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.
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
My new class at Oregon Society of Artists has been keeping me hopping! The first day (Sept. 3) I also juried their monthly exhibit. It is always an honor to be asked to jury a show. I take the responsibility seriously and always feel for the artists whose work is eliminated from the show. I celebrate with those who win the awards and always wish there were more awards to hand out. I think the show looks great, and I hope you’ll take time to see it.
The class is focusing on shape this month, and here was my first demonstration for them. I decided to paint a more realistic subject, not wanting to freak them out about abstraction 🙂
If you would like to join us… the class is open on a drop in basis, every Wednesday (with the exception of 9/24) from 9:30 -12:30. OSA is in SW Portland near the Multnomah Athletic Club. This week’s class got a bit full, so be there early!
Then last Thursday I was the featured speaker at the monthly evening meeting at OSA. I was able to show some slides of artists whose work relies heavily on shape. You can see some examples on my Pinterest Board about Shape. I showed the beginnings of a painting… and promised the final results would appear here.
My critique group was very complimentary about this image. They felt it had a rather science fiction look to it. I won’t say too much about it, but it does relate to the same series of work: ‘Down on the Farm.’ Thinking about shape really helped me to pull this together… contrasting large and small shapes and shapes that are more curvy with more angular shapes. I will be taking it to the Riversea Gallery this weekend.
Let me know what you think! If you’d like to receive my weekly summary of the class assignments and demonstrations, Contact me!
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.
“Fields of Gold” copyright Ruth Armitage 2011, Watercolor and Gouache, 11″x15″ SOLD
Saying goodbye to summer is never easy, but I love the cool crisp weather and the return to routine. The image above is not the best shot of this painting… I’m not sure what happened to the photograph, but you can’t really see the calligraphy in the sky, and there seem to be some issues of pixelation when I converted it to gif for the web. I’m adjusting to a new computer system after losing my hard drive and many files and photos 🙁 Don’t delay, back up your system today!
The calligraphy in this painting was something new for me, but something I felt compelled to do at the end of my process. The entire time I worked on this image the song “Fields of Gold” (Eva Cassidy, Phil Collins and others sing it) was playing in my mind. I hope that the finished painting has some semblance of the emotion from that song, which has always been one of my favorites.
I can’t really use the computer trouble as an excuse for not posting recently… it’s been more laziness than anything. I’ve been enjoying the garden, seeing friends and reading books. Two that I’ve recently finished and enjoyed were The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The Postmistress. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is not one I would have picked up if it hadn’t been for my book club, but I really enjoyed it. I loved the way it was written with both fact and emotion, and the ethics questions that it raised. The Postmistress was an excellent story about a strong woman during World War II. Vivid descriptions of the mood of the time, London during the blitz and small town life.
I’m also spending time getting ready for my October Spark Session, and I’m excited that the class is full with a waiting list! I’ve arranged to teach the same class in November in Roseburg, Oregon at the Umpqua Arts Association. It should be a great time, so sign up if you’d like to jump start your creativity with some mixed media techniques. Thanks to Jlynn Peterson who requested that I teach it there and got it all set up!
I’m also getting ready for a big weekend in Sunriver, Oregon next month. We will be having our semi-annual Watercolor Society of Oregon convention and I will be giving a talk as well as demonstrating at a paint-out. For the talk, the organizers gave the same photograph to 3 artists, and we each interpreted it in our own style. Or at least, that was the idea. I’m not sure mine turned out to look like my work… what do you think? It isn’t a subject that I would normally do, being more of a travel scene. But I tried to push the color and used a dominance of pattern.
I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of the flora that I’m enjoying so much here on the farm. One of my 3 succulent containers on the back patio, and some dahlias from my neighbor’s garden.
“I would define voice or style as a consistent, but not rote, approach to painting that arises from an artist’s own experience. It is like a personal language –expressive, flexible, and able to be discerned by others. It evolves out of reflection and inner knowledge, and possesses its own logic and consistency. When other people can hear and respond to that voice, an artist is communicating. “