Tribute to an artist: Barbara De Ruiz

Barbara De Ruiz lives in Homosassa, Florida, and her house is full of beautiful paintings, abstract, portraits, landscapes, and more. Barbara started her business after Florida’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) helped her with art classes and support to set up her own business. Vocational Rehabilitation is helping people who are in any way disabled, find employment or keep their job.

Looking at the signatures at the paintings, you can’t help but notice that they’re all designed by Barbara herself, and they are stunning, though, or maybe because, she has a disability. Barbara first got in touch with VR in early 2008 when she was in need of knee surgery and also wanted help to find a job. But it appeared that looking for a suitable job and the stress of returning to the workforce was just too much for Barbara.

After some guidance and counseling from a VR employee though, Barbara appeared to have a hidden but wonderful talent that in the end proved to be a great way for her to make enough income to become self-sufficient. See this video about Vocational Rehabilitation:


So Barbara De Ruiz received the help she needed to create a good business plan for her artistic venture. Vocational Rehabilitation provided advise, supplies, art classes, office equipment, and a place where she could show her work. Initially, Barbara started making individual portraits for which she received a commission, and though she really enjoyed painting portraits, she wanted to go to art shows in her Florida region to hopefully sell her drawings and paintings. This is where she actually learned that her abstract work was even more popular than her portraits.

Barbara went to New York at her own expense for a 2-week art class in techniques and abstract painting and a week after she had come back home with four impressive paintings, Barbara had already sold two of the four pieces and there was also a request from a local collector that she would make a larger version of one of the other paintings. In 2015, Barbara attended a well-established Miami art show and was happy to sell several of her paintings. Her business, with help of Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services, is now doing well. All Barbara now has to do is produce more paintings and show these to her growing number of admirers.

People at Vocational Rehabilitation are not really surprised that DeRuiz is successful at the initiative and that she’s moving her business forward. Barbara De Ruiz is definitely a self-starter, that’s for sure, and she always has had a positive attitude and a great smile on her face. Barbara is a kind person and she’s absolutely talented, they say. She keeps on getting better all the time which shows in every new piece of artwork she produces!

Barbara is excited that the fine people of VR made it possible for her to pursue her dreams and that she could participate in the agency’s services. She says the support made her find a purpose in her life again. Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services program is dedicated to supporting people with disabilities and get or keep them actively involved in the workforce. The organization runs the website FLJobConnections.com where businesses can post available positions and search for employees who are all set for the job market at no charge. In 2016, Vocational Rehabilitation helped more than 7 thousand Floridians with a disability find or keep suitable employment.

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