Bluebird buffet – a progressive dinner learning opportunity

Our local Western Bluebirds have been enjoying a progressive dinner lately. The gang of neighborhood bluebird fanciers has enjoyed watching them flock from house to house, feasting on dried mealworms. Once the supply at our house dries up, they move – first to one neighbor, then the next. We’ve had up to 7 birds on this tiny feeder at once!

This got me thinking about my art journey. I fill my reservoir of inspiration as if I’m eating a meal at a progressive dinner! I take advantage of galleries, art blogs, museums, life drawing sessions, plein air outings, workshops from different instructors: both locally and nationally known.

In the internet age, this is possible even with a pandemic raging. We are so fortunate that virtual technology makes it possible to see work in all these places! I can study with a favorite mentor in Maryland while in my pajamas. I can visit MOMA while holding my young puppy on my lap. I enjoy seeing what artist friends are up to on social media.

Closer to Home

Ironically, my most inspiring moments happen much closer to home: in the solitude of my own studio. It’s tempting, with all the resources available, to become a perpetual consumer rather than an art maker. It’s easier to follow along than to forge a trail. But, I’d rather design my own journey than take a guided tour. I’d rather feast on the fat, juicy caterpillar of a painting that expresses my own ideas than settle for the dried mealworm of a class assignment.

Like the bluebirds swarming on my feeder right now, I need to remember to use the external ‘food sources’ only during the most lean times – the winter moments when inspiration seems thin. And I use the external inspiration mostly as a catalyst to propel me toward becoming self-sustaining with inspiration. Because I’ve learned the hard way that working on a project I’m passionate about is the best way to become inspired.

“You need to bring enthusiasm and passion with you, which you do by actively falling back in love with your project, by investing meaning in your project, by thinking thoughts that serve you. Passion is not a given. You must bring it.“

Eric Maisel – Unleashing the Artist Within

New Class starting January 25th – part of your progressive dinner?

In other words, it is difficult to access that passion from external sources. You have to contribute to your own passion.

Ironically, I’m taking sign ups for another session of Land Lines – a workshop designed to help you use more expressive line in your work. Workshops can also help you start painting by giving you some new ways to experiment.

Ready to kick start your work? Join us January 25-29 in a virtual workshop. The format is a hybrid with both pre-recorded and live content. Click here to get all the fun details!

Read more about how birdwatching has influenced my painting journey in this month’s newsletter: “Are You My Mother? Lessons from the baby bird.” Not subscribed yet? Click here to join!


New Work

This painting was inspired by a memory of my dad showing me an old pioneer mineral spring in the Cascade Mountains, long ago. Leave me a comment and let’s keep the conversation going. Don’t forget to share with your fellow art-lovers. I appreciate your referrals.

“Cascadia” Acrylic on Paper 15″x22″ © Ruth Armitage

Cascadia ©Ruth Armitage Acrylic on Paper 15x22"

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