Marcella Ruikis sings lead vocals in the jazz ensemble Smoky Red Quintet who plays locally on a regular basis. She is a long time member of the Lithia Artisans Market and shows her hand painted silk art along Ashland Creek most weekends throughout the season. Marcella lives with husband Jonas and 10 year old daughter Isabella in Talent.
Marcella, you are unique in that you are both an artist who works with her hands and a musician who works with her voice. How does your music affect your silk painting, and visa versa?
The two media are forever intertwined for me. I’m constantly learning new songs and tend to practice them as I paint. This helps take me into a place where the colors seem to flow of their own accord. I worry less and create more. Living in a world of vibrant color and sound has become absolutely essential to my well being.
How long have you been singing professionally and what is your most memorable moment as a musician?
I’ve been singing on stage for over 20 years, however it’s been in the last 6 years that I’ve gotten much more serious about it. There have been so many memorable moments, some sublime, some ridiculous. I especially enjoy singing with Jim Quinby and our band, Smoky Red. Every time I raise my voice in harmony and feel the voices combine into one, it’s a magical thing.
What would you say is your main inspiration when you make your craft?
I’m not sure there’s any one inspiration, it has become an intrinsic part of me and everything I experience in life is channeled into my artwork.
Where did you learn your craft?
Shortly after my husband and I moved to Ashland, I began searching for a way to express myself artistically, needing something that would continually challenge and delight me. I found a kit to teach grade school kids to paint silk in a catalog and figured, “if they can do it, so can I”. I was immediately hooked and bought every book on silk painting I could find. I tried out the techniques I found in the books, then did the very things they said not to do. There results were interesting, sometimes fabulous and sometimes disastrous, always fascinating.
How long have you lived in the Ashland area?
Since May 31, 1997. My daughter Isabella was born exactly two years later. I began painting silk the same year.
What do you most enjoy or appreciate about selling at the Lithia Artisans Market?
I spend a great deal of my time alone in the studio painting, which is wonderful, but I need to be social as well. Getting out into the world and interacting with people is the other side of the coin. I love my community here, the artists at the market have become a part of my extended family.
What sets you apart from other artists in your medium?
I’ve been experimenting with this medium for a long time. My favorite question is, I wonder what would happen if…? I’ve developed my own unique methods of painting due to my rather overdeveloped curiosity and continue to work at creating unusual textures and vibrant colorful compositions.
What is your favorite time of the year and why?
Spring and autumn. The transitional seasons are full of color and energy.
What do you like to do when you are not creating or selling your art?
Long walks, listening to live music, hanging out with my loved ones.
How often do you sell at the Lithia Artisans Market?
Most weekends in the summer months except when we’ve got shows out of town.
Where else you you sell your art (other fairs, festivals, etc…)?
I have scarves at Second Street Gallery in Bandon and at Ashland ArtWorks. We’ve participated in festivals all over Oregon and California and are getting ready for an art fair in Marin next month.
Why did you choose to become an artisan?
It sort of chose me. I began painting as a hobby, giving away pieces to my friends and family. Then people began ordering scarves and not so long after that I joined the Lithia Artisans Market.
Are you a full time artisan, or do you have a separate career?
With my silk art and working as a vocalist, sometimes it feels like I have two full time careers.
Where do you like to shop?
Why should people buy your art?
Wearing a hand painted silk scarf or garment just makes you feel good. Buying hand made items from local artists helps our community thrive, bolsters our economy and is much more satisfying than buying imports.