We had the good fortune of connecting with Ruth Fromstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ruth, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have fearlessly embarked on a plethora of career paths in my life. In 1979 I earned a degree in Vocational rehabilitation, but I have always been attracted to business and art, so in 2017 when I suddenly lost my full-time job of 10 years, I decided to pursue my new passion of abstract painting. My previous experiences as owner of varied retail businesses, jewelry maker, furniture painter and art kit developer prepared me well for my sudden, unexpected business decision. I knew it was not going to be easy to make a living as a painter, I knew the odds of success were against me, I knew all the hard work that lay ahead and I also knew there was a great deal that I did not know! With all this knowledge, a bounty of confidence and fierce conviction, I was determined to succeed. I registered for several painting classes in San Diego, supplied myself with a swath of materials from Artists & Craftsman in my Hillcrest neighborhood and researched marketing strategies. Sharing a two bedroom apartment with my roommate and cat (Mark), I spread out a drop cloth and set up shop in the corner of my bedroom. I discovered I enjoyed painting BIG and graduated to a studio that invaded half of my living room. While painting EVERY day, I applied for my business license, obtained my tax ID, I set up my facebook page, Instagram, web site and applied to juried shows and art fairs in several states…Ruth Fromstein was in business. Failing was NOT an option…I had to make a living…and I did! I made a decision to fast track my painting career and it payed off. I was devastated when I lost my job, but what I thought was a disaster, was actually a blessing. Starting my own business was (and still is) a huge undertaking, but it is genuinely a labor of love. I will never retire. I LOVE MY LIFE!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I LIKE TO PAINT. Nature serves as my primary source of inspiration. I really enjoy hiking, often snapping reference pictures while on the trail. Although I don’t paint a specific scene, I am highly influenced by colors, textures, shapes and my own emotional experience. If my paintings take the viewer on a personal journey and every time they look at the painting, they see something different, then that is a good painting for them. Since I work with many layers of various mediums, I finds acrylics often suit my needs best. Their fast-drying properties lends itself to adding washes and glazes which reveal the layers below. My paintings can include textured mediums, oil, chalk pastels, miscellaneous papers, graphite, charcoal and metal leafing. All of these elements give my work depth and complexity. Best known for my abstract landscapes, I like to switch things up. I paint everything from florals to intuitive landscapes, exploring new techniques and materials. Working with Third & Wall Art Group in Seattle enables me to sell and promote all subjects, styles and colors. Sometimes when I paint, I get stuck, contemplating my next move. When this happens, I tell myself to “go bold, take a risk”. Most of the time (not always) this leads to some of my best work. This same approach can be applied to other aspects of my business and life. Yes, I am a risk-taker and it has served me well.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I hope you like to walk! Especially with COVID, walking has been my “go to” activity. I walk 3-10 miles each day. Living (now visiting) in Hillcrest allows me to explore North Park, University Heights, Mission Hills…so many diverse and interesting neighborhoods. Everything from beautifully groomed gardens to interesting architecture excites and inspires me. Walking from Hillcrest to Little Italy, via the spruce Street suspension bridge is a treat. Once in Little Italy, stopping by the Adelman Gallery is a must before making my way to the shore and getting my “water fix”. My route home will definitely take me through Balboa Park, which never gets old. If I hop in my car, I will pack sunscreen and lunch and make my way to Solano Beach. Nothing beats walking in the sand/water (avoid high tide) to Carlsbad, or to dog beach in Del Mar. Warm, cold, sunny or rainy, it is a memorable experience. For a gentle hike, Ranchos Penasquitos Canyon Preserve is beautiful. The waterfall is a beautiful spot for a break before heading back to your car. Walking around Mission Bay is something I liked to do weekly. Good exercise, interesting people watching, beautifully groomed grounds and a nice walkway.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have had the privilege of studying in San Diego with Theresa Vandenberg, Kate Ashton and Liz Jardine, who generously shared technical information and helped me find my unique creative voice. Adelman Fine Art Gallery in Little Italy has always believed in me and continues to show and promote my work beautifully. Through a process of sublimation, I have successfully printed my art on throws. In addition to showing my paintings, Bench Home offers my throws in their lovely shop in Kensington. Jonathon with Jag Art & Framing continues to frame and elevate my paintings. The Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad owns four of my paintings and I am proud to have them gracing there beautiful walls. COVID impacted me and my business in unexpected ways. ALL of my shows for 2020 were cancelled and it was time to pivot. In August I moved back to my home state of Wisconsin, yet I continue to do business extensively in California. I have been driving back and forth every 12 weeks to frame my paintings, deliver work to collectors, and service galleries/stores.
Instagram: Ruth Fromstein
Facebook: Ruth Fromstein Art
Photographer Adam Elmakias