Skagit Valley Farmland, oil on linen panel, 24×48″

Slow Time: Landscapes and Stills

Mary Froderberg & Ruthie V.

August 2 – August 30, 2014


   Smith & Vallee Gallery
   5742 Gilkey Ave
   Edison, WA 98232
   Open: DAILY, 11am-5pm
   (360) 766-6230



The proper way to make a cup of tea

Slow Time: Landscapes and Stills documents the quiet afternoons spent with my dear friend Mary Froderberg.

Mary and I met in a WWU painting class with Barbara Sternberger, in 2008. Since then we’ve been meeting up to share conversations about paint, life, and the proper way to make a cup of tea.

Two years ago, after I moved from Bow to North Seattle, Mary and I promised we’d make time for each other, and for painting. We’d attempt to save ourselves a pocket free of life’s rushed busyness. We swore we’d meet every Friday morning, either to paint, or just to share a cup of tea. On the few days remaining after life’s conspiring interruptions, we would call each other, each apologetic that we were late to meet the other, and inevitably we would show up at about the same time.  Morning would turn to afternoon, tea would turn into lunch. We wouldn’t get much painting done on those days, but fertile inspirations were planted, and those days were full of life for me.

Sometimes we’d meet at Tweets, and enjoy the company of people there. Other times we’d meet at Mary’s cottage on Chuckanut and share crackers and brie and grapes. We’d talk about art, of course. The fauvists, the Northwest School, and Mary’s beloved friend John Cole. On these days I’d stay until late in the evening, talking through dinner and hours longer, until I said goodbye in the moonlight, Mary insisted on handing me a bundle of frozen fish that Al had caught last season, and I drifted back down into the city.

Bonsai Farm

Bonsai Farm

If we lunched at Tweets, we’d continue the day’s adventure with exploratory walks past “No Trespassing” signs, over thistle covered hills, and through windy valleys. We’d meet new people – as it is easy to meet someone when painting in their back yard. We were only threatened with police action once.

Eventually we’d settle on a place. While Mary set to paint en plein air, I’d usually wonder off to collect more composition ideas.  A few of my paintings were painted en plein air with her (Hill and Cloud, and Little Bonsai Studies), but most were painted at home. Though I had hoped to find my way with painting outdoors like Mary does, I instead found myself irritable with the distractions and the changing light, limitations to format and the general awkwardness of anchoring a wet painting that so closely resembles a sail.  So I’d soak it all in, and save it for later. In my studio I was able to recreate the basic structure from a photograph, and the feeling of the scene from memory.

This body of work developed without struggle, and without stress. These works represent a new relationship: a compassionate pleasantness, and love.

– Ruthie V.