Ice Crystal Painting for Texture

Ice Crystal Painting for Texture

Oregon has had its share of ice this winter, and I took advantage of this unusual weather to do a bit of ice crystal painting.

I wet a sheet of 300 lb. Fabriano soft press watercolor paper, took it outside into the freezing cold, and dropped fluid acrylics and acrylic inks onto the surface, allowing the ice crystals to form patterns on the paper as they solidified. Then I brought it inside and kind of forgot about it, until it was time to do a demonstration for a local watercolor group.

Here is what my ‘start’ looked like after it dried. It’s hard to see in this image, but the paint dried in a crystalized pattern in some of the thinner areas. I love the lacy texture it left in different areas of the work.

Lessons Learned:

1 – transparent colors work better

2 – the paint and ink need to be slightly watery.

This detail image shows part of the painting that has ice crystal formations

This detail image shows part of the painting that has ice crystal formations

I thought I’d share a few in process shots that my friend Liz Walker took during the demonstration. As I worked, I was thinking about my childhood experiences at the local swimming hole on our property. I added calligraphy using a water soluble crayon, and started putting in shapes and color variation. One of my goals was to keep the color changes fairly subtle.

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight — but never stop fighting.” — e.e. cummings


Finally I started adding small detail using an acrylic marker.You can see some of the areas in the detail shots below.

And I started varying the color more! Jeez – This doesn’t look at all subtle!

more detail

Here is how the painting looked at the end of the demonstration.

When I took a look at it this week, I decided that the top 1/3 of the painting needed to be simplified and lightened. Here’s how it looks now! I hope you’ll try ice crystal painting next time you encounter some freezing weather! I’d love to hear your thoughts on seeing the process. Questions and comments are welcome.

ice crystal painting with acrylic

“Jump” ©Ruth Armitage, Acrylic on Paper 30×22″

 

Art for Everyone – Sitka Invitational

Art for Everyone – Sitka Invitational

Two shows this week:

Art for Everyone – Sitka Invitational!

 

Please join me to celebrate the release of Art for Everyone, a new textbook created by the Faculty at Chemeketa Community College to help alleviate the high cost of textbooks for art students. I’m thrilled to have my artwork grace the covers of this important textbook.

I’ll be at both receptions, November 2 and November 9, at the Gretchen Schuette Gallery on Chemeketa Community College’s campus. Click on the poster below for more details!

Art for Everyone

Also this week, I’m excited to be a part of the Sitka Art Invitational. I’ll be speaking about my work on Sunday, November 6 at 1:30 pm. The show features over 130 talented Northwest artists. What I love about this show is the feeling of community. Everyone pitches in to celebrate the arts and ecology of this special retreat on Cascade Head, near Otis, Oregon. Artists residencies, workshops and ecology are all a part of this place, but it is the people who make it happen!

Join us: Saturday & Sunday, November 5 & 6, 2016 at the World Forestry Center! Click on the card below for more details:

sitka-invitational

 

Recent Art Workshops Recap

Recent Art Workshops Recap

Teaching art workshops is gratifying beyond belief. It is a joy to watch the students in my workshops receive a challenge with open arms and run with it in completely different ways.

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“Art Enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” – Thomas Merton

Some of my favorite comments from the workshops were:

“Ok – MIND BLOWN!”

“Your specific suggestions, positive encouragement and creative assignments helped push me into unfamiliar territory.”

Here’s how the group in Gold Beach summarized the workshop:

“Three days of encouragement and challenges culminated in dramatic breakthroughs and conclusions for artists included in Ruth Armitage’s “Creative Spark” workshop in Gold Beach. And, there was lots of fun along the way!

Deftly weaving the elements of design into her visual presentations, Ruth then demonstrated techniques with which to develop sketches, photos, drawings, and failed paintings – through several iterations – into a finished work. She used a myriad of methods and materials, something to appeal to all participants. From gouache to Gelli pads, we explored ways in which we can resolve pauses and hiccups in our work.

The final Show and Tell proved the validity of personal discovery to find satisfaction with our results. Ruth’s gentle Socratic method elicits responses from her students to help that famous lightbulb sparkle.”

Side Benefits to Teaching Art Workshops:

One of the other reasons that I enjoy teaching art workshops is that it pushes me to be the best painter I can be. It makes me really think about different ways to express my ideas. The painting below evolved because of an idea stimulated by collage. The title “River of Dreams” stuck with me through the first two studies:

River of Dreams Study v. 1

River of Dreams Study v. 1

The original collage featured a young child camouflaged by an oriental rug, and it had images of sharks in the water below. This one was too literal for me, but I wanted to show students that they could change a literal image and make it more abstract.

River of Dreams Study v. 2

River of Dreams Study v. 2

This one was better since it is more abstract, but I wasn’t happy with the colors, and the bottom didn’t seem ‘dangerous’ enough.

Here is the final version. Often we have to go through several paintings to get to the final expression.

'River of Dreams' 22x15" Acrylic on Paper, Ruth Armitage, ©2016

‘River of Dreams’ 22×15″ Acrylic on Paper, Ruth Armitage, ©2016 SOLD

Thanks to all who participated in these fun art workshops, and to the key players at Oregon Society of Artists and Gold Beach who helped make them happen!

pdxos2016_8

If you’d like to see me demonstrate, visit me during Portland Open Studios! October 8 & 9th or 15th & 16th, 10-5. Click the following link to read my post about the tour and related events.

Finally, I hope you’ll enjoy these images of workshop participants and their paintings!  Click on the images to enlarge and scroll through. What really excites me is that all the participants in these art workshops created work that really reflects them. The work is not simply a copy of what I do, but a reflection of their own ideas and creativity. There is a range of realism to abstraction as varied as the people in the workshop.

 

Creative Arts Community at Menucha

Creative Arts Community at Menucha

Creative Arts Community

Last week I taught a workshop for CAC (Creative Arts Community) at Menucha, a beautiful retreat center in the Columbia River Gorge. Each year this group brings together fantastic workshop instructors and interested adults for two weeks of creating together. This community is over 50 years strong because of these special ingredients:

  • A dedicated board and volunteers
  • Meals served family-style
  • An incredible setting
  • Dorm style and private rooms
  • Evening programs
  • Sharing of art
  • Walks in nature
  • Small classes for individual attention

My workshop focused on painting in Oil & Cold Wax. We talked about working in a series, content, design and techniques for working in Cold Wax. I was so pleased with how hard each student worked and the results were amazing. Here are a few paintings that resulted from my time at Menucha, and the demonstrations I gave:

Winter Pond

“Winter Pond” Oil & Wax on Panel, 12″x12″ ©Ruth Armitage

Burning

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

Summer Breeze ©Ruth Armitage

“Summer Breeze” Oil & Wax on Panel, 12″x12″ ©Ruth Armitage SOLD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Student Reactions:

“It was a wonderful week. Ruth gave the perfect recipe for a successful teaching experience. Just the right number of demos, giving us lots of work time, wandering around the room for individual mini conferences and lots of encouragement along the way. Keeping the class joyous and not stressful were also great attributes for a super experience. I especially thought her use of the i-pad was very cool to take a picture of our painting and show us different design possibilities.” – Sharon Segal

“Ruth, thank you so much for the truly rich experience this past week. Your willingness to spend so much time with each of us working through our hundreds of issues, problems and questions was beyond anything I’ve experienced from an instructor. You are so very generous, kind, and wise. And your lightness of being allowed us to not take ourselves too seriously.” – Karen Story

Scenes from Menucha and the Columbia Gorge

I also wanted to share some of the beauty of this place and the students who shared it with me. Enjoy these photos from my art workshop at Menucha! If this looks like fun to you, check out my other upcoming classes on my art-workshops page. My Maui class is filling fast. It’s already 1/3 full – don’t miss out, register today!


Petrichor: The Smell of Earth After Rain

Petrichor: The Smell of Earth After Rain

The hot weather we are expecting makes me long for Petrichor: the smell of earth after rain. The title of this painting evolved as I worked. I knew I wanted to contrast the delicate, shimmery texture of the pastel areas with something dark and heavy. The brilliant orange accents also provide contrast to these areas.

I loved the pastel areas so much, it was difficult to cover them. But, I also am enjoying the drama of the large dark shape. Let me know your thoughts.

I wanted to make the dark and grey areas represent the rain and the chill.  In contrast, the light and warm areas represent the smells of the earth. Whenever I sense this fragrance, it conjures a vivid memory from childhood of walking barefoot, across a dusty gravel driveway.

I remember it as the first time I noticed the smell of rain on the dry earth. My sisters and I often had the job of waking up the farm hand that stayed in the bunk house on our farm. Smells seem more powerful in the morning, and in childhood. As adults, I think we often don’t take the time to notice.

"Petrichor" ©Ruth Armitage 21x29" Watercolor on Paper

“Petrichor” ©Ruth Armitage 21×29″ Watercolor on Paper

In Other News…

There is still time to enter my giveaway… You may be the lucky winner! Click here to enter to win an original oil & wax painting.

Also, in case you missed it, I have new workshops listed! You can paint with me this November in Portland, or next November in Maui! Check out all the details on my workshops page.

Somehow, the realistic paintings of tropical islands never really seem to capture the wonder, beauty, smells and sounds of the paradise that is Hawaii. I’m hoping to inspire you to express the things that make a trip to Hawaii wonderful: relaxation, sweet fruit, warm sunshine, gentle breezes… you get the idea.

In case you’re wondering how my artwork looks installed, here are a couple of photos! Last night I helped hang several pieces in the Barrel House Tasting Room of Tumwater at Pete’s Mountain: the site of the 2016 Street of Dreams PDX. The event opens July 30th. The homes are beautiful and I love getting decor ideas. My paintings will also be in Quintessence on Lot 5. What a great home to showcase contemporary style. I hope you’ll get a chance to see the show, through August 28th, 2016.Ruth Armitage Abstract

Ruth Armitage at Barrel House Tasting Room

Stairway to Heaven Oil and Wax

Stairway to Heaven Oil and Wax

Another new abstract painting – “Stairway to Heaven” below.

Oil and Wax on Panel 36x36"

“Stairway to Heaven” ©Ruth Armitage, 2016 – Oil and Wax on Panel 36x36″

This piece will also be on view at the 2016 Street of Dreams, July 30 – August 28, 2016.

I had been thinking about a quote that my friend Margaret Godfrey found on our trip to Denver in June:

“You can’t look at the top of the staircase and want to be there. You have to look at the step directly ahead of you and ask yourself, “How do I climb that step?” – Patrick Wilson

I wanted to use an s shaped composition to portray a winding route, or stairway. I really love the warm and cool contrasts in this piece. Additionally, the painting came together relatively quickly – which probably makes me love it more!

I found some other fun quotes about stairs, and some ideas about hanging art on your stairway. Check them out on my Pinterest board!  My favorite quote is the one about Optimists. I try to see myself as an optimist, and this particular quote fits me to a ‘T’ – what about you? Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Let me know what you think about my new painting. I’m always interested in your comments.

I’d also appreciate your feedback on what class I should offer next! Weigh in below:

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