Ray Ruseckas, who is known for the deep, natural earth tones of his pastels, has turned his eye in recent years toward the riverways and treescapes of New England. Beginning with his own treeline along the Green River, and the hillside above his home where the wood’s edge meets a broad swath of open fields, he began to study how that intersection of bramble meets tree, grasses to bramble, water to grass edge. All of these views are integral to our sense of the region.
Ruseckas has been developing his talent over the past twenty years, and the sureness of his hand is evident in this new series of work. He has a unique sensitivity to the landscape, and the moodiness and depth of the palette imbues each scene with a sense of the unknown.
Working in tandem with friend and co-conspirator, Wolf Kahn, the two often set out together during the summer and fall, traipsing across fields and stopping on the side of dirt roads in search of the perfect plein air compositions. As is his wont, Kahn sets up his pastel table and chair to take advantage of the close view of the side of an old barn; Ruseckas positions himself most often to contemplate the view over the rolling fields and the delineation of the woods and hedgerows.
Ruseckas’ work is marked by a certain sense of mystery: he is sensitive to the nuances of the changing light and thus tonal shifts of the landscape under the quixotic New England skies, and has great respect for the what the land has to offer: its depth of color, the texture of the fields, the mass of tree branches, the weight of the sky, the volume of the landscape itself. These elements cohere to create a strong sense of ‘witnessing’ the landscape, of participating in the landscape…. an unusual and generous experience for the viewer.
The unexpected depth of his work comes from the way in which the artist handles dry pastel. Beginning with an underlayment of pure red, green, blue laid down in broad gestures, Ruseckas builds on the saturated color in layers, adding tone upon tone, until he achieves the gray-blue of the sky, the ochre-brown of the field. This is what imparts such a marvelous depth to his coloration, and keeps the pastels so true to the landscape before him.
The artist has shown his work at the Park Avenue Armory Work on Paper Show in New York, Art Southampton, Art Miami, Art Toronto, and Art San Francisco; and with the CYNTHIA- REEVES Galleries in Walpole and New York City; the Carol Craven Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard, and in Boston with the Barton Ryan Gallery. His work is in numerous private collections and corporate collections, including the Pfizer Corporation, Fidelity, GTE, and Hill & Barlow. His pastels have been included in a number of curated, traveling exhibitions, at such museums as The Florence Griswold Museum, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, as well as the Brattleboro Museum in Vermont.
The artist happily lives and works in the Connecticut River Valley, the source of his inspiration for his pastels and photography.