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Teddy and Friends

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Teddy and Friends, painting by Jenny Armitage

Teddy and Friends (watercolor 17 x 20) commissioned

 

This is a commissioned piece for a local nurse practitioner who wanted a still life painting to appeal to little boys.  The irony is that most of the toys belong to my girls.  But, we did have to borrow the mitt and baseball from one of my daughter’s friends.

I painted it at the Oregon State Fair.   Demonstrating watercolor while stopping answer questions about other paintings, prints, and cards is always a bit of a hat-trick for me.  Detailed paintings require great concentration, and loose paintings are easily spoiled by stopping at the wrong moment.  This painting is full of small shapes and distinct items, making it a perfect painting to do in public.  Each object could be treated as a separate little painting and there was very little glazing that might be spoiled by stopping at the wrong moment.  No the less, I did wait to do the final touches back in the studio.

Since then it’s been waiting in my studio for my client to come home from vacation.  I delivered it to her this morning and she’s pleased. The studio looks a little empty, but I’m replacing it with other things.

The original was sold before I began, but fine art prints are available here.

 

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The Brothers and the Sea

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The Brothers and the Sea (5 x 7) SOLD

The Brothers and the Sea (5 x 7) SOLD

This is another little painting I did at the state fair. I used yet another photo of the two brothers who were trying to give a log back the the sea. No sign of the log here, just companionship and beautiful afternoon light.

The palate is once again phthalo blue, raw sienna, and burnt sienna. Burnt sienna is more orange than it is red; so the paintings that I do with this trio tend to be earthy in feel with blue-grays and brown-oranges where one might expect there to be purples. Obviously there are no bright reds either. I find this a useful pallet for the Oregon coast as it makes very easy to reproduce the actual colors of the beach and ocean. On bright days the addition of cobalt blue helps to get the water as blue as it really is.

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A Gift For the Sea

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A Gift For the Sea (5 x 7) $20.00

A Gift For the Sea (5 x 7) SOLD

This is another postcard sized painting I did while demonstrating at the fair. This particular one is yet another view of the two boys I had so much fun watching. They were trying to return a log to the sea. As the tide was coming in, it kept spitting it out. They were having a marvelous time.

The palette was my usual ocean foursome: cobalt blue, phthalo blue, raw sienna, and burnt sienna. The Northwest beaches here rarely show the ocean in bright colors. It’s a earth tone world on the Oregon beaches.

I reserved the figures and the whites with liquid mask before painting the ocean and beach. Notice that the crested waves in the foreground are greener than the waves in the background. When a wave crests you can see into the water from the side and here isn’t much sky reflected into it. Consequently it tends to look green rather than blue, like the edge of a glass pane. I used cobalt blue for the background waves and the greener phthalo blue mixed with a little raw sienna for the crested waves. I like the effect.

After the paint dried, I lifted the mask and added the figures. I was very careful to preserve the whites on the front of their swim trunks. The light was strong that afternoon and I wanted to keep it in the painting.

I added the reflections as I added the figures. I didn’t reserve space for them with mask, because painting them over the beach and water colors mimics the way they really look.

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The Joke’s On Me

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Hungry, Vegan, and Broke

Hungry, Vegan, and Broke

Memorial Day Waterworks (17 x 19) $275

Memorial Day Waterworks (17 x 19) $275

I spent yesterday talking with people and watching their reactions to my paintings at the Artisan Village, a part of the Oregon State Fair. Mostly, the paintings I, and my family like are the paintings other people like. Also, many people from Wilsonville were charmed by Memorial Day Waterworks because they recognize Town Center Park. The Annex Pub and the seascapes were also popular. There were some surprises though. One of them was Hungry, Vegan and Broke.

I painted the two young men in Hungry, Vegan, and Broke as a kind of private joke. I saw them in in downtown Portland in front of Powell’s Books. And while they were obviously hot and tired, they looked healthy and able bodied. Certainly they didn’t look like they’d been hungry anytime in the recent past. And the sign was so absurd: “Hungry, Vegan, and Broke.” I could translate that sign two ways: “We Are High Maintenance Choosy Beggars;” or, “Feed Us Because We Are Such Good Moral Young Men.”

I liked my little joke, and I loved the afternoon sun on their skin. But I the reactions of my family and friends to the painting were mixed. I didn’t even consider making a print or greeting card of the painting, and I hesitated to frame it for the fair, but I did.   At the last moment I made some magnets of it too.

Well, the joke is on me.  Almost everyone who sees this painting smiles, and this is the painting everyone wants a print of.  I have sold more Hungry, Vegan, and Broke magnets than magnets of any other painting. Today I’ll place it more prominately in the booth.  Right now it’s down low and half hidden by a table.

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In the Waves

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In the Waves (5 x 7) $20.00

In the Waves (5 x 7) $20.00

Do you remember the two brothers who were trying to send a log back out to sea?  The tide was coming in and so the sea kept sending it back.  I used another one of the photos I took of them that day to make this little postcard sized painting of the older brother.

The palette is phthalo blue, yellow ocher, and burnt sienna.

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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Afternoon Tide Tag

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Afternoon Tide Tag

Afternoon Tide Tag (5 x 7) $30.00

This is another postcard sized painting. I find it therapeutic to do these little paintings while I’m in the throws of getting ready to stock another polymer clay sculpture booth. While they don’t take as long as my larger pieces, it is challenging to get enough detail into these tiny paintings without overwhelming them with fussy little brush strokes.

I took endless photos of this young man and his brother last summer. They were very active and having a grand time playing in the waves. The light was beautiful and so were the boys. I may paint one or both of them again tomorrow.

The palette is cerulean blue, burnt sienna, and raw sienna. Substituting cerulean for my usual cobalt blue resulted in a greener and less gray sea. I used raw sienna rather than yellow ocher because ocher is on the green side of yellow and would have resulted in a pea green sea. For the boy’s skin and hair I used all three colors. The more I work with watercolor the more I am drawn to the sedimentary and metallic pigments. I have trouble with the organics.

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

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One Big Umbrella, One Small Boy, Three Small Sketches

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About a month or so ago the Titanic exhibit, or at least a small piece of it came to Salem. Stephen and I took the girls. It was a hot day and we were grateful to the sponsoring bank bank for providing us all with sunshades. And all of those great green and white umbrellas made the crowd rather picturesque. I puzzled the volunteers by photographing the crowd rather than the outside of the exhibit.

I think I will eventually do a back-lit painting of the line. But right now I have an upcoming art fair in Seattle (for my sculpture not my paintings) that’s taking up most of my time. Nevertheless I want to keep my brush hand in. These three little sketches are of a toddler ridding on his daddy’s shoulders and playing with one of those umbrellas.

Boy with Umbrella I (5 x 7) $20.00

Boy with Umbrella I (5 x 7) $20.00


He was having so much fun twirling that umbrella around and so happily oblivious to everything else that I was afraid he was going to bean his father with it. Come to think of it the father has slid of the paintings. None of the angles I liked showed the man’s head. When I included too much of his back and shoulders it looked like the boy was ridding the headless horseman.

Boy with Umbrella II (5 x 7) $20.00

Boy with Umbrella II (5 x 7) $20.00


I began the sketches because I liked the umbrella. I ended up doing three of them because I got carried away with the infinite variety of color in the boy’s hair and skin. Blue, yellow, red, brown, purple and orange. It’s all there.

Now that I look at the sketches I may make a full size painting out of one of these.

Boy with Umbrella III (5 x 7) SOLD

Boy with Umbrella III (5 x 7) SOLD

The palette was phthalo green, ceruleum blue, cadmium red, quinacridone deep red rose, yellow ocher.

These three sketches may be framed or used as postcards. Purchase all three for $50.00.

Because they are so small, I’ll mail these little sketches flat rather than in a tube. As always prices include postage within the continental United States.

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Memorial Day Waterworks

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Memorial Day Waterworks (17 x 19) $275

Memorial Day Waterworks (17 x 19) $275

Yes, this is yet another painting of the Town Center Park water feature. This one is rather more ambitious than the previous two. I backed up to take in the feel of the whole stream bed. And I included not one but seven figures.

As you can see from the reference photo, I took some liberties with the geometry of stream bed. I narrowed the center wall of concrete and removed a trash can among other less major changes. I also slide the boys around a little so that they wouldn’t be directly above each other. Finally I eliminated the blond boy half hidden on the left hand side.

Refrence Photo

Refrence Photo

After the Mask Came Off

After the Mask Came Off

Once I was satisfied with the sketch I masked the boys and concentrated on the water feature itself. Masking an object against water or sky makes it easier to get the water to flow evenly to the edge of the foreground object.

Masking the boys also served as a final composition check as it made them stand out as the centers of interest. People always attract the eye and I expected the boys to so doubly because their skin provides the only warm tones in an otherwise cool picture and because their clothing and toys are the brightest colors in the painting. I liked the way the placement of the boys echoes the “S” curve of the concrete wall. Now that the painting is finished, I still like it.

But I’m probably still not done with this water feature. I like this subject and I’m learning the value of working in a series.

Pigment notes: The background is all burn sienna, phthalo blue and cobalt blue. To do the boys I added yellow ocher, cadmium yellow, and quinacridone deep red rose.


Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.

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Wading In On All Fours

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Wading In On All Fours (8 x 11) $75.00

Wading In On All Fours (8 x 11) $75.00

Another painting based on the the photos I took at the Town Center Park in Wilsonville last weekend.
This young man didn’t think just wading was enough. He had to really get down into the water. I think he had the right idea.

This is another limited palette painting. I used burnt sienna, phthalo blue, cobalt blue and yellow ocher. This time I reserved all the whites with mask. Notice how much sparklier they are than the Chinese white I used in Waterfall in Her Lap.

I’m going to put in a plug for the park too while I’m at it. Town Center Park has the most wonderful made made stream running up the middle with little two foot high waterfalls and lot and lots of little bubblers. It’s designed for toddlers and even babies to wade in and on hot days it’s a lively place.
If you’re taking I5 just south of Portland on a hot day take the Korean War Memorial exit to find the park. You’ll be glad you did. The Memorial is in the back of the park well away from the fountain. It’s worth a visit too.


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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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High Noon at the Gravel Spit II

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High Noon the the Gravel Spit II

High Noon the the Gravel Spit II (9 x 12) SOLD

This is the same basic painting as yesterday writ larger. The method and pigments are the same, except that I didn’t do any direct painting on this one. I didn’t think any further definition of the boys was necessary.

I like it, but I think this one looks more like an ordinary crowd. I think the smaller numbers in the first painting focused the eye on the interactions between the young men. That part of the drama gets lost in a crowd.

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

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High Noon at the Gravel Spit I

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High Noon at the Gravel Spit (8 x 10) $100

High Noon at the Gravel Spit (8 x 10) SOLD

Under the West Salem bridge there is a little sand bar, really a gravel bar. At any given time on the weekend there are likely to be three or four families there and at least one father teaching his son to skip stones. It is an ideal place for skipping stones into the river. It’s a good place for wadding toddlers too.

But looking down from the bridge a couple weeks ago I saw a very different scene. Five or six young men roamed the sandbar, jostling against one another and skipping stones from first one side than the other. There was no real violence, but the boys radiated suppressed anger and extreme restlessness.

Reference IIThis painting is a composite of figures from several of the photos I took of the restless young men. I arranged them to keep the feeling of tension I felt looking down at them from the bridge.

Reference I

The painting is almost entirely poured. The first pour was hansa yellow light, quinacridone deep red rose, and phthalo blue. In the next pour I substituted new gamboge for the hansa yellow and added quincaridone magenta. The third pour I used just the two reds and phthalo blue. For the fourth pour I used quincaridone magenta, dioxzine purple, and phthalo blue.

After the fourth pour I washed the boy’s jeans with phthalo blue and added dioxzine purple and phthalo blue wet into wet into the shadows on their shirts. The little dots are dioxzine purple splattered off the brush.

I think I captured the tension and the pours produced beautiful colors. I’m going to paint a larger more complex version of this painting tomorrow. I like the colors and will probably use them again.

This painting has sold, but I have run a limited edition of fifty giclee prints on archival rag paper.  Signed and numbered prints are $50.00 each.


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