Ruth Pettus has a long history of depicting men in her paintings. These men are often large and looming, indistinct but imbued with character. They are the main focus of many of Pettus’ works, often shown walking or standing on an obscure background. They are faceless, vacant, without expression; because Pettus decided that faces are unnecessary for the purpose of these paintings. The men depicted in these works are simplified, quiet subjects, utilizing a limited color palette, but each with their own very powerful presence.
Pettus started as an abstractionist, and this style is carried into her more recent paintings. Through the evolution of her technique, subjects were discovered and given shape, while remaining vague and suggestive. Although the focus of each work is nebulous, Pettus is able to represent the significance of human connection through the emotional experience of the viewer. Each reaction is personal and unique to the individual.