Maggie Ruley paints in tropical tones

Maggie Ruley paints in tropical tones - A person standing in front of a laptop - Florida Keys

Local artist of 30 years now teaches classes

Maggie Ruley’s skill at combining color in her tropical artwork is such that the paintings are powerful enough to set the tone in any room, private or commercial; a bright and cheery tone.

“It is a Key West tropical pallete,” said Ruley about her color selection.

Her current studio and gallery, Island Inspirations, is located on Fleming Street in Old Town, but she said her first space circa 1986 was located inside the Blue Heaven restaurant.

But Ruley started her artist career with pottery creations made in a kiln at her home in Lower Sugarloaf. The first big seller were the brightly painted, ceramic flip-flops. They were so popular Ruley was shipping boxes all over until her design was copied and suddenly knock offs were available everywhere. Upset at first, she brushed off the set back and continued to create on her own terms.

“The shimmering sea and crystal sky change minute by minute to visually stimulate the imagination in Key West.  I use all of these elements in my paintings and tropical pottery,” she said.

Ruley’s style brushwork has a splash of fantasy on her landscape and seascape paintings that often feature animals and people. Some folks and animals have cartoonish characteristics and the colors are extremely vibrant from the sky to the sea.

She still does pottery. Ruley picked up a tray she made and said she copied its shape from a serving tray she found at a second hand shop. The shimmery yellow finish is extremely durable, she said, but it still needs to be hand-washed so as not to chip from bumping against other objects in the dishwasher.

Last January, Ruley started teaching classes after being asked to do so by several people in town. She said her first priority is making artists feel confident and teaching them basic color skills. Classes are $35 for an hour session.

Artwork at Ruley’s studio ranges from $20 to several hundred for everything from artwork to pottery. The studio features work from other local artists, too. The studio is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 933b Fleming St., Key West.