When she isn’t cruising at altitude as a WestJet flight attendant, Harrison Mills resident Nicole Ruuska is getting inspired by the natural world and using acrylics to create breathtaking paintings of the wildlife around her and around the world.
When she was 19 years old, Ruuska’s brother and sister gifted her a set of paints. At that point she had only been drawing, but decided to give paint a try.
“Really the rest is history,” she says. “I’m self-taught and just by trial and error I learned how to [paint.]”
Ruuska, who herself spends much of her time in the sky, enjoys painting animals of the same volition. Her favorite critters to capture are birds of prey and eight years ago she unknowingly moved to an area that sees the largest congregation of Bald Eagles in the entire world.
Ruuska says she has the deepest joy, respect and love of all living things. “I’m fascinated with nature, I love it… It’s my passion, birds and animals.”
Ruuska’s eagle and hawk paintings are stunning, capturing the majestic and unparalled beauty of some of Harrison’s sky-borne wildlife. But Ruuska’s artistic talents extend beyond birds. She paints everything from wolves and otters to people and pets. And her strokes aren’t limited to canvas either. Using oyster shells, tree fungus, feathers and leather, Ruuska breaks artistic boundaries with her nature-inspired artwork.
Originally from Thunder Bay, Ont., the long-time Calgary resident says moving to Harrison felt like “coming home.”
“It fuels the fire, that’s for sure,” she says. “For a wildlife artist, this is where I’m supposed to be.”
Ruuska’s art is collected internationally and has been featured in multiple magazines. She has won awards from WestJet and ArtChallenge.com.
Now the local artist is selling calendars just in time for the holidays, with a portion of profits going back into the community.
“I did a calendar last year and it was a big success,” she says. “I just thought I’d put it on Facebook and see if anyone’s interested… So many people wanted them I ended up having to order more. So I decided to do the same this year.”
Ruuska says $5 from each sale will be donated to either Agassiz-Harrison Community Services’ Food Bank or the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival.
For more information about Ruuska’s artwork visit nicoleruuska.com. Those interested in purchasing a calendar can contact Ruuska at firstname.lastname@example.org.