Art Is Exploring

Art Is Exploring

Art is Exploring!

Welcome to the next in my series of posts called “Art Is.” As a kid I loved the comic strip “Love Is…” It was corny, but so true.  So each post in this series will explore a different facet, inspired by different quotes about what Art Is. If you’re not subscribed to updates by email, this would be a great time to add your name to the list on my contact page or in the sidebar on my site.

I’ve just come up for air after teaching 4 3-day workshops in the last month. One thing I’ve learned by repeating some of the same lessons to different groups is that the students who let go of certainty were more successful and more creative. Getting used to exploring with an open mind, rather than repeating yourself, takes courage. I feel that fear of failure when I start a demonstration, and I know that my students feel it when they make changes to their subjects with abstraction.

What to expect from my workshops:

My litmus test for a successful class is not necessarily a group of artists creating masterpieces. (more…)

Painting and Golf – 3 Similarities – New Workshop Announcements

Painting and Golf – 3 Similarities – New Workshop Announcements

In last week’s plein air workshop I kept thinking about the similarities between Painting and Golf. I like to make analogies when I teach, to help students keep perspective on the creative process. By comparing painting to other activities like music or golf, the students can step back from their frustrations a bit, and see things in perspective.

“Achievement is largely the product of steadily raising one’s level of aspiration and expectation.”  – Jack Nicklaus

3 Similarities:

  1. Both Painting and Golf are extremely challenging. In both painting and golf, the success rate is low, even for professionals. Tiger Woods does not expect to hit a hole in one on every hole, or even every game. Similarly, professional artists do not expect every painting to succeed the first time. Artists make preliminary sketches and studies, just as golfers take practice swings and practice putting and driving. Both Golf and Painting attract hobbyists and professionals alike.
  2. Practice is required for both Golf and Painting. Driving and putting are not the same as playing the game of golf against opponents. By the same token, class exercises and sketches are not the same as making a painting. Practice must be focused on improvement, not repeating the same mistakes over and over. Directed practice in golf might focus on correcting a swing. Similarly, directed practice in painting might focus on improving a value pattern or color scheme.
  3. Golfers and Painters must both focus on a good Mental Game. Keeping a positive mental outlook boosts confidence in both fields. Focus and attention are important to help overcome the difficulties of each pursuit. Success in golf or painting can often breed a kind of obsession, too. Both Golfers and Painters become passionate about their pursuit. The variety of golf courses, just like the variety of painting subjects, can entertain enthusiasts for a lifetime.

What other similarities can you think of between Painting and Golf?

***A quick reminder, for former students, I’m celebrating 10 years of Art is Truth the Blog by creating a new forum for interaction: Art is Truth Cadets Facebook Group!

If you’re a former student and you’d like to join – click the link above and request to join. We share work, opportunities and feedback here. I hope you’ll participate… it won’t be the same without YOU!

Here are a few select snapshots from my plein air workshop with Vistas and Vineyards! Click the thumbnails for the full image.

New Workshop Announcements

ABC’s of Abstraction – International Society of Experimental Artists: September 24 – 28, 2018 – Newport Oregon

We will cover both the elements of design and the ‘mental game’ in art-making.

Using acrylic and collage, students will explore shape, line, color and texture to craft vibrant paintings that stir the emotions.

You will learn organizing principles, painting tips and techniques for overcoming self-doubt and indecision. Still a few spots left – Register Here


ABC’s of Abstraction – All Media Santa Clarita Artist’s Association: November 9 – 11, 2018

Contact Jeanne Iler for more information.


ABC’s of Abstraction – Acrylic: Tubac School of Fine Art, Tubac, AZ: January 11, 12 & 13, 2019.

More information Click here  

I hope you can join me!

"Whistling" Watercolor on paper, 10"x11" ©Ruth Armitage $295 unframed

“Whistling” Watercolor on paper, 10″x11″ ©Ruth Armitage $295 unframed

12 Binge-Worthy Summer Art Films

12 Binge-Worthy Summer Art Films

It’s so easy these days to access top-quality Art Films, and summer is the perfect time to sit back and relax. You’ll beat the heat and absorb inspiration and information at the same time! I’ve started a good list with these titles, but please be sure to add your own suggestions in the comments. If you’ve found this list binge-worthy, be sure to share with an art buddy. If you decide to watch, let me know what you think, too!

People think that the directors direct actors. No. Really, what the director’s doing is directing the audience’s eye through the film.
– Julianne Moore

A Few Favorite Art Films

  1. Cézanne et MoiNetflix– An intimate portrait of the turbulent friendship between Cézanne the painter and Zola the writer.
  2. Eva Hesse – Netflix– Documentary about a rising star in the New York art scene of the 1960’s, her life, style and untimely death
  3. Packed in a Trunk – The Lost Art of Edith Lake WilkinsonNetflix – Decades after this artist was institutionalized, her great niece sets out to understand why.
  4. Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil – Netflix – Using x-rays and other technology, this documentary explores the secrets behind the artist’s famous religious works.
  5. Without Gorky – Netflix – The filmmaker turns the lens on her own family as she explores the impact her grandfather – Arshile Gorky – had on three generations.
  6. Hilda – Amazon Prime – In the late 1950’s Hilda lived and worked with the greatest painters of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Official Selections of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.
  7. Loving Vincent – Amazon Prime – The first animated film done completely in oil painting, explores the life of Vincent van Gogh.
  8. Mr. Turner – Amazon Prime – Spans the last 25 years in the life of Britain’s most revered painter.
  9. Pollock – Amazon Prime – Explores the turbulent life of Jackson Pollock.
  10. Surviving Picasso – Amazon Prime – Starring Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore – told from the viewpoint of Picasso’s longtime mistress and mother of his children.
  11. Frida – Amazon Prime – Nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Salma Hayek for Best Actress, Frida is a triumphant motion picture about an exceptional woman who lived an unforgettable life.
  12. Modigliani – Amazon Prime – Arriving like a comet, he danced on tables, drunk with passion for life and art and his ending was the tragedy of true genius like Van Gogh and Mozart. He was Modigliani.

Other Recent News

Below you’ll find a couple of demonstration paintings from recent workshops. I have new workshops in the works, and will be announcing my fall/winter schedule on August 1! When you get the notice, don’t delay. Many classes fill quickly. In the meantime, there are still a few spots available in these two workshops:

Creative Arts Community: Painting with Digital Exploration – August 12-18, Corbett, Oregon. Registration ends this Friday, July 20th.

Learn how digital painting can expand your creative process. Students will use the ProCreate app and an iPad to plan and alter works in progress. Learn to use this inexpensive app to try out ideas before you execute them in paint. The workshop will begin with instruction on using the app to draw, paint and use layers to experiment on photos of your painting in process. Students will work on their own projects in their choice of water-based media. Acrylic, watercolor or mixed media are all welcome. Lectures will focus on design and creativity, and Ruth will provide demonstrations and individual guidance on using digital media to explore painting options. Our goal is not to create finished digital art, but to use the digital screen as a sandbox for development of ideas. Take risks digitally before you decide on the real painting. This process encourages growth and exploration. It is an excellent visualization tool.

Click Here to register.

"Sediment" ©Ruth Armitage Acrylic on paper 21"x14"

“Sediment” ©Ruth Armitage Acrylic on paper 21″x14″

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Society of Experimental Artists: ABC’s of Abstraction, September 24 – 27th, Newport, Oregon

Using Acrylic and Collage we will explore both the elements of design and the mental game of art-making. Learn new ways to generate ideas, combine methods and evaluate your results. You will learn organizing principles, painting tips and techniques for overcoming self-doubt and indecision.

Click here to register!

"Forest Vineyard" Acrylic on Paper 14"x21" ©Ruth Armitage 2018

“Forest Vineyard” Acrylic on Paper 14″x21″ ©Ruth Armitage 2018

Finally, for former students, I’m celebrating 10 years of Art is Truth the Blog by creating a new forum for interaction: Art is Truth Cadets Facebook Group!

If you’re a former student and you’d like to join – click the link above and request to join. We share work, opportunities and feedback here. I hope you’ll participate… it won’t be the same without YOU!

 

Pareidolia in Abstract Art

Pareidolia in Abstract Art

Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists.  Classic examples might be seeing a face in the full moon, or imagining that cloud shapes represent a dragon or dolphin.

Cloud-gazing sounds so good today!

Cloud-gazing sounds so good today!

I think that we are hard-wired by our survival instincts to identify subject matter in abstract shapes. Who hasn’t imagined a shadow in the woods to be a bear or some other predator? This subject came up in two of my recent workshops about abstract art. Viewers often ‘find’ subject matter that the artist did not intend. Once an image is identified, it is hard to ‘un-see’ it.

It Happens to Us All

Pareidolia is natural, but a sophisticated art-viewer knows that it is more acceptable to ask questions than to volunteer what their imagination has come up with. For example, a viewer might ask the artist “Am I meant to see a figure implied here?” If the artist says yes, great! You can discuss what you see, what it means etc. If the artist says no, an appropriate response is to keep your perception to yourself and discuss the artist’s intentions further. Viewers can follow up with another general question such as “What was your intention for the work?”

Interpreting art is a delicate balance between the artist’s intention and the viewer’s response. Both are important, and sharing our viewpoints can be mutually satisfying. In fact, artists love it when viewers are interested enough to ask about the work.  Share your experience: does pareidolia inspire or frustrate you?

The internet has many good articles about understanding abstract art. The Collector’s Corner of Art Mine summarizes it this way:

The most important thing to understand about abstract art is that it does NOT have to have a meaning, narrative or even a singular explanation.

The main purpose of abstraction is not to tell a story, but to encourage involvement and imagination. This art form is mostly about providing its viewers with an intangible and emotional experience – more often than not, the experience is completely different for every individual depending on their personality and state of mind.

Therefore, it is really up to the viewer to decide whether the painting in front of them has any meaning or provokes any emotion. As we mentioned, abstract art is all about freedom.

That’s a fitting subject for Independence Day!

Further Reading:

Click here to read the whole article from Art Mine. You’ll also find a list of Do’s & Don’ts for discussing abstraction. I’ll have another vocabulary post coming up soon. Watch this space! New workshop listings coming soon too! I’m always interested in your reaction to new work. Leave me a comment, and don’t forget to share with friends.

"Sediment" ©Ruth Armitage, Acrylic on Paper 15x22"

“Sediment” ©Ruth Armitage, Acrylic on Paper 15×22″

“It is not that the meaning cannot be explained. But there are certain meanings that ar lost forever the moment they are explained in words.”                -Haruki Murakami

Kick These 5 Bad Painting Habits

Kick These 5 Bad Painting Habits

Kick These 5 Bad Painting Habits

"Singer" Watercolor on Paper 10"x10" ©Ruth Armitage SOLD

“Singer” Watercolor on Paper 10″x10″ ©Ruth Armitage SOLD

I’ve just spent the last month taking and teaching art classes, and it is surprising how often I see artists hampered by these bad painting habits.You may find yourself frustrated if you don’t kick these habits asap!

1. Leaving Your Brushes in Water or Solvent

This weakens the glue that holds brush bristles in the ferrule and damages the paint sealing the handle. Eventually the ferrule (the metal part holding your bristles) gets loose and wobbly. Working with brushes that are damaged is frustrating. When you rinse your brush, make it a habit to dry it and lay it down flat. Avoid storing the brush with the handle end down until the water or solvent is completely dried.

2. Thinning your paint too much

Watercolor artists are notorious for using very thin washes. I’ve observed many artists having a difficult time mixing a dark enough paint because they rinse between colors, adding water each time. Watercolors tend to dry lighter than they appear when wet. Your work will look freshest if you apply your washes at the proper value on the first pass.

3. Working constantly at close range

I, myself, am guilty of this one! We tend to get so absorbed in our painting that we forget to view it at different distances. Cultivate the habit of stepping back frequently. Giving yourself the perspective of your viewer is important. Work is rarely viewed at very close range.

4. Using your reference photo or drawing to make all your decisions

Part of the attraction of art is seeing how the artist uses their imagination. Translate your subject through your own design ‘filter’ to allow viewers a glimpse of your creativity.

5. Starting without a plan or value sketch

I often hear artists saying ‘I’m just playing’ when they talk about planning. Planning can also be playful… actually more playful than trying to make a painting work without a plan. Quick sketches are the sandbox of playfulness. Enjoy the process of trying out different ideas before you actually start painting. Sticking to a plan is easier if you jot down your ideas for dominance, color and values.

I hope these tips will keep frustration at bay for you! I find myself constantly reminded of them during my painting. Here are a few new images I’ve been working on recently. Do you have other suggestions of bad painting habits that need kicking? Let me know your thoughts.

"Whistling" Watercolor on paper, 10"x11" ©Ruth Armitage $295 unframed

“Whistling” Watercolor on paper, 10″x11″ ©Ruth Armitage $295 unframed

 

"Rocky Shore" Mixed Media on Paper ©Ruth Armitage 6"x6" SOLD

“Rocky Shore” Mixed Media on Paper ©Ruth Armitage 6″x6″ SOLD

Upcoming Workshops

August 12 – 18, 2018 – Creative Arts Community at Menucha, Corbett, Oregon: Painting with Digital Exploration:

Learn how digital painting can expand your creative process. Students will use the ProCreate app and and IPad to plan and alter works in progress. Learn to use this inexpensive app to try out ideas before you execute them in paint. A few spots remain: Click here to register

September 24-28, 2018 –ISEA Exhibition and Workshop, Newport, Oregon

October 22-24, 2018 – West Texas Watercolor Society, Lubbock, TX

 

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:

https://emeraldartcenter.org/event/painting-cold-wax-oil/

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.

Bonus:

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.

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