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Manuel Ruiz

Manuel Ruiz


(Feb. 28, 1920 - Jan. 1, 2010)

"When you look at a work of Manuel Ruiz, you see a subtlety of color, a gentle melding of tones, that creates a mood while, at the same time, recreates an image. You are drawn into the time, the place, and most importantly, the 'feeling' of the painting.

Ruiz is a master of color."

(Excerpt from a press release of Canadian Art Prints Inc. Vancouver, 1989).

Born in Madrid, Spain in 1920, Manuel began to demonstrate exceptional talent by the age of 10. He would take great delight in visiting the Prado Museum as a child not only to admire the works of Goya, Murillo, and Velázquez, but would later spend hours at home recreating their works. His little sister Maria, who accompanied him, often recounts how crowds gathered inside the museum to watch her brother sketch their works of art. After, he would rush home filled with tremendous inspiration spending hours mixing colors and playing with lights until he recreated the exact same shade or hue as his idols.

"In my youth I spent many hours at the Prado Museum in Madrid studying and painting the masters' work. It was a way of learning, discovering how to mix colors, how to play with light. Once I learnt this, I could go on and explore my own style."

At the age of 12, Manuel gave his first public exhibition of a collection of 24 paintings copied from the great masters. From that collection, here is the actual reproduction of the painting by Velázquez known as "The Surrender of Breda" aka "The Lances," which he painted in 1932. Today, it is a part of a private collection in Spain.

This exhibition earned him Honourable Mention and shortly thereafter, Manuel became one of the youngest artists ever to gain scholarship into the prestigious Escuela de Artes y Oficios de Madrid, (Madrid Academy of Fine Arts)where he received his diploma at the young age of 14.


A few years later, Manuel and his family moved to Seville in southern Spain where he followed his passion and furthered his education at the Escuela de Artes y Oficios de Sevilla. Shortly after, Manuel was awarded a traveling bursary to study in Italy for one year but the Spanish civil war called for compulsory military duty. After losing precious time to military service, he found work as a draughtsman and continued to paint as much as he could while selling his works on the side and submitting sketches of war scenes to local newspapers. In the army, his fellow soldiers nicknamed him "Pinceles" (paintbrush) for his artistic talent and for his slimness.

This a collection of postcards that he designed in the 1950s for the publishing company Heliotipia Artistica Española in Madrid that were widely sold throughout the country:

Over the years, Manuel travelled throughout Spain, becoming particularly attracted by the warmth and light of the Mediterranean Coast. He specialized in seascapes where he combined the classical techniques with a personal use of brush and palette knife. He also took delight in painting dramatic scenes of old Spain. This included the hanging houses of Cuenca, the Moorish walls of Avila, the Alcázars of Jaén and Segovia, and the old bridges of Toledo.

In 1961, Manuel moved to Canada and established his home in Montreal with his wife and nine-month old daughter. It was shortly afterwards that he shifted from oils to watercolors.

In Canada, Manuel found a completely different source of inspiration; the vivid colors of an autumn countryside, the tranquil and dramatic change of season in picturesque winter scenes, the serene solitude of the farmlands, and the charm of the quaint streets of Old Montreal.

Old Montreal, 1960s

Manuel enjoyed expressing his creativity not only through watercolors and oil but with tempera, gouache, acrylic, pencil, pen and ink, as well as dabbling in sculpting.

"I have a preference for watercolour as I find this medium to be more challenging than oil because there is so little margin for error. It also helps me to capture the subtleties of the sky and sea. Working with watercolours allows me to play with light and color in a way I had not been able to do before, as through it, I try to convey a sense of time and place."

In the early sixties, Manuel became a member of the Lakeshore Artists Association. In 1978 he won first prize among 50 competitors, for his painting titled "Grove Hotel." This competition was sponsored by the Royal Bank where he was given the honors by the Mayor of Beaconsfield. His painting hangs permanently at the Beaconsfield Council Chamber:

"The painting is now considered to be one of the finest examples of water color in Canada."-The News and Chronicle, June 29, 1978.

In 1981, he received Honourable Mention at the International Artists in Watercolour Competition held in London, England and in 1982, Air Canada featured four of his paintings on their First Class menus. During this time, Manuel opened his own school and became a founding member of the Société Canadienne de l'Aquarelle. His work continued to be widely exhibited in galleries throughout eastern Canada as he was much in demand at this time, both as an artist and as a teacher.

Manuel Ruiz art show “Recuerdos” 1999

He has distinguished himself as a watercolorist by winning various awards since and has taught workshops in watercolor techniques in local art communities. Manuel has exhibited his paintings in art galleries throughout Canada. Many of his works can be seen today in private collections in Europe and North America.

Click here for more information: Campbell Art Gallery

"When someone looks at my work, I want them to feel the effect of morning or evening light on an image, for instance, and see the delicate way it plays with color."

Just prior to retiring during the late 80's, the boy who copied the Prado greats was honored in "Canadian Art" magazine as the “best watercolorist in Canada during the 1970's and 1980's.”

"In my work I not only strive to create a mood but re-create an image in a realistic manner. I prefer using very few colors; five primaries are my limit to achieve a broad spectrum of hues and shades. If there are too many colors the image gets confused. When you look at a part of nature – the image – you don't see a lot of colors; you see hues and shadows." When I combine colors, I strive to capture both the mood as well as the moment."

"Spitfires" published and distributed by Vancouver-based Canadian Art Print Inc.

Sadly, my father passed away on New Year’s Day in 2010. In April 2010, the Société Canadienne de l'Aquarelle held its 27th annual art exhibition at Ogilvy's in downtown Montreal. An homage was paid to my father at the start of the ceremonies and awards of achievements. My father was always very proud to be a founding member of the SCA. This painting of his was displayed:

My father's painting, "Winter Mist," hangs in the mayor's office at the Dollard des Ormeaux City Hall. Here I am in 2019 with Claudine Ascher (the art director) and the Mayor himself, Alex Bottausci.

Manuel will forever be greatly missed and remembered by his family and friends. His artwork lives on bringing joy and beauty into our daily lives. For anyone wanting to leave a comment or share a memory, I have added this guestbook.

If you'd like to share, please send me an email


Beautiful words to describe an incredible artist. (Ingrid Noguera, Ontario.)

Your father was a kind and gentle man and a great artist. I always thought that he was the best water colourist in Canada! I had asked him once to paint for my students. He generously shared his wonderful techniques. Much to my delight, he gave me the very painting he had been demonstrating for my students. I have two of his fine works, and I treasure them. (Fiona Gibbon-Taillefer, President of the Lakeshore Artists Association.)

What a beautiful tribute to your dad. (Shirley Gall, Ontario.)

Que maravilla de página has organizado, hemos disfrutado María y yo muchísimo de los cuadros. (Alicia Larios, Spain.)

It's really a great tribute. I was excited too because I have a really similar print of one of his paintings you put on the site, hanging in my livingroom. It's an ocean scene. I love it. (Erika Szucs, Qc.)

I absolutely LOVE the website for your Father, Ana. A great testimonial not only to his incredible talent - but also to your love. (Mary London, British Columbia.)

I am a member of the Lakeshore Artists and a member of the Society of Canadian Artists. I never met your father in person but I have to tell you that I have high respect for his talent and contribution to Canadian art. (Helmut Langeder, SAC/SCA.)

... what a great artist he was and how beautiful the painting are. (Ilana Joory, Qc.)

The Galleons is one of my favourites. I recall Manuel describing this painting. I still have the video of him explaining the details of this masterpiece. Definitely belongs in a museum. (Perry Prudhomme, Ontario.)

Manuel was my art teacher in the early 80's. He was always patient & encouraging and kind to all his pupils. We listened to his stories & experiences over coffee{ he'd take 3 tsps of sugar and a touch of milk] and we'd tease him and ask if he wanted coffee with his sugar. He was a brilliant artist and a humble man who will be missed, but fondly remembered by all who knew him. (Eileen Pytel past president & treasurer of Lakeshore Association of Artists.)

Your father was an exceptionally outstanding artist! What talent! (Kris Brandt Riske, Arizona.)

. .. ses peintures sont magnifiques. Vous pouvez être fière de lui. C’était un très bon artiste. (Aline Labrie, Artiste, Qc.)

Me siento orgullosa de sus triunfos, de su valor para irse fuera, de lo importante que ha sido y de sus magníficas obras, aparte que era una bellísima persona, recuerdo su sentido del humor, su tipazo, tantas cosas......Tengo un cuado enfrente de mi sofá, que me pintó una vez que vino a España, lo veo constantemente por eso está siempre presente en mi casa. (Maria Ruiz, Madrid, Spain.)

Great man, kind hearted, master in his art. He left good memories with us. (Armen Kalfa, Galerie d'Art Pointe Claire, Qc.)

Your father was a brilliant artist! He left a wonderful legacy in his body of work. (Tracey Spence, Florida)

"...Montreal painter, Manuel Ruiz, an exacting instructor of techniques and use of color." (

"J'ai tres bien connu votre pere. Super artiste, les vrais artistes sont rares et je me rapelle qu'il avait fait devant moi deux aquarelles dans l'espace d'une heure ( paysages de neige.) J'ai en ma possesion une toile de lui (huile) 16''x 20'' encadrée. Cette toile représente une maison québécoise sur fond de paysage hispanique (genre de montage dans lequel il excelait.)" (Jean-Pierre Salmard, Qc.)

"My husband's boss gave us quite a few of Manuel Ruiz originals as presents... we are privileged to have them." (Anne Hemphill, London, England.)

"His work is wonderful." (Henry Joseph -

"I wanted you to know this is my favourite painting in my collection. The subtlety of the colours and the topic of the image drew me to this work. I wanted you to know how much I value your father's painting." (M. Donovan, Victoria, BC.)

"Superbes aquarelles. Ces tableaux sont réellement magnifique." (Mme Gaudreault, Qc.)

" I was sad to see that your dad had passed in 2010. I have a few of his paintings and will cherish these as long as I live. His beautiful art will live forever though." (S.Rowe, Montreal, Qc.)

"My dad worked with your dad in Lachine. I remember my dad receiving a painting of a bullfighter from your dad decades ago. It always hung in our home growing up. I realized we had 3 paintings done by your dad and will treasure these works of art always!!" (F. Furmankiewicz, Montreal Qc.)

"Just wanted you to know that he made a lifelong impact on this student, and his works continue to bring great joy!" (J.S. Klein, Montreal, Qc.)

"I enjoy looking at the paintings from your father, he was an incredible artist. (R.P.D., Montreal, Qc.)