will continue to happen to people everywhere:

The average person will generate 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day.

This was reported by David Carnes of  He quotes Hara Estroff Marano, Editor at Large of Psychology Today magazine. 

Many of these thoughts will be surprisingly negative. Billions of earthlings everywhere will think and act on these thoughts.  Many of us, myself included, are becoming more intentional about our thoughts. I'm getting more creative about keeping a positive outlook.

My painting "Breaking Free"(shown here) illustrates the pushing past of negative thoughts.  The words say, "No" and "No not you." At some point, the hands come up to push aside the negative words.

This is important because "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..." (Bible, Old Testament).

Working at Being Positive
 I work daily on being positive by:
  1. Calling friends when situations got dicey.
  2. Calling upon my believing mirrors when I just don’t feel like painting.
  3. Catching up with my artist friends and checking in weekly about artsy stuff and family stuff.
  4. Focusing on what I have to be thankful for.
I try to maintain a positive outlook, despite the fact that my outlook does not always match my situation.

For example, yesterday my youth art class, “Artists with a Purpose” started in Tinley Park, IL.  This unique class will raise money for a local charity by creating 100 acrylic painted panels and selling many of them.  As I drove to the class, I realized that I had not grabbed all of the acrylic paint--nor did I have gesso(acrylic primer) for the 24 panels I wanted my students to work on.

As I was strapped for time, I made the decision to be on time for my class and not make an emergency run to Hobby Lobby. At first, during my journey, tears were in my eyes as I thought of the “disastrous” class that awaited me.  Then something shifted, as I thought of my daily affirmations:
  1. I Thank You God that your gracious hand is upon me.
  2. I Thank you God that your favor keeps my enemies from triumphing.
  3. I Thank You God that your favor will make a way.
  4. I trample all obstacles and roadblocks to receiving unlimited
  5. The more grateful I am, the more reasons I find to be grateful.
 I had no idea exactly how it would all work out.

When I arrived, I met art teacher Carolyn - who was just finishing her class.  A master teacher, she told me she had been teaching at the Tinley Park Park district for 18 years. 

Without me asking, Carolyn and her aide Linda started helping me set up for my class.  First, Carolyn gave me tips on making my first day of class great.  Second, Linda actually helped me place newspaper on the tables to protect them - saving me loads of time.  Third, Carolyn pointed out that there was a bag of new acrylic paints in the supply cabinet. 

I felt overwhelmed with God’s favor.  In conclusion, the first day of “Artists with a Purpose” was awesome.

Final Notes about my Artistry
As promised in my last post - here are some of the work shown at my last show with artist Sylvia Westbrook at the Meet the Artist Night at Acorn Library in Oak Forest, IL.

This is "Happy Friday"...

"Happy Friday" ©Antonia Ruppert - Mixed Media, 9x12

and this is "Delivered and Set Free"...

"Delivered and Set Free" ©Antonia Ruppert - Acrylic, 8x10

I’ll leave you with this quote by LeAndria Johnson, Grammy winner -best gospel/contemporary Christian music:

“Always be positive.” “Don’t focus on the negative things in your life. Focus on the positive. The yes in you will be the yes for somebody else.”

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Successful Art Show (And What Made It So)

So, how was our show? Tinley Park, IL artist Sylvia Westbrook and I spoke to an interested and packed room.  We shared 22 works of art.  And folks loved the 12 sweet potato pies that my Mom made.  Besides having the presence of Mom's pie, there were other factors that helped us.

Artist Sylvia Westbrook and I - ©vanWestrop Photo
 What made our show successful:
  1. Completion. Sylvia and I focused on completing our respective tasks.  We kept at it until each task was done.  Sometimes she reminded me of tasks(most times) and sometimes, I reminded her.
  2. Collaboration. Working with another artist on the show from beginning to end was delightful.  Teaming up with Sylvia made the experience fun and halved the work.  After working with her, I have decided to never again run a Lone Ranger show. 
  3. Commitment. We decided to commit to the show and to each other. I never felt that Sylvia did not have my best interest in mind. I got to the point that I did not have the frames--for my  pieces.  Sylvia had hers, but I did not have mine.  Sylvia was an encouragement.  Another  artist, my friend Pamela Casey further encouraged me and I committed to getting the frames.  The miraculous happened.  I was helped by seen and unseen hands that day and was able to frame the pieces I desired to frame.
Sylvia Westbrook speaking; painting by Toni Ruppert - ©vanWestrop Photo

More on Committment...

In “Be All You Can Be,” by John Maxwell, the author quotes a card which he at one point carried with him:

“Until I am committed, there is a hesitancy, a chance to draw back. But the moment I definitely commit myself, then God moves also, and a whole stream of events erupts.”

Sylvia and I committed to utilizing social media, texting, e-mail and etc.  We committed to honoring other artists (Boston based artist Lois Mailou Jones and Chicago based artist Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly.)  We also committed to prayer about our nerves, tasks, responsibilities and minor stuff like the Powerpoint presentation.

Guess what? Folks responded.  They brought people that we had no idea were going to show up. I should not have been shocked when things worked out.  In the Old Testament, Proverbs 14:23 says, "All hard work brings a profit..."   

©vanWestrop Photo

©vanWestrop Photo

We were thrilled to see friends - old and new in our audience...
©vanWestrop Photo
  I will share more of the paintings I shared at the show soon.  More show images will be posted to my Facebook Page.  Feel free to head over there.  If you have not--I invite you to “like” my page while you’re there.
Toni Ruppert speaking; painting by Sylvia Westbrook; ©vanWestrop Photo

So, how was our show?  It was a lovely experience.  I'm glad you  - my reader - were able to experience it here with me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Getting Excited About Presenting Art History Makers in Oak Forest, IL

Detail of "Breaking Free," ©Toni Ruppert, Acrylic on Canvas
Sure, I’m geeked. So much has happened since I last posted and so this post is a bit longer.  Hang in here with me, OK?

First, let me tell you that the image you are seeing here is a detail of a painting I call “Breaking Free.” The full painting will be shown to attendees at my next show. If you are planning to be near Southland Chicago in February--plan to stop by and see the full piece. Yep, I’m enticing you. You’ve got to come to the show to see the full piece.

The details about the show are below.

About the Presentation
Chicago Southland artist Sylvia Westbrook and I thought it would be great to not only showcase our work, but also share the work of Boston based artist Lois Mailou Jones and Chicago based artist Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly.  We will be presenting our findings about them on Thursday, February 9th, 2012.  The night will include our work, a presentation about Ms. Jones and Ms. Pitchford-Jolly and will conclude with questions from the audience.

Research: Lois Mailou Jones
Sylvia Westbrook is a breath of fresh air when it comes to research.  Her goal was to find out about Ms. Jones and find compelling stories about her.  Ms. Jones, a textile designer, mask maker and painter worked in a number of mediums including watercolor, oil and acrylic. 

Ms. Jones believed that talent is the basis for a career, but hard work is what determines ones success.

Sylvia will present Ms. Jones' art and a bit of her history. One story that had us both laughing was when Ms. Jones broke art world color barriers in 1941. She won the Robert Woods Bliss Award for the “Indian Shops, Gay Head, Massachusetts” - a landscape painted in 1940.  This was awarded to her though the Corcoran Gallery which had a policy that forbid African Americans from participating.    Ms. Jones had a friend who was white submit the painting for her and so that she would not be rejected, she accepted the award via certified mail.

Much of Sylvia's research comes from resources such as The Life and Art of Lois Mailou Jones by Tritobia Hayes Benjamin.

Research: Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly

Ms. Megan Mall with the Acorn Public Library helped Sylvia and I both come up with resources.  I was thrilled to find information about Ms. Pitchford-Jolly, a sculptor.   

I found that Ms. Pitchford-Jolly, now retired, contributed to various art organizations in Chicago.  Her work is documented via the History page on Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly.

After hearing about her story pots, spirit women and friendship pots from Sylvia, I had the idea that maybe I’d meet her at some point. 

Good news! Sylvia assisted in orchestrating a phone interview with Ms. Pitchford-Jolly.  I was a bit nervous, but really thrilled to actually talk with her.

One of the things she helped me see was the idea of honesty in art.  She said, "Going with what is popular is a dead-end street.” She went on to say that even though an artist might not "want to be ridiculed", one “can’t help it.”  One must be “honest about doing what’s not popular.” 

I have taken pages of notes from our conversation which I will first share with attendees of our reception tomorrow.

Details of Our Show:

Meet the Artists
Thursday, February 9, 2012

Acorn Public Library (large meeting room)
15624 Central Avenue
Oak Forest, IL 60452 / 708-687-3700

The actual exhibit dates are : 

February 1 - February 28, 2012

All attendees need to register in person or by phone at:

Acorn Public Library - 708-687-3700.  

Think of your biggest obstacle right now in your own field. What would you do if you could have an established person in your field speak to your circumstances?  What would you hope they’d say? You can leave a comment below.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sharing a bit of Art and Black History in Oak Forest, IL

Toni Ruppert @Orland Park, IL Library - Van Westrop, photographer
In honor of Black History Month, Birmingham born artist Sylvia Westbrook will join me as we share our art and celebrate the life of two African American women artists; Boston-born Lois Mailou Jones and Chicago based Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly.

We will celebrate them with a “Meet the Artist" night in which we discuss their work. At our venue, Acorn Public Library(Oak Forest, IL), our work will also be on view.  We will answer questions from the public. 

I am thrilled!

I’m especially happy to be showing with Sylvia.  The quintessential artist, Sylvia creates in oil, acrylic and pastel.  Having seen her abstract acrylic paintingss - I know attendees are in for a real treat.

Though Sylvia studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she says her talent is a “God given ability.”

Sylvia will talk about Lois Mailou Jones and I will discuss Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly.  In addition to talking about these artists, Sylvia and I will share our work which will include new pieces of art.

The show will go up during the month of February and the “Meet the Artist” night is scheduled for February 9th.

If you are in the Chicago area -- do join us:

What:  “Meet the Artist"
When:  February 9th, 2012, Thursday 7:00pm--8:15pm
Where: Acorn Public Library (large meeting room)
             15624 Central Avenue
             Oak Forest, IL 60452

Right now, Sylvia and I are researching and preparing our art.  My goal is to share each step of the event here on this blog - so you continually get a “sneak peek.”

Are any of you familiar with either Lois Mailou Jones or Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly?
Feel free to share information and any pertinent links with me in the comments below.

Meanwhile, is there something you'd like to know about these great artists?  We invite your questions.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Original Art Goes to Print

Angel of Glory ©Antonia Ruppert
Watercolor on paper
I knew while creating this painting that it would be a message about praise to God.

The title came to me after Chicago-based artist Joyce Owens asked me if I had considered Fine Art America( for prints of my “Angel.”  This week, my “Angel” has been well “liked” on my Facebook page.

I decided then and there that I would offer prints.  More in a minute.

First, here are some stanzas which I feel further explain this painting:
Heav’n with alleluias rang,
When creation was begun,
When God spoke and it was done.
Ye holy angels bright,
Who stand before God’s throne
And dwell in glorious light,
Praise ye the Lord each one.
Assist our song, or else the theme
Too high doth seem for mortal tongue.
Richard Baxter, Poetical Fragments

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
 From the heavens praise His name;
 Praise Jehovah in the highest,
 All His angels praise proclaim.
 All His hosts together praise Him,
 Sun, and moon, and stars on high;
 Praise Him, O ye heav’n of heavens,
And ye floods above the sky.
William J. Kirkpatrick, (Psalm148)

As of today, not only is the original watercolor painting available, it is also available as a print. You can see my new profile at Fine Art America - an online market place where artists like me sell their work.
So grateful to be able to share this with you.