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Blog, First Church News

Q&A with First Church Artist Ruth Vonderberg

How long have you been a member at First Church?

Since 2005.Ruth Vonderberg

Can you talk about what mediums you work in and why you enjoy them?

I primarily use acrylics and various acrylic mediums but have also worked with water-based oils. I enjoy experimenting with and using palette knives, scrapers, inks, paint markers and oil pastels. I have used a power (dremel) tool to incise boards to create interest. Applying paint directly from the tube or pouring or spraying it, is also part of my artistic vocabulary. Sometimes what I partially remove creates an interesting texture of overlapping color and shape that I find intriguing. Working with transparent colors is particularly effective in layering an image.

How long have you been expressing yourself through art?

After retirement from my professional career as a graphic designer, and having taken a couple of classes in art before our sons (now in their 30s) were born, I decided to revisit art in 2009 and began painting.

What’s your advice to others seeking to express themselves artistically?

I would tell them to ask themselves, what do they have to lose? I think a priority is to enjoy and don’t feel constrained by expectations of how something “should” look. Experimenting with materials and mediums for me, means I now get to “ play” as an adult.

Do you have anything you’d like to say regarding your current collection on display in the Common Room?

The current exhibit is primarily a celebration of color and pattern. I wanted to experiment on a synthetic substrate using acrylics. With no absorption, I knew that the applied layering of color (wet on wet) using various application methods, would pop the image off the bright white, smooth surface. I also incorporated various acrylic mediums mixed into the paint to achieve different textures with interesting results. I decided to approach this experiment in a non-representational, completely abstract fashion to see where it would take me.


Be sure to check out Ruth’s work, currently on display in the Leenhouts Common Room!



Mary Behler is First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee’s Communications Coordinator.

First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee  is a home for spiritual community, social justice, and intellectual freedom, active in Milwaukee since 1842. Unitarian Universalism is an inclusive denomination; core principles include recognition of the worth and dignity of every person; respect for the interdependent web of existence; and the goal of world peace, liberty and justice.

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