The Bobcaygeon Local
January 30, 2009
By Lisa Dever
One of the things I enjoy most about Ruth Bellbeck is her sunny disposition. She is always warm and friendly and makes everyone feel welcome and appreciated. She has a wonderful, infectious laugh and an obvious joy of life. She is talented, patient, kind and an excellent instructor. Last spring, when I was developing a children’s summer program for a museum in town, Ruth Bellbeck was at the top of my list of most-wanted instructors. When I called to ask Ruth if she was interested in teaching a class or two she agreed without any hesitation and with much enthusiasm. As expected, her classes at the children’s program were among the best attended and most enjoyed.
Ruth currently teaches art classes out of her home studio on County Road 49 (formerly “649”). With the help of her teaching assistant and friend Sue Fry, Ruth guides aspiring artists of all ages through the process of learning techniques and discovering their own manner of creative and artistic expression. No matter what the age or level of experience, students are taught according to their own rate of progress and ability to learn.
Bellbeck’s light-hearted approach to the world of art is a refreshing breath of fresh air in an often sombre field. Her approach comes from a love of all things creative and an innate ability to nurture. Having fallen in love with painting at her Grandfather’s knee, Bellbeck has been painting since the tender age of three years. For most of her youth, weekends for Ruth meant only one thing; field trips with her Grandfather. Whether it was a trip from his home-studio on Yonge Street to the Toronto harbour-front or a transit ride to Kleinburg to paint with the Group of Seven (A.J. Casson was her grandfather’s close friend), Ruth lived for the weekend and the chance to learn more from her grandfather and the masters. After attending T.L. Kennedy School of the Arts, Bellbeck attended and graduated from Sheridan College of Art in Mississauga.
In 1970, when Bellbeck arrived in Bobcaygeon she began giving lessons at her kitchen table. She quickly realized that sharing the lessons she learned from her Grandfather was what mattered the most to her and was what made her happiest. Bellbeck believes that art and its creation should, first and foremost, be enjoyable and fun. Suffering for her art is not a concept she embraces. Art is fun for Bellbeck and she makes it fun for everyone else.
Bellbeck’s art lessons run twice daily on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. No two students are ever working on the same subject and in the same medium at once. Beginners sit alongside students with all levels of training. Mediums include oil, watercolour, acrylic, folk art, pencil and chalk sketching. Students select their own subjects from Ruth’s big cabinet of samples. Lessons cost only twenty dollars for each two hour class. Bellbeck is flexible if students have medical or other appointments and she accommodates a student if, for example, they normally attend a Tuesday morning class, but wish to attend a Thursday afternoon class that week.
Bellbeck’s junior class currently has students ranging in age from four years to seventeen years. The junior classes run two Saturdays each month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and cost only fifteen dollars. My daughter Hannah has been taking art lessons from Ruth for over two years and loves every minute of every class. The basement studio is well lit with gallery lights, contains a work table for each student and enough paint and supplies to last for years. The junior students receive one on one attention, just as the adults, and are allowed to work at their own pace.
Beside regular classes Bellbeck also teaches two, two-day workshops each month. For one hundred dollars, students are offered either a Monday and Tuesday or Saturday and Sunday full day workshop. For first time students Bellbeck supplies all the paints. Once a student has completed a work, they are expected to assemble their own kit of supplies for their next class or workshop. The next scheduled workshop will be on pallet knife painting and promises to be interesting and informative.
Private lessons are available at a rate of fifteen dollars per hour for juniors and twenty dollars per hour for adults. Also, Bellbeck will travel to your location to provide one or two day classes for groups of four or more people. If you’ve always wanted your home or cottage or child or pet immortalized, contact Bellbeck to arrange a commissioned work. Once every year, Bellbeck donates a painting to be raffled off for a good cause. Previous recipients include the Food Bank and the House Tours.
Bellbeck does not just teach. This past summer she held a successful month-long show at a gallery in Bobcaygeon. Last summer she operated her classes and displayed her work at a shop on Bolton Street. She is currently working on a new collection of abstracts as she believes the trend at galleries is heading in that direction. Whatever the project, Bellbeck enjoys the process and shares whatever she can with her students and audience. That’s just the way she is; happy, kind and generous. Contact Ruth Bellbeck at 738- 3130 for more information or to register for a class.