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Work Samples

Journey on the Eastern Shore

6"x22" gouache & ink on Bristol board; 2023; based on traditional quilt pattern 'hole in the barn' and 'Jacob's ladder', southern sea oats drawn in archival ink

I've Always Liked Surprises

8"x10" gouache & ink on cold press paper; 2022; Based on traditional patterns: 'log cabin' variation & 'north star', common dittany drawn in ink completed while in residency at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts

Missing Mexico in Quarantine

16" round acrylic on canvas; 2021; Based on traditional patterns: 'sunshine & shadow' and 'ocean waves' variations Selected for display by Maryland Art Place and sold at Under $500

It All Began With Chicory

16" x 20" Acrylic, Charcoal, and Spray Paint on Board with Original Stenciling

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About Magan

Baltimore City

Magan Ruthke's picture
A self-taught artist, Magan has been a long time resident of Baltimore City, Maryland, where she spent over 15 years with the Children’s Museum in Baltimore. She re-directed her path to become a certified master naturalist, professional artist, and informal educator. With a diverse interest in subject matter, Magan hopes to evoke connections from the human-created world to the world living and breathing all around us. She highlights her travels, her love of the natural world, and folk design.... more

Memory & Tradition

We observed the natural world and found rhythm. Geometry was found in shells and flowers.  Navigation was discovered in the stars. Insects and birds mapped the weather. From these gifts we created symbols and patterns. We traveled, bringing our symbols with us. We shared them and they evolved into collective memory. Plants traveled with us too. They carried our traditions, our medicine, our food. There was purpose and meaning all around us. 
Over time, patterns have become decoration. Many of our plants have truned to weeds. But they are still there, connecting us to one another across continents and in spite of borders. 
They are still telling our stories .

This collection represents the my memories connected to common plants and traditional folk art patterns. 

  • Journey on the Eastern Shore

    6"x22" gouache & ink on Bristol board; 2023; based on traditional quilt pattern 'hole in the barn' and 'Jacob's ladder', southern sea oats drawn in archival ink
  • I've Always Liked Surprises

    8"x10" gouache & ink on cold press paper; 2022; Based on traditional patterns: 'log cabin' variation & 'north star', common dittany drawn in ink completed while in residency at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts
  • They Were Everywhere Once

    5"x7" (diptych) gouache & ink on cold press paper; 2022; Based on traditional patterns: 'flying geese' variation, mountain laurel drawn in ink completed while in residency at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts
  • If I Have To Eat A Salad, I'd Prefer It Full of Flowers

    6"x10" gouache & ink on cold press paper; 2022; Based on traditional patterns: 'log cabin' variation, star chickweed drawn in ink completed while in residency at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts
  • How You Know If You Like Butter

    8"x12" gouache & ink on cold press paper; 2022; Based on traditional patterns: 'north star' variation, common buttercup drawn in ink completed while in residency at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts
  • Just A Different Shape

    4"x10" gouache & ink on cold press paper; 2022; Based on traditional patterns: 'birds in the air' & 'north star' variation, narrow and broad leaf plantain drawn in ink completed while in residency at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts

Border Crossings

Work as a naturalist, educator, and artist, collide to create a collection that show human patterns, borrowed from the environment, creating unatural boundaries where there should be none. I believe that patterns are a thing that bind us together. They follow us across continents, weaving themselves into our culture to tell our stories. Patterns are way to remind us to reconnect to nature and reiterate that we are one race - human. 

  • Missing Mexico in Quarantine

    16" round acrylic on canvas; 2021; Based on traditional patterns: 'sunshine & shadow' and 'ocean waves' variations Selected for display by Maryland Art Place and sold at Under $500
  • American Love Story

    Painted as a commission for friends who, to me, represent a perfect vision of our country. A black man whose family roots lie in North Carolina slavery and an Indian woman who is the daughter of immigrants. They are now a corporate lawyer and director the New Jersey Transit System, respectively, and raising their son in their 1920's New Jersey home. 48"x60" Acrylic, charcoal, aerosol, with hand-cut stencils on canvas.
  • Monstera in Hana

    8"x8" acrylic on wood panel Based on my time in Maui, Hawai'i and native Kapa patterns. Two patterns are represented: the interlocking triangles symbolizing the connection of our worlds culture and peoples and Kanaka which represent family.
  • Sunset on the 4th in Maui

    8"x10" acrylic on wood panel This consists of three Kapa patterns from native Hawai'i. Mauna - honoring Hawaiis mountains. Niho Ku - representing the jagged lava rock coastlines. And Kaimana - mimicking the Hawaiian night skies. A landscape painting of Baldwin Beach, Maui rests in the center. A place were many locals spend their days surfing and relaxing in the Pacific Island sun.
  • View from Upcountry, Maui

    The view from of the center of Maui where one can see the waters almost meet. The kapa patterns are native to Hawai'i and represent the path of the warrior, family, and the sharing of cultures. 20"x20" Acrylic on canvas 2019
  • It All Began With Chicory

    16" x 20" Acrylic, Charcoal, and Spray Paint on Board with Original Stenciling
  • Border Crossing #2

    12" x 12" Acrylic, Charcoal, and Spray Paint on Board with Original Stencils
  • Pipeline

    12" x 12" Acrylic, Charcoal, and Spray Paint on Birch Bark with Original Stencil
  • Birds in the Air

    5" x 7" Watercolor on Cold Press Paper
  • Migration

    10" x 20" Acrylic, Charcoal, and Spray Paint on Canvas with Original Stencil

Landscape: Deconstructed

As a landscape painter, I often see the world in sections and slices. This curve of the Earth. That slice of light. A wave of texture over rock. I began to turn this deconstructed view of the world into wall hangings. Each is created with reclaimed or found wood and is a unique work.  Some have painted elements, some are gilt, all tell the story of how I see the world around me when taken piece by piece. 

Each has been sold and are now in homes across the U.S. 

  • Sunrise, Cape Henlopen State Park

    7"x12" reclaimed acoustic guitar wood, driftwood, mulberry brand, vintage thread & waxed cord; 2022
  • Lake Chapala layers

    7"x9" reclaimed acoustic guitar wood, mulberry branch, acrylic & waxed cord; 2021
  • Mesa Verde National Park

    If you've been to Mesa Verde National Park, you can see this seen. It's all layered rocks and canyons and ancient ruins hidden in a massive mesa. It's just breathtaking and otherworldly. You have to constantly remind yourself that there is an entirely different ecosystem thousands of feet below you on the plains below. Using tweezers, tons of hours went into selecting, sanding, glueing reclaimed wood pieces left over from my other work onto a reclaimed cherry wood board from a Baltimore friend.
  • The Valley

    My husband comes from Rawlings, Maryland. It's a whisper of a place off of 220 and just a major league baseball toss away from West Virginia. It's one of the rare spots in Maryland where the Appalachians rise up like proper, pointed, mountains and then blend into the flat river valley below. It is beautiful now. It must of been spectacular to the people who first lived there. I had that slice of the world in my mind when putting this mosaic together. The hills. The sunsetting. The sky darkening.
  • Light Through the Canyon

    This wall hanging was months in the making as Covid began and many of us had to reconfigure our lives. It's representative of the Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona. The slot canyons are a playground of color, texture, and light. I cut reclaimed wood used in the making of guitars to reflect the grain of the sandstone wall and afternoon light slipping into the cracks of the desert above. After cutting and sanding all of the peices, they were hand-drilled and sewn together with my grandmom's thread collection, passed to me after she could no longer sew.
  • Ridge & Valley Layers

    Reclaimed wood, found branch, waxed cord
  • Tidal

    Reclaimed wood, found driftwood (St. Helena's Island, SC), waxed cord
  • Earth Layers

    Reclaimed wood, found branch, waxed cord
  • Deconstructed Dunes

    Reclaimed wood, found branch, waxed cord
  • Fog in the Canaan Valley

    Created from reclaimed wood from a guitar makers workshop, this landscape is inspired by the Canaan Valley in West Virginia, next to Dolly Sods Wilderness. Pieces are hand-cut, sanded, and then sewn together with vintage thread passed to me from my grandmom. Hand-painted with acrylic. 8.75"x 6"

American Landscapes

Bitter cold winters. Lush mountains. Bright deserts. These are the images of my travels across America. 

  • Stony Run, Frozen #1

    Completed while on residency at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, this landscape depicts the under appreciated urban winter landscape of our Baltimore City tributaries.
  • Five More Minutes Down 220

    9"x11" oil pastel on paper The Dan's Mountain valley, Rawlings, Maryland, looking into West Virginia. The place where my husband is from.
  • Canaan Valley Sunset

    Sunset over the Canaan Valley, near Dolly Sods Wilderness, West Virginia. 4"x12" Acrylic on canvas 2019
  • Dolly Sods Cotton Grass

    A recent hiking trip to Dolly Sods Wilderness this fall produced amazing landscapes. This one of a cotton grass amongst a field of boulders was one of them. 11"x14" Acrylic on canvas 2019
  • The Blue Mesa

    Based on my camping trip to Petrified Forest National Park. 24"x24" Acrylic on canvas 2019
  • Great Sand Dunes in the Rain

    Based on my camping trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park. It was cold, raining, and marvelous. 20"x24" Acrylic on canvas.
  • Natural Bridge in Winter

    18"x18" Acrylic on Canvas 2018 View of Natural Bridge, Virginia on New Years Day 2018
  • The Frozen Stream

    40"x30" Acrylic on Recycled Canvas 2018 Winter View of Raphine, Virginia Ranch Land
  • Tidal Cave at Waianapanapa.jpg

    A glimpse into a tidal cave created by lava at Waianapanapa State Park, Maui. 30"x40" Acrylic on canvas 2019
  • Sunset at 10,000 Feet

    16"x40" Acrylic on Canvas 2018 View from Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Landscape-A-Day: A Covid-19 Project

When Covid-19 began hitting the U.S., I was feeling unraveled. The promising spring was becoming a series of cancelations, disappointments, and with it a bout of depression. I needed structure, something to get me out of bed, so I started this project of creating a small landscape each day and selling them for $25 each. They consist of places I've been with those I love or of abstract memories. They brought me comfort and allowed others to bring art into their home during financial uncertainty.

Abstract/Naturally

As a naturalist, the smallest elements in nature focus sharply, while backdrops blur and become a nest of feeling. The hoof of a deer, the twirl of a vine, these are the things that stay with me. By sharply seperating these details from their greater canvas, I hope to remind the audience that the smallest moments are sometimes the most memorable. 

North Stars Merging Mural

One of several projects completed during early days of Covid-19. This is a 10'x8' mural designed and excuted by me. In theme with my love of cross-cultural patterns, this design combines Mexican, Native American, and Americana as a way to bring warmth in our home during a time of anxiety and far. The North Star is a pattern used over and over again in many cultures and often symolizes home and safety. It blends into a variation of delectable mountains (American folk art) which is also often seen as God's eye in Native American culture. The two patterns together represent health, warmth, and well-being. 

Lazy Whale Mural

A commission to design and execute a pattern based mural for a private vacation home in Ocean City, MD.  Based on tradional quilt patterns: descending mountains and north star. 

October 2018

Folk Art Steps

A commission to create and execute a folk art mural on the steps of a private residence in Charles Village, Baltimore, MD. 

Completed in spring 2018. 

  • Completed Lower Folk Art Steps

    Completed section of the upper set of steps. A collaborative effort between the home owners and myself, the design was created to reflect the previous designs painted on the upper molding of the home. Latex on Concrete.
  • Completed Upper Folk Art Steps

    Completed section of the upper set of steps. A collaborative effort between the home owners and myself, the design was created to reflect the previous designs painted on the upper molding of the home. Latex on Concrete.
  • Folk Art Steps Upper Detail

    Detail of the upper set of steps. A collaborative effort between the home owners and myself, the design was created to reflect the previous designs painted on the upper molding of the home. Latex on Concrete.
  • Lower Folk Art Steps Detail

    Detail of the lower set of steps. A collaborative effort between the home owners and myself, the design was created to reflect the previous designs painted on the upper molding of the home. Latex on Concrete.
  • Upper Steps: Sketch

    Preliminary drawings of the upper set of steps of the house. A collaborative effort between the home owners and myself, the design was created to reflect the previous designs painted on the upper molding of the home. Prisma color on velum.
  • Lower Steps: Sketch

    Preliminary drawings of the lower set of steps of the house. A collaborative effort between the home owners and myself, the design was created to reflect the previous designs painted on the upper molding of the home. Prisma color on velum.
  • Folk Art Steps: Before

    Before picture of both sets of steps.

Magan's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.