Meet Shirley

Welcome! My name is Shirley Nan Ruchong and I am so pleased that you are here!

If you have browsed through the "Gallery" you might notice I do love flowers and, as my daughter Melissa noted, I am partial to the red/pink family! But I am learning to expand my color palette and so a larger variety of colors is on the horizon!

I especially enjoy painting photo-realism (florals in oil are my speciality) and so all designs started with my camera! The "Plate Collections - Floral" series is an ongoing project so check back to see what has been added! The subject matter has been suggested from students everywhere that I teach!

The Double Delight Rose featured on this page was painted from a photo taken in my garden. The rose bush was a gift in honor of my mother, Nancy, an avid gardener. When she died this was the only rose blooming in her garden, and so it is painted it in her honor. It is called Nancy's Delight. It is now in the private collection of Caryl Lee Bullock. This painting is offered as a Seminar project only. See my Seminar page for more information.

Just to tell you a little bit about myself:

I moved to Eureka, California in 1973 when my former husband Ron completed school. It was an area that he grew up in and it seemed like a really good fit - the Pacific Ocean to the west, mountains to the east and Redwood trees all around. Who could ask for more!! When I first saw this place I could not believe that people could actually spend their lives in the midst of all this beauty. You have to understand I was Los Angeles born and raised and had never been too far out of the city!!

What a wonderful place to raise our two children - Matthew and Melissa. It is great to have Matthew living here, working his own business, but Melissa's career choice has taken her to New York City and now to Virginia. Another opportunity to travel and see new places!!

I have always loved art but the "how-to" never seemed to be offered! It appeared that you were just supposed to know! So, I did everything else trying to fill that creative hole!

In 1979 I discovered Tole Painting, as it was referred to then, and now known also as Decorative Art. Finally an art form taught as "how-to"! Little did I know that those beginning classes would take me on a journey that would never end!

I began in oil (still my first love) but now I paint, and teach, in acrylics and watercolor also. In 1985 my friend, Donna Mays, and I opened our shop "Tole Country". It is still in operation today as a Home Studio. I teach 2 classes a week and that is just right. We also have guest artists that teach 2 to 3 day seminars.

In 1988 I received my Certified Decorative Artist designation, in Still Life, from the Society of Decorative Painters. Now I am pursuing the Master Decorative Artist degree that requires passing in three categories (Floral, Still Life and Stroke). In 2006 I passed the Master Floral.

I have had the privilege to teach at National and Regional Conventions: Society of Decorative Painters, Heart of Ohio Tole, and New England Traditions. I have been published in the SDP's award winning magazine The Decorative Painter as well as Japan's Decorative Artist magazine. Ornaments painted to hang on Christmas trees featured at the White House now reside at the Smithsonian.

I have not come to this place in my life all by myself. Many people contributed to this journey: my Grandma Shirley (that's right - it is her last name! An interesting story for another time!), who inspired me from the beginning; my parents Ralph and Nan; an untold amount of teachers who were willing to share their knowledge to increase mine; JoSonja Jansen - she was willing to take a chance; Joan Johnson gave me the vision; my kids who appreciated and accepted what I did; my former husband who provided the means so that I could study, have a studio to teach in and, most importantly, encouraged me in every way; and most especially, God, where it all started. Thank you all!

Please feel free to contact me about anything that you see on this site. As you might have noticed some of the designs are offered only as seminar pieces. I am available to teach for chapters and shops. I will also custom design a piece for your group if you want something different than I have already painted!

I also offer classes in my studio. If you are interested in learning to paint I can teach you in oil, acrylic or watercolor. Contact me for more class information.

Thank you for spending this time with me! May you be inspired to take the next step in your creative journey!

Shirley Nan

"Golden Glow", my beginning Rose project featured in the first issue of the 2009 Decorative Painter, has been donated to the permanent collection of the Society of Decorative Painters! It will reside at the headquarters along with all the other beautiful pieces that comprise the Society's collection. I count this quite an honor!


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Shirley Nan Ruchong, CDA
2440 Frank Street, Eureka, CA 95501
Phone: 707-445-1512 - Email:

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