From inside out: Artist Marie-Louise Rouff


After years as a visitor, abstract artist Marie-Louise Rouff has settled on the Island, joining the Vineyard’s community of talented painters. She is one of the artists being featured at the Shaw Cramer Gallery on Main Street in Vineyard Haven.

Ms. Rouff’s career is extensive. Beginning as a representational artist in the early ’70s, her work was shown in galleries and private collections from California to her birthplace in Luxembourg. Inspired by her father’s penciled drawings of nature, she began painting as a youngster, then went on to earn a master’s degree in French literature. While working toward her doctoral degree, she began taking a drawing class at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, that altered her professional course.

The drawing class ignited her passion for painting, and she gave up on her academic goals for good to dedicate herself full-time to her art.

After her initial work in oils, she shifted to watercolors. Her first works were still-lifes and botanical studies, but by 1987, she moved toward connecting her passion for the environment and her love of painting by shifting to oil landscapes on large canvases. Her control over palette and true vision honed Marie-Louise’s skills and her work flourished.

In 1995, while taking a class on monotype printing, she found herself questioning and analyzing her own creative process. Making a monotype print first gives the artist control over the colors and placement, but the final outcome is subject to the mechanics of the etching press. From having painted landscapes and finding true representation in every tree and object, she now had to relinquish some control, a process that exposed her to the lightness and freedom of the less predictable.

The relinquishing of control over of her work generated feelings of frustration, accompanied by a sense of inner struggle and displacement. To her own surprise, these feelings were soon replaced with openness and joy in letting go and appreciating the outcome. Ms. Rouff began incorporating this new approach, eventually making the switch from representational to abstract painting.

“My abstract work has evolved from the traditional landscape and still-life,” she explains. “I loved to paint from direct observation with awareness that in the passing of time, the light shifted, the shadows moved, and things looked different from moment to moment.”

The landscapes began to represent more than what Ms. Rouff could see outwardly. She became open to her own inner stories and the emotions and translated them to her abstract paintings. Born of her emotions and inner landscapes, her paintings emerge as personal representations of memories, and her inner journey.

The paintings of Marie-Louise Rouff are displayed at the Shaw Cramer Gallery, Main Street, Vineyard Haven. 508-696-7323.