In this body of work, Ruddell has continued the theme of solitary moments focusing on relationships of adolescence into adulthood. Ruddell seeks to illustrate the small changes of life, only recognizing his feelings once they appear as tangible forms on the canvas.
In these paintings, Ruddell’s landscapes are steeped in the particular look and feel of the inlets, beaches and sand dunes near his home in San Rafael where low hills and winding paths meander and end where sea meets sky. Gary Westford writes, “Although themes of fragmentation, isolation and a loss of innocence are recurrent in these new paintings, an equally important depiction of miraculous feats of balance, levitation and dematerialization all serve to create an aura of eternal mystery and melancholy that leads viewers of the work into the realm of visual poetry.”
Often featuring his own children, Ruddell says, “Their directions and growth over the years has been a perfect metaphor for how we interact with one another, and many of the problems in the world would be solved if we just learned to interact with each other as man and woman, boy and girl.”
Ruddell’s exhibit also expresses these modern day problems with references to the ongoing historical debate of war. The exhibition acknowledges a great tradition of 19th century painters including Albert Bierstadt and Winslow Homer. The beauty of Ruddell’s work lies in his ability to understand and reinterpret Bierstadt’s pantheism and Homer’s sense of loss and reconstruction after the trauma of war. The dramatic effect of sending our children into battle and then as soldiers they become victims is another theme in a few of Ruddell’s paintings. . In “Bystander”, a soldier sits on the steps holding a gun while a younger version of himself is centered in the piece with his hands dipped in oil. In this accomplished exhibition, Ruddell offers story telling at its best with our national history, and personal memory filling in the blanks.