Kathryn Rutherford-Heirloom Art Studio BLOG


Kathryn Rutherford-BAE, CRA, Ph.Al., Cr.Photog, M. Artist

Picture an island only two and a half miles long and a half mile wide located in
the middle of the Detroit River, at the mouth of Lake Erie, in the Great Lakes.
This diminutive piece of Canadian land was a strategic location for the fighting
in the War of 1812 between the British, Americans and early settlers of Canada.
Fast-forward to the twentieth century and one finds that Bob-lo Island has
placed a quaint amusement park next to the remains of the original historic
Fort Bois Blanc (White Woods) and the island has become a summer vacation
retreat for Canadians and Americans alike.
It was here where my professional artistic career began, for it was on this
Canadian island, at the age of fifteen, that I was first hired to be a watercolour
portrait artist. Charging just five dollars each, but earning only forty-five
percent commission from each portrait, I was, by the end of that first summer,
able to paint five portraits an hour and bank enough money to allow me to
prepare to leave for university at the age of seventeen-----that is, when I
wasn't riding roller coasters or the Tilt-A-Whirl.

Over the next years I painted my way through every Art in the Park, Art in
the Alley and other such summer fairs and was fortunate enough to have been
awarded several full scholarships to several colleges and universities throughout
North America where I studied all of the arts. I graduated Cum Laude, Dean's List
from Arizona State University, in 1978, with an Honors Bachelor of Art Education
Degree with majors in Painting, Drawing and minors in Art History, Music,
Psychology, Special Education and English. Holding professional teaching degrees
for high school and college, in both Canada and the United States, I have been an
enthusiastic Visual Arts and English teacher for almost forty years. An extensive
background in music, theater and costume design also keeps me involved in other
lifelong pursuits.

I am extremely proud to own and operate the Heirloom Art Studio.
It is an award-winning fine art and restoration studio with an international
reputation for producing intensely colourful and richly textured original oil
and watercolour paintings and portraits, handcoloured and original digital
paintings and high quality archival photographic and fine art restorations with
work shipped to seventeen countries throughout the world.

As a classically trained, realist artist, my personal creative work crosses many styles,
techniques and a variety of subject matter, but, my signature trademark is one of
dynamic composition, intense colour and dramatic contrast between light and shadow.
In the last several years I have become most noted for my Spirit Paintings, original
narrative compositions that include passed-on friends and family members who
appear as transparent ghosts within these unique story-telling paintings.

My skills have earned me a long list of awards and degrees from many associations
including the Professional Photographers of America, Ontario, Detroit, Michigan
and Tennessee. For most of my life I have supplied the photographic and picture
framing industries with fine art, retouching, and restoration services and
educational instruction. I was the first person outside of the United States to
obtain the coveted Photographic Artisan and Laurel Degrees from the American
Photographic Artisans Guild and I highly prize those honours.

My photographic and fine art works have been juried into a multitude of
international exhibitions with many pieces receiving prestigious awards.
In 1990, a particular photographic restoration was chosen by the Eastman
Kodak Company to hang at Epcot Center, Florida, as part of a special
photographic exhibit honoring the 150th anniversary of the invention of
the Daguerreotype (the first camera).
In 1999, I was presented the Masterpiece Award by the Fuji Photo Film
Corporation. This honor, traditionally awarded to a professional photographer
for photographic excellence, is the highest award given within the photographic
industry. The Masterpiece Award was presented for the first time to an artisan
for an image I reconstructed using a photographic process I developed to
restore blackened tintypes.
A Spirit Painting, completed in 2004 and created as a fund raising project to
preserve the historic Headrick Chapel, in Wears Valley, Tennessee, was awarded
the Best of Show-Award of Distinction by Tomi Melson, Executive Director of
the Piedmont Craftsmen Guild, Winston-Salem, N.C.
A special Award of Distinction was presented by the East Tennessee Historical
Society, in 2012, for the Headrick Chapel and Little Greenbrier School
Spirit Paintings for their historic importance of preserving the area's past
and creating lasting portraits in oil of those who lived and settled East Tennessee.

Since 1996, my husband, Greg, and I have lived in the picturesque surroundings
of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We each maintain our own working
studio and individual companies on three and a half acres of mountain property.
As owner of Exclusive Custom Screenprinting, Greg is a custom screenprinter
and technical advisor to the industry.
Together we maintain Outstanding Expectations, a brick and mortar
retail gallery which, along with online shopping carts, offers fine art and
unique or one of kind creations, much of which we produce ourselves.
In addition to original fine art, portraiture, restoration and screenprinting
services, the companies also offer other artists, photographers and the public
unique duplication services such as giclee printing and dye sublimation printing on
everything from coffee mugs and mousepads, to purses or glass tiles for the shower.
Recently, our daughter, Tania, decided to join us and add her own line of products
and services to the offerings. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Technology
with a specialty in Digital Animation and 3D Character Modeling and will be
creating DVD children's books of my paintings, creating a line of steampunk and
other original t-shirts, adding to the graphic design team and offering web design
and web hosting services to our clientele.

The American author and historian, David McCullough, wrote:
"Real success is finding your life work in the work you love."
A journey that began as a temporary summer job has become a
life long pursuit of happiness, a very successful career,
and a full time family affair.


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