The Seattle artist, who has a show at Woodside Braseth Gallery through Feb. 20, continues his work in layered, complex natural scenes.

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Jared Rue is one of those artists who plays with your perceptions. You wonder how his flat canvases can give such a sense of dimensionality. How can he achieve the depth, the layers, the images that recede into the distance? The longer you look at his paintings, the more the foreground gets closer and the background moves away.

With oil paints and metal leaf on canvas, the Seattle artist creates scenes of our Western natural environment. In them dark conifers, vines and tree branches are placed right before your eyes. The large bodies of water and vegetation that form the background are rendered in more subtle colors, thus creating the illusions he has mastered. He deliberately offers no hints to the specific locations of his paintings. Rue wants each viewer to imprint his or her own impression on the depicted environments.

There’s a subtle Japanese feel to his work, an echo of Sumi. In the largest of the paintings in this show, “Literati,” the dark conifer branches are far above the tree trunks, much as they would be in bonsai specimens. The far distant, lighter-colored trees look silvery.


Jared Rue: ‘Undercurrent’

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays through Feb. 20, Woodside/Braseth Gallery, 1201 Western Ave., Suite 105, Seattle (206 622-7243 or

Actually, some are made of aluminum leaf. Rue integrates both aluminum and copper leaf into his works, often to draw the viewer’s eye into the depth of the painting. After he applies the metal to the canvas, he burnishes and glazes it. “Veiled Retreat” uses the copper leaf for the foreground branches and leaves. Here it pushes them forward and accentuates their distance from the background composed of subtle washes of color.

Though his palette at first appears to be limited — black, grays, soft blues and yellows, it is actually very complex. His blacks are composed of blues, greens and reds required to achieve the subtle variations he needs. Also, by using more tonal colors, Rue creates backgrounds that allow the metal components to recede into them when he wants to create distance.

Water is a pictorial element in many of his works. He believes that the movement of water is rich with meaning, both at its surface and below its depths. Water is life giving and healing, yet it is also frightening and dangerous.

He likens it metaphorically to human life. It can pull you under or you can swim with the current. Above all, it is beautiful. Most often the water is a distant calm, but, in some like “Eddy” or “Alluvion,” its motion is palpable.

Rue is a self-taught artist. Except for some glass-blowing courses at Corning in New York and at the Haystack Mountain School in Maine, his work is the result of personal experimentation that began when he was a small boy and would sit in his room for two or three hours a day and paint with watercolors or complete paint-by-number projects. Only when he was in his 20s did he begin to experiment with oils on canvas and gradually develop his own method of layering.

Rue’s work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions for more than 10 years and is in public collections throughout the country.