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.
“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
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
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’ 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!
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
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” Oil & Wax on Panel, 12″x12″ ©Ruth Armitage
“Burning” Oil & Wax on Panel, 12″x12″ ©Ruth Armitage
“Summer Breeze” Oil & Wax on Panel, 12″x12″ ©Ruth Armitage SOLD
“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!
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 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.
We’ve been working with color in my class at Oregon Society of Artists these last few weeks, and a couple of weeks ago, I demonstrated using a limited palette, randomly selected.
The idea for this lesson came from a facebook post by fellow artist Aimee Erickson called the #randomtubechallenge. If you click on the # link it will show you what some other artists have done with this concept. I asked students to select the limited palette of three colors randomly: they blindly chose Raw Umber, Vermillion and Quinacridone Violet. These plus black and white would be my palette for this work.
This is opposite of the way I usually work: I normally choose colors appropriate for expressing the mood or idea I have in mind. The exercise began with me having nothing in mind – a sure recipe for trouble!
As I worked with the color though, it started to remind me of autumn tilling of the fields. So that gave me a foothold to begin to help shape the painting.
You can see here, that though quinacridone violet is much cooler than the umber and red, I’ve pushed it to be a warmer dark by mixing it with the other colors. This makes the painting more about value relationships. I’ve also got a lot of line work, already, so that is another reason I chose not to push the color in this painting.
as the work looked at the end of class
I worked a bit more at home, first adding some black for more contrast:
Limited palette with the addition of black
Finally I decided to add a bit of white to up the contrast even more. Using High Flow Acrylic with the dip pen, I was able to add some fine line and mark-making. I hope you can see the attempt at an ‘S’ shaped design, and the way my darks and lights lead you through the painting.
Final image: “Autumn Tilling” mixed watermedia ©Ruth Armitage 22×15″
Comments are welcome! I first wrote about this painting in my newsletter. You can subscribe here!
Next month marks my 8 year anniversary for Art Is Truth! I’m celebrating by sharing my artwork with readers: Click this link to access a free desktop calendar for June! Thanks for being a loyal reader!
Happy 50th Anniversary to the Watercolor Society of Oregon
This past weekend I spent three heavenly days at the Watercolor Society of Oregon’s 50th Anniversary. The exhibition and convention were held at the Oregon Garden Resort in beautiful Silverton, Oregon. Set in the rolling green hills of the mid-Willamette Valley, this gem continues to grow and change. Each time I visit, I notice new plants, artwork, water features and more.
But our main focus was on art. We listened to lectures, watched demonstrations, tried new products, made new art friends and strengthened old. We looked back at the history and the people that built our organization. Founders, board members, participants and jurors were all honored. The show was spectacular, juried by notable Michigan artist Kathleen Conover.
Kathleen Conover and Ruth Armitage
My Work Won an Award!
Thanks to Kathleen for the nice award! I was in the top ten at number 6!
My Award Winning Painting – “Camassia”
Oh Boy…. Another Rejection
I presented a lecture titled “Oh Boy, Another Rejection” and received so many heartwarming comments. A couple of folks asked me to post my slides. Keep in mind, the lecture is much more than a sum of the slides, but if you attended and missed a few things in your notes, click here!
Other Weekend Events
I really enjoyed the critiques by our juror, Kathleen Conover, as well as a demonstration by Judy Morris and a lecture by Michael Schlicting. But the best times of the convention were those down times, just visiting with artist friends from all over the state. We spent a lot of time remembering those who gave tirelessly to our organization, those who have passed or can no longer attend, and where we’ve been as a group. We also spent some time planning for the future and welcoming new members and taking in the beauty around us.
Judy Morris Demo
Michael Schlicting – on Sports and Art
I hope if you are close, you’ll take time to visit the Oregon Garden Resort Hotel. The paintings are on view throughout the month in the hallways of the hotel and the exhibit is free to attend. The 20 award winning paintings will travel the state for the following 6 months. I’ll keep the schedule updated on my Events page!
And if you’re a painter in Water Media, I’d encourage you to join us for our next convention, which will be held in October in Oregon City. There is more information on becoming a member at our website: WatercolorSocietyofOregon.com