An upcoming show at the Cedarburg Art Museum is Exhibit A in two Wisconsin painters’ case arguing that painting in winter can be a blast.
Lynn Rix and Pamela Ruschman are featured in the exhibition “Painting the Winter Muse,” on view from January 25 through March 19. Nearly 60 paintings from the two artists will be on display, along with text telling many of the stories behind the pieces.
The two have been painting together outdoors since 2010, and this show gathers some of the best from their exploits. “We’ve always kept some of our favorite ones in hopes that we would have an exhibit,” says Ruschman. “We are sharing our stories, things that happened during those times outside. In some cases, we are documenting historic barns in the area, the local history, or the mills, Lake Michigan, and the frozen landscape around it. We share the emotions, weather conditions, and what inspired us so people can understand why we go out painting.
“Just yesterday, a rabbit and a deer walked past me. The things that happen to you out there are really magical. When you are out painting together, you share in all the laughs — easels blowing over and paper towels getting away from you on the shore of Lake Michigan. It’s about friendship, someone who encourages you to get outside and play in the winter. On days I don’t want to go out, Lynn always does.”
Rix and Ruschman are a good team because they approach their art in a similar fashion. “We are of the same mindset. We both love winter,” Ruschman says. “But we also have the same working schedule. Both of us prefer two or two and half hours for a painting. We have the same rhythm — set up, get working, not a lot of chitchat, then further along stop to look at each other’s work, and make final changes. We are respectful of each other’s work and our need for some solitude, but on the way back to our cars, there’s always something funny that happened that we talk about, or we discuss colors we were trying to get, or the subject matter. It’s sort of an instant critique session as well.”
The pieces at the show at the museum will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds supporting the Cedarburg Art Museum. At the January 28 artists’ reception, Rix and Ruschman plan on dressing for a plein air session so attendees can see the gear and clothing the artists use in the frigid Wisconsin winter. “We want people to know that you can get out there and enjoy winter and painting,” says Ruschman. “In later winter, after a nice snowfall, it can be beautiful and 40 degrees, and boy, those are the days when you should give plein air painting a try.”