I Dream of Art Supplies

I Dream of Art Supplies

Art supplies are magic. They can make even the most unimaginative artist want to pull up the nearest easel and start creating. Like the smell of a new box of crayons at the beginning of the school year, new art supplies really stir my soul. If I’m in an artistic slump, visiting an art store or a trade show gets my creative juices flowing.

At our convention for the Watercolor Society of Oregon we had a fabulous trade show this month. I was able to learn from representatives for Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith, DaVinci, Strathmore and many more. I tried new colors, learned about old ones, and sampled brushes and papers to my heart’s content.

I even brought home some new things to try!

There was only a slight danger that I would fall in love with something totally new, and switch the course of my artwork forever. After all, the supplies only get you started on your art journey. What keeps you coming back for more is the content or essence, the meaning in the art.

Art Supplies Aren’t the Only Answer

Read more about this subject: Don’t Dilute Your Aesthetic Urge. I enjoy demonstrating my techniques in watercolor, acrylic, oil and mixed media. But, what really gets me excited in teaching is to see students take risks of expression. These brave souls challenge themselves to make a statement that is truly personal. They often find a way to express themselves that is unique and new. That is the ultimate goal of working with new materials.

I’ll be sharing my process for painting with Oil & Cold Wax medium this Saturday at Art Extravaganza!  Read all about it in this earlier post. The event is another opportunity to learn about materials, experiment, and network with other artists.

Six Reasons to Stop By:

  • Product Demonstrations
  • Lectures
  • Workshops
  • Door Prizes
  • Pop-Up Store by Merri Artist
  • Panel Discussion by CERF

I hope you’ll find yourself dreaming of new creations and Art Supplies after this fun event. Bring a friend and Join me!

Can’t make it, but want to learn more?

Think about joining one of my upcoming classes: Click here for a full listing. Here’s another fun post from the archives about taking art classes. Or Sign up for my email list to read about other opportunities.


Homage to Arts Organizations

Homage to Arts Organizations

I don’t see enough people paying homage to Arts Organizations. Without these vital groups in our communities, the intensive work of bringing art to the public eye would be ignored. Personally, I’ve been working diligently for the Watercolor Society of Oregon to plan for the 42nd Annual Western Federation of Watercolor Societies Exhibition. The show will feature up to 100 water media paintings by top artists from across the Western United States. WSO will also feature their annual Experimental Exhibition. Both shows will be stunningly displayed at the  on the University of Oregon Campus.

When folks visit these exhibits, I don’t think they consider all the hours of effort that goes into producing the event. This weekend’s Sitka Art Invitational is another great show featuring Northwest artists. (Including me! I’ll have three pieces in the show.) This amazing art organization benefits the community in so many ways. I hope you can stop by Miller Hall at the World Forestry Center to see the show.

Look at this time-lapse video of just how much work the set-up alone takes:

Join Us! Sitka Invitational Public Exhibit and Sale

November 5 – 6, 2016

Saturday & Sunday, 10-4pm
Admission: Adults $5 – Sitka Members free – Under 18 free
Located in Miller Hall at the World Forestry Center.

Experience nature-inspired artwork in a variety of mediums and interpretations. Our 23rd annual Art Invitational will showcase 350+ works of sculpture, ceramics, paintings, metalwork, glass, fiber arts, book arts and prints, by more than 130 Northwest artists. The event kicks off with a party with the artists on Friday evening. Sales are shared 50/50 which helps support the Northwest art community as well as Sitka’s programs.

Party with the Artists

Friday, November 4, 6-9pm

Join the artists who make this colorful gathering an event to remember. Hors d’oeuvres, wine and hand-crafted beers accompany this lively celebration.
Click here for details or to purchase tickets.

Red, White and a Blue Ribbon

Red, White and a Blue Ribbon

I was thrilled to receive a blue ribbon at the Lake Oswego Festival of Arts last weekend for “Granery!” Validation like this is hard-won and that is what makes it special! I was even more flattered when I saw all the great work in the exhibit: The Artist’s Vision.

So nice to receive this award - Thanks to juror Paula Booth!

So nice to receive this award – Thanks to juror Paula Booth!

It was an exceptionally busy week, with company in town, work in the garden and a celebration to plan for the 4th.

Thanks to all who entered my giveaways for my blog’s anniversary. Here’s a photo of winner, Kristin Hamilton, picking up her original artwork “Abstract Hillside.”


The winner of the drawing for Jeanne Dobie’s book Making Color Sing is Hal Wright. Hal is a loyal reader whose comments really add to the conversation here on the blog. Hal, your book is on its way!

Making Color

Enjoy a safe and festive celebration of our nation’s Independence, friends!

Anniversary Blog Post & Giveaway

Anniversary Blog Post & Giveaway

It’s my blog’s Anniversary! First, I’m celebrating by doing a Giveaway of my original painting, below.

"Abstract Hillside" ©Ruth Armitage 2015, Acrylic on Paper 15"x11"

“Abstract Hillside” ©Ruth Armitage 2015, Acrylic on Paper 15″x11″

And, the Winner is: Kristen Hamilton! Congratulations Kristen!  🙂

Way back in June 2008, I started an adventure in putting my ideas on the World Wide Web. Little did I know that this blog would still be going strong 7 years later. From its humble beginnings, my blog has grown – it now gets almost 200,000 visits per year, and has almost 400 posts in its archives. That’s a lot of reading & writing!

My hope is that folks who visit my site find inspiration, enjoy seeing new artwork and come away looking at the world a bit differently. In the next year, I’d also like to increase the number of repeat visitors, drawing each of you back in.

Please help me do that: Tell Me, what kind of information or inspiration you’d like to see on my blog! Leave a comment and I will add your name to a drawing for one of my favorite books on color: Making Color Sing by Jeanne Dobie. If you’d like more than one entry, share this post on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and let me know. One extra entry for each! It’s easy to share using the buttons at the bottom of the post or on the left side of the website page. I will be drawing for the winner of this fun giveaway on June 30th.

Thanks to the artists who took the time to share their work for this online ‘show.’ I hope you’ll click on each image to visit their websites!


“Fox” ©Rachel Urista www.rachelurista.com

"Beachy Goddess Days" ©Kristen Hamilton www.kristenhamiltonart.com

“Beachy Goddess Days” ©Kristen Hamilton www.kristenhamiltonart.com

"Tracing the Map of Memory" ©Dayna J. Collins www.alleyartstudio.com

“Tracing the Map of Memory” ©Dayna J. Collins www.alleyartstudio.com


“Grape Hyacinths” ©Elizabeth Higgins www.watercolorwheel.com

©Norene Simmons

©Norene Simmons

"Without Hair" ©Margaret Godfrey www.margaretgodfreyart.com

“Without Hair” ©Margaret Godfrey www.margaretgodfreyart.com

Travelers and Friends – Call for Entries

Travelers and Friends – Call for Entries

“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

Up, Up & Away

Up, Up & Away

I’ve just returned from the 40th Exhibition of the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies in Lubbock, Texas. It was an honor to represent Oregon’s Watercolor painters there, and to bring back six awards for artists from the Watercolor Society of Oregon. I felt blessed to reconnect with my friend Margaret Godfrey, who traveled with me as Alternate Delegate and my co-chair for the exhibit in 2017 in Eugene. I also connected with other delegates and alternates from the 11 other societies, new friends and old.

It seems to me that I often hear about friends’ travels to exotic places: Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and feel a bit jealous. This domestic trip, and most all of the domestic trips I’ve made with WFWS, had just as much inspiration and adventure.

I did feel as if I were almost in a foreign country! The dialect, the weather, the flatness of the landscape and culture were all different from my home state. What remained the same were the connections I felt with the people I met and the art that I viewed.

Margaret & I at Texas Tech

Margaret & I at Texas Tech

Joyce Baron & I on an Adventurous flight to Lubbock

Joyce Baron & I on an Adventurous flight to Lubbock

The Committee for next year's Exhibit in Denver

The Committee for next year’s Exhibit in Denver: Left to Right- Gene Youngmann, Marcio Correa, Carla Rouse & Greg Chapleski



Delegates and Alternates from 12 Western Watercolor Groups

Delegates and Alternates from 12 Western Watercolor Groups

My blog allows my paintings and thoughts to travel too. This month marks my 7th year of blogging! I’d like to celebrate by inviting artists and collectors to share images of their artwork for an online exhibit. I’ve done this twice before – take a peek: http://rutharmitage.com/connections-online-exhibition-three-year-celebration-of-sharing/


I wanted to do something that would enrich both artists and patrons, as I think my audience is composed of both.  My solution is to post an online exhibit and I hope you will contribute!

Call for Entries:

An open call for digital entries to my online exhibit titled “Connections: Friends and Travelers.”

Artists may enter up to two works of art (only one will be chosen for display). To submit, please email your digital image up to 2 Mb in size along with written permission to publish your work on this website only to ruth (at) rutharmitage.com. If you’d like your image to link back to your blog or website, please include that link as well in the body of the email.

Collectors, please share a photo of one of your favorite art pieces installed in your home.

To thank you for your participation, I will be drawing one name from all entrants to receive a small original painting (see below.) Entries must be received by June 12, 2015. If you’d like to have an extra entry in the drawing, or you don’t have a piece of art to enter, create a link to this post on your blog or Facebook page and note the web address of that link in your email too.

"Abstract Hillside" ©Ruth Armitage 2015, Acrylic on Paper 15"x11"

“Abstract Hillside” ©Ruth Armitage 2015, Acrylic on Paper 15″x11″

Once all entries are received I will be posting an online exhibition in gallery format here on the blog. I hope that you will participate, and enjoy seeing some beautiful artists’ work! Watch this space for the exhibit coming up, and more chances to win a giveaway! If you are not subscribed, you can have new posts delivered in your email! Just enter your email address in the box at the top of the column on the right: delivery by feedburner.

Best of luck to you!


Socrates Vs. Julia Child

Socrates Vs. Julia Child

“In every one of us there are two ruling and directing principles, whose guidance we follow wherever they may lead; the one being an innate desire of pleasure; the other, an acquired judgment which aspires after excellence.”  (Socrates)

Don Gray's Studio

Don Gray’s Studio

Last week I was invited to a gathering of art friends at the home of Don Gray. We had some great conversation about making art and collecting art, and specifically about realism and abstraction. In listening to others describe their process and in describing my own, it struck me again how the two impulses described in the Socrates quote above are relevant to us all.

Each of us gathered were competent artists, and yet each was extremely curious about the process of creation for the others. It seems we all vacillate between seeking to please ourselves and seeking to please others. Our art-making quest is a combination of play (like Julia Child) and serious aspiration to succeed (like Socrates.)

I left feeling validated and inspired by the diversity of Don’s work. I enjoyed meeting artists whose work I’ve admired, and also simply being with those who understand the schizophrenic back & forth of the creative process.

One of the things I learned in teaching my recent workshop for Contemporary Watercolorists of Arizona is how an artist I admire (Stan Kurth) and I differ in our approach to teaching. I often emphasize dominance in workshops. I find a focused approach often leads to a more unified painting, and that it is easier to add variety in the later stages than to pull chaos together.

Stan, on the other hand, emphasizes variety. This surprised me, because I find his paintings so unified, but it also made sense when he explained that he teaches that if you’re using color, use a variety of color… if you’re using line, use a variety of line, etc. And he likes to see some contrasts in each of the elements: value, shape, line, color & texture/pattern.

This makes sense too! I’ve been asked to write about my process of abstraction, so here’s the best summary I can give. Before I paint, I start with a specific memory, emotion or idea. This series is loosely based on memories of growing up on our family farm, between Albany & Corvallis, Oregon. I try to get as specific as possible with the idea… not just thinking about a general topic, like the farm, but narrowing it down to ‘havest’ and often more specifically ‘driving a combine at night.’ (See painting “Night Havest.“)

I almost always decide in advance whether the painting will be mostly warm or mostly cool, and whether I will emphasize color, shape, texture etc. The rest of the process is simply an exploration of ‘what if’s.’ I start somewhere, and improvise from that point. I like to compare the process to improvisation in jazz, rather than reading sheet music.

The knowledge of art forms and techniques is in your back pocket in case you get lost, just like music theory backs up a jazz musician. But creating the painting is not about combining that knowledge. It is, rather, a matter of expression and choices. Each choice I make relates to the narrative I have chosen for that painting.

Whether the viewer understands the narrative I’ve chosen is not really important to me, though I believe that people respond to my work because of the deeply personal content that drives the work.  Understanding a work of abstraction is not really necessary to appreciate it.

“Do you ever know what the birds are singing? You don’t. But you listen to them anyway. So Sometimes with art, it is important just to look.” – Picasso

“You can’t dig for truth in every area. Must there be an answer? You take a flower, and you take every petal, and you won’t have a flower. Keep the flower.” – Louise Nevelson

New work this week:

First, the demonstration painting from my workshop at CWA last month. I’ve worked more on it… added more layers etc. Here is what it looked like at the end of the demonstration:

In process

In process

And now…

"Mother Apple" ©Ruth Armitage 2015 Mixed Media on Paper 30x22"

“Mother Apple” ©Ruth Armitage 2015 Mixed Media on Paper 30×22″

And here is my demonstration painting from last week’s class at OSA. Click the following link to read more about it in my newsletter. If you’re not already subscribing, you can do that here!

"Telephone" ©Ruth Armitage 2015 Watercolor & Gouache on paper 22x15"

“Telephone” ©Ruth Armitage 2015 Watercolor & Gouache on paper 22×15″

Pin It on Pinterest