This past week when I was preparing to ship work to Arizona for my next workshop, I took a good hard look at an abstract painting from one of my classes: Amber Waves. Art instructors often give the impression that they know what they’re doing when the paint a demo. Nothing could be further from the truth in my case!

I approach each artwork as a new experiment, a journey that evolves differently each time I paint. Thus, many of my demonstration paintings are only fully resolved after pondering its possibilities at home and at length.

“It is paradoxical, yet true, to say, that the more we know, the more ignorant we become in the absolute sense, for it is only through enlightenment that we become conscious of our limitations. Precisely one of the most gratifying results of intellectual evolution is the continuous opening up of new and greater prospects.”

-Nikola Tesla

This is certainly true in painting- the more you know, the more difficult it becomes. Below you can see the beginning stages of my abstract painting evolution, “Amber Waves.”

Amber Waves - in process

Amber Waves – in process

Considering it with fresh eyes this week gave me some insight. I had never been satisfied with it as a whole. I liked the colors and space division, but upon further thought I decided that I hated the small, busy shape in the upper left corner, and wasn’t too crazy about the large yellow shape in the lower 2/3 of the painting.

I got to work and covered some of those up with more layers of gouache and Golden’s high flow Titanium White. Then I washed over the entire painting with some F&W Acrylic ink in Indian Yellow. Finally, I added more pencil and a few more layers of White gouache. The finished image speaks to me of Amber Waves of Grain and has more abstract complexity than the original. What do you think?

"Amber Waves" ©Ruth Armitage 2015 Mixed Watermedia on Paper 15x15"

“Amber Waves” ©Ruth Armitage 2015 Mixed Watermedia on Paper 15×15″ SOLD

Post Edit 3/23/15 – As often happens, I submitted this painting online for a show at the Rental Sales Gallery of the Portland Art Museum, but couldn’t remember the title. I’m now referring to it at “Letting Go.” And it will be hanging at the gallery soon!

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