Now available – the complete story and visual record of a true

pioneer in the arts

Born in 1897, and raised in the Fox River Valley of Illinois, Ruth Ford graduated in 1918 from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, an art school with a commercial focus. She continued her studies in Chicago and New York under the tutelage of some of the most respected painters of the time, John Carlson, George Bellows, and Guy Wiggins.

Ruth returned to the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts to teach, and in 1937, became president and director of the institution, a post she held until 1960. Pulitzer-prize winning editorial cartoonist Bill Mauldin is but one example of the hundreds of talented students she nurtured.



Ruth was the first woman from Illinois to be invited into the prestigious American Watercolor Society and the first woman artist member of Chicago's renowned Palette & Chisel Academy. In 1948, with architect Bruce Goff, Ruth and her husband, Sam, designed a home and studio on Aurora's far west side, called the Round House, that attracted international attention.

Known for her bold use of color and free sense of perspective, Ruth Van Sickle Ford exhibited her paintings throughout North and Central America for more than five decades. She continued to teach and to paint up until her death in 1989.

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About the Book

For writer Nancy Hopp, a former student, neighbor, and ardent fan, this book has been a seven-year journey into the life and works of one of the most interesting artists of the 20th century. In a narrative of more than 150 pages, the book shares insights into Ruth Ford's unique personality and talents from her many students and colleagues. Along with candid photographs, 75 stunning color reproductions of her watercolor and oil paintings are featured.


About the Author

When Nancy Smith Hopp was in grade school, she had the opportunity to watch the construction of Ruth Ford's Round House a few blocks from her home. In 1965, she enrolled in Ruth's watercolor class at Aurora University. The artist and the author were reacquainted again in 1985 when Nancy's father was a resident of the same nursing home as Ruth.

Nancy enjoyed a long and fulfilling career in marketing communications before retiring in 2007. She has written a wide variety of publications over the years, including more than thirty-six short stories for her grandchildren. Warm Light, Cool Shadows is her first full-length illustrated biography.

Nancy lives in Aurora, Illinois, with her husband, Jim.

Copyright 2011 Nancy Smith Hopp

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