Amory artist overcomes obstacles to paint portraits

By Alice Ortiz/Monroe Journal

AMORY – Monroe County artist Ruth Romanowski remembers she was 5 or 6 years old when she realized she wanted to paint.
“My family was one of the last in Aberdeen to have a horse-drawn wagon,” Romanowski said. “We were riding to town to get groceries and I saw a Wonder Bread sign and was just gazing at it and thought, ‘If I could only paint like that.’
“We were Mennonites and no colors or painting were allowed in our house. Father didn’t want me to paint.”
Romanowski’s desire to paint was pushed aside for many years.
Her family moved to South America, where they lived for eight years. She was not allowed to go to school, but would read a book over and over. While living in South America, she learned Spanish.
“A lady I cleaned house for was an artist, and I kept saying how beautiful her work was and she introduced me to Jo Hollingsworth,” she said. “I was 28 years old when I bought my first brushes and paints in Tupelo from Hollingsworth. She had a studio where people could go and paint. I painted with her every Saturday for five years.”
Romanowski said God had given her artistic talent, and she had to do something with it. When the opportunity to go to college came, Romanowski went to Mississippi University for Women and got a bachelor of fine arts degree.
“I didn’t have any background to fall back on and my self esteem was very low,” said Romanowski. “I could barely read and write and struggled through college.
“I was about to graduate in 2007 when my phone rang and someone wanted to know if I taught art classes,” she said. “She wanted to know how many students I needed to teach a class.”
At that time, Romanowski didn’t have a place to teach classes. The lady called her back a month later and said she had five students wanting to take an art class.
Romanowski looked for a place to have art classes and found her present location in the old Masonic Building on South Main Street in Amory. She has been there since August 2009.
Her youngest student is 7 years old, while the oldest is 77 years old. “I like to watch the students grow and learn,” she said. “It is very satisfying to watch people paint and be proud of it.”
Romanowski paints a variety of subjects such as portraits, landscapes, florals and murals.
“I would like to be known as a portrait artist,” she said.
Romanowski has a website at She can be reached by email at or by phone at 436-9494.