about vivian ripley
Vivian Ripley is an accomplished artist of quite varied subject matter, and inherent in all her works is the beauty of color and how it is affected by light and shade. She works in pastel, watercolor, acrylic, and colored pencil (sometimes combining media), always striving to achieve beauty in each medium through her emotional use of color and tone.
Vivian grew up with an intense interest in the arts. After earning an advanced degree in piano performance, she added a very serious involvement in the visual arts. She has been professionally active in group and individual shows since 1975. Teaching has inspired her to examine her own works, continually strive to grow in her achievement, and to verbalize and demonstrate those findings to others- and hopefully inspire them as well. She regularly teaches pastel, watercolor, acrylic, colored pencil, and is also in demand for demonstrations and workshops in these disciplines.
As is obvious from her varied subject matter, Vivian finds motivation from new ideas, new subjects. Of particular interest is painting on location. The excitement and involvement with the moment is particularly rewarding. “The whole body, and its senses, is involved with nature because of the urgency of the increasingly changing scene”, says Vivian. Some of Vivian’s most emotional work is done on location. A favorite area is Ontario, north of Georgian Bay. Since 1982, Vivian has been involved every summer with the La Cloche Art Show in Whitefish Falls, Ontario, where she has won awards, served as juror, and been named Distinguished Artist.
Vivian is a signature member of Ohio Watercolor Society, Kentucky Watercolor Society, Missouri Watercolor Society, Wyoming Watercolor Society, Central Ohio Watercolor Society, Degas Pastel Society, International Society of Acrylic Painters, and a charter member of Ohio Plein Air Society. She is represented by Sudbury Art and Frame in Sudbury, Ontario. Vivian has participated and won awards in many state, regional, and national shows, such as Art at the Arnold at the Greater Columbus Convention Center; Viewpoint 43, a national juried competition sponsored by the Cincinnati Art Club; Northeast National Pastel Exhibition in Old Forge, NY; Kentucky Watercolor Society’s Aqueous in Louisville, KY; Biennial National Art Exhibition in Punta Gorda, FL; and Audubon Artist in New York City. She has enjoyed residencies at two United States National Parks: Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia, and Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas.
Vivian’s special watercolor technique is spotlighted in a chapter in The Watercolor Landscape Techniques of 23 International Artists (International Artists Incorporated, 2003). Vivian is one of only six artists from the United States included in this popular book. Her paintings are in collections in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, and Japan.
A pianist, painter, teacher and more, the Upper Arlington resident recounts her life’s work.
On a cool, sunny day in March, Vivian Ripley sits in a cozy chair in her Upper Arlington home studio, taking a rare break between teaching a morning pastel class and a stream of afternoon piano lessons. Adorned with a collection of books, paintings, awards and photos of musicians who have influenced her, the studio reflects the great depth of her career and the many mentors, colleagues and students she’s encountered along the way. At the heart of the space, two Steinway grand pianos are temporarily quiet.
“I’m trying to think if I ever thought of doing something besides art or music.” She pauses to reflect as her cat Stripey brushes against her feet. “I don’t think I did. Being creative is just part of me.”
As a professional pianist who has been teaching since the final year of the Eisenhower administration (but who shies away from revealing her age), Ripley has long maintained a lucrative livelihood as a solo and chamber performer and duo pianist. As an accomplished artist with paintings in collections all over the world, she has won numerous awards locally and nationally, including a recent best-of-show prize for her “Red Iris” painting, which appeared in the Worthington Area Art League exhibit at the McConnell Arts Center in March.
For Ripley, painting and music are deeply ingrained. Growing up in Cincinnati with great fervor for the arts, she knew that pursuing her creativity professionally meant choosing between her two passions in college. “I decided it would be music because I knew that if I went into art, I’d probably never play the piano seriously because you just lose your technique.”
Putting painting on hold, she earned a bachelor’s degree from DePauw University and a master’s from Boston University, both in piano performance. Ripley lived near Washington, D.C., as a young newlywed, and then in 1967 her husband’s career brought them to Columbus, where she continued to teach and perform. They started a family a short time later. She juggled teaching piano with parenthood, and her children grew up surrounded by music—a passion she didn’t want to force on them, but one that naturally found its way into their hearts. Both Fred and Vanessa have gone on to become accomplished musicians in their own right.
Returning to visual arts in 1974, Ripley explored her wide creative range and has since specialized in watercolors, acrylics, pastels and colored pencils, teaching classes in each medium. She has found new ways to challenge herself by painting on location and experimenting with different techniques and subjects.
Decades in, she’s still inspired and immersed. Ripley’s calendar is filled with 19 weekly piano students, numerous art classes, demonstrations, workshops and her latest art shows, including four pieces now on display in the National League of American Pen Women group exhibit at The Works gallery in Newark. “I think this all keeps me going,” Ripley says.
As for downtime, she laughs. “I am a member of the McConnell [Heart Health] Center, I should be over there in the water doing things, which I will try to do more of.” She then changes the conversation back to art. A few moments later, a student slips into the studio for her afternoon piano lesson. The break is over. There’s work to be done