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Kathryn Rutherford Fine Artist-Heirloom Art Studio

Picture a Canadian island, only two and a half miles long and a half-mile wide, that exists in the middle of the Detroit River, at the mouth of Lake Erie, in the Great Lakes and was a strategic location for the fighting in the War of 1812 between the British, Americans and early settlers of Canada.  By the twentieth century, owners of Bob-lo Island placed a quaint amusement park next to the remains of the original historic Fort Bois Blanc (White Woods) and the island became a popular summer vacation retreat for Canadians and Americans alike.  It was there, at the age of fifteen, where my professional artistic career began when I was 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 the first of two summers spent on the island, able to paint five portraits an hour and bank enough money to begin making plans to be the first one in my family to attend university.  Just imagine what it was like to take a boat to work every day, get paid to paint in a carnival atmosphere, and ride roller coasters all summer for free.  What a dream job, eh!

Portrait Painting on Boblo Island 1973        Portrait Painting 1974        

Other summers, outdoors in blistering sun and heat, I painted my way through every Art in the Park, Art in the Alley, and other such summer fairs until I packed all my worldly goods into a 1960 Corvair and, at the age of seventeen, left my native homeland and drove across the United States to study at Arizona State University having secured the Beta Sigma Phi Scholarship Award and a tuition-free International Scholarship from ASU that made the higher cost of an international education possible.

Kathryn Ives packs her 1960 Corvair and moves from Canada to Arizona
Moving Day--August 1975

Graduating Cum Laude, I earned a Bachelor of Art Education Degree and graduated on the Deans List, in 1978, with majors in Painting, Drawing, and Education and minors in Art History, Psychology, Special Education, and English.   After attending a total of six universities in various locations throughout North America, I now hold credentials and teaching licenses from the province of Ontario, in Canada, the state of Arizona, and the state of Tennessee in the U.S.   A lifetime has been spent teaching Fine Art, Art History, and English in secondary schools and colleges as well as privately and, believe it or not, although Bob-lo Island Amusement Park was closed in the 1980's and is now an island of high-end housing developments, I still own the 1960 Corvair! 

Kathryn and her 1960 Corvair       

Music, Theater, and Costume Design occupies much of my private life.  I hold credentials in History, Harmony, Counterpoint, and Music Performance and play piano, Celtic harp, some flute, and guitar.  Can't sing a lick, but I have perfect pitch and was, at one time, the rehearsal pianist for the Canadian Court Light Opera Company and Windsor Ballet Company in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Kathryn and Tania Mucha-Rutherford    Kathryn Rutherford in 1904 Edwardian Gown     Kathryn Rutherford wearing 1883 Wedding Gown

I've led a third professional life of which my painting collector clients are mostly unaware.  Having recently been awarded Lifetime Membership, I have dedicated much of my time and talents, since 1980, to the Professional Photographers of Canada and the Professional Photographers of Michigan, Tennessee, and America.  I have served the photography and photographic artisan industries by enhancing, restoring, or creatively altering the photographs of international clients and professional photographers and providing hand-coloured and original oil portrait services through my company, Heirloom Art Studio.  I am most honoured to have received the Certified Retouch Artist, Photographic Craftsman, and Master Artist Degrees from various associations and was the first person outside of the United States to earn the coveted Photographic Artisan and Laurel Degrees from the American Photographic Artisans Guild. These degrees are awarded for photographic and artistic excellence and a dedication to teaching the craft to others.

 Portrait Painting 1974       

My fine art paintings and photographic works have been juried into a multitude of international exhibitions with many any pieces receiving prestigious awards from such companies as the Eastman Kodak Company, FujiFilm Corporation, the American Kennel Club, and the Golden Retriever Club of America.
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).

Epcot Center photographic restoration

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.  Don't ask---I won't tell you the secret process of restoration that I created.  This is the one, and only, piece of information I will not share. 

Fuji Masterpiece Award presented to Kathryn Rutherford for tintype restoration secret process

Although I teach traditional, historic, and digital Fine Art materials and methods, I am widely recognized for the original oil paintings I label "Spirit Paintings" that capture emotional moments, whether the subject is a treasured heirloom, the multi-generational story of ordinary lives, or a state of being on a metaphysical plane.  These investigations of the transparency effects of light and shadow on reflective or see-through objects and figures allow me to tell stories and preserve memories that would otherwise be lost.  Both my fine art and photographic restorations as well as original portraits and paintings can be found in private collections in seventeen countries throughout the world and several have received prestigious awards in selective exhibitions. 

Regarding a Spirit Painting I created as a fundraiser to raise money to restore an historic church just a few miles down the road from my studio, Tomi Melson, Executive Director, Piedmont Craftsmen, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, wrote:
            "I was so captivated by Kathryn Rutherford's painting entitled
            "Guardians of Headrick Chapel", by her ability to create a
            provocative narrative with her technical skill, that I have awarded
            her an Award of Distinction." 
That painting went on to receive Best of Show at the 12th Sevier County Biennial Juried Exhibition, in 2005.

Guradians of Headrick Chapel, Wears Valley, Tennessee by Kathryn Rutherford-Heirloom Art Studio

A special Award of Distinction was presented by the East Tennessee Historical Society, in 2012, for the Headrick Chapel and Little Greenbrier School Spirit Painting series because of what the Society considered to be their "historic importance to preserving the area's past and creating lasting portraits in oil of those who lived and settled East Tennessee" where I currently make my home and operate my studio business. 

I am extremely proud to have spent my life giving of my knowledge and skills to industries, students, and collectors that value what I have to offer.
The American author and historian, David McCullough, wrote,  "Real success is finding your life work in the work you love."  A journey that began with a temporary summer job became a life long carnival ride evolving into several very rewarding careers with more experiences yet to come.

 Kathryn Rutherford Fine Artist-Heirloom Art Studio       


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