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Craig Rubadoux exhibit shows connection between figure drawings and abstractions

The Sarasota master’s solo exhibit at Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art gives viewers a sense of his process and unique style.

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  • | 12:08 a.m. March 21, 2018
Craig Rubadoux's solo show runs through March 31 at Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art. Photo by Niki Kottmann
Craig Rubadoux's solo show runs through March 31 at Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art. Photo by Niki Kottmann
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Sometimes, all it takes is one line to get started.

Contemporary artist Craig Rubadoux began to develop his signature linear style as a student at Ringling College 60-some years ago. Now, the principles he learned in his first semester figure drawing class are the basis for his work, much of which is now on display for a solo exhibit, “Magical, Mystical, Fantastical” at Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art.

“You start with an idea and once you make a mark on the canvas it tells you where else to go intuitively,” Rubadoux says. “I keep making marks until it seems realized.”

The Sarasota native — who now lives in Englewood — moved to the area from New York around the age of 7, when he immediately immersed himself in his new natural habitat. Rubadoux recalls spending many afternoons playing in row boats and observing alligators in Myakka River State Park as a child, and his love of canoeing, hiking, camping and just being outside in general translates into the natural elements of his work.

“I like to suggest the fragility of nature and what we need to do better to preserve it,” he says.

His subjects in this exhibit range from flamenco dancers to his own pets, but almost all have one thing in common: they start with a basic form.

Figure drawing was Rubadoux’s most impactful college class because of the discipline and knowledge he gained of human anatomy, he says. He’s fascinated by the beautiful forms and shapes that make up living beings.

“I think the more you know about the figure, the more you can take from that and abstract it and play with it,” he says.

Several colorful pieces such as Craig Rubadoux
Several colorful pieces such as Craig Rubadoux "Blue Pony" are on display and available for purchase. Courtesy photo

And several decades out of school, he’s not done refining his figure drawing skills. He still takes a weekly life drawing class in Englewood just to draw and explore.

Although the natural world is a great source of Rubadoux’s inspiration, he says his subject manner runs the whole gamut of the lived experience — or rather, his lived experience.

Whether it’s the love of flamenco music he developed while living in Spain or the opera singers he met last summer in his seasonal home of Nova Scotia, Rubadoux finds inspiration all around him, but he says the tone of his paintings depends on however he’s feeling when he sits down to create them.

As for his audience, Rubadoux says he doesn’t paint for anyone but himself.

“Hopefully there’s somebody that the work will resonate with, but I try to solve what I need to solve on that particular canvas and hopefully someone else will say it’s cool,” he says.

He’s aware that his spontaneous artistic process isn’t for everyone, but he likes his work to have an air of mystery.

“Some people make preliminary drawings with a grid and everything’s precise but I like the adventure — that’s just the way I like to do things,” he says. “I like to explore and see what happens.”

Asked why he decided to devote his life to art, he refers back to a discussion he had just joined over lunch the day before.

“There’s no question, you just have to do it,” Rubadoux says. “There’s no choice, if that’s what you’re drawn to, if that’s what you’re passionate about, that’s what you have to do.”


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