Ep 010 Featured Image Podcast

Staying Passionate – Gary Ruddell – Ep 10  

December 29, 2021


Do you ever struggle to stay engaged with your own art-making? I do. Approaching a blank canvas or notebook page with the same level of passion as the first time can be difficult for artists at any level. That’s why I love meeting people who consistently stay motivated when it comes to their art.

My guest for this episode is Gary Ruddell and he embodies this passion. Gary has a fine art career that spans decades and he’s one of the most enthusiastic people I know. Though he has transitioned styles over the years, across thousands of wonderful images, he still manages to bring unbridled passion to both his life and his art. 

In this episode, we’ll discover how Gary has maintained his artistic passion, lessons he’s learned along the way, as well as take a look at his incredibly consistent art practice. Join me for a conversation that I hope inspires all of us to pursue our art-making with a passion like Gary’s. To push past our own limitations and bring our art to life in new and exciting ways.

Listen if you are interested in…

  • Getting to know Gary Ruddell [2:54] 
  • Gary’s transition from illustration to fine art and the depth of his work [8:23]
  • Blurring the line between abstraction and realism [21:05] 
  • The power of staying a student and refusing to stagnate [28:17]
  • Gary’s creative process, time travel, and embracing the essential self [31:42] 
  • The sensuality of paint and the magic of art-making  [41:02]
  • Creating the ascetic of a memory [48:35]
  • Final thoughts [52:15]

The deepest well is yourself

What is the secret to staying passionate as an artist? Where is the best place to draw inspiration from? How do we do that when it feels like there’s nothing left in the tank? As Gary said, we’ve all sat there asking ourselves “What in the world do I want to make?” We ALL struggle to tap into the passion needed to fuel our art at one time or another and we all have to “figure it out”. But Gary believes the best way to figure it out is to figure out ourselves. 

Who are you? No really. What makes you tick? What makes you WEIRD? Do you love those things about yourself? Staying passionate about art isn’t just about knowing what to make, it’s about knowing what makes YOU and owning it. The deepest creative well we have to draw from is ourselves. Successful art is both personal and universal. Our art will never be those things if we don’t learn how to embrace who we are, quirks and all.

Art (and life) is an infinite classroom

Are you done learning yet? So many people, especially as they get older, feel like the learning part of life is over. However, Gary would argue that life isn’t over until you’ve STOPPED learning. We stay passionate when we refuse to believe that we’ve learned everything we need to or that we are incapable of learning something new.

Another way to stay a student is always being open to feedback and constructive criticism. So many young and beginner artists are afraid to get told no, or that they need to change or improve in some area. But rising to meet a challenge is a great source of passion in and of itself! Gary encourages anyone who is starting out to do as many shows as they can to build a tougher exterior shell and get used to the idea that, maybe, there’s still a few things left to learn.

Become a time traveler

After my conversation with Gary, I’m convinced that the goal of every artist should be to become a time traveler. No, not the Delorean kind. The kind that allows any person at any time to step into their art and be transported elsewhere. That’s what it feels like to view one of Gary’s pieces. Gary paints poems instead of novels. He paints how it feels to be in a moment versus every detail of that moment. Like closing your eyes after staring at an object for a long time, your mind begins to fill in what’s missing.

It’s fascinating how he blurs the line between realism and abstraction. He consciously chooses the details he gives you and the details he obscures so that each person enjoying his work can apply their own meaning to it. His work is always speaking something new depending on who is listening. As our time together closed, Gary said something that I’ll probably never forget. I hope it fills you with as much excitement and inspiration as I felt:

“I’m not making artwork for now, I’m making artwork for someone 100 years from now. Because I’ll be gone and it will still be speaking.” 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Gary Ruddell

Connect with Nicholas Wilton


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Nicholas Wilton

Hi! I’m
Nicholas Wilton
the founder of Art2Life.

With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.

Join me and artists from all over the world in our Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group or learn more here about Art2Life.

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