Jan Ruvido-Stebbins takes a break from her work but can’t help look at all the projects she has spread around her studio in various forms of completion. The Dexter artist is very good at her craft, and in her work, very good usually means very busy.
Despite all the canvas’s requesting her attention, Ruvido-Stebbins is excited about the upcoming Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival. And not just because it’s literally in her backyard.
“It is so much fun to be a part of,” said Ruvido-Stebbins. “I really look forward to it all year long. The thing I like most about the whole thing is you get all these great artists together that have the same thing in mind and love to get out there and paint in the fresh air. There is an excitement of getting down the idea on canvas in a short amount of time. It’s really exhilarating. And then to be surrounded by all these other artists with the same mindset is just heaven.”
Dexter has been heaven to Ruvido-Stebbins in more ways than one over the years. She moved to Dexter years ago after meeting her husband Cort at an antique auction. A Michigan graduate who also does medical illustrations for journals and doctors, Jan and Cort made Dexter their home, raising two children.
Ruvido-Stebbins was honored last year at Paint Dexter after taking second place in the quick-draw painting competition. The format for Paint Dexter is becoming more popular and the Dexter event draws artists from all over the state and even beyond.
Ruvido-Stebbins says all of her work is a little different when it comes to approach, style, complexity and length of time it takes to complete. While there is a clock ticking during Paint Dexter, forcing artists to speed up the tempo, time usually isn’t an issue when it comes to creating a piece of art.
“Sometimes they take a couple days, other times they can take three months,” she said. “Everyone is going to be different. I work on a few different formats. One is what I call ‘little pleasures’ which are very small, 6×9 pieces and they take me maybe a week or two. But I am also right now working on one that is 6-feet tall by 2-feet wide and I’ve been working on that one for a couple months.”
She does paintings on commission and also on-spec work that she sells on her web site, other web sites or at various galleries in the area including Dexter Picture Frame Co. on Main Street.
She doesn’t have to look far for her inspiration – which brings us back to Dexter.
“The quiet rural beauty that I see on a daily basis both inspires and energizes me to create my oil paintings,” she says. “I feel so lucky to live in an area that has so many natural features to choose from. Farmlands, wetlands, deep woods, and river landscapes surround my everyday life. The Huron River area provides me with an endless supply of beautiful scenery from which to choose in my search for dramatic light, color and that essential sense of movement in my work.”
As her oil painting evolves – from the beginning sketches (many on site), to the final translucent layers – it goes through many dramatic transformations. She begins with a simple charcoal sketch on linen and then builds up the transparent layers slowly to obtain the luminous quality that oil paint is known for.
“I especially enjoy interpreting those vague, mysterious horizon lines and edges that emerge with the occasional crisp line,” she says. “I am surrounded by gentle wetlands, vast, glorious farmland, and of course, the stunning, ever-changing Michigan skies.”
With the Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival beginning on Aug. 17, Ruvido-Stebbins has a tough decision she needs to make soon – what is she going to paint during the event.
“There are so many areas around here that I need to figure out which one I am going to do,” she said. “I just saw another spot that is about a mile from me that I thought would be perfect. It has cows coming over a gorgeous rolling hill and the sun was setting. I have about 10 places now but I need to pick one real soon.”
Her award-winning landscape last year was off Wylie Road near Dexter-Chelsea road.
“I had my eye on that spot for a real long time,” she said. “I was able to visit that site two days in a row and felt like I had time to finish the paintings. Sometimes you only get a couple hours at a site and it’s really nerve-wracking. But here I can come back to the same spot during the same part of the day and get the same light and it’s really a lot of fun.”
The fun begins Aug. 17 for Ruvido-Stebbins and the more than 70 other artists expected at the Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival.
For more information on Ruvido-Stebbins and her work, log onto www.janruvido.com.