Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guest Post: Ruth Armitage

Hello dear Readers. Allow me please to introduce you to a wonderful friend, Ruth Armitage.

Introducing a New Instructor for Art & Soul Portland
Guest Post by Ruth Armitage

For years I've been thinking about teaching at Art & Soul, and this year I'm finally doing it! I'm so excited to meet the wonderful instructors and participants I've been hearing about all these years. But first, I need to let everyone know about the fun class I've put together for the Portland retreat. I realize that some people may not have run across my work or classes before, since my teaching has been limited to other venues. So… let me tell you a little bit about myself!

Me teaching a class in Bend, Oregon
I've been painting for almost 25 years and teaching for 15 years. My favorite thing about teaching is watching the creative process: seeing everyone bring their own intuition, experience and aesthetics to the work. I love it when everyone in the class starts with the same instructions and process and comes up with something totally unique and beautiful. And of course, I love people! As a former high school English teacher, I am organized and a good communicator.

My work has been recognized and published in national watercolor magazines and exhibitions. I've even won some pretty nice awards! I exhibit regularly at Riversea Gallery in Astoria, Oregon and Mary Lou Zeek Gallery in Salem, Oregon.

"Saturated" watercolor on Yupo ©Ruth Armitage
My inaugural class is called "Putting the Ritz on Yupo" and I hope you'll join me! The wonderful thing about painting on yupo is that it is so non-threatening. If you don't like what turns up, it is easily erased!

Yupo makes a great surface for journal or book pages since it remains perfectly flat - no warping or wrinkling. And it is nice & smooth for drawing or journaling. But the best thing about yupo is that it can produce incredible textures! We are going to use some very easy techniques to get started, including stencils and stamping. The possibilities are endless!

Perhaps you've tried this surface before & been frustrated? I will teach you some unique methods to control the flow and tame the textures - keeping them where you want them! 

Here's a link to the class sign-up & description: Shake up your creative process by trying something new this retreat. I promise, you won't regret it!

You can see more of my work on my website & blog: Drop by & visit the blog to get to know me a bit better :)

I don't like to 'toot my own horn' so I'll let a few of my former students do it for me. Here is what they had to say about my classes:

"I really appreciate you as a teacher as well as an artist.  I’ve had lots of workshops with many different people – some of them quite famous.  But you have been the best at actually teaching as opposed to demonstrating or having students copy exactly what you are doing. - Corinne McWilliams"

"Ruth, I think you are a wonderful teacher.  Thank you for your positive and fun attitude.  I especially liked to learn from your example, and I was glad to see you paint and struggle at times too…then solve whatever problem a work presented. -Debra Chase"

"This is a thank you of sorts - for your fun, enthusiastic teaching - where I remember the joy you imparted more than the lessons (though the lessons remain pretty strong too!) - Leslie Dugas"

Ruth Armitage
Visit my website:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

Number Twenty

I'm up to the 20th painting in my 100-Painting Challenge. These first images are details of "Swim", 40x48". The entire painting is shown at the end of the post but since you can't see it up close I've included these details. My friend Don and I are concurrently participating in a studio-time-challenge that we can invite you to join. It's pretty simple. Just log your daily studio time with a goal of daily hours in mind. Don chose 3 hours a day but yours can be whatever you can comfortably commit to; even 15 minutes is long enough to do sketches that will add up over time.

So at EncaustiCamp Michelle Belto presented an interesting idea for us to chew on. We were having a discussion on the meaning behind our work and how we are each on a search for our visual language. The mystery of who we are and how we experience being alive. Today I'm picking up Jung's Red Book at the library; a good read to get the wheels turning.

Michelle's background is as a therapist and she's taken workshops on art therapy that she described to us. It was fascinating to me and thought provoking. One thing she described particularly caught my interest because it is a lot like reading tarot which I consider fun and a way of reflecting self back to self.

I won't try to describe this process exactly as she explained it but rather I'll tell you how I translated it for my own purposes this morning. The exercise is called "Reading It Back" and you start at the end of the painting session. You've finished your painting. In this case I've painted it entirely by intuition which means it looks strange to me; fresh and odd. Whatever have I done here?

Let's have some fun with the painting now. Relax, take all the time you need and give it a theme. Let the painting tell you what the theme is. 

I like to do this work in my journal. I determined that this painting's theme was about the struggle of transforming chaos to order. I see that I've chosen the colors of my childhood. The end result is very pleasing to me. From an unpromising beginning I have created something I like.

The next step is to title the work. Let the piece tell you it's title. Mine chose "Swim" because of all the floating shapes and predominance of watery hues. (The last 6 paintings have had 4 letter titles.) I reflect that "Swim" also relates to my carefree childhood summers at the Rendezvous Pool in Mesa, Arizona. The azure water, blinding white sunlight, bliss of floating, swimming in the cool water with my eyes closed and breath held. The physical feeling this painting imparts to me.

The lines and scrawls in the piece represent the act of releasing control while trusting in the outcome, letting whatever happens be accepted as inevitable and acceptable. Even joyful. 

I felt like sharing my reading and thought others might find it helpful in their work. Of course I realize that I would never share this with a potential owner of the piece; the fun is interpreting it in your own way. 

Interested in your thoughts. xo

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Mid-summer bliss. Nearly a week of camping in a dorm and sharing encaustic learning with some of the nicest and most talented people in the encaustic world. I taught 2 days and got to take a class from Sue Stover. That's her palette above.

Sue's background is in textiles and design; batik, dyeing, weaving and related fields. In her class we made batik paper and used hand made wooden and rope stamps to paint in colored wax. Please visit her site here; she is one of my favorite artists ever.

We painted with tjanting tools and got to play with an electric tjanting tool that keeps the wax hot and is very easy to control.

Here Sue does a demo while we all look on.

One thing you will love about EncaustiCamp is the small class sizes. Another thing is the variety of classes the teachers offer. 

I taught painting from the hot palette for the second year in a row. The portrait above was the first portrait this woman had ever painted. She was overjoyed to see what she could accomplish. 

I almost didn't get photos for you; I was so caught up in the moment. 

The weather was perfect; high 70's to low 80's and sunshine.

The food was amazing; I ate so much and dessert too at every meal. I love going a week without doing dishes!

I had 22 students in 2 days but these were the only photos I captured. My apologies to the rest of you who made equally amazing paintings.

 Here is the woman behind EncaustiCamp; Trish Seggebruch. She brings light and love to everything she touches. And next to her is her 16 year old son who captured every heart. Yo Patrick.

And below's another shot of Patrick with Jess Greene, who is on her Jumpstart Creativity Tour to promote "Seek Your Course" and to encourage all of us to be creative.

Jess also taught 2 classes here and her focus was on personal meaning and symbolism. We had good conversations on how difficult it is to teach meaning, style, symbolism, and so on. Difficult but the whole point once you've mastered technique.

Patrick was a treasured part of the EncaustiCamp experience. He came to help us schlep but ended up being a source of continuous laughter and good spirit. Quick witted, warm hearted, a hilarious story-teller; I think we all fell a little bit in love with this guy. He's a credit to his mother who raised him, to teen-agers and to redheads everywhere.

In the evenings we sat together and talked about art, told our stories, and laughed to unwind. 25% of the attendees were returns from the previous year and we all agree we're coming again. 

Splashing in the fountain in the center of the quad; an EncaustiCamp tradition.

By the end of camp we are all friends. We are inspired and full of ideas for new work. Trish has so many exciting plans and changes coming in her life that she shared with us but you'll have to keep up with her for those announcements. She is a model for brave living and kindness. Maybe you can tell I really loved this week and this camp and these people. Yes indeed. 

 Next year Trish is moving the camp from Oregon next door to Washington. Put a little seed in your mind about joining us then. Imagine summer, welcoming new friends, stimulating conversations about art and meaning and a week of creativity you'll never forget. 

So without even unpacking I took my camera into the garden to share.

Mid-summer. Sandals, lemonade, blooming lavendar and sunshine.

A sunflower called "Teddy Bear".

Blue Salvia.

The farmer can't stop building structures. This one to protect the blueberries from birds. Ladders and houses. Such beautiful things.

And check out those blueberries.

John waters tomatoes that are fast outgrowing their structure.

Trying to push through the roof.

And corn. Nature's candy.

Yucca in bloom and swarming with bees.

Peace rose is covered with blossoms and blackspot. I still love her.

And is there anything more cheerful than nasturtiums?

Or more elegant than onion flowers.

The time is now. This is the perfect moment. Take a deep breath and invite the calm. I hope you are well and content. xo

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy 4th of July

The cherry tree was loaded this year. I've been a dervish in the kitchen this summer. 

We got a cherry pitter and it makes the job easy. I put many quarts in the freezer.

Got up early and made a cherry galette and rhubarb dessert for festivities with the family later today.

Met up with a long lost buddy for a morning of printmaking (a week or so ago).

This painting is not typical of the work I've been up to but I wanted to post something for you. In this one I was experimenting with transparent layers of acrylic. I don't want to share the work until I can show it all in person at a local event. I'm up to number 19 now ((81 to go). I'm working large; the last one was  50x59". When I run out of canvas I'm going to start building braced wood panels and switch to cold wax and encaustic (not combined). I can't believe how happy I am just painting every day.

Next week I'll be teaching at EncaustiCamp in Salem, Oregon. Can't wait to get my brushes into the hot wax again; it's been too long.

Have a safe and pleasant holiday to my friends in the U.S. The sun is shining here and the temperature is 62 degrees farenheit; life is good.