“Palouse” Acrylic on yupo 10″x12″ ©Ruth Armitage 2012

Available at RiverSea Gallery

It’s been over a month since I posted, and I have been busy in the studio! Often times I like to let new work stew for a bit before I decide whether I like it or not. My perception sometimes changes and I like a new piece more… other times I like it less than I did when I first painted it and I see things that need to change.

The above painting is one I did on the first day of Randall Tipton‘s workshop here at the end of January. I gleaned a wealth of knowledge by watching him paint and listening to his inspirations and process. The two key influences that I will come away with are his use of flattened, simplified shapes and his fabulous sense of color. Of the two, my greatest challenge is the flattened shape. But I look forward to improving that! It is my main goal for the year.

I am infinitely grateful that I have had the chance to study with some wonderful artists. My idea of heaven is filled with endless days of learning and discovery. There is something beautiful and exciting about the gathering of minds to improve and inspire. But I don’t mean to imply that taking classes is the answer to better art. I know that there is only one way to improve: diligent, intentional practice. Creative growth is a delicate balance between being influenced and venturing out independently.

I was talking to an art buddy this week about a class she was teaching and students that may or may not have been influenced. It got me to thinking of all the artists I have studied with, and how they have influenced my art. Then, this morning in my internet browsing, I came across this article and illustration about Circles of Influence. It is “a visualization of literary, scientific and artistic influences… designed to illustrate the enormous creative indebtedness that permeates humanity’s proudest intellectual output, while also demonstrating the cross-pollination of disciplines across science, art, literature, film and music.”

It got me to wondering what an illustration of my Circles of Influence might look like. I’m focusing on art just to keep it simple. If I included books, friends and other influences, I would be at this forever!  Here is a diagram I’ve worked up…. it is interesting how the paths to these inspirations cross and criss-cross. An annotated version would be fascinating. I’m wondering if you can see the influence of any of these artists in my work? Which ones? What would your Circles of Influence diagram look like? It is interesting to think about how infinitely this web could continue…

Making art can be a lonely, isolating enterprise, and I enjoy spending time with artist friends! Everyone can use a little cross-pollination. This past week I am spent some time in Arizona with art buddies. It really reminded me how much their friendships have helped and nurtured me. Now I am revived and excited for my “Spark Session” workshop, which starts tomorrow!


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