Iowa City, IA
Shortly after getting a college degree in English, Trudy Russell became a full-time mother and then grandmother before returning to school to study interior design, beginning her career at Gilbert Street Interiors. There she learned that the exchange of ideas and inspiration with other designers in the studio was one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. After Gilbert Street closed, she opened her own business in 2012.
"Many people ask if these paintings are ceramic tiles or are designs to be put on tiles. They are not. They are watercolor paintings inspired by ancient Syrian tiles (from the Ottoman Empire period), Turkish, and Portuguese tiles found in and on historic buildings in those countries.
I fell in love with the tiles during visits to museums and on travels to the countries of the tiles’ origins, and wished I could prolong the enjoyment of their beauty longterm. It wasn’t practical to install such things in my home even if I could have them made. I couldn’t afford it first of all, and then what if I should change houses? Only in 2019 did I land upon a solution. While standing in the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, gazing admiringly at the Ottoman Damascus tile panel (pictured below) did I realize I could preserve both my enjoyment and honor the ancient designs of the tiles by painting them in variations in watercolor on watercolor paper. The value of watercolors is their portability. They’re not installed with mortar in grout. They’re framed with the frame of choice and can be moved about, from room to room or house to house."