The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Self taught artist finds many inspirations


Diana Zimmerman

Ruth Doumit is the featured artist for the month of May at Tsuga Gallery in Cathlamet. There will be an open house on Friday to meet the artist and celebrate Mother's Day. Doumit is self-taught, and works in many different mediums including ceramics, stained glass, mosaic, scratchboard, and much more.

Ruth Doumit, a lifelong resident of Wahkiakum County is Tsuga Gallery's Artist of the Month for May. This Friday, there will be an open house to celebrate Mother's Day, meet Doumit, and see her work.

Mother's Day is an appropriate day to celebrate Doumit. The obvious would be to say that she is the mother of three, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother. But it would also be important to say that her life and her art acquired an urgency when 25 years ago, she found out she had cancer in a part of her body that symbolizes the maternal for her: the female breast.

"That's why I am the artist I am," Doumit said. "Going through cancer makes you live your life well and not waste time."

After radiation, she did an independent study in photography and ceramics. Some of her work from those tough and meaning filled days now sits in the Tsuga window.

"It was my way of getting back to art again," Doumit said. "I'm so proud of that work. It's really important to me. My breast cancer people are important to me. There is a picture of a mother nursing her baby. That's the most important part of this, the loss of the maternal..."

Doumit is self taught.

"I never had art in school, except for one teacher in grade school," she said.

She didn't waste any time when she got to college, where she finally got to study the thing she loved most, art and design. Three different times, every 10 years or so, she returned to take design again.

"I love design," Doumit said. "I love using colors. They affect you, the different combinations. I learned to make and mix colors, to see colors and negative spaces."

Because she didn't have art in school, she has volunteered over the years in local classrooms.

In 2002, Doumit worked with students at the high school for a whole year to create a huge metal eagle with an eight foot wing span. In exchange the VocAg teacher at the time, John Doumit, taught her how to weld.

Usually she learns as she goes. It seems to come naturally. At the end of a six week class in stained glass, she was, as she said, "teaching the teacher."

"If I want to learn something I just learn it and do it," Doumit said. "If somebody asks me to do something, I say sure I can."

And then she figures it out.

Doumit likes to work in many different mediums including, but not limited to ceramics, painting, scratchboard, wall art, mosaic tables, and glass, including stained glass.

"I play every day," Doumit said. "I come here every single day. I say I get to play all day and get paid for it. I do a lot of different kinds of things. I'm never bored. If I get stuck on doing one kind of art, I turn my chair and start another project up."

Here is a huge studio space above the grocery store in Cathlamet. It's not only a studio space, but a gallery as well.

"It's amazing the people that walk in here, walk down our street," Doumit said. "You have no idea where they've come from."

She knows, because she has them sign her guest book. Recently she sold some of her work to people from Ecuador and Japan. They were in town and found her studio.

"I just talk to everybody," Doumit said. "I just learn from everybody. I say hello to everybody. The ones that don't look at you, you know they don't live here."

She's inspired by the space she gets to work in every day, but she keeps her eyes open to everything around her.

"I'm constantly looking and seeing things, and watching people," Doumit said. "The way they stand, the way they walk. You can tell who someone is by the way they stand or the hat they wear."

There are several thematic lines of her ceramics that people like to collect. There are the dragonflies, the trees, and the fish, which are always popular.

Lately, she's been painting flowers.

"It just made me happy," Doumit said. "I needed to have love and light and brightness in my world."

At first she just drew the flowers on with black glaze and fired them once so customers could paint them themselves. That didn't work out so well.

"I couldn't keep my hands off them," Doumit laughed. "I painted them myself."

Doumit will be at Tsuga Gallery on Friday from 5-7 p.m. as they celebrate her and Mother's Day with an open house. Stop by to say hello and see what she has created.


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