Ruth Armitage Paintings and Art Classes by Ruth Armitage Sun, 15 Nov 2020 00:39:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ruth Armitage 32 32 Most People Get it Wrong About Art – What – How -Why Sun, 15 Nov 2020 00:39:54 +0000 Most people get it wrong when thinking about art. They think that What you paint and How you paint it is all there is. They miss one key component. The Why.

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Most people get it wrong when thinking about art. They think that What you paint and How you paint it is all there is. They miss one key component. The Why.

In painting classes, I often hear questions  like ‘How do you _______?’ Fill in the blank. How do you paint trees?

Use the google machine to do an image search for tree paintings, and you’ll find a million different versions, from Gustav Klimt to Emily Carr to Joan Mitchell. What is missing, is why would you paint trees? Being clear on WHY we are painting a subject always leads to more successful paintings. It helps us abbreviate or winnow out the unimportant information.


A Prime Example


My student, Paula, made a painting this past month that was a great example of this principle. She showed the group a delicate landscape of a misty beach and distant headlands. She subtly described the water, grasses and sand with repeated line and the headlands marched back in space in gradual shifts of color. The atmosphere was subdued and graceful.


The painting had a few small technical flaws, but the emotion in the work was overpowering. It stopped you in your tracks. After I pointed out a few ways to make the path recede instead of stopping abruptly, the artist talked about her process.

“Arriving at the Path’s End” 16×20” Oil on Panel ©Paula Fontanini

She had made several studies from a photograph, taken on a day she learned a dear friend, her cousing, had died of Pancreatic Cancer – gone too soon.

Suddenly, I felt that the abruptly ending path was just right. The WHY of her painting was clear and the wistful feeling I’d had when first viewing it was understandable now. I regretted making any suggestions, but she was secure enough to try out my ideas and decide to discard the ones that didn’t seem to fit. 

Why people get it wrong


Our best work is undertaken when we understand WHY we want to tackle a subject. What feeling is motivating us? Sadness? Fear? Awe? HOW can we best express that? Sometimes letting our subconscious make those decisions is best. The artist said she saw the suddenly ending path and decided it was appropriate because of her feeling for the subject.

Paula didn’t rush the making of this painting. It wasn’t whipped out in a one hour demonstration. Nor did she create it with step-by-step instructions by a wise teacher showing her exactly how to do it.


There is no useful pattern for an original. Click here to tweet this!


My student realized, she wasn’t painting a beach, she was painting her friend’s passing. She let the piece unfold its meaning to her gradually and described pouring her heart and soul – all her pain – into that work.

This insightful artist experimented with 3 small studies to find ways to express her feelings for the subject. The painting she made satisfied her. Consequently, we could read those feelings in the work. Paula began working on her studies in a workshop way back in July. She finished the work in November. Be patient, Grasshopper!

Paula wrote this on her facebook post: “Ruth, Thank you for you support this year. I have really produced more work just being encouraged by you and your classes and YOUR SUGGESTIONS!!”

If you’re interested in exploring ways to make your work more expressive, take a look at my future workshop offerings! I’d love to work with you.

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Comments from Pollyanna, Punch & Judy Thu, 13 Aug 2020 19:48:24 +0000 Even though I work hard to be objective, my inner critic fluctuates between Pollyanna and Punch & Judy. It can be hard to know which of my multiple personalities to trust! You should hear their comments!

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Comments have been pouring in on the painting I finally posted on social media today. Here it is, in all its Rainforest drippiness.

Rainforest Abstract Watercolor ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor on Paper 22″x15″ $950

The rainforest around Sitka Center for Art and Ecology is astounding. Being there in relative isolation was both grounding and eerie. I’m used to teaching classes with about 12 eager painters sharing the awe. This time, I started the workshop on Zoom, released them to consume the videos and assignments on my website, and finally recapped each day with another zoom call.

While they were working I had an awful lot of time to ponder the work I had started. Just sitting  with my thoughts and an unfinished piece. Unfortunately, my thoughts were scattered and full of worry. It’s not just the pandemic.

My mom was in the hospital. She is home now and doing pretty well, but that day it was difficult to concentrate, with all the texts and comments on her progress.

I resorted to using my mark-making as a controlled pattern. This kind of repetition can feel calming and symbolic for me. People shared comments on how it looks sort of like text or print. To me it feels like drips or fir needles. And it reminds me of the ribbons of moss that cover entire giant trees.

Before I shared the painting on social media I showed it to my art critique group. Their response helped smooth my fears – it is a different painting for me, and different is not always good. But the positive comments have really helped me to remember that I just need to show up and do the work. I don’t need to be the judge of it.

When I first felt the work was finished, I didn’t really like it. It was too different. But one or two small comments from fellow artists and friends helped me see it in a new light. I call that a huge success. I overcame my impulse to reject something new surfacing in my work and gave it the chance.

When I’m teaching workshops, I often find that my paintings come out better. Because I’m trying to speak and paint at the same time (*trying*), I really have to concentrate on getting my point across. I also have to make sure that the resulting painting demonstrates the exercise or idea. And often, there isn’t time to reflect on whether the painting is a success or failure, because I’m either thinking about the next day’s work, or packing up to head home.

Giving this piece some time before I judged it turned out to be a good thing. Even though I work hard to be objective, my inner critic fluctuates between Pollyanna and Punch & Judy. It can be hard to know which of my multiple personalities to trust! You should hear their comments!

Pollyanna: Ooh look at that beautiful color!

Punch: Getting boring, better do something different!

Judy: No kidding! Step up the quality there, whacko.

Pollyanna: She’s not whacko -she’s wonderful.

Punch: She might be, but her painting needs help here.

Judy: Not too accurate, but it might pass.

Pollyanna: It’s better than accurate! It’s expressive.

A friend launched an online course this week, but it almost didn’t happen. She went from enthusiasm to doubt and back again multiple times. What finally tipped the balance was one comment from a repeat student. One short sentence like “I’m so glad!” You never know how much an encouraging word helps an artist or teacher to move forward.

We all have doubts.

I’m in the planning stages of my next online workshop offering. Comments from the last class have helped keep me going, even though teaching to a camera is not the same. Some folks report even better results with working at home, on their own, with input and inspiration via the internet.

“I liked being on-line so I could work at my own pace.” – Burt Jarvis

Have you tried online learning yet? I’m interested in your experience, the highs and lows. Leave a comment below to help me out by sharing your thoughts.

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Confessions of a Dizzy Artist Fri, 24 Jul 2020 21:15:26 +0000 I had so many things crowding my brain last Friday, it made me dizzy! Therefore, I spent hours driving around. But 3 lucky realizations saved the day.

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I had so many things crowding my brain last Friday it made me dizzy! Therefore, I spent hours driving around. But 3 lucky realizations saved the day.

I was headed to the coast to meet a contractor on our bathroom remodel. I wanted to be sure to bring all the food and drink I’d need, because the Covid outbreak is terrible in Newport and I wanted to avoid going to the grocery store there.

Also on my list was dropping off some birdwatching essentials to my mom, since she has been sheltering in place and doesn’t get out much. So I packed up the new binoculars my son sent for her, some live mealworms from the fridge, a container of turkey curry soup we’d made, some elderflower juice that I’d had in the freezer to bring to her for a while…

And finally, I remembered to bring her some art materials: charcoal, pastels, watercolors, pencils and eraser. I thought she might try to get back into drawing now that she is home-bound. (She used to be an artist too!) When I got the car loaded with my clothes, food and dog gear, plus the dog, I set out.

Mom called and wanted me to stop at the store and pick up a new hose for her – her old one had sprung a leak. And while I was there, could I get some strawberries? How soon would I arrive? Her birdwatching friend was visiting to check the bluebird box and wanted to meet me! And could I bring my scissors to give her a haircut while I was there?

Lucky realization #1

Our visit went well, and Mom is sporting a slightly masculine haircut. (I’m more used to cutting my husband and son’s hair than a woman’s!) I finally got on the road and moseyed south. I usually drive through Corvallis, but I was low on gas so I decided to stop in Salem for lunch and gas and then head over to Lincoln City, since I had more time and no one waiting on me.

Lucky realization #2

Maybe I finally started to relax a little bit too, because I was about an hour into my drive when I realized I’d made a huge mistake. I had FORGOTTEN to pack one very crucial item. The house-key!

I mentally checked my car – no key in there. No key in my purse. No key with a neighbor, and none under the doormat. Now, I was about an hour and half from home. That would mean 3 hours just to get home, retrieve the key, and get back to where I was. It would put me at the beach by maybe 7 pm. I might as well just stay home!

Lucky realization #3

Then I realized that my daughter lives in McMinnville and she had a key!  I was about 20 miles from McMinnville – much closer that heading all the way home. The problem was, I couldn’t reach her! I tried, calling, texting and emailing. No response. I headed toward her house anyway.

Finally I got a return call from her, but she was at least a half hour from home – at a Dr.’s appointment. Well, I’d still be ahead of the game, so we decided to meet at her place. While I waited for her to arrive, I stopped to buy some Gluten Free pasta at our favorite deli and some Campari at the Liquor Store. After picking up the key, I finally got back on the road.

I blame my over crowded, dizzy  brain! I had too many things to remember… and so I forgot that one very important item! When I finally got out of the rapids of the stream of thoughts that clogged my brain, when I finally ‘Eddied Out’ my brain could function again.

“Dizzy Eddy Out” ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor on paper, 30?x22? $1950

A Sign of the Times

This got me thinking about all the information that we allow to crowd our mental space:  lyrics to songs, news reports, conversations with friends and ‘frien-emies,’ to-do lists, appointment times…. Half the time, my brain is so stuffed, that it is swirling with dizzy thoughts when it is time to go to bed. When I finally had a chance to relax on the drive, my brain could function on a better level.

What does this have to do with art? Well, I got to thinking about how I usually only work on one painting at a time. The painting I’m working on occupies all my available mental space. And I was also thinking about how many artists I’ve talked to that are having a hard time working during this pandemic and time of social divisions.

My theory is that the mental space that all this dizzying uncertainty takes up is huge.  But, take heart! I’ve found that simply getting into the studio and creating is one way to shove all the worry and tension away from my limited mental space. One thing about painting is that it is so complicated that it takes your mind off everything else when you are working.

If you’re feeling dizzy with all the disruption in the world right now, why not sign up for one of my upcoming classes? My next class is coming right up: August 4-6, live from Sitka Center for Art & Ecology. We’ll be working with line to interpret the landscape. The class is open to all media and you should be able to use what you have on hand, from drawing materials to paint and supports. If you’ve been wanting to encorporate more line in your work, this class is for you!  And if you know of another artist who might enjoy my blog and newsletter, please share this with them!

What about you? How many things do you have crowding your brain? Are you feeling a bit dizzy with all the change in the world? How do you clear your head? Take care, and try to leave enough room in your brain for new ideas, or at least leave enough room so you can remember your keys.

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Inspiration: Guest Post by Tara Choate Thu, 25 Jun 2020 21:03:45 +0000 Tara Choate writes a guest post about the near mythical relevance that inspiration holds for an artist. Is Inspiration the process or the idea itself? Read Tara's take on this fascinating topic.

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Inspiration: Guest Blog Post!

by Tara Choate

Each year I try to do something to give back to the blog community and celebrate art and the inspiration it provides. June marks the 12th Anniversary of my blog: Art is Truth. This year, I’ll be posting guest articles from readers each week. I hope you’ll enjoy reading a post from my friend, Tara, below! I know you’ll want to hop on over to her blog to read more of her thoughts on art:

Beginnings and Endings

by Tara Choate

Inspiration has a near mythical relevance in the life of an artist. It’s a fairly standard question to artists at art events and artists talk about it amongst themselves. The dictionary defines inspiration as two similar, but distinct things:

  1. The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
  2. A sudden brilliant, creative, or timely idea.

Is inspiration the process? Or the idea itself? Read my story and leave a comment with your thoughts! 

I first met Ruth when she was giving a workshop. At the time, she was working mainly on figurative paintings. I remember her working on a particularly lovely painting of a dancing couple and using a lovely warm brown and turquoise. Shortly after this, Ruth turned to abstracts, searching for the same feelings as she got with her figures. Her “Down on the Farm” series has been particularly evocative. Her posts keep me motivated to try new things and serve as a counterbalance to my desire for everything to have a point. Ruth has always seemed to enjoy the process of painting, finding her inspiration within the idea for the individual piece. Alternatively, I tend to get focused on the end result.

For example, in January 2018, I tried (unsuccessfully) to learn a new technique. 

After the paint dried, I decided the painting looked like a T-rex, and so drew this.

And then, for two years, I pondered the painting. When I had been doing internet research on what a T-Rex looks like, I had been reminded that some scientists believe dinosaurs had feathers. Some of the online drawings had various dinosaurs with stripes and other interesting features. The whole thing made me wonder what my own, personal dinosaur would look like.

I had a vague idea of making the dinosaur’s eye have an elaborate makeup scheme, adding some feathers, maybe a racing stripe? Somehow, from there, the idea morphed into dinosaur jewelry. But this whole train of thought seemed so weird, that the painting just sat.

Then, one day in December 2019, I had a terrible day. I came home just sick of everything. Why couldn’t I just fit in with the world? I looked at my T-Rex and suddenly FELT like I must finish it. At that moment, I didn’t care if ruined it, I just needed to express the ridiculousness of a T-Rex all made up for a party. Feather, eye make-up, and jewelry didn’t feel like too much. That T-Rex was me. One set of realities trapped into trying to be something else.

Over the next few weeks, “I Feel Pretty” was finished. I posted her on Facebook, where the painting was suggested. I showed her to a friend, who suggested a feather boa. 

And I took her to critique group who made the final, finishing suggestions.

Over the course of all this finishing, so many people made a comment like “this is me” or “I feel just like this”. When I determined to finish this painting on that very bad day, it was me feeling like I was the weirdest, most awful person in the world. And when I showed it to the world, everyone else seemed to say, “yeah, me too.”

Ruth would have started out trying to make a painting so people would feel her thoughts; for me, the feeling was a bi-product having the painting get finished.

So, where does inspiration fit into this?

My inspiration is closely tied to a certain feeling that I don’t care if it doesn’t work out; I trust in my own abilities to make it work. Many of my more successful paintings have a significant element of unpredictability to them; I stopped thinking and let the paint do its thing.

Many painters, in today’s artistic world, claim to be “intuitive” painters. I have taken this to mean that some painters are planners whereas others start out with only the most general of ideas. While I am no planner, I hesitate to put myself in the intuitive group because Ruth more clearly defines that idea; she doesn’t know where she will end up, but she knows what she wants.

The careful crafting of an idea is something that eludes me, but also inspires me.

I returned to painting as an adult in 2006; in 2009, I took a workshop with Ruth. It was on abstraction and it was the first workshop I took that wasn’t directly tied to how to apply paint to paper. There are two things I remember vividly from that workshop. The first was an introduction to value sketches. While I didn’t get the concept at the time, I remember being blown away by the idea that you could take a sketch of something and reverse values. Just because something was dark in the reference photo, didn’t mean it had to stay that way.

The second was my relationship to colors. Ruth had us make a grid where we wrote down four smells, four touches or textures, and four sounds. Then we had to “describe” these items using a mixture of cool and warm colors.

In the process, I realized that cool colors tend to sooth me, whereas warm colors make me anxious. There was one square in particular that Ruth said she would be interested in seeing an interpretation of; it was a square about the scent of my grandmother. I still haven’t done that painting.

I haven’t done that painting because I feel like it needs more than I can currently give it. I don’t yet trust my abilities enough. But I’ll step off that cliff someday, and I’ll have Ruth to thank for the inspiration.

Thanks so much for the endorsement, Tara! If you’d like to receive first notice of new workshop announcements, click here to join my email list! And if you’d like to read more on the topic of inspiration, check out my post from way back in 2011:

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Guest Post by Melissa Gannon Wed, 17 Jun 2020 19:44:34 +0000 The post Guest Post by Melissa Gannon appeared first on Ruth Armitage.


Melissa Gannon shares a guest post this week in celebration of 12 years of Art is Truth. Thank you, Melissa – for sharing your work and words. This blogging anniversary is rich with inspiration.


Guest Post by Melissa Gannon

I am very honored to be a guest on Ruth’s lovely blog. I read all of her posts and they are so inspiring, so calming and very colorful!!!!!! Thank you Ruth!

My topic is INSPIRATION!!!!
What’s inspiring? Why? How does it translate to art????

One of the first answers that I came up with is People!!!! Not to paint but to be a witness in their journeys, be a part of their journey, see them grow and change. As a teacher I very much appreciate the journeys that I have been a part of.

I am honored to be able to know these special people who take my workshops and classes. I am very grateful that you always have enough faith in me to approach each project with an open mind and that you are confident that your work is respected and valued. Thank you for all you’ve given me. This article is dedicated to all of you.

When I first told Ruth that I would LOVE to be a guest on her blog, I was planning to write about beautiful spring camellias. I painted several of these—you know the great big red ones with the yellow centers that look so showy! Well, then the wisteria bloomed!!!!!! I think this is my very favorite spring flower.

“Wisteria Love” ©Melissa Gannon 15″ x 22″ on 100% cotton paper

I love how the gnarly vines look dead all winter and then send out trailing stems with huge hanging blossoms in such abundance. It’s completely amazing. Then when the flowers begin to open, the leaves appear, all crinkly and new like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. It’s like a very quiet beginning that leads to a crescendo in a symphony. And the scents are spectacular!!!! I have photographed them every year, backlit, sidelit, in the rain, in the sun. I could photograph them for hours!

Over the years I have painted many interpretations of these flowers. What’s not to like??? Purples, greens, browns, flowing shapes, abundant clusters of flowers, and lovely scents. Spring has definitely arrived when the wisteria decide to bloom.

Washes of Inspiration

My favorite way to paint these flowers is with a flowing wash of either ink or watercolor, using strong colors and lots of water and granulation medium to break up the paint into pigment dots. There’s something about alternating rich blues, purples, lavenders and greens with juicy paint that totally satisfies all the artist pieces inside me.

Figuring out what to do with the resulting wash is always a pleasure and a puzzle! How do I showcase the colors and depth of the many flower clusters and where do I put those greens and those brown bits of woody vine? One of my favorite parts is adding the squiggly vines at the end.

Wisteria Treasure Original watercolor ©Melissa Gannon 15″ x 11″ on 100% cotton paper $189.00

While wisteria is my current inspiration, it will be replaced down the road with something else that calls my name and sits in my head until I render it in some fashion with my paints in multiple renditions. So, I guess for me inspiration is always changing, always ready to come in when I open the door, always there to challenge me to make a new and different statement. No matter how many times I paint the same thing, I always find something new, different or interesting in shape, color, value, or design.

See more of Melissa Gannon’s work at

Thanks Melissa!

If you’d like to read a few of the other guest posts from this month-long celebration, follow the links below.

Guest Blog Post: Margaret Godfrey

Guest Post Celebration: Rick Rogers

Guest Post: Garden Revisited by Mary Chamie


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Guest Blog Post: Margaret Godfrey Wed, 10 Jun 2020 04:03:13 +0000 Guest post by my dear friend, Margaret Godfrey: "What happens when a painting comes from the depths of your emotions? My artwork "Enduring the Cure" is exactly that--a painting from the depths of my emotions.“

The post Guest Blog Post: Margaret Godfrey appeared first on Ruth Armitage.


Guest Blog Post!

June marks the 12th Anniversary of my blog: Art is Truth. Each year I try to do something to give back to the blog community and celebrate art and the connections it gives us. This year, I’ll be posting guest articles from readers each week. I hope you’ll enjoy reading a post from my dear friend, Margaret, below!

Margaret Writes

“What happens when a painting comes from the depths of your emotions? My artwork “Enduring the Cure” is exactly that–a painting from the depths of my emotions. Five and a half years ago I entered a hospital room to see my younger daughter lying in a hospital bed, bald with umpteen hanging bags with tubes attached to her body. Her beautiful face expressed helplessness, resignation and exhaustion. She had signed up for this experimental treatment for her Multiple Sclerosis, but none of us really knew what that would entail–yet here I was witnessing its toll on my loved one.

My initial reaction was sadness and pity. But my aesthetic soul began to see art: a beautiful face, a patterned blanket . . . Klimpt. And thus my memory of that moment created the painting, “Enduring the Cure” several months later.

This painting went on to win awards and was immediately purchased.


And now it is on the cover of my daughter’s book which was published October 1, 2019. “Enduring the Cure: My MS Journey to the Brink of Death and Back.”


From that point, I went on to paint several more pieces about her treatment and recovery.

“Recovery” was more cheerful in colors and I put her three children onto the quilt because they are really what kept her going.


Then other parts of her life came into focus for me so I continued painting.

“Without Hair” was inspired by the many times she commented on the difficulty of being a bald woman. I asked her to write down her worries, and included those thoughts into the art.

Her collection of hats captured my imagination and inspired, “Which Hat to Wear.”

Rachel had been an athlete all her life and even after her MS diagnosis she continued to jog and run. Eventually she had to give up her running half and full marathons as the disease became more aggressive. Here I painted her surrounded by her collection of shoes.

Taken from the mythological Phoenix, I painted her rising from the ashes with an Egyptian take. “Ma’at” is the title of this one.

“The Journey is Not Done” ©Margaret Godfrey

And the final painting of this series is “The Journey is Not Done.” I went back to Gustav Klimpt to paint Rachel with hair, months after her treatment was over.  In this painting, I placed her favorite Van Gogh painting behind her. In most of these paintings, she is barefoot as a symbol of women’s vulnerability. The Klimpt inspired mosaic is not finished because neither is her journey through life.
Some of these paintings have remained in my studio. Some have gone off to competitions. All are full of the content of what it means to be a mother watching a child go through a disease and a dangerous cure.

Margaret Godfrey is a symbolic painter who has been described as a conceptual artist. Her paintings have an abundance of symbols, which help tell the underlying story of a series. By working in a series, she is able to explore and express different aspects of the pictorial metaphor. Her patterns and decorative designs flow through her body of work, connecting the layers and messages of a series. In viewing her paintings, look beyond the literal; search for the allegory.

Her pictures incorporate both representational and abstract styles and often include both. She uses watercolor, acrylic, ink, and collage in her creative works on paper. Living in the beautiful McKenzie Valley in Oregon and traveling throughout the U.S and abroad, she finds an abundance of inspiration for creating art. Margaret shares her enthusiasm for art through teaching workshops and active membership in art associations.

Margaret is an award-winning member of the Watercolor Society of Oregon, the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies, the Northwest Watercolor Society and she is a signature member of Northwest Watercolor Society and Hawaii Watercolor Society. She is a member of Watercolor West, National Watercolor Society, and American Watercolor Society. Her works have been in juried shows around the United States. Her paintings hang in private and public collections in the U.S., Honduras, Canada and Japan.

Margaret is a self-educated artist with a background in education and counseling. She has studied with many nationally known artists.


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Confident Color Online Workshop Tue, 02 Jun 2020 21:03:04 +0000 Confident Color is an online workshop designed to focus on using color expressively. You'll gain knowledge, inspiration and confidence in your color choices. Join us!

The post Confident Color Online Workshop appeared first on Ruth Armitage.


Confident Color is my latest creation! If you’re like me, you’re tiring of keeping your own company, cancelling events and missing friends and family.

Confident Color Online Workshop

Is this workshop for you?

  • Do you encounter frustrations mixing colors?

  • Maybe you don’t know where to start with choosing color schemes?

  • You might feel your color choices are monotonous?

  • Maybe you’re just unsure about how much color to use?

Confident Color is an online class designed to focus on using color expressively. You’ll gain knowledge, inspiration and confidence in your color choices. You’ll work at your own pace in the comfort of your home, enjoying a front row seat for every demonstration.

By Popular Demand


More Demonstration Videos


More Time to Complete Assignments


More Interaction on Zoom


Option to Add Additional Critiques

In-person workshops like this are generally $300 or more.

Taking Confident Color Online has some advantages!

-No travel expenses

-Extra time to work at your own pace

– ‘Front Row Seat’ experience

– Ability to rewind/review demonstrations

Because students asked, I’m offering an additional critique session on June 22 – after you’ve had some more time to complete the assignments. We will meet in small groups of 4 students on Zoom for one hour. I’ll call on each student in turn, share their work and questions. If time allows I may do a ‘digital draw over’ as part of a gentle critique. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and can submit them ahead of time with your images of work.

There are a limited number of spots for this experience! Don’t miss this valuable opportunity to get more feedback on your work.

Two Pricing Options:

$149: Color Confidence – six days of Instruction

$75.00 Add the Additional Small Group Critique Session on June 22

Frequently Asked Questions

Please leave a comment on this post if you don’t see your question answered here!

What Medium will we work in?

The course is suitable for painters using Watercolor, Acrylic or Oil.

Are there any pre-requisites?

Students should have some painting experience in their chosen medium. You’ll need an internet connection sufficient to view video content. You should be comfortable uploading photos to the website for review.

How are the lessons delivered?

Lessons are posted on the Thinkific website at 12:01 a.m. PST on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the week of June 15. Office Hours and Final Review are via Zoom.

If I have a previous commitment on one of the class dates, can I still take the course?

Yes! The course material will be accessible for 90 days from the day you registered. Lessons and assignments are all on the website once released. You will reap the most benefit if you can do the work before the final review, but you can always to back to a lesson ore finish an assignment later.

 Course Outline:

Monday, June 15:

Day 1 Lessons (Hue and Value) released on the website.

Tuesday, June 16:

Office Hours available 10 am – 12 pm and 1-3 pm PST on zoom. Time to work on your assignments.

Wednesday, June 17:

Day 2 Lessons (Temperature, Mixing & Symbolism) released.

Thursday, June 18:

Office Hours available 10 am – 12 pm and 1-3 pm PST on zoom. Time to work on your assignments.

Friday, June 19:

Day 3 Lessons (Intensity & Dominance) released.

Saturday, June 20:

Office Hours available 10 am – 12 pm and 1-3 pm PST on zoom. Time to work on your assignments.

Monday, June 22:

Final review Office Hours on zoom. 5 critiques by random drawing from work submitted. Questions may be submitted before the session. This session will be recorded and uploaded to the website



Sign up for  limited small group critique slots for an additional fee. You’ll be able to share up to 3 images for critique. Each person will have up to 10 minutes for feedback and Q&A.

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Guest Post Celebration: Rick Rogers Sun, 31 May 2020 02:39:44 +0000 The post Guest Post Celebration: Rick Rogers appeared first on Ruth Armitage.


Guest Post Celebration!

June marks the 12th Anniversary of my blog: Art is Truth. Each year I try to do something to give back to the blog community and celebrate art and the connections it gives us. This year, I’ll be posting guest articles from readers each week. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about Mary’s workshop experience and viewing her art below!

By Rick Rogers, ISAP, ASA, SWCA

“The Three disGraces Exaggeration Disinformation and Obfuscation ” ©Rick Rogers Mixed Media on cradled birch panel 12″x18″ 2019

I believe wholeheartedly that all artists that progress in their practice have to experiment to do so. For me experimentation has been a great way to add some variety with novel effects and at the same time a great way to loosen up my painting and take advantage of some of the beautiful random results that can occur while making art.

On Perfection

I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist and many of you will already know from personal experience that sometimes that predilection can result in art that feels a bit sterile. Many artists and art followers and collectors say that they want to be able to see the hand of the artist in the work. I initially interpreted this as meaning that they want to be able to identify that an artist was actually manipulating a tool to make a mark. They wanted to see a brush stroke or a lump of thicker paint left visible in the wake of the artist’s movement of a knife.

“Justifying the Means” ©Rick Rogers Mixed Media (acrylic, polyester fabric and polydimethylsiloxane) on cradled birch panel, 24″x24″ 2017

Over the years, I’ve come to believe that it is more subtle and broader than that. Contrast is a fundamental concept that we all have to explore, adjust, and balance in our work. And like the more commonly discussed contrasts – value, hue, pattern, et cetera – there is beauty to be found in the contrast between the perfect and the imperfect.

There is a bit of visual poetry generated by a blemish on the support, or in the random texture of a layer of gesso. These things help us to appreciate the composition that the artist has created even more. When we get up close to a work and see some of the underlying imperfections, and the incomplete record of the artist’s work on the support as they progressed towards the result, we can appreciate their efforts even more.

Getting Deliberate

Even in the deliberate mark-making stage of a painting, imperfections are often valuable assets. Very early in my art-making I enjoyed creating effects that could be used in painting and printmaking to inject a bit of a surprise into the work. I still enjoy using isopropyl alcohol, metallic powders, and oil-based additives with my acrylics. Often, the hard part with these kinds of effects is being able to predict how they might result and finding the best way to make use of them. Repeated experimentation and innovation is the key to gaining some level of control over a technique, especially when the media involved are difficult to control.

“Consonance and Dissonance” ©Rick Rogers Mixed media (acrylic, acrylic skin, paper, polydimethylsiloxane) On cradled birch panel 36” x 36” 2018

Occasionally a little bit of magic makes its way, sometimes by happenstance and sometimes on a hunch, into one of your experiments. When you are able to more predictably utilize these little bits of magic your work becomes more distinctive as well as more mysterious and interesting.

So I encourage everyone to consciously put aside a little bit of time in their studio to experiment. Try something on a whim! (but safely) Wonder what if…? And wonder what if again!

Artist Bio:

As an adult, I remember with a touch of amusement, the bitterness of not finding finger paints in my stocking on Christmas morning. Who could really blame Santa? But the simple joy of playing with those squishy pigments at grade school is a sensation that remains vivid for me today. Art and design have always been interests for me, but aside from relentless doodling, focused art-making was set aside after junior high for academics and athletics.

A work assignment away from home was the catalyst for my return to art-making. I thought I needed a pastime, but so enjoyed a drawing course that art became much more. Sketching and drawing shifted quickly to printmaking and painting, first with watercolours, then acrylics and oils, and finally with mixed media. My background in science led to study and experimentation with each medium until I naturally gravitated to the versatility of acrylics as a base medium with mixed media elements. And science has naturally become a familiar and prevailing ally to my artistic practice.

Science and art are never so far apart as our modern culture would make them seem. As an experimental artist, I see these “opposing” bodies of knowledge as deeply intertwingled. The aesthetics and science of composition, the theoretical and practical pursuit of a deep understanding of the interaction of textures, and the physics and chemistry of paint manipulation are three areas in which I am particularly involved. My work is inspired as often by a scientific principle or an experimental eureka moment as it is by an aesthetic vision.

If I hadn’t become a visual artist, I might have become a mad scientist.

Rick Rogers, ISAP, ASA, SWCA

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Guest Post: Garden Revisited by Mary Chamie Mon, 25 May 2020 21:19:55 +0000 June marks the 12th Anniversary of my blog: Art is Truth. Each year I try to do something to give back to the blog community and celebrate art and the connections it gives us. This year, I'll be posting guest articles from readers each week. I hope you'll enjoy reading about Mary's workshop experience and viewing her art below!

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Guest Post!

June marks the 12th Anniversary of my blog: Art is Truth. Each year I try to do something to give back to the blog community and celebrate art and the connections it gives us. This year, I’ll be posting guest articles from readers each week. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about Mary’s workshop experience and viewing her art below!

Recently, I participated in an excellent online art workshop designed and led by Ruth Armitage called Land Lines. It was a “three-day exploration of personal mark making inspired by the landscape”. The workshop offered an opportunity to experiment with using a variety of marks and lines in new ways. For the duration of the workshop, I decided to focus on my backyard garden as the art topic.

I brought my own piece of landscape art of my backyard garden to the workshop, figuring that I could use it for comparative purposes.

“Backyard” ©Mary Chamie, Oil

In the workshop, I tried to get a better grasp of Ruth’s techniques and perspective regarding the use of lines and marks in art, as she is a well-known artist of abstract paintings. When we received our workshop painting assignments, I chose to continue painting this same scene of my backyard garden, more abstractly, using as many aspects of Ruth’s workshop techniques as possible.

After a number of presentations and short tasks, Ruth asked us to paint, relatively quickly, several paintings using varied lines and marks. For her workshop assignment, I submitted three of the assigned paintings for review, all inspired by my garden backyard scene. The three pieces are shown below.

What Happened?

You may ask, “What happened?”

These are very different from the oil painting I carried in to the workshop depicting this same garden area. Let me explain.

The entire purpose of this exercise was to reach out into new territory. So I did.

Ruth’s focus on marks and lines at first sounded simple. But in fact, it was very challenging, and often left me wondering, what exactly is a land line? When is a mark or a line not a land line? Do lines or marks have multiple meanings in the same art project? Why do I need them at all? What if I just avoid marks and lines and work in smudges or color? What about texture? How do marks, lines, texture and color work together and when are they failures to communicate?

At times, this resulted in me being more puzzled than I was before I started. Taking a workshop can be a humbling experience. It is true of every excellent course or workshop that I have ever taken, that I leave knowing much less than when I arrived.

For her assignment, I started to describe the garden scene by using bold geometric lines using a large yellow Y shapes of sunlight to divide the chairs and table from plant life. I viewed these landscaping lines as compositional.

Then I decided to add marks and lines into the painting to depict plant life, over the larger composition of light streams that I had used to shape the painting. At this point in the workshop, I started to lean on lines and marks, along with color, to express how the garden varied.

Switching Mediums

At this point, I took time out to paint a watercolor version of how the garden looked from a plant’s perspective which turned out whimsical and just plain fun. Without realizing it, I had also changed my perspective on what I was doing from the original oil landscape painting to imagining other perspectives.

This watercolor sketch that I did is painted from the perspective of looking at a plant almost from the position of the ground.

“Garden Plant” ©Mary Chamie, watercolor

After that, I made a more complicated sketch of trees, plants, table and chair. Not particularly happy with the end result, I decided to cut it up into pieces and see how it would look in a collage. Now that was brave! But it was also a reminder to not get too serious when trying to learn something new. From that experience, I decided that I was busy making lines. However, I needed more work on the meaning of lines.

Collage made from cut up pieces of my painting

At that point, I moved to imagining my little garden as a sheltered place bordered by fences, and edged with wild flowers, tiny branches and bushes. I felt the presence of the streets surrounding our fenced in garden. I thought of the garden surrounded by city streets and at one time covered with spring snow. Hence the painting titled Winter Garden. (above)

I moved to viewing the garden from the perspective of our bungalow home, and considered the way in which the sky and the land related to early spring. See the painting, Garden Spring.

At that point, I decided to paint the garden as an oval sanctuary, or an icon.


Pink Layered over Icon

Frustrated, I brushed in a larger set of compositional lines by adding a large pink shape over the garden. It was a personal statement on my part, saying that I needed a more stable place to describe the inner sanctuary aspect of my garden.

Then, I decided, over the same painting, to bring color, texture and line into the iconic inner sanctuary of the garden using the color blue and adding marks to show the garden’s intricacy. The painting ended up being simple in line, highly textured, using acrylic, water color and ink. See the painting, Garden Sanctuary.

My conclusion is that there are many more ways to depict a little backyard garden, and many more paintings to go.

It turned out that Ruth’s assignment to paint three or four paintings simultaneously while considering lines, marks and landscapes was very helpful, reducing the need for perfection and enhancing the need for experimentation.

Art, for me, is a continual process of learning, sketching, and imagining new ways to relate to my surroundings. Having painted a place, I feel much more intimately attached and familiar with it. Seeing it through multiple perspectives via this workshop has only strengthened my attachment to it. Added to this enjoyable process of painting my backyard garden, was the additional pleasure of learning new approaches and techniques of abstract art while doing it.

With respect to the workshop being conducted via the internet, I am grateful that Ruth and other artists continue to go forward with art workshops using the internet while under the current conditions of a pandemic where we are all under stay at home measures and social distancing. Under these new conditions, I found certain aspects of an online workshop very enjoyable. First, there was no commute. Second, I could walk away from the workshop and come back and continue at my own pace without interrupting anyone else. Third, there was time for thought. I was less hurried. I was also less self-conscious because if I did’t like what I was doing, I could pitch it and do it over, sight unseen.

There are some obvious disadvantages, as well to an online workshop. First, it required a quiet place in my home, without distraction, so as to not be interrupted by our regular activities of daily living. Second, I lost the opportunity to meet new artists. Third, we used text messages to speak with each other, thus losing the spontaneity of facial expressions, gestures and voice.

A Zoom meeting at the end helpfully brought us together for review of our work and allowed a more interactive discussion of each artist’s work with the instructor, while allowing other artists to observe.

Trying to use other artist’s perspective and techniques may feel awkward at first, but it leads to new understandings and broader perspectives on what is possible. I will be drawing and sketching for months to come, and no doubt will refer back to this workshop on lines, marks and landscaping, many times over.

Coincidentally, I got a Mother’s Day package in the mail a few days ago from my children and when I opened it up, it was a beautiful book, The Human Planet, Earth at the Dawn of the Anthropocene. The book highlights over 30 years of aerial photography across seven continents, completed by George Steinmetz, exploring the human imprint on climate and the natural world, with explanatory text provided by Andrew Revkin. The arrival of this book could not have been more timely. The landscape is both photographically real and artistically abstract, offering many opportunities for imagining new ways to paint landscapes from an aerial point of view, with lines.”

Thanks for sharing this guest post for my blog, Mary! I’m so glad that you found “Land Lines” to be valuable and productive!

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Land Lines Learning Curve Thu, 23 Apr 2020 17:55:38 +0000 This class is very similar to my in person three-day workshop, with different presentations and assignments for each day. At the end of the 3-day online presentation, students have one week to assimilate the information and do the assignments.

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Land Lines developed as an online course because of how much I enjoyed teaching it live at the Sitka Invitational this past year. You can read about some of my take-aways here: Although there is a severe learning curve when developing an online course,  I’m happy to announce that I’ve conquered the puzzle of what works for me, and what doesn’t. The free offering that I created a couple of weeks ago gave me some great insights into what would and wouldn’t work.

“Last Day VI” Watercolor and pencil on paper, 11″x11″ $395

I loved the opportunity to do a live session, but realized that the quality of video streaming was not what I needed to get through to students.

The new offering I’ve created: Land Lines takes advantage of the positives and eliminates the drawbacks of teaching online.

This class is very similar to my in person three-day workshop, with different presentations and assignments for each day. At the end of the 3-day online presentation, students have one week to assimilate the information and do the assignments.

We re-convene in small groups via the Zoom app, so students can ask further questions and submit work for comments and critique. Students sign up on the website and upload their images after completing the 3-day class.

I’ve honed my skills for presenting slide shows and videos and I think this gig is ready for the big time. Please join me and enjoy this jump-start to your creative process. You’ll love exploring different facets of Line, and learning your own personal vocabulary of line.

Limited Time Offer

Register today and receive a free mini-workshop: “Texture Explorations” with your purchase of “Land Lines”.


Land Lines: May 1, 2 & 3 with bonus small group live review session on May 11 

Class Full

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