Painting of the Week: Colonial Cottage (1950s)

Mar 4, 2023 | Articles & Exhibits, Photo

Every week during the exhibit “Aurora’s Own Ruth Van Sickle Ford,” we will feature one of the more than two dozen watercolor and oil paintings on display from March 3-May 13, 2023, at the Pierce Art and History Center.  Accompanying the images will be commentary by the world’s foremost Ford expert, her biographer Nancy Smith Hopp, and also art conservator and Aurora Historical Society museum assistant Scott Sherwood.  We hope you will be engaged and enlightened by this feature and that you will come to the Pierce Center to see the paintings up close and personal.  Exhibit hours are listed below.

Ruth Ford: Colonial Cottage 1950s

Generally speaking, traditional western art falls into three categories: landscape, figure or still life. Ruth Van Sickle Ford, with unmatched confidence and style, blended the three to create true portraits. When you look at Colonial Cottage, you see more than a quiet street and a wooden structure. You see life and personality. You can almost hear the dialog between house and artist — they are smitten with each other.

Scott Sherwood, Art Conservator and Museum Assistant

Ruth’s house with green shutters was the subject of more than one watercolor, and may have been created from a black and white photograph. This painting is an excellent example of the liberty Ruth took with distorted perspective, and her use of blue to depict shadows.  Notice also her use of red on the door and the chimney, perhaps painted in her favorite color that was also the color of the ribs of her famous round house of coal.  The “leaves” in the trees are painted in her own unique technique bytapping a wide brush on its side.

Nancy Smith Hopp, Ruth Van Sickle Ford Biographer

This was the first Ruth Ford work that the owner purchased, in 1996. The place depicted is probably in New England and was probably painted from a black-and-white photograph. as Ruth often did. There are several similar paintings owned by local residents, carrying names like “House With Green Shutters.”

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