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.


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

Some of my favorite comments from the workshops were:


“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!


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.


Watercolor Society of Oregon 50th Anniversary

Watercolor Society of Oregon 50th Anniversary

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

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"

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

Judy Morris Demo

Michael Schlicting - on Sports and Art

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:

Turnover – Abstract Watercolor

Turnover – Abstract Watercolor

I often begin my abstract painting process with the possible title for the painting. The painting seen here was a demonstration for a class I taught at Village Gallery of Arts as a substitute for a friend. I was thinking of the idea of tilling the fields, plowing, harrowing etc. and combining that idea with the idea of turning the land over to the next owners.

“Turnover” is my attempt to combine those ideas. For the moment the land is fallow, waiting for the next crop, the next memories to be made there.

The lesson involved using layers of line over various light shapes in the background. I’ve worked on the painting a bit more since the class. I took it to my critique group the day I started it. They suggested altering the shape that looked almost human, softening the blue diagonal between the left & right sides and a few other small touches.

I’m always interested in your comments on my work!

Abstract Painting by Ruth Armitage

“Turnover” ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor on Paper, 30×22″ $1800

I will be showing New Work at the Fall Opening Reception at the Portland Art Museum’s Rental Sales Gallery: Friday, October 24, 5-8 p.m.

1237 S.W. 12th Ave. at Jefferson, Portland, OR    503-224-0674

View over 1,500 works for sale or rent from gallery artists and enjoy refreshments.  Creative Costumes encouraged for this event!

Special Announcement: My new 18 month, Full Color  Calendar Available!

Paintings and Quotes for each Month

 Each month features a different image from the “Down on the Farm” series, plus an inspiring quote chosen specially for that month and that painting. Calendar begins with January. 2015 and ends in June, 2016. Great gift for yourself, or your friend or family member who likes to plan ahead!


My new Full Color Calendar,  Paintings and Quotes for each Month

Click here to preview my new Full Color Calendar, Paintings and Quotes for 18 Months!

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

Growth – Abstract Watercolor

Growth – Abstract Watercolor

"Growth" ©Ruth Armitage, 2014 Watercolor on Paper 30x22"

“Growth” ©Ruth Armitage, 2014 Watercolor on Paper 30×22″ Sold

Before the Artist’s Reception at Riversea Gallery, I took a one week workshop with Master Artist, Katherine Chang Liu in Ventura, California. I have been studying with Katherine on and off since the 1990’s. She has seen my work evolve from still life, through figurative and now on to my more abstract paintings.

Katherine’s instructional methods have also influenced my own teaching. She encourages artists to set their own goals and pursue their own paths. Her instruction hinges heavily on examining the work that other artists are doing, and considering carefully how to set one’s own work apart from the rest. Self-evaluation and self-generated questions are also an important part of the mentoring process. It is not as important whether the work pleases her, but rather does the work please the artist?

My work during the week focused on color and gestural mark-making. I am please with this piece because I feel that it has some of the strong design I’ve been seeking (an x shaped composition) along with very expressive, organic shapes and marks. The colors are more unusual and personal. One phrase that will help me judge my color as I move forward in this series is ‘rich, but not colorful.’ I think that is a good descriptor of my feelings about the place as well.

This particular piece about the farm is related more to the process of growing crops than about the view of buildings or man-made roads, etc.  I hope you will let me know what you think… leave me a comment!

I have some other exciting news to share later in the week, and more new paintings. Stay tuned 🙂 If you are not yet subscribed to my blog, use the form on the top right edge of my blog to subscribe using Feedburner. You won’t want to miss a post! Feel free to share this image using the buttons below.

Dark Water

Dark Water

"Dark Water" ©Ruth Armitage 2014 Acrylic on Canvas 20x20" each

“Dark Water” ©Ruth Armitage 2014 Acrylic on Canvas 20×20″ each

I wanted to finish this painting before my last class, but I hadn’t gotten as much feedback on it as I wanted. I missed one critique meeting because of teaching and the other was cancelled because of snow. Thank goodness for the internet! My friend Margaret gave me some feedback that I wanted to act on. I so enjoy the blogs I read that show a painting transforming over time. Somehow, my insecurities always make me hesitate to show a work in progress. If it is in progress, I’m not satisfied with it yet!

But in the interest of entertaining you, my readers, I’m baring all here! I have also been experimenting with shooting video while I paint… and I absolutely LOVE to watch the painting process at about 8x the regular speed. If only I painted that quickly! I hope you enjoy seeing how “Dark Water” evolved! I can’t believe how long it took to edit and voice-over this video, but it is finally done!


Socratic Art Evaluation

Socratic Art Evaluation

"Skating" ©Ruth Armitage 2013

“Skating” ©Ruth Armitage 2013 SOLD

Happy New Year! Our cold foggy weather lately has inspired a new painting that finally gelled for me on New Year’s Eve. My final painting of 2013. There is another one that I photographed, but it may not be finished.

I’m preparing my goals for 2014, and also getting ready for my January Art Journey workshop. I thought it would be useful for both my students and for me to do a formal review of recent paintings in order to help set goals. I am scheduled to take a workshop in June, and I’m already trying to plan what I might glean from this concentrated period of study.

To guide my students, I’ve prepared some questions to help them evaluate their own art. Feel free to use these yourself! If you find it useful, I would love to have you share this article, either by email, or on your favorite social network!

Here’s how I would use the questions when looking at my new painting, “Skating.”

Q: Describe the work: What do you see? Is there a recognizable subject? What inspired the painting? Where is your eye drawn? Is it part of a series?

A: The painting implies activity to me. There is no recognizable subject, but  the line work and mark making imply movement. Most of the activity and contrast is confined to an irregular ‘T’ shaped area that is off center to the right but leans left.

The painting was inspired by memories of “Skating” on frozen ditches surrounding winter fields on the farm in our rubber boots. As kids, we were forbidden to go near larger stretches of open water for safety reasons, but we could play along the edges of the fields. On one particularly long, cold stretch, we actually found a poor dead owl who had either frozen or starved. Our imaginations were all permanently imprinted. The work is part of a series called “Down on the Farm” about growing up in the rural Willamette Valley.


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