"I've Got Sunshine" Work in Progress

“I’ve Got Sunshine” Work in Progress

I am teaching a new drop-in Weekly Watercolor class at Oregon Society of Artists in Southwest Portland. Each session is only $20, and the class runs Wednesday mornings from 9:30 – 12:30. You need to become a member of OSA to participate. Please sign in at the table near the back when you arrive. If the parking lot is full, Sissy has passes so that you can park on the street without getting a ticket. Please see her in the office at the back of the classroom if you need to pay dues or join OSA.

Reminder: No class on Wednesday, September 24th!

We begin each week with reviewing work from home, continue with a demonstration or lesson, and end with about an hour or 45 minutes to paint. If you haven’t been able to attend, I hope you can join us.

Last week we continued our focus on shape. I plan to alternate between more realistic and more abstract demonstrations, so there will be something for everyone. As you can see from the image above, this week was more toward the realistic side of the equation.

I began with a quick sketch of a vase of flowers from my garden. Not wanting to bring a complicated still life setup, I also included a shape derived from memory… a cat. I didn’t articulate it at the time, but notice that I allowed my composition to fill the entire space of the painting, cropping in on the floral arrangement so that the flowers occupy a roughly rectangular shape.

Also the curves on the cat, while not as active, echo the curvilinear floral and shadow shapes. This creates harmony, because most of the shapes are curvilinear. Not all are active… the cat is more passive. In contrast, the vase is more simple and geometric.

The other thing that I did not articulate during the demonstration is that the cat serves to make the negative spaces of the painting more interesting. The body & tail break up the yellow areas to the left & right of the vase and make those shapes more unequal.

Your challenge this week is to use a shape emphasis to employ both Harmony and Contrast. You can also begin to think about how your shapes work to create a design. In this case, I am working with an “I” shaped design. Pay attention, not only to the shapes of your subject, but also to the negative shapes around your subject.

"I've Got Sunshine" ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor 14"x20"

“I’ve Got Sunshine” ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor 14″x20″


Here is the painting as it stands now. I’ve Added more darks and patterns in the cat, outlined a few more flower shapes and darkened the shadows beneath the cat.  I’m planning to have some of these images available at my Open Studio, October 10, 11 & 12th. Save the date 🙂

This Wednesday I will be at the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology teaching “Painting: a Series of Choices.” Next month, we will be talking about one of my favorite subjects: COLOR! I hope to see you in class at OSA on October 1st.


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