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Rafael’s Pillar

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Rafael's Pillar, Painting by Jenny Armitage

Rafael's Pillar (watercolor 13 x 13) $300

A stylized repainting of a detail from one of Rafael’s frescoes at the Vatican.   It was fun to re-imagine, but hardly an improvement on the original.


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With Feeling

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With Feeling, Painting of a Violinist by Jenny Armitage

With Feeling (watercolor 16 x 23) $600

I don’t normally use the photographs of others as the basis for my paintings, but I saw a picture of this lovely young woman so wrapped up in her music and it moved me. I just had to paint her. Fortunately for me, the photographer August Miller was willing to let me use his amazing photo in return for a donation to a The Rape Recovery Center. That I was happy to do, and here is the painting.


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Spinning Tales

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Spinning Tales, by Jenny Armitage

Spinning Tales (13 x 19 watercolor) SOLD

My eldest daughter learned to spin last year and the Oregon State Fair.  She came home with a drop-spindle and proceeded to spin several pounds of wool within the week.  The obsession continued and all she wanted for Christmas was a spinning wheel.   We obliged.  Since then, she spins whenever she sits down to talk or watch TV.    It’s a good thing the wheel is beautiful, because it’s become part of our living and family rooms.

Naturally, as I think both the wheel and the girl are lovely, I had to paint them together.  As she also writes I thought a background of our family room books was appropriate.

The painting turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated.  I began with the pouring method,  a process much like batik involving multiple masks and literally pouring cups of paint over the paper.  After a day of pouring, I got out the brushes and promptly ruined the painting by making it too dark.  So I began again, spending another day pouring paint.  I began work with the brushes at the gallery and was very pleased with everything except her face which I though was good, but could be better.  So improved it until is was merely okay.  And then I improved it some more until it was bad and my paper was damaged beyond repair. But I loved the rest of the painting so much that I began a third time, first pouring and then painting.

This time I am happy, and while there are a couple details I might like to alter just a hair, I won’t improve it anymore.

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After the Slumber Party

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After the Slumber Party (8 x 10) sold

After the Slumber Party (8 x 10) sold

This Friday, my daughters went to a slumber party.  Predictably they stayed up until one.   They got up at eight.   When I picked my girls and a friend of theirs up at noon, they had just finished breakfast and were wide awake and chattering.   We stopped to drop our guest’s things at her house and then took all three girls to library. Chatter, chatter, chatter.    A very late lunch at the Road House followed.   Chatter, chatter, chatter.

It was it was 2:30 by then.   The chatter continued through lunch.  But Road House lunches are heavy and plentiful.  Stomachs full, the girls were suddenly overwhelmingly tired.  My youngest leaned against her friend and both girls would have fallen asleep right there had we let them.   I snapped a picture.

Reference Photo

Reference Photo

Today I painted it. I did my best to correct the ugly green blue light of the restaurant. I made red-purple shadows of blue green ones, and removed the excess pink from their faces.

The palette is cadmium red, cadmium yellow and cobalt blue. Which the exception of some yellow ochre along the jaw lines, those were the pigments I used on the faces. I defined the eyes, nostrils and shadows in cobalt first. Then I painted the faces working mostly wet into wet.

The girls’ hair is various combinations of burnt sienna, cobalt blue, and yellow ochre. I used these three for the brows and lashes too. I added a little phthalo blue to the jacket and the wall.

purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.

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Cass Up Close

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Cass Up Close (8 x 7) $75.00

Cass Up Close (8 x 7) $75.00

This pretty young lady is a friend of my daughters.  I took the photo almost to years ago for drawing practice.   Browsing through my photo files yesterday, I decided to crop it close and paint it.  After painting landscapes and not much else at shows, I really wanted to do a portrait again.

The palate was simple, cadmium red, and cadmium yellow, burnt sienna, and cobalt blue.   I added some burnt umber for her hair and lashes.

Or purchase a print from Fine Art America.com.


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I Am Not Ruth Armitage

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Romantic Memories

Romantic Memories

I am not Ruth Armitage. Ruth Armitage also lives here in the upper Willamette Valley. And she also paints watercolors. She is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society and a past president of the Watercolor Society of Oregon. Her work hangs in my favorite gallery in Salem. And yes, like me, she likes to paint figures. And in my opinion, she does fabulous work.

I knew these facts, and yet I was still not prepared for connection, when I displayed a large number of my watercolors at the Oregon State Fair. Apart from, “these are lovely,” and “are you the artist,” the most common comment was, “are you Ruth Armitage?” The second most common comment was, “are you related to Ruth?” Given Ruth’s stature in the Northwest art community, those were flattering questions.

But the woman who asked, “then why do you use her name” floored me. Jenny Armitage is my name. I place a prominent “J” before Armitage in my signature. And while I like her work, my paintings have not been influenced by Ruth’s. Nor, much as I admire her, do I want to be Ruth Armitage. I want my work recognized as my work.

[This week,  most common search phrase used to find this blog was, "are jenny and ruth armitage related."  The answer is no.  Neither are our husbands.  ---added 3-1-10.]

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Ed Turns Forty

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Ed Turns Forty (9 x 12) $75

Ed Turns Forty (9 x 12) Sold

This one was fun. After all the children I’ve done lately it was lovely to get to play around with a strong featured man. And Ed is a great subject, a kind of modern day Henry VIII only better looking.

I had him in the sun for the reference photo which bothered his eyes, so I didn’t get the smile I wanted.

Reference Photo for Ed

Reference Photo for Ed

I’d like to catch him smiling and do him again. He’s all cheeks and twinkly eyes when he smiles.

I used the same palette as I did for the last couple paintings: burnt sienna, quinacridone deep red rose, quinacridone gold, phthalo blue and cobalt blue. I used a pinprick of Chinese white for the catch-lights in his eyes.

The original has sold but you may purchase a print at Fine Art America.com. See more portraits of men here: men paintings

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Morning Changeling

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Morning Changeling (8 x 11) $125

Morning Changeling (8 x 11) $125

This is my eldest daughter in the dark end of the family room with the morning sun lighting up half her face. I ended up printing my reference photo three times in various stages of overexposure to get the feeling I wanted for the sketch. I used all three prints when painting.

I’m still working on painting loose and free. I worked quickly wet into wet, taking care to make the sunlight’s edges the only hard edges in the painting.

The palette was simple: quinacridone gold, quinacridone deep red rose (which I only used for accents in her skin) burnt sienna, and phthalo blue. I emphasized the yellows and oranges to keep the feeling of sunlight.

This painting is currently hanging at Art in the Valley in Corvallis, Oregon but you may still purchase it on-line on inquiry. A limited edition print is available through my Etsy shop.

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Sunshine and Freckles

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Sunshine and Freckles (9 x 12) $50

Sunshine and Freckles (9 x 12) $50

Freckles are a nuisance. Don’t get me wrong, they can be cute as anything. That’s why I took this young man’s picture in the first place. It’s getting them right on paper that’s a nuisance. It’s too easy to make them look artificial. I decided in the end to ignore the individual freckles in the darker parts of his face and only break them out around the edges.

The palette was quinacridone deep red rose and cadmium yellow for his skin washed with burnt sienna. Otherwise I used my favorite trio, burnt sienna, yellow ocher and cobalt blue. I also used a couple pinpricks of Chinese white to add the catch-lights to his eyes.


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Sisters on the Rocks I

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Sisters on the Rocks I (12 x 16) $100

Sisters on the Rocks I (12 x 16) $100

“A solitary rock is always attractive. All right-minded people feel an overwhelming desire to scale and sit upon it.” Dorothy Sayers, Have His Carcase.

Sayers was right. And my children are certainly right-minded. Given a rock they will climb. And the volcanic rocks found on our beaches are just meant for climbing. They’re tall and the have plenty of hand and footholds. And what a view there is when you reach the top.

This is once again a three pigment painting: burnt sienna, yellow ocher, and French ultramarine. The earth colors are perfect for our cold gray coast. I used granulation medium for the rocks. Given that extra bit of texture in the paint, they practically painted themselves. I did the sky wet into wet and the sand in layered washes.


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Cello Practice IV

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Cello Practice IV (11 x 14) $160

Cello Practice IV (11 x 14) $160

I like this second attempt at my niece much better. As usual it’s the painting that happened the fastest that I like the best. I simplified her face and exaggerated the light which improved the picture. I also broke the background up to create interest and center more attention on her face.

Once again I did all of my mixing on the paper. I expanded my palette to include four blues: cerulean, cobalt, phthalo, and Prussian. Prussian and phthalo blue are quite similar in color but Prussian blue lifts easier and isn’t such a tiger in mixes. In addition I used yellow ochre and burnt sienna.

Available on-line through my Etsy shop. Or purchase a print from Fine Art America.com.

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Pondering

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Pondering (11 x 12)  SOLD

Pondering (11 x 12) SOLD

This is my eldest daughter again, curled up in an armchair pondering her options. It is an isn’t and portrait since I painted her as the young woman she will be in a few years and not as the pre-teen girl she is.

Georgia is hard to paint, because her features are perfectly regular. Her lips are unbelievably red, her eye lashes unbelievably dark, and her eye brows very dark for a blond. Painting her is a matter of toning her down enough to make her real.

I solved this problem by painting her almost entirely in earth tones. Ochre yellow, burnt siena, cobalt blue, and burn umber predominate. The sunlit side of her face was washed with cadmium yellow and red rose madder quinacrone. I used some alizarine crimson on the shadowed side of her face, but mostly yellow ochre and burnt sienna. Her shirt is burnt sienna and yellow ochre. I mixed these with raw umber for her browns and lashes. The background is layered washes of burnt sienna, cobalt blue, yellow ochre, and rose madder. Her hair is yellow ochre, cobalt blue and burnt sienna.

This painting has sold, but you may purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.

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Windswept

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Windswept (8 x 10) $100

Windswept (8 x 10) $100

This is Paula with the wind spilling her hair from it’s braid.

I took the creative approach to color with this one. But I think I caught the feeling of her cold wind-burned face. I like the feeling of movement in her face too.

The main colors are dioxzine purple, alizarin crimson, and yellow ochre. I used these colors for her skin after laying down a wash of deep red rose and cadmium yellow. I washed her eye sockets with cerulean blue. Her hair is entirely yellow ochre and dioxzine purple (the two make a lovely cool browns and beiges). Her eyes are cobalt blue and yellow ochre. Her shirt is cobalt blue and her jacket cobalt blue and dioxzine purple. The sky is cobalt blue and ultramarine blue.

I found this painting a relief to paint after the last two. Almost life size portraits are fun. Distant figures are fun too. But I have difficulty getting a two or three inch face right–it’s putting in the right amount of detail that gives me fits–that and that an eight of an inch mistake changes the face enormously.


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Sneakers I: More Pouring

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Sneakers I (11 x 17) $125

Sneakers I (11 x 17) $100

This is my youngest daughter in a characteristic pose. I love the way she has clasped her hands in tight but spread her legs out with her feet pidgin toed.

I poured all of this painting except for her hands and feet and an under painting of the carpet. I painted her hands and feet first, and then masked them to protect them from the pour. I left the under-painting of the carpet pattern unmasked.

face and hand

face and hand

carpet underpainting

carpet underpainting

I masked and poured three times. When the mask came off: I adjusted the values, added shadows and shoe details; and touched up her face.

first pour

first pour

second pour

second pour

mask removed

mask off

I used Winsor red, alizarin crimson, and cadmium yellow for her face and hands. I used hansa yellow medium, burnt sienna and phthalo blue for the first pour. I substituted raw sienna for hansa yellow in the second and third pours. I direct painted with the pouring palette.

What would I do differently? Well I like this painting a lot as is. I would mask the hands and face before painting them and paint them after the pour next time. I think I would also leave the sunshine streaks across the carpet out.

I like the painting enough that I’m going to do it again without pouring.


Or purchase a reproduction of this painting at Fine Art America.com.

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Hat and Shoulders

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Hat and Shoulders (9 x 12) $100

Hat and Shoulders (9 x 12) $100

For this watercolor I worked from a candid snapshot of my niece taken a couple summers ago. She wore the hat everywhere we went. I don’t have many pictures of her in it though, because that was the summer she was camera shy.

I had fits getting this painting right. I tried it and failed twice on Tuesday.

Two problems. First, I love the effect of the strong light on her hat and shoulder, but the light on her face is very low contrast and the color temperature varies enormously. Getting the subtle value changes and temperature changes in her face was difficult. Second she doesn’t have much pink in her face under neutral light, but her blouse bounced purple pink light up into her face.

Both of my Tuesday paintings contained too much pink and exaggerated the temperature and value changes in an unflattering way—she looked like Rudolph of Red Nosed Reindeer. All of my favorite skin reds for light complexions reds (alizarin crimson, rose madder, and quinacirdone) stain so her red nose was there to stay.

Rudolph

Rudolph

I took Wednesday off to think and painted something else instead. I began again Wednesday after dinner, resolving to keep my palette limited and to introduce value and temperature changes slowly. I began with a unifying wash of cadmium yellow and cadmium red. Then I laid in the pinker skin with cadmium yellow and alizarin crimson wet into wet. I added the blue tones to the ailizarin mixture rather under-laying it. I used the alizarin crimson with cobalt blue for her blouse to unify the reds. The result was still a little too much, so I washed burnt sienna over her skin. That helped tone it down a little more.

I think she’s much improved although still not as pretty as the real girl.


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Beginning with a Child

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Blue Eyed Duckling (8 x 10) $175

Blue Eyed Duckling (8 x 10) $100

It seems a good omen to begin my painting blog with a portrait of a child–particularly since she is a child who wants to be an artist. She is beautiful and funny looking by turns. But I have no doubt she will be beautiful in the end. Her cheek bones say it all.

I did this painting Friday at Art in Valley (Corvallis, Oregon) a cooperative gallery of which I am a member. Painting while working at the gallery is fun but tricky. The comments of patrons are fun. Making sure I can stop at any moment without wrecking the painting is difficult. So is working as neat as the gallery environment requires.

But this young girl has such a distinctive expressive face that the painting just fell together. Another good omen for a beginning blog.

I find I use more pigments for skin than I ever would have believed possible. Her skin is cadmium yellow and madder red on the sunlit side and cadmium yellow and alizarin crimson on the shadowed side. Cobalt blue helps define her eye sockets. The edges of her shadowed cheeks have a hint of yellow ocher. There are hints of burnt sienna at the hairline. Her hair is yellow ocher, burnt sienna, and more cadmium yellow.

The blues and blue grays are mixed from the skin and hair palette. Mixing the background from the main palette often leads to good lively grays that set off the subject. I think it worked this time too.

Like most of the paintings I will add to this blog, The Blue Eyed Duckling is for sale. Prices posted on this blog will be lower than those for my paintings elsewhere on the web because I do not have to pay a commission here.


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Purchase a reproduction of this painting here.

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