Do you think art-work is play? I just finished teaching a 4 week workshop with Winslow Art Center. It amazed me how students mentioned that when they began to ‘play’ around with an idea, they were more successful. I’m always a bit annoyed when people talk about how ‘fun’ it must be to work as an artist.

I don’t consider what I do as fun – but it IS play in a sense. It’s play like you’d decide to ‘play golf. I take it seriously, and I’m trying for specific goals. I may not always know how to make a hole in one, but I can follow general principles to ensure a fairly long and straight shot. Art play is a challenge that obsesses me.

Art-work also requires a lot of experimentation and a fairly casual mind-set. Nothing freezes the creative impulse like pressure to perform. Creativity is a delicate balance between art play and evaluation. I try to separate my art play from the critical process.

The December/January show at Waterstone Gallery is titled “Play.” It will be interesting to see how each artist’s art showcases the theme PLAY.

“Swing Thing” Acrylic on Paper 22″x15″ $950

My pieces are titled “Jump” and “Swing Thing.” Both are abstract interpretations of fun activities from my childhood. Jumping off a diving board or riverbank, and swinging from a tree limb were thrilling back then, when everything was about play.

“Jump” ©Ruth Armitage, Acrylic on Paper 30×22,  $1950″


Art Play

Teaching that workshop made me realize that taking my artwork too seriously probably has a negative effect on my creativity. I consider art to be a vital part of my life: one of the essentials. But it is also one of life’s luxuries and pleasures for many people. I hope you’re one of the folks that see it as essential.

Join me and my fellow Waterstone artists on Thursday, December 2 from 5-8 pm for the opening of “Play.” I love shows like this one because I find it fascinating to see how different artists approach the theme. I hope to see you there!

Waterstone Gallery, 124 NW 9th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209

First Thursday, Open til 8:00 pm
Tuesday through Saturday
11 am–5:30 pm
and Sunday 11 am-4 pm


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