The Artist’s Task – Distractions

The Artist’s Task – Distractions

Current Distractions for this Artist:

These necessary tasks are distractions from the real work of making art. They use different sides of the brain, and can become difficult to manage.

What I need to Remember:

“Creative work needs solitude.” – Mary Oliver

I love this essay by one of the greatest poets of our time: Mary Oliver. It reminds me that I MUST ignore the trivial, everyday, monotonous tasks sometimes in order to accomplish what makes me an artist.

As Mary says: “My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.”

I must paint. Recently I’ve started heading to the studio first thing in the morning. The other tasks eventually get finished in odd moments. My first priority must be to paint, or else what is it all for?

A Giveaway for Loyal Readers

I’d love to give you an opportunity to see the great artists and studios on the tour this year. You can enter to win a free tour guide below. Best of luck to you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to Paint on Maui with me?

Want to Paint on Maui with me?

Paint on Maui in November

Join me for a non-traditional, watercolor workshop on Maui this fall.  This November workshop has been full for months, but I’ve just had a cancellation! This workshop will be a great way to remember your trip. You’ll be making memories and art in this intimate class. Get all the details on my Workshops page.

5 full days of instruction – Monday through Friday, 11/6 – 11/10/17 – only $499 includes welcome reception and lunch 3 days.

Private, poolside studio with ocean view. Class size limited to 12. We’ll be painting in the studio and on location.

We have secured a great group rate at the Lahaina Shores, right on the beach.

Sign up today: Don’t miss this opportunity to nab the last available spot! Contact Ruth

Collecting Objects and Memories

Collecting Objects and Memories

“Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.”

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Objects and Their Influence on my Work

I have been thinking of all the flood victims in Texas this week. I am trying to imagine the devastation they must be feeling and the loss. While our homes contain so many meaningful objects; the familiarity and meaning that they carry can’t be replaced. So, in an effort to make a small difference in the recovery from Hurricane Harvey, I’m donating 50% of any sales through my website from now through Labor Day weekend.

Help for Texas

If you’ve had your eye on a painting, now is a great time to add one to your collection, because your purchase will help relief efforts for those in Texas.

Speaking of water: an oxbow in our river bottom that was cut off from the stream inspired me to create the new painting below. As a kid I loved to explore the woods at the edge of the river. This small pond was a sure place to see ducks, turtles and other natives like frogs and salamanders. Those early years of solo exploration seem to be important to my development as an artist. I would spend hours looking at ferns and moss, small ponds, polliwogs, and wildflowers. Traveling there in my memory gives me peaceful relaxation.

"Horseshoe Lake" ©Ruth Armitage, Oil & Wax on Panel 12"x12"

“Horseshoe Lake” ©Ruth Armitage, Oil & Wax on Panel 12″x12″

I hope the colors in this painting suggest the quiet forest and reflection of the water surrounded by ferns, moss and wildflowers.


Another reason I’ve been thinking of objects recently is that I’m preparing for my project for PDX-CSA.

PDX-CSA Season 4 sales are open and project summaries are on the website for your perusal. Pre-sales fund the creation of new artwork and you gain access to the creative process as ideas become reality.

The variety of projects and the quality of the artists are certainly terrific! But, don’t take our word for it – see the project details for yourself. Or better yet, talk to the artists and see examples of their artwork in person at our Meet the Artists party.

Meet the Artists

If you’re curious about the other artists participation, please join us! Each of us will be bringing a small piece of work similar to what we will be doing for our Community Supported Art project! Learn more here: PDX-CSA

Meet the Artists
Wednesday, September 6th, 6-8pm
Wagner Studio, 1522 N Humboldt St,
Portland, OR, 97217

Which objects speak to you?

I’ve been going through some of the rich materials I’ve collected for assemblage to identify the objects that would work as additions to my Oil & Wax paintings. Each one tells its own story and suggests its own color palette. I’m thinking about what kind of colors I might want to use, and whether the objects should be fairly consistent or varied. I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Here are a few objects that have been calling to me:

Do you prefer the shells or the driftwood? Should one of my pieces have that little metal tray or the brush? What about that 45 record? Leave me a comment and let me know… or, even better, sign up to become a collector through PDX-CSA! Click here to get your name on the list.

Central Hearth – Abstract Oil and Wax Artwork

Central Hearth – Abstract Oil and Wax Artwork

One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.

-Vincent VanGogh

"Central Hearth" ©Ruth Armitage, Oil & Wax on Panel 12"x12"

“Central Hearth” ©Ruth Armitage, Oil & Wax on Panel 12″x12″

A new image in Oil & Wax… this one was inspired by the old oil heater that we used to have on the farm. It sat below the floor boards and the heat came up through a metal grate. I have memories of standing over it with warm rumbling oil-scented air filling the skirt of my flannel nightgown.

Years after the old beast was removed and replaced with an electric heat pump, I repeatedly found myself leaning against the doorway in an useless attempt to warm or comfort myself. Can you see the faint outline of a nightgown in the detail shot?

I love the Van Gogh quote… and I’m finding it especially poignant because I’ve just enjoyed a visit with my good friend and neighbor Judy Wise.

It was so encouraging to talk art and share works in process with her! I’ve been finishing quite a few smaller pieces for two upcoming shows, so mark your calendars! I think these shows function as a kind of hearth to warm ourselves in the early chill of autumn. The camaraderie and excitement are contagious.

1. Local 14 Art Show & Sale

September 28 – October 1, 2017 – At the Left Bank Annex, Portland, Oregon – Directions and more information here.

2. Portland Open Studios

October 14 & 15, 21 & 22, 2017 from 10am – 5pm each day

This is a self-guided tour. Over 100 artists welcome the public during the tour dates. You can download a mobile app, or buy a tour guide at the following retailers. New this year: a ‘teaching artist’ section, listing participating artists who offer classes and workshops!

I have 2 tour guides left to sell… let me know if you want one! Or pick one up at these locations:

New Seasons, Dick Blick, Artists and Craftsman Warehouse, Portland Art Museum, Madrona Hill Cafe, Guardino Gallery, Bullseye Glass, Copy Pilot

You can also get in on some local ‘action’ by signing up for PDX-CSA. Click to read about the projects from myself and 5 other curated artists. The pre-sales generated between now and September 17th will fun the creation of a limited number of artworks specially made for this project.

It’s like Patreon and your favorite Organic Farm had a love-child. You choose the artist or artist pair that you like, and follow the progress of the work from concept through completion. If you choose a pairing, you’ll receive a discount on the artwork. I’m paired with the fantastic Kirista Trask. I think our paintings will look magical together!

The artworks made for these projects are only available through PDX-CSA. Mine will incorporate found objects with abstract paintings in Oil & Cold Wax medium. They are designed to be affordable and collectible! Click here to get in while you can! I love receiving your comments and I’m honored when you share my posts with friends. Thanks!


5 Criteria for Choosing Art Competitions to Enter – Risks vs. Rewards

5 Criteria for Choosing Art Competitions to Enter – Risks vs. Rewards

A friend recently asked me how I choose which art competitions to enter. I have a complicated set of criteria that I look at. In general I consider the Risks vs. Rewards. I believe that most of us are our own worst critics. Entering shows sometimes feels risky, yet competitive exhibitions are just another venue for sharing your art. James Clear writes about that risk:

“You can either be judged because you created something or ignored because you left your greatness inside of you.” – James Clear

First, my 5 Important Criteria for avoiding risk:

1. Do I respect the juror?

This is my most important question. I ask myself if I’ve:

  • met them
  • heard them speak
  • taken a workshop from them
  • seen a show that they have juried
  • been rejected by them in the past
  • watched them conduct a critique
  • read one of their articles or blog posts

Furthermore, I consider whether or not I find the juror’s work exciting. I usually enter competitions if I respect the juror. Conversely, I might also enter if I don’t know much about the judge. If I don’t respect the juror, I probably shouldn’t enter. Acceptance or rejection would mean less coming from someone I respect less.

2. Is the show very competitive?

While I want to enter a show that stretches my ability, I’m not interested in wasting my entry fee. However, this can change over time. As you enter more competitions, your name recognition increases and skills improve.  Also, because artists who enter generally attend or receive a catalog, a widely entered show can give you broader exposure.

3. Does the organization offer Signature Membership?

Non-artists often ask what a Signature Membership means. Simply put, Signature members of an art group can sign initials after their name. It is an acronym that stands for professional status, similar to that used by doctors or lawyers. Art groups have varying standards for achieving Signature Membership. Most groups include acceptance into more than one show or sending multiple paintings to demonstrate consistency. I just found out that I can add a new Signature Membership to my list: San Diego Watercolor Society!

4. How much will I invest?

Entry fees, shipping and handling can really add up. Do I think the fees are average? Do they seem reasonable? It depends on your goals for entering a show. One reason I enter quite a few shows is that I would like to do more jurying and workshops out of state. So, I often choose to enter shows in areas that I think might be fun to visit. I’m always hoping that artists in that area might be intrigued by my work and invite me to jury. Additionally, I must consider my investment of time in managing my inventory, delivering work, preparing the work for exhibit, etc.

5. What other benefits might I see?

Will I see my work published in a book or magazine or receive prize money? Although this is kind of crazy, I sort of weigh what my chances might be to win an award or gain publication. If I hit my head against a wall too many times, then I generally take a break from entering. I consider whether I’m not ready or if maybe my style is not a good fit. Am I likely to see sales from the show? Will more students be motivated to study with me? Will I win a purchase award?

The specifics:

I’ve listed below some of the shows I’ve entered in the past. Click to View my Resume and see which ones I’ve actually been in! This year I tried to stretch a bit and entered a show for works on paper at the Brand Museum in California. Unfortunately, I didn’t get in. In addition you can read my philosophy on rejection here: Rejected Again – Hooray!

  • American Watercolor Society
  • National Watercolor Society
  • Artist’s Magazine
  • Watermedia Showcase
  • Splash
  • Western Federation of Watercolor Societies
  • Northwest Watercolor Society
  • Louisiana Watercolor Society
  • Texas Watercolor Society
  • Rocky Mountain National Watermedia
  • Signature American Watermedia, Fallbrook, CA
  • Adirondacks National Exhibition
  • Pike’s Peak National Watermedia
  • California Watercolor Association
  • Watercolor West
  • San Diego International Watermedia
  • Georgia Watercolor Society
  • Watercolor Society of Oregon
  • Red River National Watermedia
  • Watercolor Society of Alabama
  • Hilton Head International Exhibition
  • National Watercolor Oklahoma
  • Taos Exhibition of American Watercolors
  • Kentucky Watercolor Society
  • Expressions West, Coos Art Museum

Finally, Thanks for sending me questions that might serve as possible blog post topics! I love to hear your comments on how YOU choose what shows to enter; join the conversation below!

Recently Sold Work:

PDX-CSA: Community Supported Art

PDX-CSA: Community Supported Art

I’m proud to share that I’m one of six artists from Portland Open Studios chosen to participate in this year’s PDX-CSA. The concept is similar to buying shares in an organic CSA farm, but for art! Just as you choose a farm because you like what crops they grow, give them money in the spring to cover costs, and receive your food a few months later, with PDX-CSA you choose artists whose voice you like, give them money to support their creation, and then receive the art in a couple months. It is a perfect combination between choice and surprise.

You’ll be involved in the process from concept to completion. Once the art is made, you’ll be invited to the reveal party to pick it up, or if you’re from outside Portland, the work will ship to you with no handling fee. In the past, work has shipped all over the world!

PDX-CSA offers you the opportunity to support the creation of new artwork by providing artists with funds upfront. You support artists’ creative freedom and in return you get exclusive, high-quality artwork and you get to follow the artists’ process for creating the artwork from concept to completion.

You can buy a pairing and save $ or choose just one of the projects. It’s a great way to support my work as an artist and to see a series evolve from start to finish. The work in this series is only available through PDX-CSA.

This project is separate from my other series:

Working with cold wax’s ability to hold objects, Ruth Armitage will incorporate found objects in her paintings; these textures and patterns emerge from and recede into the swathes of color. Her abstracts are detailed environments, packed with marks and forms, shifts in scale and movement; intense primary colors become permeable hazes, layers are worn away and incised to reveal artifacts and further layers.

Click the image below to see my partner’s work, and the work of the other 4 artists. I’m excited to get started with these new works and to keep you updated on the progress. I’ll only be making pieces for those who invest upfront, and this is a limited opportunity. Sales end September 17th, so get yours now!

Finally, it would be great if you could share this with friends and family who might need some affordable art. It’s a unique idea, and we’d love to have the whole community know about it!

Pin It on Pinterest