Meet Vivian Ripley.

Students, Critics and Art-Lovers of the world, pay attention: Vivian Ripley has been a full-time professional musician since 1960 and a full-time professional artist since 1974. A Signature- or Charter Member of seven art societies, her works can be found in private collections internationally. She has talent to spare and insight to share.

Elizabeth's Art Gallery: How long have you been an artist?

Vivian Ripley: Professionally since 1974. That's a long time, but of course, I've been interested in art my whole life. I consider "professionally" to be when you're wanting to sell your work and making sales; not just doing it and giving it to people, or doing it on the side while you're employed at something else.

E: How did you get your start?

VR: I've been drawing all my life; I did this on my own.
I didn't really take classes -- when I was young I did take art all through school, but when I decided what I wanted to major in at college, it had to be either art or music. They both require so much time practicing outside of the classroom that you can't complete a double-major in them. I picked the music because I had been playing piano since I was seven years old and was far enough along to do that as a career. I knew that if you don't keep up your technique, you lose it; and I figured that if I wanted to return to art later, I could.
I've been teaching piano since 1960; still do. This is my 56th year. I have a full studio of 20 students. I teach art regularly, too. Regular classes will begin again in September; there's a week-long course in West Virginia at the end of July. My coloured-pencil students didn't want to wait 'til September, so they're working out four times in August for us to hold our class.
I am a musician; I am an artist. I want to excel in both. I was just in an art show on Sunday in South Columbus, Ohio -- I won third prize.

E: Congratulations!

VR: Thank you. It was a purchase prize -- they bought my painting. And I just found I have two pictures accepted into the Wyoming Watercolor Society's Juried National Show.

E: Of course you did.
Where did you pick up your colour palette?

VR: I took one semester of freehand drawing in college. The instructor wanted me to change my major; I wouldn't do it. When I started to become serious about doing this, I would go to shows and look at various works and talk to other artists around me --  people whose work I liked. I started learning about various colour combinations -- how colours work together -- and became very interested in how to build contrast with colours.
I do like to experiment. I try different things. When something new comes out, I try it . I don't like to be stuck. It's much more interesting for me when I don't rely on the same colours all the time.

E: Whom do you admire artistically?

VR: Current artists? I'll tell you, a terrific watercolour painter is Alvaro Castagnet (it's pronounced "AL-vro cast-a-NYET). Oh gosh, there are a lot of really good painters. Geanne Grastorf is another -- I took a workshop with her eight years ago. I had been experimenting with starting a watercolour by pouring the paint, and that's her specialty. I've continued with that technique. I found Geanne to be a lovely person, so we exchange birthday notices and Christmas cards and so on.
The famous ones? I don't have a favourite... of course Andrew Wyeth is terrific.

E: Food question -- what's your favourite dish?

VR: I like Italian food a lot and can always count on liking ravioli. I like cheese ravioli with the regular red sauce and lots of extra parmesan.

Our current selection of Vivian's works can be viewed and purchased online by visiting here.