For artist Amber Ruehe, animals are inspiration. She grew up on a ranch in Florida with cattle, peacocks, dogs and rabbits.
All of that life flows in her acrylic paintings, which burst with colors and movement.
“Animals have always been my passion,” said Amber. “Their personalities and kindness have always been a draw to me.”
“I feel like they all have love, respect and protection built in with no reservations or pretension.”
She even thought about becoming a veterinarian. But life had other plans.
Amber got into art at an incredibly young age, which had a lot to do with the fact that her mom was an art teacher.
“She always encouraged all four of her kids to use it as a way to express ourselves or simply to enjoy,” she said.
When her mom had health issues while Amber was in high school, she leaned into her work “to express and release all my frustrations and sadness.” That’s when she new that art was “more than just a hobby.”
Amber studied art in college and has made a career as a painter, which she said works great when her husband has to move for work. Each new location brings different inspiration.
Now that Amber lives in Charleston, the animals in her paintings tend to reflect the Lowcountry.
“In Texas, it was more cattle and farm inspired, Florida more bright colors and beach and fish themed, Hawaii more ocean and sea turtle based,” she explained.
In terms of aesthetics, Amber said Charleston brought out lighter colors and natural tones.
On Saturday, Amber will do a live painting at Art Mecca of Charleston on King Street. She plans to paint foxes “playing in a lush field of flowers and other animals around … more movement of play and neutral colors.”
A selection of her other work is on display at the gallery.
“I hope it brightens up people’s world a bit,” Amber said of what she wants people take away from her art, which she also hopes will boost awareness of conservation and fighting pollution.
“In today’s environment with the violence and the politics, I feel like we all need some type of outlet or way to loosen up and be less uptight.”
That seems like what all those animals would want.