Art is Exploring!

Welcome to the next in my series of posts called “Art Is.” As a kid I loved the comic strip “Love Is…” It was corny, but so true.  So each post in this series will explore a different facet, inspired by different quotes about what Art Is. If you’re not subscribed to updates by email, this would be a great time to add your name to the list on my contact page or in the sidebar on my site.

I’ve just come up for air after teaching 4 3-day workshops in the last month. One thing I’ve learned by repeating some of the same lessons to different groups is that the students who let go of certainty were more successful and more creative. Getting used to exploring with an open mind, rather than repeating yourself, takes courage. I feel that fear of failure when I start a demonstration, and I know that my students feel it when they make changes to their subjects with abstraction.

What to expect from my workshops:

My litmus test for a successful class is not necessarily a group of artists creating masterpieces. Rather, I’d prefer to see students pushing themselves beyond their abilities. I like to see students let go of certainty to create art that is a risk on more than a technical level. Exploring deeply personal subject matter in new ways feels scary. I try to model taking that risk. I’ve found that when I work this way the results are more universally attracted.

One of the most common questions I hear from patrons and students is whether I have a ‘vision’ for the art before I begin. The answer is, no. I usually begin my work with a title. I keep a list of titles relating to my series on a note-taking app on my phone. When I’m ready to start a new work, I refer to the titles and begin sketching and thinking about how I might approach expressing that idea. I consider what colors might work, what design, and what kind of dominance… shape, color, line, value, texture… etc. Then, I dive in!

Here are some photos from the last three workshops: Lubbock, Texas; Sitka Center for the Arts and Santa Clarita, California.

Lubbock’s West Texas Watercolor Society

One of the best endorsements of the workshops was from Suzanne: “I didn’t know I had it in me!” Loved her innovative and creative work. The whole class really stretched and grew!

Abstracted Watercolor Haiku – Sitka Center for Art & Ecology

The next workshop was held in Portland at the World Forestry Center, and sponsored by Sitka Center for Art & Ecology. It was held at the same time as the Sitka Invitational. Such inspiration at the show!

Santa Clarita Art Association

Finally, in Santa Clarita I had a group of artists painting in multiple media. What a fun group! Here are a couple of my demonstrations from that workshop:

collage start

Beginning collage for “Lost Eden”

Finished work: “Lost Eden” Mixed Media 22″x15″ ©Ruth Armitage, $950

"Petroglyph" Mixed Media on Paper 22"x15" ©Ruth Armitage $950

“Petroglyph” Mixed Media on Paper 22″x15″ ©Ruth Armitage $950

Kudos to all three groups for exploring beyond the safety of their regular painting techniques. I should have new workshops posted in my next newsletter! Stay tuned… and if you’d like to have me teach in your area – get in touch here.

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