Inspired by // Illustrator Ruth Meharg

We are so excited to bring back our "Inspired By" series today with Illustrator Ruth Meharg. When she and her husband Matt, also an artist, got married they decided to move overseas to Europe to live, to work and to be inspired. It's so fun following her blog to see her travels documented through her paintings. Thanks so much for letting us interview you, Ruth!

Congrats on your somewhat recent wedding to Matt! Tell us a little bit about how you guys met and how you got to where you are abroad? 
Thank you! I’m from Texas and Matt is from Michigan, but we met in class at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, GA and he asked me out a couple weeks later. I always knew that I didn’t want to live in Atlanta after I finished school so we started talking about traveling pretty early in our relationship. We knew we wanted to live and travel overseas someday, but I think we both figured it would be later on down the road. When we got married we were planning on staying the States for a while, but about a month after the wedding we decided to travel. Both of our jobs are completely online so we have the freedom to live anywhere that has an Internet connection. We lived in Portugal for 3 months, Croatia for 3 months and now we’re in Athens, Greece! We’ll celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary here.

How did you make the decision to go and what were some of the ways you prepared for such a new journey?
I was reading a book, “Traveling with Pomegranates” by Sue Monk Kidd and Anne Kidd Taylor, and part of it was about traveling to Athens. I stopped in the middle of a chapter and asked Matt if he wanted to move to Greece. He said yes and we started planning that day.  

Preparing took a lot of work. We looked up visa laws in countries in Europe, Asia and Africa with low cost of living before narrowing it down to our top choices. Once we decided on a country we found places to rent through Airbnb that fit our budget as well as other requirements like Internet and easy access to public transportation. We don’t have a phone or a car while we’re traveling, so both of those things are pretty important. Then we started learning languages and researching the history of the different countries so we wouldn’t be completely ignorant going in. 

I want to cry every time you post a new "woman of valor" piece. They are so good. Where do you draw inspiration from for those and your other recent illustrations? 
Thank you, that means so much! I started painting the women of valor paintings after reading Rachel Held Evan’s book “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.” She talks about the phrase “woman of valor” in Hebrew and how it’s something you say to bless and empower the women in your life. I wanted to celebrate women from all areas of life, whether they won a battle, started their own business or raised amazing kids. I started asking friends and acquaintances for submissions to the project, because I wanted to learn about other people’s heros and not just paint women I already knew about. So right now I’m inspired by peoples’ stories. I’d love to hear about a woman who inspires you or your readers; I’ll add them to my list if you email me at As far as everything else goes, I love to read so I’m often inspired by words, experiences and just every day life.

Woman of Valor: Harriet Tubman

What are some of yours and Matt's goals while you're living abroad?
I think our number one goal was just to be able to do it. When we left the States we only bought a 3-month ticket because we didn’t know if we would have the money or desire to stay longer. We also want to experience the different places as fully as we can, which is part of why we stay put for a few months in each place. We try to eat local food, meet local people and really get to know the city we are in. And let me just say, local food in Greece is absolutely amazing.

What are some of the challenges that you have to face? 
Besides the obvious difficulties of the languages barrier I was really surprised by how difficult it can be to find art supplies. Matt and I both work with traditional media (meaning not digital) so we constantly have to replenish our supplies of paint and paper. I’ve been looking for white acrylic paint for 3 weeks now. I’ve lost count of how many stores I’ve looked in, but of the 5 stores that had acrylic paint every one of them was out of white! Moving so often can be really challenging too. Every 3 months we have to pack our lives into a couple of suitcases and readjust to a whole new place. I really enjoy being new places, but getting to the new place is always exhausting. 

If you could be friends with anyone in history, who would it be?
This question is so hard! I’m probably going to change my mind tomorrow, but for now I’ll answer Berthe Morisot. She was an impressionist painter and contemporary of Mary Cassat, Renior, Monet, Degas and all those guys. Morisot and Cassat were some of the first women to really exhibit in the art world at the same level as men and I’m so inspired by how challenging it must have been for them at that time. I would love to get to know Berthe and find out how much she realized about the doors she was helping to open for women in the arts.

Woman of Valor: Christina Strutt

What's a little known fact about you?
When I was in elementary school I thought that casts were really cool so I prayed to break my arm so that I could have one. A few months later I tripped while roller-skating and got a hot pink cast for my broken wrist. A few years later I decided it would be really cool to use crutches so I prayed to break my leg. It didn’t work the second time, but now that I’m a little older I’m ok with that. ;)
What are your plans on your return to the States and will you ever be able to be as inspired as you were taking in those Croatian sunsets? ;)
Oh my goodness those sunsets were so amazing! I think my heart aches for them just a tiny bit sometimes. It’s funny though, I’ve already painted more in a week in Athens than I did in a month in Croatia. I don’t understand how inspiration works, haha!  

We will head back to the States in July so I can attend a women’s art gathering in Seattle. After that we will do some traveling around the States, living in Delaware, Michigan and Texas before the year is over. We’re saving up for an RV to live in so we can make the road our home, at least for a little while. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep working while we travel around the North American continent!  
Thanks again for letting us interview you, Ruth!
Be sure to check out both Ruth and Matt's work online and follow their blogs to see what they're up to.
Also, be sure to check out our other "Inspired By" posts here.
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