I love this quote by Mary Oliver about patience and fulfillment, shared by one of my students in last week’s ABC’s of Abstraction workshop. I think adult learners often forget the years of practice that art-making entails.

“The hour of fulfillment is buried in years of patience.

It is what I was born for –

to look, to listen –

to lose myself

inside this soft world –

to instruct myself

over and over…”

~Mary Oliver

The quote seems particularly appropriate for my students, because I was attempting to help them find their own way, their own aesthetic and their most comfortable way of working. Exploring outside of their comfort zone took patience and commitment. The reward was the fulfillment of finding new ways to express themselves!

The group was varied in their experience with working abstractly, but I think there was something new for everyone in the approach. I was particularly pleased to see how abstract many of them became after just a few short days.

Finally, I was also very happy that none of these artists tried to emulate my work, or each others’ work. Each artist’s work stands alone: as individual as they are.

Student work and comments:


“Thank you for sharing a deeper introspective process for creating our work. You are a fabulous, knowledgeable teacher.”


“What a joy it has been to be with you these past few days; to have you open up new doors for me. Thank you for being so giving.”

Sarah “So glad to have shared this experience with you. The impact will be long lasting.”


“Thank you for a great class. I’m ready to continue to forge ahead.”


“Thank you for your generosity in teaching us and guiding us into greater freedom and possibility in our work. A wonderful class and a joy.”


“Thank you so much for the space you created in our workshop – specific, yet expressive – focused, yet light hearted. I have gained so much in just a few days!”

Catt “Thanks for helping me move out of my comfort zone and try something new!”


“Thanks so much – you’ve opened so many doors for me!”

Tom, taking a bow! “Thank you for revealing all I didn’t know about abstract painting. My fear level has decreased and my creativity is surging!”

I worked on something a bit different in my demonstration paintings. This is still in process, but let me know what you think – leave a comment!

"Dad's Shoe" ©Ruth Armitage, 30x22" watermedia on paper

“Dad’s Shoe” ©Ruth Armitage, 30×22″ watermedia on paper

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