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Rue Galande

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Rue Galande, Watercolor of Paris by Jenny Armitage

Rue Galande (watercolor 19 x 13) $500

Another painting taken from our trip to Europe last summer.  This charming little street is close to Nortre Dame, but at least a little off the beaten path.    Like many of the streets in the area, it curves charmingly.

I poured this painting in much the same manner as  July in Florence.  The process is much like batik and leads to clear color passages that make buildings glow.

July in Florence, Painting of Old Florence by Jenny Armitage

July in Florence (13 x 23 watercolor) $600


Or purchase a fine art print.

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Jazz Improvisation One

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Jazz Improvisation One, digital painting by Jenny Armitage

Jazz Improvisation (digital collage) prints only


I’ve been been playing around with digital drawing and collage the last year or so.    I began by drawing silhouettes with the mouse.  I then use the silhouettes to sample various watercolor backgrounds I have painted and then photographed.   I’ve been using the results to make design mugs, tees, smartphone cases, ties and other things on Zazzle for sale in my Paintbox Silhouette shop.   Just lately though, I’ve been taking this a step further and creating digital paintings or collages.   This image includes five watercolor backgrounds and four hand moused silhouettes and over twenty digital layers.

I began with simpler but more graphic images like these:

 

Rainbow Violins, painting by Jenny Armitage

Rainbow String of Violins (digital collage) prints only

Cool Sax Band, digital collage by painter Jenny Armitage

Cool Sax Band (digital collage) prints only

These simpler images involve fewer layers by utilize the same hand drawn silhouettes and watercolor backgrounds.

All of my digital collages are available here as prints on paper, metal, or canvas.

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Tipping My Hat to M. C. Escher

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Pygmalion Joins the Band, Echeresque Painting by Jenny Armitge

Pygmalion Joins the Band, (16 x 22 watercolor) $600

When painting Flugel and Friends, I was struck by the way in which the unfinished the flugelhorn appeared ultra three dimensional.  It just wanted to hover above the paper.  It took some effort playing with the shadow to get it lay down and behave itself. But I was struck by how beautiful the floating horn was.

Flugle and Friends In Progress

The experience got me to thinking about the trick of making the flat paper look three dimensional and reminded me of M.C. Escher’s various perspective games playing with this concept.  So I decided to play around with the idea a little within a painting in a painting.

The process has been fun, but very meta.  I painted Pygmalion Joins the Band, with the very brush depicted in the painting with palette shown, using the paints in the tubes I painted.   If you paint on block pads, you may recognize the border of the pad cover peaking out from under the painting in a painting.   The most challenging  part of the painting turned out to be depicting paint on the plastic palette and making it look like paint on plastic rather than paint of paper.  I had the most fun painting the tubes and now plotting excuses to paint them again.

Or purchase a fine art print.
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Arch of Titus

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Arch of Titus, Painting by Jenny Armitage

Arch of Titus II (watercolor 16 x 21) For Sale at Western Federation of Watercolor Society Show in June 2013

I knew I wanted to paint the Arch of Titus before we ever got to Rome this summer.   I remember being struck by it on our honeymoon, eighteen years ago and when I remember an object that long, it simply must be painted.  But eighteen years ago, things were simpler.  Eighteen years ago in September my husband and I felt as if we were alone in the forum.  We walked under the arch and touched the carved stone.  This summer in July the forum was mobbed and the arch was surrounded by a wrought iron fence.

The painting I had in mind, featured tourists walking through the arch.  Obviously, that painting, no longer reflects reality.  So instead, I shot the arch looking up from below, avoiding the ugly iron fence.  This turned out to be a challenge.  I like the striking steep upward angle, but perspective is difficult to pull off.  The fact that that exterior of the arch is a light blue marble and the interior a warm yellow orange didn’t help as it made the shadowed underside warmer in color than the cool exterior.  But more difficult yet, the upward angle exposes intricately carvings covering the  interior ceiling of the arch.

I began painting the arch and quit four times, each time simplifying the arch a little more.  The second to last attempt I used to demonstrate painting at the fair.   The result is good, but it didn’t have quite the oomph I was looking for.

Arch of Titus, Painting by Jenny armitage

Arch of Titus I (watercolor 15 x 20) $350

So I simplified even further and poured the painting. (For a description of pouring click here). The result is more richly colored and much more graphic.

 

Painting
 

Or purchase a fine art print.

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Work in Progress

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Work in Progress (14 x 19 watercolor) NFS

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a work-in-progress.   But since I paint this instrument series quite differently than I do landscapes and people, I think it’s time.

When painting an image I usually  start with lighter colors and build my way up working the whole painting at once.  But because of the reflections, I treat metal and glass subjects quite differently.  The reflections create many small abstract shapes defined by hard edges and often extreme contrast.  The high contrast between the shapes is what gives my instruments shine.

Abstract Shapes

To preserve the sharp contrast between the shapes I work on just two or three shapes at a time.  I choose shapes near each other, but not touching so that damp paint never meets damp paint at the edges of the shapes.   Because I finish and let each shape dry before proceeding the the adjacent shape, the edges between the shapes remains sharp and hard.

Inside the shapes is a different matter.  Each shape may contain one or more of my favorite techniques: glazing (painting transparent colors over each other);

Glazing

deliberate backwashes (allowing wet paint or water  to move back into damp paint);

Backwash

and dropping in (applying paint from a highly pigmented brush to a damp surface and allowing it to disperse across the damp area.)

Dropped in Color

These techniques produce soft edges and subtle color blending within each small shape. Painting them separately preserves the sharp lines between the shapes.

To give myself a value guide for all of these little shapes, I proceed across the whole painting from the highest contrast outward.  I began with the place where the silver bottom of the clarinet bell meets the black clarinet body.  I also try to work on shapes that reflect each other at the same time.  For this reason I worked on the sax and clarinet at once.

Unlike other rounded objects, I don’t worry too much about giving my instruments the illusion of  depth with shading.  I don’t have too.  If I get the values of the little abstract shapes correctly, the instruments shade themselves.  The bell of the clarinet in defined by hard lines, but the value contrast creates roundness.

Clarinet Bell

Similarly, the shapes in the saxophone bell create the illusion of depth and roundness:

Saxophone Bell

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Silvery Night Music—Painted at Art Fairs

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Silvery Night Music, a Horn and Glass Painting by Jenny Armitage

Silvery Night Music (11 x 14 watercolor on aquabord) $250

I began this painting at the Silverton Art Festival and finished it up at the Oregon State Fair.  My photo reference is from the same group of photos I took for Silver and Glass make music.  But I wanted this painting to be more dramatic, so I darkened the background to make the light more obviously artificial  indirect lighting.

Painting outside in the heat on aquabord was an challenging experience. Most of the time I was painting the temperature was over 90 degrees and it was very dry. The challenge was to keep the board wet enough to work with. I brought in a spray mister the second day which helped considerably. I used cardboard pieces as a shield to keep from misting the parts I didn’t want wet.

Painted on clayboard and finished with a clear acrylic matte varnish and mounted on a black cradle frame, this painting is ready to hang. Alternatively, it can be framed like an acrylic or oil painting.


Prints are available through Fine Art America.com.

 

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Silver and Glass Make Music

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Watercolor Painting of a Trumpet and Depression Glass, by Jenny Armitage

Silver and Glass Music (11 x 14 watercolor on claybord) $300

 

I painted this in my usual palette of  cobalt blue, phthalo blue, ceruleun blue, hasna yellow, new gamgee, burnt siena and dioxian purple plus a new addition, phtalo green.  Like phthalo blue, phthalo green is extremely staining and very transparent. Even on clayboard and canvas it’s hard to lift.  Typically, I mix my greens rather than pour them out of the tube, but there’s something metalic about phtalo green that can’t be mixed and it’s the perfect color for depression glass.

When I finish this one, my mother-in-law commented that she admired anyone who could paint glass. I will tell you the secret about painting and drawing glass. There’s nothing any difficult about glass than any other subject. The only trouble is psychological. If you just paint the shapes you see, no matter how abstract, when you step back, it will look like glass. It’s only when you worry about making it look like glass that it doesn’t. The same thing is true of metal.

Painted on aquabord and  finished with a clear coat of acrylic, and mounted on a black cradle frame.


Or purchase a print through my Shop at Fine Art America.

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Three Horns For Art Squared

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"Three Horns" (watercolor on canvas 16 x 16 inches) $400

"Three Horns" (watercolor on canvas 16 x 16 inches) SOLD

I painted  this one specially for Salem Art Association’s Salon: Art2 exhibit. All of the artwork in the exhibit must be 16 x 16 inches inclusive of frame.  I had to think carefully how to meet the size requirement.  I didn’t want to fit a watercolor on paper into a 16 x 16 inch frame since the artwork would end up being 12 x 12 at most. I didn’t have any 16 x 16 inch aquabord either.  So I stretched watercolor canvas over a 16 x 16 inch frame and gallery wrapped the edges.

It has been quite some time since I tried painting on watercolor canvas.  Paint lifts from watercolor canvas even more easily than it does from clayboard.  The surface feels like a cross between clayboard an yupo (a plastic paper) to work on except that the unlike board or paper the canvas gives a little to the brush.  I like the canvas’ linen texture, but I’m not sure I like the painting experience as much as the board, though that may be just a matter of getting use to the new surface.

This painting has sold, but prints are available through my gallery at Fine Art America.

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Five Pears and Three Techniques

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Painting of Pear and Grapes by Jenny Armitage

Pearcial to Grapes (watercolor on clayboard 6 x 6) $50.00

Pearcial to Grapes as Finished

These are a continuation of my experiments with Ampersand’s Aquaboard. This time I used cradled board, i.e., board mounted on two inch deep wooded frame. After I completed the paintings, I painted the wooden frames black and finished the watercolors with two coats of Krylon’s UV Archival Varnish, and three coats of Golden’s Polymer Varnish with UVLS (satin). The result is that the paintings may be hung without a frame or glass. The coating is not only protective, but archival and removable for conservation purposes.

This first painting, I painted almost the way I ordinarily use paper, except that I lifted the highlights rather than reserving them.

Still Life Painting on Clayboard, by Jenny Armitage

Meeting over Grapes (watercolor on clayboard 6 x 6) SOLD

Pearshall to Grapes as Finished

For the second painting I wet each section of the painting with clear water first and then offered the tip of a pigment loaded brush to the damp surface.   I hardly used any actual brush strokes at all.  I like the way this technique lets the pigments spread out into the painting.  This technique could be used on paper too.  It isn’t limited to clay-board.  However, this technique is easier on clay-board because the damp surface turns taupe until is dries,  making it easier to see where the paint is going to go.

Blushing Pears a Watercolor by Jenny Armitage

Blushing Pears (watercolor on clayboard 6 x 6) SOLD

Blushing Pears as Finished

This third painting I did on aquaboard that I had used previously.  I scrubbed off the first painting  resulting in a clean, but  much smoother working surface than the virgin board, more like gessoed paper or Yuppo to work on than unused aquaboard. I worked wet on dry without any layering letting the water carry the color from one section of the pears to the other.

 

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A Little Bit of Garlic

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Little Garlic I: a painting on clayboard by Jenny Armitage

Little Garlic I ( 6" x 6" watercolor on clayboard) SOLD

I did these three little paintings at the Gallery on Wednesday.  My primary purpose was to continue learning to handle clayboard.  I had taken the reference photos some time ago and they seemed perfect for the little six by six inch panels I had to work with and they were great subjects for learning technique as they have soft and sharp edges and a full value scale from black to white.

I used  the same palette for all three paintings:  burnt sienna, red brown madder (much the same color as burnt sienna but much less sedimentary and brighter), cobalt blue, phthalo blue, new gamgee , raw sienna, and because both reds are really orange, dioxion violet.   This gave me a highly sedimentary pigment, and transparent pigment for each primary.  The transparents, new gamgee, red madder and especially phthalo and dioxion violet are difficult to lift from paper.

Little Garlic II: a paining in purples and yellows by Jenny Armitage

Little Garlic II (6" x 6" watercolor on clayboard) $40.00

I emphasized different pigments in each painting. Little  Garlic I is all about blues and greens with a little orange-red and  orange for punch, i.e. two analogous colors with a touch of each compliment.  Little Garlic II is a complimentary color scheme, violet and yellow.   Garlic III is simply the reverse of Garlic I; orange-red  and yellow predominate and blue-violet and green provide the punch.

I mixed the colors almost entirely on the clay-board, laying down the warmer colors first and dropping in the cooler ones.  Primarily, I mixed sedimentary colors with sedimentary colors and transparents with transparents. Mixing transparents with transparents and translucents with translucents is another trick I learned from Karen Vernon.  Droped into thier own kind, they spread out nicely.  Otherwise sedimentary colors tend to push everything else aside.

Little Garlic III watercolor on clayboard by Jenny Armitage

Little Garlic III (6" x 6" watercolor on clayboard) SOLD

Because of the ease of lifting  from clay-board, I didn’t use mask.  The very whitest whites are reserved through negative painting but most of the whites are lifted.   All of the soft edged lights in the garlic roots are lifted.

After I completed the paintings, I fixed the surface with two coats of Krylon’s UV Archival Varnish, and three coats of Golden’s Polymer Varnish with UVLS (satin). The result is that the paintings may be  framed without glass. The coating is not only protective, but archival and removable for conservation purposes.

Little Garlic II is still available for purchases.  Prints of all three paintings are available through Fine Art America.

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Mangos and Pears, a Color Exercise

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Still Life watercolor of magos and pears by Jenny Armitage

Mangos and Pears (watercolor on clayboard 11 x 14) $150

I started this painting in Karen Vernon’s workshop this October. The photo I worked from is hers.  The photo showed two mangos and a pear.  I broke up the trio by moving one to the mangos to the wall.

We spent one of the five days working on color. The lessons aren’t unique, but certainly useful. Color has several properties, hue, intensity, value, temperature. Hue is the actual color. Intensity is the brightness or dullness of the color. Value is the lightness or darkness of a color. Temperature is the warmth or coldness of a color. Blue is the coldest color and yellow the warmest.

We spent one one morning working on changing color value without changing any of the other properties. This is not as straight forward as it appears as some colors de-intensify or intensify as they are diluted with water. Adding a bright and warmer hue of the same color will re-intensify a color.

Then we de-intesified the colors at each value. As I discussed earlier in a blog about gray, the way to deintensify a color is to add it’s compliment. Red and green deintensify each other as do purple and yellow and blue and orange.

Colors will appear brighter next to their compliment and next to deintensified color.

In the afternoon we discussed the color of shadows. Shadows are generally the deintensified compliment of the color of the object casting them as altered by the color of the surface they fall on.

Light will bounce from surface to surface. Thus one object will affect the color of the object next too it.

This little painting is a lesson in color begun in the workshop.  I rarely work from other people’s photos, but this painting began with one of Karen’s photos.  The photo showed  two mangos and a pear.  I moved the second mango onto the wall.

The bright fruit works well for playing with the color concepts we discussed in class.  The green pear and the red mango are compliments.  Therefore the shadow of each is the color of the other.  The red of the mango reflects onto the green of the pear.  The deintesified floor helps make the  relatively intensified color of the fruit pop.  The background is almost as bright as the fruit, but it’s darker and much cooler in temperature.  Both dark values and cooler colors tend to recede.

This painting is protected with a polymer varnish and may be framed with or without glass.


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The Columbia River on Paper and Clayboard

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Foggy Morning on the Columbia River (paper) Painting by Jenny Armitage

Foggy Morning on the Columbia (watercolor on paper 12 x 16) $175.00

These are two paintings I did at the gallery in late September in preparation for a workshop with Karen Vernon. Karen, best known for her huge floral paintings on clayboard. My primary goal for the workshop was to learn to paint on clayboard. So the week prior to the workshop I painted the same scene twice, once on cold pressed paper and once on Ampersand’s Aquabord.

The first painting I did conventionally painting from light to dark and reserving the whites without masking. Some of the fog is lifted, some of it is reserved. I used a very restricted pallet of burnt sienna, cobalt blue, phthalo blue and new gamgee.

Foggy Morning on the Columbia a painting by Jenny Armitage

Foggy Morning on the Columbia (watercolor on aquabord 8 x 10) $60.00

For the second painting I added dioxon purple to my palette. I proceeded once more from light to dark getting to know the new surface. The first thing I discovered is that the surface has to be bone dry to accept an over glaze. The second thing I discovered is that it’s very hard to lay down an even wash on the clay surface. On the other hand lifting is very easy. Rather than reserved the whites, I lifted them after the painting was almost completed. The result is softer than the watercolor painted version.

In class I learned that the trick to even washes on clayboard is to saturate the surface and let the water soak all the way through the clay part of the board before beginning. Over glazes require that the board be thoroughly dry. A hair dryer is an absolute must for working with clayboard.

The workshop turned out to be a fantastic experience.  I will be detailing so of the lessons learned in the coming blog entries as well as posting the paintings I started in class.

The clayboard version of the painting is protected with a clear satin polymer varnish and may be framed with or without glass.

These paintings are currently for sale on line at my Etsy shop.

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Wyoming Glow

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Wyoming Glow, a painting of a Western Morning by Jenny Armitage

Wyoming Glow (watercolor 15 x 18 inches) $225

Back to Wyoming in the morning.  I used the same reference photo for this painting as I did for my last pastel.  I didn’t mess the seasons this time but it looks like spring rather than summer to me.  That’s because it’s been such a wet year.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Wyoming so green.  The early morning sun on the grass was simply spectacular.

The problem for me was not to lose the forest in the trees.   It’s much too easy to get mesmerized by detail and try to paint every tree.  Yet the painting must still suggest individual trees  and I wanted the emphasis to remain on the sunlit grass.  My solution this time was to eliminate detail by using a big brush.  The entire painting is done with a number 14 round brush (about three eights of an inch at the shank but coming to a fairly tight point).*   Usually I work in numbers 12, 10, 8 and finish with 6  (the smaller the number the smaller the brush).

I did not use mask either.  Painting carefully around the lights rather than reserving them with mask forced me to keep them big.

I also used a fairly limited palette:  winsor purple, phthalo blue, cobalt blue, quinacridone gold, and burnt sienna.  This not only helped unify the painting, but helped me concentrate on big shapes.

But I have my husband to thank for the key to this painting.  He came upstairs and looked at it in progress.

“Too fuzzy.”

“But where would I put the detail?”

“I don’t know.”

Stephen is not good at seeing what to do to a painting, but he’s very good at seeing problems.    It pays to listen to him.  I thought about it.  One classic maneuver is to put a lot of detail into the foreground.  I used that approach with my pastel.  But my painting was already too abstract to allow much real detail in the foreground.  In the end I did two things.  I added texture to the foreground and sharpened up the trees just where they intruded on the distant grass at the center of interest.  Together the changes created instant depth.

____________

*Actually, I used one other brush, but only for my signature.  For that I used a number 2 rigger.  Riggers are very long thin brushes designed to make long thin continuous lines without having to repeatedly re-dip then in paint.  The name comes from their usefulness in painting sail rigging.


This painting is currently for sale on line at my Etsy shop. Or purchase a print.

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Montana Road Trip or Playing With Photoshop

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Watercolor Painting of the Decent into Butte, Montana

Montana Road Trip (12 x 18 watercolor) $250

This is the descent to Butte, Montana coming from the east.  Crossing Montana on I90 the views alternated between narrow rocky places and expansive high plains, true big sky country.  I wanted to capture the feeling of the decent from the narrows to the wide open space below.  I took a number of photos through the dashboard trying to get that feeling. This one came the closest:

Reference Photo

As you can see, the four lane interstate dominates the picture.   Also the road looks much flatter than it actually was.   There are other problems too.   The end of the road is almost dead center in the middle of the picture.   Trees hide the expanding vista.  There is nothing about the vista to draw the eye in.

Adobe Photoshop to the rescue.  I don’t have a professional edition,  just Elements 6.  But it’s fine for my purposes.  I began by using the lasso tool to select the right hand cliffs.  I then copied them, flipped them right to left, and wedged them in over the left hand two lanes of interstate.  I selected and copied some of the left hand cliffs and slipped them in behind my newly transformed right hand cliffs.   I used both copying and the clone tool to remove the trees from my opening vista.  I lassoed the right hand cliffs again and stretched them upwards.  I enlarged the canvas and stretched the whole image to the right.  I added a band of sunlight in the vista:

Altered Reference Photo

The result was quick and dirty, but it gave me a good idea where I was going.   And it gave me a workable photo to draw from.  I used the bottom of the concrete barrier still showing in my altered photo to help me plot the new guard rail. The feet of the unaltered cliffs helped me imagine the feet of my new cliffs.

Here’s my working drawing:

Working Sketch

I left out the mountain range on the left as it would detract from the center of interest at the foot of the road. I also pulled the right hand cliffs even further to the right than in my altered photo, thus opening up more of the distant vista.

I did the painting itself quickly beginning with the sky, filling in the road while it dried and then laying in the trees to establish the dark values.  The trees are phthalo blue, french blue, new gamgee, and Winsor purple mixed mostly on the paper.  For the cliffs I used cerulean blue, cobalt blue, and yellow ochre, and purple.  I added more purple and blue to the right hand shadowed side and more burnt sienna to the sunlit side. Rather than using burnt sienna to dull the blues, I used hansa yellow deep.  The sky is phthalo, cobalt blue, burnt sienna, and more purple.  I used the same pigments for the road.  The result is bluer and stormier than the photo, but more like the day itself with was dark and threatened but rarely delivered rain.


Or purchase a print here.

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Yellowstone Lake Painting

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At The Water's Edge, painting by Jenny Armitage

At the Water's Edge (watercolor 10 x 15) SOLD

Here is another vacation watercolor.  This one is from Yellowstone National Park on the north side of the lake.  We picnicked here on our last day in the park.

Like my previous painting of Fort Robinson, I simplified the image by masking heavily and then getting out the big brushes.  I began by painting in the sky and the light blue of the lake.  Then I masked the sky and all of the water except the dark ripples.   I painted the trees and hills in used a one inch brush and moving diagonally in wet juicy strips of cobalt blue, raw sienna, and phthalo blue.   I blotted the rocky edge in with burnt sienna.  The lake ripples are cobalt and phthalo blue grayed down with burnt sienna.   After the paint dried I picked out the grass and the highlights on the rocks with mask and  added more paint to the rocks and foreground.

This painting has sold.  Prints are available from my Fine Art America website. More landscapes by me and others are available at landscape paintings

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Two Paintings of Reedy River Falls, Greenville, South Carolina

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These are thee Upper Reedy River Falls, in Falls Park downtown, Greenville, South Carolina.  The falls are actually about two or three times wider than my paintings imply, but I wanted to capture the immediacy of the girls looking up at the falls.

My first attempt show the full height of the falls.  like the sense of scale and the horizontal lines of the upper rocks, but I thought it lacked visual punch.  After looking at it a while, I decided that part of the problem was that the amount of area covered by  medium value rock and the amount of high key fall are almost equal.  Also the falls are almost dead center in the painting.

For my second attempt I came in closer and worked darker for greater contrast with the white water.  I also reversed the image right to left, thereby clarifying the entrance to the painting.  Finally I moved the falls to one side of the painting.

Upper Reedy River Falls, Falls Park, Greenville, SC

Ring Side Seats II (watercolor 14 x 20) $400

To create the falls themselves I used a lot of liquid mask.  I began flipping tiny drops of mask onto the falls.  Then I washed the area with highly diluted phthalo blue.  When I removed the mask the area looked white, but the even whiter dots gave it some sparkle.  Then I masked the white areas of the upper falls and began painting in the water and the rock behind it.  I used burnt umber, burnt siena, raw sienna, cerulean blue, cobalt blue, and phthalo blue.  I let the blues predominate.  I worked much darker on Ring Side Seats II than I did on Ring Side Seats I.

After removing the mask, I continued working softening edges and adding paler washes.

I used the same palette for the rocks but emphasizing burnt sienna and raw sienna.

Reedy River Falls, Greenville, South Carolina

Ring Side Seats I (watercolor 16 x 21) $400

Ring Side Seats


 

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Through the Bamboo Grove

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Through the Bamboo Grove (watercolor 17 x 23) $300

As promised, here is a larger more finished version of the Bamboo Grove.  I left the composition pretty much as it was in my little postcard painting, but I greatly increased the contrast by darkening the shadows and underbrush.

This time I poured the painting.  Pouring watercolor is a process much like batik.

I began by making a value sketch of the painting in graphite.  I transferred my sketch to the watercolor paper with graphite paper.  Then I used liquid mask to save all of the white highlights.  In this case highlights were thin strips of light on the edge of the bamboo, and the ridges where the sections of bamboo meet.

Once the painting was masked, I mixed three colors of paint very thinly in cups: cadmium yellow, new gamgee, and phthalo blue.  I wet the painting and then poured the paint out of the cups across the paper working from left to right and sloping downward.  I poured the yellows first then the blue.

After the painting was dry I masked all of the pastel values, mostly sky and unshadowed path and poured again.  This time I used hansa light and new gamgee for the yellows and both phthalo and cobalt  for the blues.  I added quinacridone deep red rose too.  I mixed all of the colors more thickly than on the previous pour.  I used very little red and tried to isolate it on the bottom on the picture.

I repeated the mask and pouring process two more times masking two sets of medium values.  The last time I poured only shadows and underbrush.

After the painting had dried completely, I removed the mask and assessed the results.  I had beautiful varied greens in the bamboo and nice dark shadows, but bamboos were mostly one value and looked flat.  I darkened the rear bamboo, and shadowed the sides of the bamboo to round it.  I dropped some color into the highlights on the path and added some blue to the sky. I soften the skyline foliage and varied the greens a little there.  I had left a roadway from my reference photo running across  the painting  just below the skyline foliage.  I decided that that was a distraction and painted it out.



 

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The Green Mister

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The Green Mister (watercolor 10 x 14) $150.00

This is probably the last watercolor for my one woman mini show this coming April at Art in the Valley, Corvallis Oregon.

I’m using a new technique to replace liquid mask when reserving soft edged areas of white paper in many of  my latest still lifes.   Puddles of clear water on the paper will resist paint.  In this painting I made little lines of water along the reflected light from the mister and silver vase before painting the window sill.  The result is a soft sliver of white paper remaining after my washes.

To use the water resist technique use as much water as you can without running outside the area you wish to reserve.  You may need to renew the water fairly frequently too.

The water resist technique is more trouble than either masking whites or carefully painting around them, but it has the advantage of creating a much softer edge.  This technique is not suitable for fine detail.


Or purchase a print from Fine Art America.com.

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Nautilus With Glass, A Color Fantasy

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Nautilus with Glass Stones (10 x 11 watercolor) $150.00

My husband and I spent last weekend on the Oregon Coast. The weather was so fine we hardly even went inside at all.  So on our last day having not set foot in a shop all weekend,  it occurred to us we had bought nothing for our daughters.  So we stopped in a shell shoppe. We did find some lovey sea urchins for the girls. But we also found something for us, a bisected nautilus shell. Stephen wanted it to display it, but I wanted to paint it. I’ve just finished painting it and it now lives on our mantle together with fossil shells and a free form hand made basket. But it will visit the studio again.

I took great liberties with the color of the nautilus which is really is really a dull orange in the outer chambers fading to blue green at the center. The color shift in my painting was driven by the decision to heavily under-paint the shell in phthalo blue to emphasize the depth of the shell.  I over-painted with various mixtures of new gamgee yellow, quinacridone madder rose, and phthalo blue.

In Progress

The left most of the glass stones resting in the shell is actually stone marble. But the green and rust of the actual marble would have clashed horribly with the rest of the painting, so I changed it to a blue glass marble.

The background is a wash of burnt sienna grayed down with phthalo blue.


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Three Coneflowers

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Watercolor of Cone Flowers

Afterglow II (8 x 9 watercolor) $60.00

Here are another three cone flowers from last Fall’s garden. This time I painted them during my gallery shift.

I altered my painting techniques a little from Afterglow I. I under-painted the petals in phthalo blue before over painting them in opera and dioxazine violet. I under-painted petals in phthalo blue too. I think the under-painting does add to the the three dimensionality of the flowers.

I also added dioxazine purple to the palette, working it in to the cones and the petals.


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Afterglow: Pink Coneflower

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Afterglow (8 x8 inch watercolor) $100

Painted from a photo I took in my front yard last year, this is a close up of my pink cone flowers (echinacea). Like mums and asters, coneflowers are a reliable late summer flower. In the late afternoon light they just glow. I only have five of them but I hope they spread like mad.

I began this painting with the center of interest, the cone of the the cone flower. I painted the bright orange parts of the cone with a combination of quinacridone deep red rose and cadmium yellow. I began with the brighter orange edge and worked my way down adding rose to the mix as I descended the cone. I filled in around the orange-red highlights with a mixture of burnt sienna and cobalt blue letting the colors mix on the paper. I worked some rose into the mix as I reached the rim of the cone.

I added the petals next with deep red rose, cobalt blue and quinacridone opera from Winsor and Newton. Opera is a vivid pink which I rarely use, but has it uses. Nothing else in watercolor produces such a florescent pink.

I added the background last with a mixture of cobalt blue and cadmium yellow, toned down with burnt sienna. Burnt sienna which is a red-orange desaturates green but not to the extent that green’s compliment red would do. I applied this mixture in tone wet into wet layer and and used a paper towel to lift some of the final layer.

This painting is currently available on-line through my Etsy shop.  Prints available through Fine Art America.com.

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The Magic Bowl II

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The Magic Bowl II (watercolor 9 x 9) $100

I wasn’t entirely satisfied with Magic Bowl I. One on the things I thought lacking was textural contrast and I found the paperweight that formed the center of interest to be a weak point in the painting. The daffodil provides both color and textural contrast. I also gave the background more texture and contrast. I like the result much better. And it keeps the abstract design feel I was aiming for in the first painting.

I painted the bowl conventionally working from light to dark beginning with the daffodil and moving on to it’s myriad of reflections. I used hansa yellow light, winsor orange, cadmium yellow and cobalt blue for the flower. For the bowl I used phthalo blue, cobalt blue, cadmuim red, winsor orange and burnt sienna.

For the background concrete I applied several layers of burnt sienna and phhtalo blue. I salted each layer separately. Salting which is exactly what it sounds like (you sprinkle salt on wet paint) causes irregular lighter areas where the salt sat because the salt pushes away the water and pigment.


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Fall Poplars or Playing with Pastels

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Fall Poplars (12 x 18)  $125.00

Fall Poplars (12 x 18) $125.00

I have admired pastels and mixed media with pastels for some time now.  There is a sparkly quality about pastels that no other medium can match.  Pastels over watercolors can create both spectacular and subtle effects.

My husband bought me pastels for Christmas, and I have been playing with them this last week.   Pastels are if  anything less forgiving than watercolor.  All color mixing must be done on the paper either optically or by smearing.  Pastel smears easily.  The paper holds only so much pastel before it suddenly won’t take anymore.   This last can be fixed somewhat, by using a workable fixative.  Some lifting is possible with a kneadable eraser.

The method is very different from watercolor too.  Working with them is a kind of cross between drawing and painting. Pastels are an opaque medium and therefore work best if the dark tones are blocked in first and the lights laid over them.  Highlight go on last. Nothing runs.  The chalk stays right where you put it until you smudge it.

I started this image on the rough side of a rose colored sheet of  Canson Mi-Tietens paper.   I laid in the sky with PanPastels.  PanPastels come in pots rather than sticks and they are highly pigmented and almost dustless.  Applying them is reminiscent of applying dry eyeshadow or rouge.  The top of the sky is phthalo blue. Further down I switched to ultramarine blue. Then I worked back up the sky from the horizon, overlaying the deep blue with ultramarine and phthalo tints (both of which are almost white).  I used white, and more of the blue tints to lay in the clouds.  Then I got out a violet soft pastel stick and added the deeper shadows smudging them in as I went.

I roughed in the far tree line with a dark blue shade of soft pastel.  I added a dark green shade lower down and smudged.  I pushed the pastel up into the sky with a sponge applicator.

Returning to PanPastels, I added the hills with turquoise blue shade and bright yellow green shade.  Burnt sienna came next.  Then I went back over the hills with a variety of green and brown soft pastels to create texture.  I smudged these in with my fingers.

Continuing with soft pastels, I drew in the poplar trunks first with a dark green gray and a red brown.  I added a lighter gray and then an almost white gray.   Then I added the leaves beginning with a dull orange, continuing with a brighter orange and finally a yellow orange.  I smudged the leaves on the farther tree to suggest a little distance.

With soft pastels I put in blue and purple shadows under the foreground trees to indicate the rough grass line.  I drew in the grass over the shadows with a variety of  hard pastels starting with the darker colors and continuing with the lighter ones.  I softened the lines with a finger.

After years of reserving or painting around the lighter colors, laying in the trees over the sky and grass felt like magic.

I enjoyed this.  Watercolor will remain my primary medium, but pastel has a rough sparkly quality I’d like.  Some images just seem to demand it.  I may also do some mixed media, painting a watercolor first before accenting it with pastel.

I ship my watercolors rolled in a tube or, if they or very small flat.  I provide free shipping for watercolors within the continental United States. Pastels cannot be safely rolled since they would smudge and they should be both matted and covered with a protective sheet.  Therefore, the shipping cost of my pastels will vary depending upon size.  All pastels will will include an acid free neutral colored mat and backing.


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Submerged I and II: Playing With New Methods

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Submerged I (9 x 12) $75.00

Submerged I (9 x 12) SOLD

I’ve been experimenting with a couple of new methods.  These two paintings are the result.  Both are based on  some photos of trees half drowned by the swollen Willamette River I took  this weekend.  I wanted to catch the cold grayness of of the scene and the mystery of the half hidden trees.

Blowing:

I blew the trees.  I placed puddles of paint on the paper and blew them into trees with a straw.  The line of paint running out from the puddle  looks surprisingly like a tree limb.  And the direction the paint goes in is quite controllable.  But once the paint has started in one direction it’s hard to make it turn.  The paint follows the wet path as if it were a stream bed.  The solution is to drag a little paint in the direction you want to take it and thus start a new path.  Where the trees over-lap it’s important to let the first tree dry completely before starting the next, otherwise the paint form the new tree will run up the first tree.

There are several ways to vary the color in the tree.   Leaving the supply puddle partially unmixed is one. New colors can be blown into the wet tree from the base.  Accents and be directly painted onto the dry trees. I used all three methods on these paintings.

Layered Masking:

The second method is painting grass and bracken with multiple layers of mask.  Thin lines of mask establish the highlights.  Then color is applied.  Then more lines are applied. Then more mask for multiple layers.  When the mask is removed a complex texture is revealed.  I was less successful with this method.  It’s hard to see what you are doing or to guess the result.  More practice is needed.

I used layered mask in Submerged I.  But I didn’t like the results immediately.  The foreground was too busy and detracted from my trees, which then looked much like the trees in Submerged II.  After some thought, I painted over the trees in dark tones to match the foreground.  The result is an evening picture.

Submerged II (9 x 12) $75.00

Submerged II (9 x 12) $75.00

For the second painting I added the foreground wet into wet.  The result is simpler and gives the feeling of the gray afternoon on the river.

The palette for both paintings is:  burnt sienna, phtholo blue and dioxion purple,  plus a dab of hansa yellow.

Original Paintings

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Reeds at Sunset

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Reeds at Sunset (11 x 15) $75.00

Reeds at Sunset (11 x 15) $75.00

This is the Willamette again, but it could really be anywhere.  I was struck by the way the reeds look like they are growing out of a sunset.

Like the Broken Dock I painted a couple days ago, I began this painting by masking everything except the water.  After the mask on the reeds dried, I painting the sky’s refection on the still water wet into wet beginning with an overall wash of very diluted burnt sienna.   When the shine left the paper, I added various mixes of quinacridone deep red rose and new gamgee (yellow).  I used cobalt blue and burnt sienna to ad the darker clouds and phthalo blue for the water.

Once the  sky had dried, I removed the mask and painted the reeds in new gamgee, colalt blue, phthalo blue and burnt sienna.


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Summer Shoppers

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Summer Shoppers

Summer Shoppers (11 x 12) $150.00

This could be anywhere.  What I liked about my photo was the sunshine and the interaction between the young women.

Poured Version

Poured Version

I intended to pour a very atmospheric painting, and I did pour one reserving only the womens skin for direct painting.  But I was unhappy with the reflections in the windows and the draping of the sundress.  I really liked the bright pinks, oranges and yellows I got through pouring though.  So at the gallery yesterday, I repainted the image using not only my photo, but also the poured painting as a guide.

For most of the painting I used hansa yellow light, new gamboge, quinacridone deep red rose, and phthalo blue.  Using two yellow helped keep things bright.  I added burnt sienna to the hair and the leather bag.

I tried to keep most of the poured feeling by mixing the paints freely on the paper.  I added the windows and other darks in many layers of transparent color.

I’m happy with the results, but were I to do this over, I would pour the windows, sidewalk, and shadows and perhaps the dark bag and pants.  Then I would paint the women directly.


Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.com. See more of my people paintings here: people art

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The Fossil Shell

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The Fossil Shell (6 x 9) $75.00

The Fossil Shell (6 x 9) $75.00

My girls like to hunt for fossil shells on the beach. Once a middle aged fossil hunter with a German Sheppard stopped to to talk with them. It was a brief conference between enthusiasts. He was looking for fossilized fish and other rarer things. The four shared the boulder strewn beach under the cliffs while I watched the waves.  Then the girls and I headed back up the beach for the warm hotel room. He caught up quickly and thrust a stone into my youngest’s hand and was gone before she could say thank you or even see what it was. It was the find of the day, a fossilized shell perfectly preserved on one side and rough rock on the other.

Joy! I popped it right down on the sand and photographed it.  It lives on our mantle piece now.

After the Mask Came Off

After the Mask Came Off

I began the painting by masking the shell. Then I washed the background lightly first with yellow ochre, then with burnt sienna. I painted in the shadow of the shell with phthalo blue. After that I used an old toothbrush to splatter it with layer upon layer of burnt sienna, yellow ochre, cerulean blue, and Prussian blue.

Next I removed the mask and painted the shell in burnt sienna, and cerulean blue. I added a few gouache white touches.

When I stepped back to look at it, I decided that the sand was too busy and had taken away from the picture. So I took the painting  to the sink and scrubbed paint off it with a stiff brush under the tap. Washing a painting is a scary process, but sometimes it’s the only good fix. The result is softer, but still shows the effects of the splattering.


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Taking Ten With My Shadow

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Taking Ten With My Shadow (8 x 10) $125.00

Taking Ten With My Shadow (8 x 10) $125.00

Ordinarily I paint from life or more commonly from my own photographs.  But the photo I based these this painting on was taken by charlena of RedBubble.  The art groups on RedBubble regularly hold competitions.  One of my favorite groups, Just Watercolors, often holds competitions in which each artist paints the same photo.  Up until now, none of the photos appealed to me particularly, but this one did.

Just Kickin Back by Charlena

Just Kickin Back by Charlena

Charlena’s picture is moody and emphases the intimate nature of the space and lighting. I didn’t see any way to do that better with paint than she had already done it with the camera.    But I really liked the shadow looming up behind the resting musician, so I changed the format from horizontal to vertical and cut out most of the dark wall to emphasize the man and his shadow.

After Masking

After Masking

My version of this scene is an almost entirely poured painting.  After transferring my sketch to the paper, I masked the musician, his shadow and everything else dark in the sketch.  The trick to applying liquid mask is to use synthetic brushes and to soap the brushes before and in between dips  into the mask.

The Yellow Pour

The Yellow Pour

When the mask was dry I poured the lights.  After wetting the paper (a necessary first step to get the paint to stick) I poured a tea like mix of hansa yellow light over the paper.  I waited for the hansa to dry before pouring first new gamgee, then deep red rose.  Once again I wet the paper.  I poured the area around his feet first.  Then I poured upwards from his head to preserve the bright yellow halo effect around his face and hat.

The Second Pour

The Second Pour

First Mask Removed

First Mask Removed

When the lights were completely dry, I removed the mask.  I took a moment to renew the pencil lines the mask had lifted. Then I masked all of the areas I has just poured leaving only the darks.  I left the mask to dry.  Then, after wetting the page, I poured light mixtures of cobalt blue, phthalo blue, magenta and deep red rose.  I tried to keep the darker and colder phthalo blue primarily to the shadow and the dark wall leaving the cobalt for the figure in the middle.

After the paint dried, I masked some small highlights in the musician’s face, hat, trousers and shoes.  When the mask dried, I wet the paper and poured the same colors in the same places only darker.

When the final mask was removed I felt the picture was too bright.  So I added little gray shadow under the chair to set off the vivid colors.  Colbalt blue over the orangy pink floor produced a lively gray.


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Challenging Myself: One Subject, Three Moods

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Queen Anne Nods to Shirley Jackson (11 x 15) $150

Queen Anne Nods to Shirley Jackson (11 x 15) $150

I set a challenge for myself this week.  The idea was to paint a single subject in a variety of moods.  The subject I choose was Deepwoods Estate, here in Salem.  I took all of the photos for the painting in the same light and although the various aspects of the building gave me different ideas, the photos don’t convey much feeling to me.

Its Greener on the Otherside (10 x 13) $125.00

Its Greener on the Other Side

Porch reference photo

Porch reference photo

I began with the front porch. I aimed to emphasize the softness of the light and the romance of the building.  I also wanted to draw the viewer into the painting.

As you can see from my reference photo, my depiction is a little fanciful.  I limited my palate to yellows and blues to mimic the soft shadowy light under the porch and the golden sunlight beyond it.

I think the painting works.  The most common comment about it is that the viewer would like to step through the porch into the garden on the other side.

Turret and Copula (11 x 14) $150

Turret and Cupola

Turret Reference Photo

Turret Reference Photo

Next I painted a detail of the roof-line from in back. This time I tried to contrast the harsh glittering light with the shaded parts of the building.

Because I intended to include many hard lines and less subtle variation in tone I looked for a place where the contrast between light and shade was particularly striking. But I didn’t want it to look like graphic art, so I poured this painting to ensure that the solid expanses of color were lively rather than flat. Once again I exaggerated, the light in the reference photo is not nearly as stark as the light I painted.

I like this painting, but it turned out rather softer than I had intended.  I may try it again with an orange and blue palate.

House Reference Photo

House Reference Photo

The latest painting in this series is of the whole house.  I’ve always found Victorian and Queen Anne houses a little creepy.  Like wrought iron, they can be both sinister and charming all at once.  On a bright sunny day there is nothing really creepy about the Deepwood House, but it does have a swallowed by the woods feel to it.  Despite a generous lawn, there are few places where you can see the whole house.  Instead what you see is patches of house through the trees.

So in order to bring out the sinister feel of Queen Anne archetecture, I pulled the trees in closer to the house and darkened the edges where the trees and house meet visually.  I also distorted the shape of the house stretching it upwards to about fifteen percent more than it’s real height.  Finally I chose a very earthy palate for such a pristine white house:  burnt sienna, raw sienna, yellow ocher, phthalo blue and cobalt blue.

I poured this painting too because I wanted a lot of variation in tone. But pouring produces hard lines at the edges of the mask. The result had too many hard lines for the shadowy woods.  I did so much scrubbing of the edges, washing over, and detail work that painting doesn’t feel poured to me.  But the more I painted the darker it got.  I finally had to stop for fear the house would no longer read as white.

I showed the finished painting to my husband yesterday.  He said he really liked it, but then added tentatively, “Isn’t it a little eerie?”  Yes, yes it is.  But I don’t think it’s so eerie that it’s a caricature of the house.


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Turret and Cupola

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Turret and Copula (11 x 14) $150

Turret and Copula (11 x 14) $150

Back to the Deepwood Estate but with a very different feel.  This is the west or backside of the house looking up at the turret and the tallest roof peak.  The afternoon sun brought the architectural details into graphic relief. I decided to play with the posterized nature of the light by pouring this painting.

Pouring watercolors is much like batik dyeing.  First I mask all the white areas of the painting.  Then I literally pour cups of paint across the paper.  After the first pour dries, I mask all the pastels and pour darker paint.  Then I mask the medium values and pour again with yet darker paint.   Once the painting is dry, I lift the mask and add the darkest values and the details.

In this case I used phthalo blue, deep red rose, and new gamgee for the first pout.  I tried to keep the yellow on the cupola.  In later pours I used only the deep red rose and two blues Phthalo and French ultramarine.  I saved the french ultramarine for the final pour.

I masked the sky after the first pour and overlaid it with cobalt blue when the mask was removed.  The details are all heavy purple and magenta mixtures of phthalo blue and deep red rose.


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It’s Greener on the Other Side of the Porch

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Its Greener on the Otherside (10 x 13) $125.00

Its Greener on the Other Side (10 x 13) $125.00

Built in 1894, The Deepwood Estate is a lovely example of Queen Anne architecture.  But to my mind, the gardens are even better.  There are four acres of these and they get better every year.  The indoor and outdoor Deepwood Estate meet on the front porch.  Steps from the porch lead to both the front and back gardens as well as the house and separate glassed-in porch.

Looking up at the porch from the front, I was struck by how the trees on the other side glowed in sun.

After cropping my reference photo to emphasize the the view of the backyard, I spent sometime correcting the photo’s perspective.  After transferring my sketch to the watercolor paper I built up from light to dark reserving the white paper where the sun hit the porch wall.

The palate was phthalo blue, a little cobalt blue, hansa yellow light, hansa yellow medium, and burnt sienna.  I tried to keep the porch shadows as blue as possible to emphasize the green and yellow of the view on the other side of the porch. And I exaggerated the porch shadows to increase the sense of depth and to show off the green and gold trees. I used the sienna very sparingly and only to gray down the blues and greens.


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The Mill Reflects Upon Itself

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The Mill Reflects Upon Itself (13 x 16) $200

The Mill Reflects Upon Itself (13 x 16) $200

I love the way old glass distorts reflections. This is the second painting of reflections in old glass I’ve done at the Mission Mill Museum.

The old woolen mill is well worth the visit. Most of the original equipment remains inside the mill house and the mill wheel and machinery remains operable. One of these days I’ll have to paint the whole building. It’s bright red and looks like a stack of buildings piled up like crates rather than a single structure. The effect is charming and oddly reminiscent of a child’s toy.

In the meantime I remain fascinated by the glass. Here, a dye house window reflects the mill itself. I love the abstract designs created in the window panes.

I created the siding with multiple washes of paint. I began by painting the shadows in french ultramarine blue. Then I washed all of the siding with with a mixture of deep red rose grayed down a little with phthalo green. Next came Da Vinci’s burnt sienna, followed by HWC’s burnt sienna. The first is really very orange and the second verges on red. I didn’t wash the highlights with the redder sienna. Then I washed the shadowed siding in burnt umber followed by cobalt blue. I like the resulting glow from all of those translucent layers of paint.

I used much the same process for the reflected mill, except that I didn’t use any burnt umber and the final layer of deep red rose.


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The Golden Dolphin

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The Golden Dolphin (8 x 10) $100

The Golden Dolphin (8 x 10) $100

Yes, I’m still playing around with photos from the Newport Fisherman’s Wharf.  I liked the way the reflected light from the bay danced across the hull of the white boat.

To paint the reflections I first masked to whitest of the highlights.  Then I washed the shadowed part of the hull with a very watery cerulean blue.  I used cerulean because of the way it granulates and spreads out across the water unevenly.  Then I lifted the lighter areas with a dry brush.  Finally I used a small brush to paint in the dark outlines.

The palate is larger than I usually employ.  There are three blues, phthalo, cobalt and cerulean.  The yellow is raw sienna.  The red is quinacridone deep red rose.  I used burnt sienna to gray the blues.


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Twixt Wind and Water II

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Twixt Wind and Water II (12 x 16) $225

Twixt Wind and Water II (12 x 16) $225

Twixt Wind and Water

Twixt Wind and Water

We spent last weekend on the beach.  I took enough photographs to have seacape material for some time to come.  While I was there I reworked Twixt Wind and Water.  Here is the result.  As you can see, I gave the painting considerably more sea-room to the left, so that she has something more to look into.

I began her hair with an under-painting of colbalt blue.  Then I used layers of yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and cobalt blue to complete it.  Quidacrone deep red rose provides the accent color in the hair band.

Her jacket is cobalt blue and prussian blue mixed on the palate.

The sea began as phthalo blue and burnt sienna with reserved whites.  Then I changed my mind about much of the wave action and began experimenting with white gouache.  To cover strong colors, gouache must be laid on fairly heavily.  And even though I don’t use ultra white paper, gouache white is still bluer that the paper.  Also, as I discovered gouache will washback into transparent watercolor and vice versa.  Work a little gouache onto the paper and nothing painted there will ever be entirely transparent again.

The effect is interesting, but I think next time I’ll stick to transparent watercolors, unyielding to change though they may be. I like the translucency better.


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Breakers at Seal Rock or Using all the White Techniques

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The Breakers at Seal Rock II (12 x 16) $125

The Breakers at Seal Rock II (12 x 16) $125

This is the second painting I’ve done of the tide coming in at Seal Rock Wayside.  The first was a little postcard sized painting I did while demonstrating at the fair.  That little painting sold immediately.  I liked it too, so when expanding it to a full sized painting I didn’t mess around with the composition much.  But I did want to get some more variety into the rocks and spray.

Like the previous painting, I began by reserving the whites with liquid mask while painting in the ocean and rocks. I used phthalo blue and burnt sienna for the ocean.

I used the same basic technique to lay down the rocks as I did with the first little painting.  I started with raw sienna and quinacridone gold.  Then I added burnt sienna and quinacridone deep red rose.  While the burnt sienna and deep red rose were still wet, I dropped in cobalt blue and phthalo blue.  Finally I added some heavy burnt sienna and some French Ultramarine.

Once the painting was dry,  I scrubbed the edges of the rock where the spay hit them with a stiff filbert brush to show how the waves obscured them.   Then I broke out the white gouache (an semi opaque white) and added more spray.  Over the dark painted rocks the gouache white looks gray.  I used the gouache primarily for the shelf of the biggest rock and the bases of the rocks on the shore side.  Finally I pulled out the razor and scratched in fine white lines where the water spilled over the rocks and little cuts for droplets of spray.  All four techniques work very differently, and each has a character of it’s own.  I like the variety that resulted from using them all.


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Sgrafutto or Taking A Razor to my Painting

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Seal Rock Breakers I (5 x 7--damaged) SOLD
Seal Rock Breakers I (5 x 7–damaged) SOLD

Seal Rock Park is one of our favorite waysides on Highway 101. This little painting shows a small part of the view north from the headland looking down at a string of volcanic rocks ringing the shore.
Last winter I took a series of photos of the waves crashing against the rocks as the tide came in. The photos look good in black and white but strangely lifeless in color. The contrast between the black rocks and the white waves is almost too much for color. So I left the photos on the back burner. But earlier this week I decided to try a small close-up view just to get me started.

To solve the overly black rock problem, I decided to make the rocks a chocolate brown. I began with raw sienna, and layered burnt sienna over the top. Then, while the burnt sienna was still wet or in some cases damp, I dropped in phthalo blue and let it interact with the sienna on the page. The result is almost as dark as the black in my photos but much more alive.

As usual I saved the white paper for foam and breakers with rubber mask. But I had a hard time getting the mask fine enough to show the run off down the base of the rocks. So when I tore the paper a little removing it from the pad (left of signature), I decided it was a good time to experiment with sgrafutto. After all, what did I have to lose?

Sgrafutto is an Italian term. It means to scratch the surface of multiple layers of color to reveal the lower layers. It’s a good technique for fine detail. In this case I used a razor blade to scratch through the brown rock to reveal the white paper below. Dragging the tip of the razor perpendicular to the cutting edge worked best. Dragging it toward the cutting edge produced a line so fine it didn’t show.

Now that I’ve tried it, I like this technique and I’ll use it to show more water against rocks in the future. I might also use it to show highlights in brick and stone.

The other technique I used to detail the spray is lifting. I moistened the edges of the rocks where they met the masked spray and scrubbed them a little with the brush. Then I took a dry thirsty brush and lifted as much of the paint as I could along the edges of the rock. You can see the results in along the left hand side of the largest rock and at the base of the far right rock.

I like this little painting and I’ll use the same techniques to make some larger versions of it later. I have plenty of rocks and breakers to play with.

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Low Tide at Agate Beach

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Low Tide at Agate Beach (12 x 16) $200

Low Tide at Agate Beach (12 x 16) $200

I love the ghostly look of the beach at low tide on a foggy morning. The beach stretches out forever half hidden in haze and strangely reflective, making the beach and the sky much the same color. The ocean swallows up all sound. All is quiet mystery.

But I have a hard time painting it. It is essentially nothing with variations. Here, to emphases the space and provide life are my daughters striding companionably into to that great emptiness filling it with sound and movement.

To paint the picture I masked the white waves, the foam and girls, but not their reflections. I painting the sky with burnt sienna and cobalt blue in multiple wet into wet layers. I painted the beach first in yellow ocher and than followed that with burnt sienna. I painted various mixtures of burnt sienna and cobalt blue wet on wet over the sand. The waves are a darker mixture of burnt sienna and cobalt blue painted wet on dry.

After the wet paper dried, I lifted the mask and painted the girls. The were actually dressed in brightly colored coats, but I painted them in more burnt sienna and cobalt to keep the monotone foggy feel of the beach. Then I dampened the area under the girls and painted in their reflections wet on damp.

I placed my signature carefully since in all that emptiness I knew it would be a design element.

This painting is currently for sale on-line through my Etsy Shop.

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Surf Dance

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Surf Dance (5 x 7) $30.00

Surf Dance (5 x 7) $30.00

This is another little painting of the two brothers playing in the surf. They had found a log about half again as tall as either of them and were busy trying to return it to the sea. But as the tide was coming in, the sea kept giving it back. Here they have just finished taking it far so into the surf that they thought they had gotten rid of it. The victory dance was short lived. It came back. I don’t think they really minded though. They were having fun.

I used the same palette and method as the last little painting. First I masked the white foam and the boys. Then I painted the water and sand, beginning wet into wet and adding the details wet on dry. I painted the sand in with yellow ocher and burnt sienna right up to the first foam. I laid the thin layer of water reflecting the sky with blue cerulean right over the sand. I added the reflections last. When all was dry I removed the mask and painted in the boys and softened the foam.

Removable liquid masking is the easiest way to preserve small areas of white paper. I use Shiva Liquid Masque, but Winsor & Newton make a perfectly good mask too. The advantage to Shiva for me is that it’s slightly pink, making it easier for me to see where I’ve masked. Winsor & Newton is slightly yellow which I find harder to see against white paper.

Mask should be applied to bone dry paper. Use a synthetic brush well rubbed in hand soap to apply the mask. Resoap the brush regularly and wash it with soap afterwords. Don’t use water that has been used for masking when painting. Don’t remove the mask until the paint is bone dry. A rubber cement pick-up works best.

This painting is currently available on-line through my Etsy shop.

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Biting Off More Than I Can Chew: Demonstrating

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I have difficulty painting in public. I never paint my best or even close to my best with an audience. Even at the gallery where people wander in and out infrequently, I have a hard time with painting in company. I don’t blush or drop my brush. But I don’t concentrate as well as I do in private. And I make fundamental errors more frequently.

But I must learn to paint in public and soon. And what is more I must be able to talk about it while I do it, because this coming August I have agreed to demonstrate painting and sculpture at the Artisan’s Village in the Oregon State Fair.

It’s sculpture that got me into this. I’ve sculpted for seven years now and I’m quite comfortable doing it with an audience. For the last four years I have sculpted all day at just about every art fair I’ve been in. Only heat and fancy carpets stop me.

Last Christmas a representative from the Artisan Village saw me demonstrating at the Salem Saturday Market Christmas Show and asked if I would be willing to take a booth at the fair. This is plum. Commercial booths at the fair rent for several thousand dollars. Booths in the Atrisan Village rent for $75.00. The difference? The Village is a juried venue. The catch? —artists in the Village must demonstrate from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Most artist share a booth and share demonstrating hours. But I know no one else who sculpts polymer clay. And besides, it’s an outdoor venue and the hotter it gets the hotter polymer clay gets until it becomes much to soft to sculpt. What to do?

Well, I was looking for a way to display my new watercolors so I talked myself and the director into both sculpture and painting. I am to sculpt in the cooler mornings and paint in the heat of the day. Switching mediums halfway through the day should help me keep my brain active too.

Now all I have to do is learn to paint in public. I spent this weekend learning. Saturday and Sunday I sold sculpture while painting watercolors. I tried to stick to easy subjects and to leave the detail work for later.

I will try my hand at painting in public again at The Salem Art Festival in July, and the Silverton Fine Arts Festival in mid August. At the end of August it’s show time.

Here are my three half finished paintings. With luck I’ll be posting the finished paintings later this week:

Dances with Fountains (in progress)

Dances with Fountains (in progress)

This is the beginning of another painting in my Splash series of the children playing at Town Center Park. I began by masking the boy and the fountains and painting the water in cobalt blue and burnt sienna. After lifting the first mask I masked the splashes on the boy and the high lights in the fountains. Then I added raw sienna to the palette and began painting the boy. I think I am going to need a real red to complete his skin. Then I will lift the mask and complete the detail work.

Boy with Umbrella (in progress)

Boy with Umbrella (in progress)

This is a full size painting of the boy with the umbrella. The boy is mostly finished, but I want to add a second umbrella on the lower right. I didn’t have a reference photo for that at the show. But I have plenty of pictures of umbrellas in the same light to choose from here.

The painting is on hot pressed paper. The palate is cobalt blue, phthalo green, quinacridone deep red rose, yellow ocher and ceruleum blue.

Pumice Seekers II (in progress)

Pumice Seekers II (in progress)

This is a much smaller version of a painting I did a few months ago of my husband and the girls looking for pumice stones at Crater Lake. Stephen loves the original and won’t let me sell it. But it’s too large for his office. I’m hoping to have this smaller office sized version finished in time for his birthday.

So far I’m using just three pigments: cobalt blue, yellow ocher and burnt sienna. The painting still needs a great deal more contrast.

In the meantime I’ll be preparing to sell sculpture and paint at the Salem Art Fair. I will be at the State Fair August 28th through September 1st in Booth 414 on the south side of the village next to the floral gardens. Wish me luck.

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Her Own Little Fountain

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Her Own Little Fountain (12 x 15) $75.00

Her Own Little Fountain (12 x 15) $75.00

Yes, it’s yet another painting of the children playing in the water feature at Town Center Park, Wilsonville, Oregon. What can I say? I love hot sun on skin. And the children were cute. This little girl in particular was adorable. She was all over that stream and happily oblivious to the camera.

This is my second painting on hot-pressed paper. The last was a rocky seascape and I used hot-press to get more luminous darks. That worked well.

I wanted to test the wipe-out properties of hot-pressed paper. Wiping-out means to paint solid color and then to lift the high lights. Hot-pressed paper wipes easier than cold-pressed or rough paper. It thought it would be a good technique for skin on a hot summer’s day. What I discovered is that it works well except for highly staining colors. Quinacridone deep red rose is highly staining. Actually I haven’t found a red I like that isn’t highly staining. The closest I’ve found is burnt sienna which is really an orange. I think I’ll wait for a less sunburn scene where I can use the raw sienna before trying wipe-out with hot-pressed paper again.

The palette was burnt sienna, colbalt blue, quinarindone deep red rose and yellow ocher. I reclaimed some whites with titanium white.


Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.

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