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Ruth Armitage’s Cold Wax Painting Workshop

I spent two days in March at Ruth Armitage’s cold wax and oil workshop. I take workshops for many reasons—to meet new people, to learn new techniques and to see how other artists work and teach.

I have known Ruth for a few years and heard what an incredible teacher she was, so I was excited to take the abstract workshop.

The workshop was held at the Studio on the Knoll, in the beautiful barn at the home of Carrie Moore. What a gorgeous spot! Their home sits high on a hill with lovely scenery all around. I felt so inspired just driving up the driveway. Carrie is an artist, a beautiful lady, and an oh-so-friendly host.

Here is Carrie’s beautiful house.

I loved the view from Carrie’s studio in this upstairs room in the barn.  What a place to work and read!

More of Carrie’s studio…

…and still more!

Downstairs is the teaching room where we worked.

Carrie had set up worktables from which we could look out on the wonderful view while we painted.

Ruth taught us her “ABCs” of design and discussed several abstract artists and their philosophies.

Ruth said what influenced her paintings was feelings and memories:”My paintings express my connection to the family farm.  The abstracted landscapes are inspired by memories, imagination and observation of aerial views. Rich, vibrant color embellished by narrative, symbolic pencil and brush marks tell the story of my connection to the property that has been home to my family.”

Coming from a background of biomedical illustration where everything is super-precise, I have some very long-held habits. I like order and I like having a plan when I paint. I like to know exactly where I’m going.

So I both welcomed and dreaded taking this workshop.

I admit I didn’t know much about Cold Wax Painting before the workshop.

I found this explanation on the Gamblin website:

A soft paste…Gamblin Cold Wax Medium is made from naturally white unbleached beeswax, alkyd resin, and odorless mineral spirits (OMS), and is used to make oil colors thicker and more matte. It can be thinned to brush consistency by dissolving it in a small amount of OMS. It is excellent in creating a variety of textures within a painting. This allows for expressive brushmarks and the ability to carve into paint layers with palette knives. Cold Wax also gives oil colors a beautiful translucent quality, similar to the seductive surfaces of encaustic paint. 

I struggled to find something to paint because I usually paint a still life or from pictures.

Ruth had asked us to bring magazines. We cut a viewfinder of paper and “cropped” at different angles the pictures from the magazine to try to come up with a subject for painting.


…it was taking so much time to find something to paint, so I just focused instead on practicing the techniques I was being taught—and I had a lot of fun!

Here are the results of my play.

I think I used all of my “tools.” (From left to right: catalyst wedge, brayer, clay shapers or color shapers (pointy things), drywall tape, sequin mesh tape, palette knife, lid, paint brush)

You can use almost anything: string, collage materials, paper, bubble wrap, stencils, etc.

My friends Gretha Linwood and Jo Reimer at work.

Carol Marine, me, Gretha, Ruth, and Jo. Happy artists and learners!

I think this was a very good step in learning to be more FREE in my painting process!

Find some beautiful examples of Ruth’s Cold Wax Paintings at


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