Photo by Ryan Murray

The studio of Seattle artist and Creative Director of the Seattle Artist League Ruthie V. is a light, airy space which she uses for more intimate classes when the course calls for it. The League opened last year and has already seen more than 800 students.
Photo by Ryan Murray The studio of Seattle artist and Creative Director of the Seattle Artist League Ruthie V. is a light, airy space which she uses for more intimate classes when the course calls for it. The League opened last year and has already seen more than 800 students.

Along a busy stretch of Aurora Avenue, the Seattle Artist League is allowing students to direct their own artistic focus.

The art school, which opened in 2016, has already seen more than 800 artists and prospective artists who want to hone their craft.

Students can take courses on drawing, painting and screen printing, with more to come.

Ruthie V., creative director of the Seattle Artist League and one of two who started the school (along with Provost Lendy Hendley), said the school started as almost an accident.

“I didn’t know I was going to be an educator,” she said. “I was running a drawing group about 10 years ago and people were asking me why I wasn’t teaching full time.”

She and Hendley had a running joke for a while that the two would start an art school.

“I said no at first, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” Ruthie V. said. “A few weeks later I asked her if she was serious and she said no. After that she came up and asked if I was serious. Eventually we started this thing.”

The original location of the League was a building near Greenlake which was torn down to make way for apartments. The new location, at 10219 N Aurora Ave., is a fairly nondescript building, which shares space with a coffee roastery and a sculpting studio (the landlord’s and unrelated to the school).

Teachers include Ruthie V. and Hendley of course, but also guest artists such as Junko Yamamoto, who currently has works in the Seattle Art Museum.

“We try to treat this space as a community, which is where the League name comes in,” Ruthie V. said.

With space to work when classes aren’t ongoing, part of the school can have sort of a lounge feel.

Classes too allow students to explore their own style, and not have to learn rote technique from their instructors like a lecture hall-type course.

Ruthie V. also sees the League as a center for artists when they aren’t “on the clock.”

“As Seattle changes, and the architecture changes, it seems like places to do things become more scarce,” she said. “We’re still figuring out how we’re going to fill that gap, but that’s where we want to be.”


Visit the Seattle Artist League at seattleartistleague.com.