Learn About the Artist’s Palette
“Summer Storm II” ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor on Paper, 22×30″
Join me from 12-3pm on Saturday, February 25th, 2017 at the Portland Art Museum’s Rental Sales Gallery. You’ll have a chance to meet and visit with 4 artists: Chris Bibby, Chuck Bloom, Rachel Wolf and me.
You’ll also get to explore different wines by Chehalem Vineyards to excite your palate.
Two palettes or palates in one day! (*grins*)
I have decided to talk about my color palette… something that remains fairly consistent between the different mediums I work in: Oil, Watercolor and Acrylic. Each artists palette is as individual as a snowflake. I’ll discuss some of my favorite hues and how I use them.
One thing non-artists may not know is that in each medium, the relative properties of a pigment remain fairly consistent. For instance, Cadmium Red is an opaque (can’t see through it) pigment in watercolor, acrylic and in oil paint. Pigments can be classified as transparent, semi-transparent or opaque. They can also be synthetic or organic, staining or non-staining, pure or neutral… You’ll hear me throwing a lot of these terms around when I discuss the pigments.
I’ll also talk about choosing a mixing surface for each medium. Watercolorists often refer to this mixing surface as a palette, so it can get confusing! Throw in the palate you use to taste food and wine, and a person could get lost in the terminology. Fortunately, both color and wine provide subtle and unlimited variations of bliss.
I will bring some new work, too, so come downtown and check it out! I’m including a handy map, so you can easily navigate, and parking isn’t usually a problem in this area. I hope to see you there!
The gallery is located on SW 10th Ave at Jefferson Street, Portland, Oregon. 503-224-0674
Guess how many brushes I used for this work? “Seismic Shift” ©Ruth Armitage, 2016, Acrylic and Collage on Paper, 22×30″ – Will be on display at the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies show in April, 2017.
How does one choose the best brush for watercolor, acrylic and oil painting? My process is one of trial and error, tempered with education. I frequently get questions about my brushes. I have a large collection: some vintage, some for watercolor, some for acrylic and oil painting. It is my opinion that one can never have too many!
These filbert brushes by Vermeer were a discovery made by my friend Ruth Ellen Hoag. Although they are quite soft, they have a surprising amount of body and carry a lot of pigment. I love them for watercolor.
These are some of my vintage brushes. I love how stiff the Langnickel sable is. It is great for scrubbing and scumbling. I use these for all three media: watercolor, acrylic and oil.
These are some boar bristle brushes that I use for acrylic and oil. The large Princeton in the middle is newer and the other two are vintage.
These Grey Matters Brushes are made by Richeson. They are synthetic and great for acrylic and oil.
A selection of sables for watercolor. Kolinsky sable is the best, but it can be difficult to find now in the US. From top to bottom: Connoisseur, Daniel Smith Autograph series, DaVinci Maestro and Escoda. You’ll notice that all but the 3rd one down are #10 rounds. DaVinci’s #8 and Escoda’s # 10 are about the same size! Size really varies by brand. The Daniel Smith brush has been around for a very long time. I’ve pretty much worn off the point, but it is still a favorite for the way it delivers the watercolor.
Most of the brushes above are synthetic. I rarely use these for anything besides watercolor or fluid acrylic. Notice the top four brushes have longer bristles. These are called ‘liners’ or ‘riggers’ and are used to create long, fluid line work.
Above are some of my flats, with the exception of the filbert on the far right. I like these for watercolor. The Daniel Smith filbert on the right is a favorite! Notice how dirty it is…
Pictured above are some of my “Skipper” brushes, available through Cheap Joe’s. These are the real work-horses in my studio. They are named for one of my favorite instructors, Skip Lawrence. They are useful for all media, and have a lot of body. You’ll notice that the three on the right are more worn than the largest one. I hope to remedy that soon.
The 1″ Skipper on the right is the one I’ve had longest. The bristles used to be as long, or longer than the bristles of the brushes on the left. I wore it down by painting!
At the far right you’ll see a few brushes that are sort of comparable to the Skipper. Two “Susie’s” by Daniel Smith, and a “Muslin” brush, also available at Cheap Joe’s. And the last, wimpy little brush is just a hardware store cheap-0 brush. It has its uses too.
I only have one, but I love this mop style brush by Princeton. It has a big ‘belly’ for water and paint, and a very fine point. These come in squirrel, but I think this one is synthetic.
I also use these: a silicone spatula for wiping out line, a dip pen, sponge rollers and a soft rubber brayer. The brayer is most useful for acrylic and oil.
Here is how I store my tools in the studio: The red cups on the rack are from Ikea.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into my brush collection! What is your favorite brush, and for which medium? I’m always on the lookout for new types of brushes.
Mist and Moss: new work from the studio
“Mist and Moss” Watermedia on Paper, 30×22″
One of the things I loved about growing up on the farm was that nature was always there to explore. Although I know it is hard to believe now, I was a quiet child. When I was struggling with something, my favorite way to cope was to walk in the forest or sit by a small stream or ditch and observe nature.
Some of my favorite poetry evokes this calming spirit:
“THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS” BY WENDELL BERRY
My most recent painting was an attempt to recreate the feeling of soft fog, mist and moss, without actually rendering a pond, a stream or a fallen log. I wanted the feeling of many interconnected organisms breathing life into a forest. The water, the trees, the animals, the fungi as one breathing unit. Because I wanted the feeling of flowing water, I chose to use a high horizon line as my design.
I hope you will enjoy this peek into my process. I’m using watercolor to begin, and then adding gouache (opaque watercolor) and a bit of Golden High Flow Acrylic. I also mixed in a bit of iridescent pigment by Jacquard. I love the subtle sparkle!
I’d be interested in your feedback on this video. Do you find it valuable? I wish that my setup would allow me to film in the orientation that I imagined the painting, but it was much easier to work horizontally on my table. I decided not to attach music to the video, as I couldn’t find a piece that expressed what I wanted to say with the painting.
If you find it interesting, leave me a comment or a question! Or share this with a friend or on your favorite social media outlet.
Couldn’t everyone use a little balm of Mist and Moss during this chaotic season?
“Mist and Moss” Abstract Watercolor Process with Ruth Armitage from Ruth Armitage on Vimeo.
Portland Open Studios – Experience Creativity
“River of Dreams” 22×15″ Acrylic on Paper, Ruth Armitage, ©2016
Join me for two weekends of Open Studio, in my beautiful Oregon City studio:
October 8th & 9th and October 15th & 16th, 2016, 10 am – 5 pm each day.
The tour is organized by neighborhood, and our own Community 8 boasts some creative and beautiful artwork. I love the fact that you can find paintings, drawings, photography, jewelry, sculpture and ceramics on this tour. Something for everyone.
Artists will be demonstrating their techniques and available to answer questions about their artwork. It is a great opportunity to meet the creators in your community, listen to them speak and see their latest body of work. I always love the opportunity to peek behind the scenes where the creation takes place. (more…)
a ceramic or metal container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures.
“Crucible” ©Ruth Armitage Acrylic on Paper 15×22″
Each experience in our lives produces its own alchemy. This painting arose out of a contour drawing of my two dogs, Red & Lola. I’ve integrated them into the painting to the point that they disappear, and the painting has become something else entirely. The title has been in my head for months, relating to an experience that was intense and frustrating.
I feel like the close color range of reds, violets and orange speak to the theme of a crucible of heat. I like the angular pivot points near the center, and the light blue line work that morphs into shape. It has been a busy summer, and this painting reminds me a bit of the intense heat and activity. I’m looking forward to the cooler weather and more regular schedule of fall!
View it in person when it’s on display at the Portland Open Studios Preview show: September 17th at Basic Space Gallery, 625 NW Everett St #111, Portland, Oregon. 503-477-6452
Save the Date: Portland Open Studios – October 8th & 9th and 15th & 16th, 2016 10-5 each day. Get your tour guide at any New Seasons Market, from any participating artist, or at select Art Supply Retailers.
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.