Wax Workshop Confidential

Wax Workshop Confidential

See why Cold Wax Medium has captured the fancy of many contemporary artists. Join me for a hands on, interactive workshop that meets you where you stand on the journey of discovery in this sensuous medium.

"Telephone" Oil & Cold Wax on Panel, 12"x12" ©Ruth Armitage

“Telephone” Oil & Cold Wax on Panel, 12″x12″ ©Ruth Armitage

Painting in Oil & Cold Wax: March 28, 29 & 30, 2018 – 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Emerald Art Center, Springfield, Oregon. Click here to Register today:


I’ve found Oil and Cold Wax to be workable, flexible and consistently attractive to students and collectors alike. Unfortunately, I don’t offer many workshops in Wax, simply because of the space and infrastructure required.

What’s involved? We begin by preparing our painting surfaces and talking about subject matter. Even with abstraction, I find it very helpful to have an idea, emotion, or subject for each work of art. Painting in Oil & Wax involves the application of many layers of paint, with drying time between each. We’ll work on several different surfaces each day in order to keep muddiness at a minimum. You’ll learn different application techniques and see how they apply to design elements and principles.

A Small Group Setting

Class size is limited to make sure you receive personal attention and individual help in a safe and supportive environment. There are many advantages of learning in a small group atmosphere like this. You’ll not only learn from the lessons presented, but also from observing the progress and questions posed by fellow students. This dynamic ebb and flow of information is one of my favorite things about teaching workshops. I also love the immersion that happens in this concentrated 3 day session. No distractions – just time to focus on art.

You’ll have a chance to slow down, focus and connect with your inner creativity. I find that in these workshops, the enthusiasm in contagious. Watching the demonstrations and seeing how each person interprets them gives each student a deeper appreciation for the creative process. Not only that, but it allows students to free their minds of stress and worry and focus on their own personal expression.

Here are a couple of comments from recent students:

“Thanks for the great workshop today.  You created a lot of motivation for our members to stay and paint.  GOOD JOB!!!”

“We all had a wonderful experience! Thank you!”

Last Friday I spent the day with an experienced group of painters, the Buffalo Grass Watercolor group. Here are a few photos of my demonstration in progress. As you can tell, I was in a ‘purple’ mood!

Need more inspiration to join us? How about this quote by Mary Oliver:

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” – Mary Oliver

I know I’m so glad that I decided to study art and become a life-long learner.


If you’re in the Salem area, you can catch a free lecture on CCTV channel 21 – I presented this lecture on Abstraction to the Institute of Continued Learning at Willamette University on February 3. It will air  2/14 at 12 pm, 2/16 at 8 pm, 2/19 at 8 am, and 2/22 at 2:30 pm.

Call to Artists:

I’ll be jurying the Spring 2018 Show of the Society of Washington Artists. Watercolor, Oil, Acrylic, Pastel and small 3-D subjects accepted. Click here for entry information.

Bring Spring Inside with an Abstracted Floral

Bring Spring Inside with an Abstracted Floral

Abstracted Floral "Wild Daffodil" Watercolor on Paper ©Ruth Armitage 22"x30" $1950

Abstracted Floral “Wild Daffodil” Watercolor on Paper ©Ruth Armitage 22″x30″ $1950

Yesterday was “Groundhog Day” in the United States, and those who are enduring a long harsh winter may be wanting to get a jump on Spring. There’s not a finer way to do that than to experiment with an Abstracted Floral!

My painting above “Wild Daffodil” was inspired by fields of daffodils that dot the countryside in Oregon. You can see where abandoned home sites were by scanning the beautiful green fields for waves of bright yellow, naturalized daffodils. The cheerful yellow always seems at odds with the fact that a home once stood there and now is gone.

I love the flowers that come from the fields – they are often tattered by weather, and many have grown away from their cultivated lineage to be wild, multi-petaled and blowzy. This painting would brighten up a bedroom, office, library, dining or living room. I love the drama that the dark background adds.

I used an app called IArtView to show how this work would look in a couple of different settings. A wonderful feature is you can also upload a photo of your wall and visualize how it would look in your home! Try it out!

Inspiration for Abstract Floral Paintings

If you’re looking for other floral inspiration, check out my Pinterest board. You’ll find interesting abstractions by some of the following 6 talented artists:

Jimmy Wright: This artist emphasizes the fluidity and motion of petals, and comes up with some pretty unusual and subtle color emphasis too.

Winifred Nicholson: I love the unified color in this simplified still life. You can almost smell the lily of the valley.

Jake Muirhead: Converting a colorful Iris to black and white, Jake also adds drama and personality using line and simplifying the setting.

Scott Conary: Scott’s textural paint application and emphasis on pure vs. subdued color make me want to touch his work. They also touch me!

Ophelia Pang uses bold and repeated shapes to create entertaining and playful abstractions.

Sandrine Pelissier creates fantastic patterns and flattened shapes from her imagination.

If you’re an artist you can try some of the following methods:

  • emphasize one part of the flower, like Jimmy Wright
  • use a monochromatic palette, like Winifred Nicholson
  • add texture with brushwork, like Scott Conory
  • create patterns and funky shapes like Ophelia Pang, Sandrine Pelissier or me!

Where should I go next?

Finally, I’m taking a poll: help me decide the next travel workshop I should offer! Vote for your favorite locale below:

What are your top 2 destinations for an art workshop?

View Results

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Are You Saying All New Things?

Are You Saying All New Things?

When I teach repeat students, I’m often asked if I’m saying all new things from previous workshops. Often I’m repeating something that I’ve said earlier, but the student did not internalize the information. It’s always surprising how we don’t hear advice until we are ready to implement it. We often don’t even take our own advice! I think this proves the value of repeating classes or workshops. As we grow in our artwork, we become more ready to absorb information or put it into practice.

“Listening is a positive act: you have to put yourself out to do it.”

– David Hockney

"Summerfall" ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor on Paper, 30"x22"

“Summerfall” ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor on Paper, 30″x22″


I filmed a time-lapse of my process for “Summerfall.” I didn’t talk during the filming. My inspiration for the painting was the farming term Summerfall. It means to plant in late spring in preparation for a late fall harvest. Planting this way is unusual and farmers sometimes resort to it because a fall planting failed. As I worked, I thought about colors for summer like blues & violets and colors for fall like reds and golds. If you’re receiving this post via email, click over to the website to view the video here!


The early parts of the video show the painting with the top on the right, to better fit the video format. I tried to lay in the layers in a sort of x-shaped movement, falling from the high horizon line. You can see this in the earlier parts of the video best. As sometimes happens, I felt that mid-way through the process my values got a bit too dark. My solution in this case was to add metallic silver and opaque blue and yellows to lighten up areas of the work.

My repeated Mantra

One thing students who are listening hear me say over and over is to paint your own personal experience. I must say this multiple times in each workshop. It’s always amazing to me how much inspiration I can still find in this series about my rural upbringing and the farm.

I hope you’ll enjoy watching this peek into my process. There was so much idle time toward the end stages of the process while I agonized over what to do. Those finishing touches require so much courage and contemplation that I don’t think I could do them while worrying about a camera!

In other news, I’m preparing for upcoming workshops.  My good friend, Ruth Ellen Hoag, will be here teaching at the beginning of February. I always enjoy painting with her and learning how her mind works! After that, we are expecting new lambs here on the farm. Then I’m headed south to Santa Barbara to study with Skip Lawrence and to teach a workshop of my own. It’s going to be a busy spring when you throw in all the shows I’m doing… I hope you can join me!

If you enjoyed this post, please share on your favorite social media or email!

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

A Thousand Things

A Thousand Things

A Thousand Things ©Ruth Armitage, Acrylic on Paper 22"x15"

A Thousand Things ©Ruth Armitage, Acrylic on Paper 22″x15″

Summer seems to hold a thousand things. Vacations, family, visitors from out-of-town, gardening, art shows, memories, smells, food, beach trips, river trips, concerts, each day is crammed full!  If you’re not careful, there is no time left for painting. Thank goodness for art classes. I’m getting ready to teach a week long class at Menucha – a fabulous retreat in the Columbia River Gorge. Two spots just opened up if you’re free next week!

From Lines to Finished Work

This painting began in a workshop as a demonstration of using different types of line. At one point it was even more chaotic. I settled quite a bit of it by covering some of the marks with the dark turquoise at the bottom and the mint green in the top 2/3.

A good title can often be the impetus of a painting, and this one is no exception. I keep lists of titles in various places… sketchbooks, phone notes, post-its in the studio, etc. Often when looking back at old sketchbooks I’ll find one that I still want to paint. Sometimes the inspiration comes from reading, listening to the radio, a movie or a quote. But most often it comes from really concentrating on what I want to say about a subject.

Why A Thousand Things?

In this case, it was an attempt to convey how full my heart and mind are with images and memories of my parents’ farm. Although I’ll sometimes try to distill my painting into just one element of the feeling or memory, here I wanted to imply deep layers. I wanted to pile up some of the emotion memory and soul that the place conjures for me.

Our sense of place can be portrayed in so many ways: smells, sounds, words or music often take us back. I love looking at aerial photos of farmland. That is how this whole series started. Expressing this place in my own hand, my indecipherable script, feels satisfying.

Finally, if you’re not reading this post on my website, click on over… I have a new random quote generator on the sidebar that is a lot of fun!

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