A delightful montage of textured abstract design

Karen Lewis recently interviewed PDXOS artist #1, Ruth Armitage in her studio.  Here is what she found:

Entering Ruth Armitage’s spacious upstairs studio, you are instantly struck by the abstract work on the walls. Ruth works in a wide variety of painting media: oil and cold wax, watercolor, acrylic.. and all of them exhibit a textured abstract design.

The inspiration for Ruth’s work comes from memories and experiences of growing up on a family farm. “The paintings I do are more personal to me than something merely observed. It’s the personal that keeps me engaged as I create.”

She may begin with an aerial view from memory, or even a title. A thumbnail drawing starts her design, and she establishes the large shapes first on her painting surface, deciding early on a warm or cool dominance of color. The piece then develops in many layers. She adds and textures, using knives, brayers, stencils, drywall tape, steel wool, a kitchen bowl scraper…. tools that she has collected and used creatively many times. Ruth employs personal symbols in her work, but avoids making the piece look obviously narrative. The result is a painting that suggests, rather than shouting, allowing you to discover new passages with every moment of viewing.

Ruth has a full teaching schedule. Upcoming workshops and classes include:
The ABC’s of Abstraction
September 18, 19 & 20th 10-4
in Ruth’s Oregon City Studio: $190 for 3 full days.

A Drop-in painting class on Thursdays
Oregon Society of Artists
Beginning Sept 3, 2015.

Contact Ruth for further information at: ruth@rutharmitage.com

And visit her studio on your tour for a delightful montage of paintings, tools, and processes

Psychological soup

Sara Swink’s studio is every clay artist’s dream: a spacious room with plenty of table space, and organized areas for drying, glazing and kiln.  There she creates her one-of-a-kind clay figures.

Little people and humanized animals decorate the wall shelves, looking down on her workspace.  Sara avoids happy faces, focusing on more ambiguous and mixed feelings in her figures.  The emotions expressed are more reflective of the human condition, where everything is a jumble and consciousness is fragmented.  The narrative quality of art interests her.  “I like to indulge in my own psychological soup.”

Sara’s works begin with a collage, developing an image vocabulary with bits and pieces from magazines.  Dreams and toys from childhood are among the inspiring elements that connect to the images she finds.  A doodling session follows, which helps her to focus on style. Then she is ready to translate her ideas into clay.  The finished clay piece may look very little like the collage that inspired it.  “I always try to insert some fun, even if it’s not conscious,” Sara says, emphasizing that it’s important for her not to be too controlling while she is creating.

She teaches this creative process, which she learned from Coeleen Kiebert, in her spacious clay studio, where she holds workshops, as well as drop-in classes on Mondays and Saturdays.  For more information, contact Sara at 971-271-0480.

Currently, Sara is working on a set of post topper sculptures for New Seasons Market.  For this commissioned project, she first created a set of maquettes so that her client could see what the sculptures would look like.  The full-sized sculptures are now in progress.  She also has an Etsy shop at  https://www.etsy.com/shop/saraswink    where she sells wall-hanging animal figures full of individual personality.

As you visit Sara’s studio, be sure to spend time with her evocative sculptures.

Interview of Carrie Moore, an artist of many mediums

Carrie Moore is an artist of many talents.  While at her studio, you will see pastel paintings, leather embossing, metalwork, linocut printmaking, even leather projects in the works.  Carrie doesn’t like to stick to just one medium.  “My brain is all over the place,” she says.  But all her works do have common elements.  “They are all reductive,” says Carrie.  In each of these arts, something is carved away, erased, or reduced in form.

Throughout the day, Carrie will demonstrate many of these different reductive processes.  You may see her begin, perhaps even finish, a reductive pastel drawing.  First she lays in color with the pastel stick, using local colors of objects and complements.  Then she smears the color, filling the tooth of the paper.  Next begins the reductive process; she wipes some of the smeared color off, returning the paper to that touch of color that first hits the paper tooth.  She uses rags, erasers, and other tools to make different marks, sometimes digging back to the clean paper layer.  Adding and subtracting steps can repeat and overlap.  Decorative and accent marks can be made on top.  The result is a pastel piece with a complex surface history and many interrelated colors.

Carrie’s studio is an open teaching space, which artists, musicians, even poets can rent for their workshops of up to 18 students.  It is set in the beautiful countryside south of Oregon City, high up on a knoll with a pastoral 360 degree vista.  Looking at nature, really looking, has been a great inspiration to Carrie, now that she is giving one hundred percent of her attention to her art. Let her studio inspire you, too.  Take care coming up the winding drive, and come on in!

Interview of Christopher Mooney, Oil Painter

Christopher Mooney is an oil painter, best known for his large, graphic paintings of bridges. He studied in New York at Parsons School of Design, then came to Oregon in the late 80’s in search of bridges and urban landmarks. Recently, he’s been painting in his workers series, a group of large pieces to commemorate the workers who create and maintain our iconic structures. This series leads him to new painting experiences. The Hawthorne bridge in Portland is one of the bridges that has to open for shipping traffic, and every two weeks it must be oiled. By special arrangement, Christopher was allowed to photograph the workers. He climbed a set of stairs to the top of the arch. They closed the traffic gates and raised the bridge with him on it. Then he moved over to the counterweight. As they lowered the bridge, the counterweight with Christopher went up, until he was at the top of the entire structure with the workers. From there, he had a view of the city, the work, and a perspective on the bridge like no other. Christopher also paints dramatic figures. He has been experimenting with red and blue spotlighting to get a variety of skin tones and shadow casts. He is now painting commissioned portraits for people who want a memory preserved. “Pictures fade, files get lost, but a painting immortalizes.” Get a preview of Christopher’s work at THE ART OF TRADE, a juried exhibit sponsored by the Port of Portland, at 903 NW Davis from August 6-15. Then take note of his studio for your Portland Open Studios tour.
Karen Lewis