Passion, Poppies and the Provence in France 

By: Dana Michell

WHAT: Meet the Artist

WHO: Marielle

WHERE: Newport Gallery

WHEN: Friday, July 4

There’s a romantic sanctuary down Tyrol Crescent in Blueberry that evokes all the passion for the good things in life.

It’s a gorgeous Bed & Breakfast named Renoit’s Winter Garden. Inside are more than 100 paintings of people, poppies, and places, with colour so bold and yet so soft that the pictures look life like.

The smell that saunters through the elaborate home is gourmet cooking at it’s finest – a breakfast of the best berry pancakes you could ever imagine. So who does all this romantic art and aroma belong to?

Helga Ruiterman and her husband Paul. Helga goes under the name "Marielle" in her art.

"I think it’s such a beautiful name compared to my real one," said Ruiterman. "I used to have a boutique in the Parkroyal called Marielle and a lot of people used to think that was my actual name. I thought it was so romantic so one day I signed one of my pictures Marielle and it sold not long after. I thought that was a good sign and kept it."

Her new name symbolizes a lot of her subjects. She loves to paint women and flowers and romantic scenes from Italy, Africa and France. A collection of her favourite portraits will be on display from June 4 at the Newport Gallery in Squamish, titled "Women of the World".

Marielle got her passion for art from her father, who was also a painter. She grew up spending time with him in his workshop in Germany and read books on the Masters like Renoit, Matisse and Monet.

"I was fascinated by Renoit and his images of women. He just made them look so captivating and ever since I have been drawn to that style of work," she said.

Marielle also enjoys painting landscapes from her travels around the world. Her series on Africa is admired by many, and her Tuscan and Provence scenes are proving extremely popular.

"I want to go back to Tuscany and visit the wineries. I’d love to paint those views – they are breathtaking," she said.

In the meantime she says latest focus is on poppies, an image that is also from her trip to France. "There were fields of them everywhere and I just love the colour red because of all the different shades you can get that represent different moods. My dad used to paint with a lot of red, too, and is the colour I remember most from my happy childhood. I had red shoes and a red bike".

Is there anything local Marielle would like to paint?

"I’d love to paint my husband. I always say ‘Come on honey, pose for me, but he’s too restless. He can’t sit still long enough."

Catch Marielle’s romantic collection at the Newport Gallery in Squamish for the month of July. You can meet the artist at the opening party on July 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. Her work is also on display in Whistler’s Listel Hotel.

If you want to spend a night in the Ruitermans’ gorgeous B&B, Renoir’s Winter Garden, Marielle will not only share her art secrets, but cook up some gourmet meals to die for. See or phone: 604-938-0546.

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