WHEN RUTH Wintle was at school she spent almost all her spare time in the art room.

“If anyone wanted to find me, that’s where I’d be,” said the former Parks Senior High pupil.

“I just loved it,” said Ruth, now 64. “I wanted to paint all the time. I loved all the creativity.”

Ruth grew up in an artsy background. “I have four brothers and all of them are very talented artists. All are able to draw.

“I think when you’re surrounded by talented people like that you naturally pick it up.”

She studied a foundation course in art at Swindon School of Art in the old Regent Circus site. But a busy family and work life forced her to give it all up.

Ruth retired around five years ago. With her newfound freedom she was inspired to once again pick up her artists’ tools.

Next month, she will exhibit a selection of her work alongside friends Marilyn Trew and Lisa Lane at Stratton Community Centre.

The trio are three of more than 60 artists showing off their art as part of Swindon Open Studios.

Ruth said: “After I retired, I picked up my pen and paper and started drawing again. It was such a long time since I had been able to do any painting – when you’re working and you’ve got a family that becomes your life.

“But my life now is painting, drawing, decoupage and sewing.”

She joined the United Community Art Group, who meet once a week at the Octal Way Tesco store, not long after she took up art again.

Through the group she met friend Marilyn, with whom she now runs a weekly art group at Grange Leisure. Around 18 artists regularly attending the Monday morning sessions.

“We’re open to everybody,” said Ruth. “We have people who have never picked up a pen before and some who are very, very skilled.”

For Ruth, like many of the Stratton artists, nature is an inspiration. Her paintings depict animals from all the corners of the globe.

Visitors to Open Studios will be able to see some of these works. “I’ve got a painting of some meerkats, which are quite funny. I have tried to capture their expressions.”

Mostly, Ruth paints from photographs – but she’s also regularly out in town, capturing Swindon’s beautiful old buildings.

The sketches are worked out in paint in Ruth’s crowded bedroom-studio in the Rodbourne Green house she shares with her husband has been taken over as her studio.

“I’ve got a fantastic view overlooking other people’s gardens,” she said. “It’s very messy, but I know exactly where everything is.”

As she works she listens to music – with jazz and upbeat dance music by outfit Ministry of Sound currently on her playlist.

Ruth said: “I get a huge amount of pleasure from putting paint to canvas.”

See Ruth Wintle’s works at Stratton Community Centre as part of Swindon Open Studios on September 10, 13, 16 and 17, 11am to 5pm.

For more, visit: www.swindonopenstudios.org.uk.