Spring Workshops and New Artwork

Spring Workshops and New Artwork

This past few weeks I’ve been busy creating new artwork in several workshops.

First, I took part in a wonderful workshop held in Santa Barbara with Skip Lawrence.

Skip Lawrence workshop participants

Skip Lawrence workshop participants

Some of my new artwork

"You're So Sensitive" ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor on Paper 11"x11"

“You’re So Sensitive” ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor on Paper 11″x11″

Skip Lawrence has been a mentor for many years and has seen me through quite a few changes in my work, from still life to figurative to abstraction. I always value his input and am inspired by his instruction. Here are a few more new pieces that transpired from the workshop.

"Autumn Migration" Mixed Media on Paper 11"x11" ©Ruth Armitage

“Autumn Migration” Mixed Media on Paper 11″x11″ ©Ruth Armitage

"Haunted" Mixed Media on Paper 22"x30" ©Ruth Armitage

“Haunted” Mixed Media on Paper 22″x30″ ©Ruth Armitage

"Thresher" Mixed Media on Paper 15"x22" ©Ruth Armitage

“Thresher” Mixed Media on Paper 15″x22″ ©Ruth Armitage

"Attic" Mixed Media on Paper 22"x22" ©Ruth Armitage

“Attic” Mixed Media on Paper 22″x22″ ©Ruth Armitage

"Evening Vista" Mixed Media on Paper 15"x20" ©Ruth Armitage

“Evening Vista” Mixed Media on Paper 15″x20″ ©Ruth Armitage

3 Whites for Watercolorists

Next I taught my own workshop: Three Whites for Watercolorists. My friend Ruth Ellen Hoag hosted me in beautiful Santa Barbara. I neglected to take many photos, but trust me when I say that my students did fantastic work. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve seen some of them posting their beautiful paintings. Here are a few of my demonstrations:

"Sundown" Mixed Media on Paper, 7"x11" ©Ruth Armitage

“Sundown” Mixed Media on Paper, 7″x11″ ©Ruth Armitage

"Night Flight" Mixed Media on Paper, 8"x10" ©Ruth Armitage

“Night Flight” Mixed Media on Paper, 8″x10″ ©Ruth Armitage

"Silent Wings" Mixed Media on Paper 7"x11" ©Ruth Armitage

“Silent Wings” Mixed Media on Paper 7″x11″ ©Ruth Armitage

Cold Wax and Oil

Finally, this week I held a 2-day workshop featuring Cold Wax and Oil painting at my neighbor’s beautiful Studio on the Knoll. Here’s a group shot of most of the class at the end of the workshop:

Satisfied Participants

Satisfied Participants

Art Buddies signed up together :)

Art Buddies signed up together 🙂

And one of my demonstration paintings

"High Water" Oil & Cold Wax on Panel 12"x12" ©Ruth Armitage

“High Water” Oil & Cold Wax on Panel 12″x12″ ©Ruth Armitage

Next up, one more workshop on Oil & Cold Wax at Emerald Art Center next week!I love teaching and taking workshops because it provides me with lots of painting time, feedback and friendships. I hope you’ll join me for a future class.

Leave me a comment and let me know which is your favorite new artwork!


Celebration of Creativity and Nature Perceived

Celebration of Creativity and Nature Perceived

I have two shows coming up: Celebration of Creativity and Nature Perceived.

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.”

-Ansel Adams

Celebration of Creativity – March 1 – 4, 2018

2018 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Celebration of Creativity. This showcase of local and regional artists is held at Southminster Presbyterian Church: 12250 SW Denney Rd., Beaverton, OR 97008. Especially noteworthy: the show features more than 80 established and emerging Northwest artists.

Click here for a video preview of some of the work I’ll have featured and a peek at my nice clean studio!

I’ll be there as the show opens with a First Look Gala from 7-9 pm on Thursday, March 1, 2018. $10 at the door includes hors d’oeuvres and music by pianist Matthew Thompson-Aue. I hope to see you there! All other times are free admission.

Friday, March 2, 10 am – 5 pm Exhibit and Sale – 7-9 pm Meet the Artists

Saturday, March 3, 10-5 Exhibit and sale

Sunday, March 4, 10-11 am – Worship in the Art Gallery – 11:30 – 3:00 Exhibit & Sale

Nature Perceived – February 23 – March 30, 2018

Randall David Tipton, Ruth Armitage & Don Gray

Nature Perceived Postcard

229 SW G Street, Grants Pass, OR 97526 – 541-479-3290 – www.gpmuseum.com

I am thrilled to be included with these two master artists for this show. Each of us brings our own sensibilities to our interpretation of the landscape. We are good friends, too, which helps! We all plan to be at the Artist’s Reception: Friday, March 2, 5-9 pm. I hope you can join us, and if you’re in the area, spread the word!

Renewed Goals

One thing getting these two shows together has shown me is that I have a lot of available work. While I sent 12 award-winning pieces to Grants Pass for Nature Perceived, I still have lots of work for the Celebration of Creativity. My flat file is getting full of work that is ready to frame, including a painting that was just accepted into the Watercolor Society of Oregon Spring show in Florence, coming up in April.

This tells me that I probably need to focus more on sales, because the work doesn’t do anyone much good when it is all alone in my studio. It needs viewers to enjoy it – and furthermore, I need to make room for more paintings! Now I have a renewed goal of getting more work listed for sale online.

If you already own one of my paintings, I’ll be offering a special birthday sale just for collectors in April. That’s one way to use your tax refund! Watch this space for details, and look around your home for empty walls or places that could use a refresh.




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!

Avoiding Ungapatchka in Your Artwork

Avoiding Ungapatchka in Your Artwork

ungapatchka: Yiddish word to describe something ridiculously overdecorated, excessively ornamented or kitsch.

This summer I learned a new word from one of my students. Ungapatchka caught my ear for two reasons: firstly, it is so much fun to say, and secondly, the word sounds like the thing it describes. Since I was a Literature major in college, I am a big fan of new vocabulary. Watch this space, because I have a few more vocabulary additions in store for the blog!

My student felt everything in her painting was too cluttered and loud, lacking unity. I’ve often felt this about work in progress, and the thing I do to remedy it is to simplify. Recently a friend mentioned that in general my work could use more emphasis on the focal areas and more mystery in the rest of the painting. Mystery is the opposite of Ungapatchka! So, I have been trying to simplify and unify areas of my work. I want to make sure that one area is strongest and the other areas are sublimated.

If an abstract painting is too cluttered, it draws the eye away from the focal area of the work. While some contemporary painting celebrates busy, all-over pattern, I don’t think my skill set supports that kind of style. I want much of my painting to feel soft, muted and quiet in support of the parts of the work that are most important in contrast, shape or movement.

Watch Me Simplify

Here are a couple of videos of me working on an oil & wax piece. You’ll notice that early on, I’m making pretty drastic changes in the layers, while toward the end of the process, the changes are much more subtle. The earlier work looks more ‘Ungapatchka’ to me. What do you think? The second video is longer. Watch as I make some stronger changes, then subdue them by taking off the paint I just put on. (If the videos are not displayed in your email, click here and here to view them on the web.)

What do you think?

Should we avoid clutter in our work at all costs, or do you agree with Mae West?

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
-Mae West

Upcoming Exhibits:

Nature Perceived- Randall David Tipton, Don Gray and Ruth Armitage

Grants Pass Museum of Art, February 23 – March 30, 2018. Artist’s Reception: Friday, March 2, 5-9 pm.

Celebration of Creativity

March 1 – 4, 2018 – Southminster Presbyterian Church, 12250 SW Denney Rd., Beaverton, OR 97008

First Look Gala – Thursday, March 1, 7-9 pm, View other hours on their website here.

H2OMG – Muckenthaler Cultural Center, Fullerton, California

February 1 – April 8, 2018 – More information here.

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