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figure and figures

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Cowboy in Chinatown

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Cowboy in Chinatown, Painting of Victoria, B.C., by Jenny Armitage

Cowboy in Chinatown (watercolor and gouache 16 x 22) Available

There is still a Chinatown in Victoria, B.C., but it’s only a few blocks long now.  The Fantan Cafe dominates the street.   It’s still a fun and colorful place to visit.  The entrance arch remains, and they still hang Chinese lanterns.

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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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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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Waterfall in Her Lap

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Waterfall in Her Lap

Waterfall in Her Lap (8 x 11) $75

Whether because it was hot or because of the economy or both, the art fair was slow this weekend. I had time on my hands. So on Saturday I asked a fair buddy to watch my booth and took photos of children playing in the long combination fountain and man-made stream running down the middle of the park. I got nice and wet doing it too. That evening I downloaded the photos and Sunday I painted this one at the fair.

I had fun painting her, but I think she had even more fun sitting under the waterfall.

The palette is quinacridone deep red rose, burnt sienna, yellow ocher, cobalt blue, and phthalo blue. I reclaimed some white with Chinese white gouache.


Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.

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Winter Sun or Hat With Girl

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Winter Sun I (9 x 12) $75

Winter Sun I (9 x 12) $75

Arne Westerman has a little chapter in his book, How to Become a Famous Artist Through Pain and Suffering, in which an artist complains to his psychiatrist that he just can’t do lost edges because he has a compulsion to paint in the lines. I can relate. I have a hard time painting loose and yet the paintings I most admire are often painted that way.

This painting was an exercise in staying loose. I had to throw away two tighter versions to get it. But I’m glad I kept at it. And yes is does have a lost edge or two.

The palette is my trusty favorite four, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, cobalt blue and phthalo blue. It’s a good palette for painting loose. The burnt sienna and the blues flow together in the most interesting and unexpected ways. I washed just a hair of quinacridone deep red rose into her lips.

But however much I may like the painting, my eleven year old daughter, does not. As she complains, you can’t even see my eyes. And you can’t But if she will wear oversize hats, what else can she expect?


Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.

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Sisters on the Rocks III: A Wild Change in Palatte

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

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

Yes color matters. I changed the palette to brighter clearer colors, but grayed them down with their compliments. This made the scene more restful. The active climbing takes second place to the static view. I like the effect, but it feels much less like Oregon winter to me.

I used red rose deep (quinacridone), dioxazine purple, cobalt blue, Prussian blue, and hansa yellow light.

I under-painted the rocks with cobalt blue to establish the basic shapes before adding much color. Then I dropped in dioxazine purple and Purssian blue. This resulted in an unreal landscape of glowing blue rocks. After stewing a while I mixed up a grey brown with the dioxazine and the hansa and a muddy orange with the hansa and quinacridone. I washed these over the rocks to tone them down a few notches.

Underpainted

Underpainted

Half greyed Half Blue

Half greyed Half Blue

The sky is cobalt blue with a tad of orange mixed from the quinacridone and hansa dropped in wet on wet. The sand is dioxazine purple grayed with the same orange. I used the same mixture for the headland in the background.


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Daddy’s Magnifying Glass

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Daddy's Magnifying Glass (11 x 14) $225

Daddy's Magnifying Glass (11 x 14) $225


We’ve been watching a lot of old Survivor Man episodes here. I think that’s why Stephen and the girls decided to start a fire with the magnifying glass. Survivor man often has poor luck with fires. We didn’t do much better. Dry tinder is hard to find in Oregon and the wind kept blowing out the sparks. I gave them a little fire anyway.

I may have exaggerated the fire, but I didn’t have to exaggerate the light. In the late afternoon sun they were perfectly beautiful just as was.

For this painting I went back to my favorite earthy palette of burnt sienna, yellow ocher, cobalt blue and phthalo blue. I used a little quinacridone magenta and cadmium yellow in the skin.

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

Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.

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Floating on the Lawn

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Floating on the Lawn (11 x 15) $125

Floating on the Lawn (11 x 15) $125

This is one of my daughters’ friends luxuriating in the lawn. Sinking into soft grass and staring up at the sky is one of the best feelings there is.

I had fun with this one.

The biggest problem I had was forcing myself to make the grass dark enough. Consequently it went down in many layers beginning with cadmium yellow and cobalt blue and progressing through ultramarine blue and ocher yellow. I washed dioxazine purple over it to dull the color and dropped French ultramarine into the shadows. In the end the background took longer than the figure. [In fact I uploaded another version of this painting thinking I was done. After looking at it a while I strengthened the shadows and reposted it. ]

before the darker shadow.

before the darker shadow.

The girl herself was purple pink in the light and I exaggerated that effect. I used rose madder quinacridone and cadmium yellow for her skin and dioxazine purple for the shadows in her face.

Much of the pink in her face was reflected light from her shirt. I used quinacridone magenta, more rose madder quinacridone and dioxozine purple for the shadows in her shirt. Then I washed her shirt with Winsor and Newton’s Opera—yet another quinacridone.

In keeping with the pink and purple theme I used dioxazine purple to under-paint the shadows in her hair before washing it with yellow ocher and burnt umber. I love under-painting for hair. It produces the most natural looking shadows.

purple underpainting

purple underpainting

over-washed hair

over-washed hair


Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.

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Cello Practice IV

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Cello Practice IV (11 x 14) $160

Cello Practice IV (11 x 14) $160

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

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

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

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Cello Practice III

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Cello Practice III (11 x 13) $100

Cello Practice III (11 x 13) $100

This is my niece playing cello. I took the photo a couple of summers ago at my brother’s house. I just love her long limbs and fingers. Playing the cello shows off those elegant fingers like nothing else. I’ve heard her complain that she hates to see how she was holding her hands on the cello even a few months ago because her positioning is improving. I can’t tell good positioning from bad, but I like the way her hands look. I hope she’ll forgive me for immortalizing her two year old cello technique.

I had intended this painting to be looser, more painterly, and less illustrative than it turned out. That seems to be a painting at the gallery problem. Given an audience I tend to tighten up and draw with the brush. The First Quilt is another tight painting resulting from painting at the gallery. I need to pick my gallery subjects carefully.

But, it’s not a bad little painting. It’s just not what I intended. I do like the way her face and limbs pop out against dark background. I will probably try a much freer version this afternoon.

I used cadmium yellow and quinacridone deep red rose as a foundation for her skin. Other than that I stuck to a three paint palette of burnt sienna, phthalo blue and cobalt blue. I didn’t include a yellow at all. I like the color scheme and will probably keep it in the next version.

I created her appearing and disappearing necklace by first masking it and then removing the mask when the shirt was about half finished. I like the effect.


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Pub Talk

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Pub Talk (10 x 14) $175

Pub Talk (10 x 14) $125

I love to paint people and I love the interior light of dark restaurants with the sun streaming in through the side windows. Unfortunately if I sketch or photograph people in bars or restaurants they stop acting naturally. I have developed a sneaky system for photographing them. If I use the LED screen as a view finder and turn off the flash, people think I am reviewing previously taken photos rather than taking new ones. I took the photos for this scene in just that way.

I tried pouring this scene first. The result had lovely color and value, but it was rougher than I liked. I loved the light, but didn’t think I could pour it with greater clarity.

Poured Version of Pub Talk

Poured Version of Pub Talk

So I did a little sketching and then painted directly with the same colors I used for the pour: phthalo blue, burnt sienna, raw sienna, dioxazine purple, and cobalt blue.

Pub Talk Sketch

Pub Talk Sketch

I still like the beautiful poured background in my first attempt, and I may do this one again tomorrow using directly painted figures and a poured background.


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Homemade Boat

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Homemade Boat (8 x 11) $50

Homemade Boat-sketch (8 x 11) $50

I did this little painting at the gallery today. It’s my daughter launching a homemade boat at Mom’s last summer.

Her skin is cadmium red and yellow ochre. Cobalt blue, burnt sienna, and burnt umber complete my palette.


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Skipping Stones and Body Paint

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Skipping Stones (11 x 14) $75

Skipping Stones (11 x 14) SOLD

Skipping stones is like testing an echo, faced with a smooth body of water and rocks at hand, all right minded people want to do it. This is my husband and girls skipping stones into the Williamettee River. Georgia learned to do two or three skips that day and Paula found some fresh water shells.

Because the painting is really all about basic body shapes and afternoon sun I began it painting by pouring. I wanted bodies washed in color. But I did so much direct painting afterwords that it hardly feels like a poured painting to me. Whatever I did, it wouldn’t come right and I almost gave up on it. I finally decided that for design purposes I should have made Stephen’s hat white like the girls’ hats. But with watercolor white is reserved paper not paint and there was no way I could lift enough paint to make his hat white again, certainly not white in comparison to the girls’ hats.

So I pulled out the white body paint. Body paint or gouache is opaque watercolor. Dark colors are lightened with white. Transparent watercolor dilutes gouache and it won’t cover it. Consequently, gauche must be added last. So I painted the shadow of the hat with transparent colors first and then I painted around the shadow with permanent white gouache. I had to apply it fairly thickly because opaque is one thing but covering is another. While I was at it I reclaimed a little white in Paula’s left shoe too.

The gouache white is bluer that the page, so Stephen’s hat is bluer than the girls. That’s fine because he’s farther away. If he had been close I might have had to paint the girls’s hats too just to even things up.

I’m not tempted to work in gouache. I like the look a transparent watercolor too much. But every once in a while a little gouache is a life saver.

Other than white, I used ceruleum blue, phthalo blue, raw sienna and burnt sienna for the first pour. For the next two pours I substituted cobalt blue for the ceruleum. Ceruleum is an opaque color (but not gouache). I used the same palette for the direct painting with the addition of raw umber.

Prints available through Fine Art America.com.

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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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The Red Shirt

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The Red Shirt (12 x 16) $100

The Red Shirt (12 x 16) SOLD

I’ve read that it’s advisable to place the horizon low when painting the sea to avoid making the waves look like a wall at the top of the painting. It’s a rule I violate frequently.

When I walk along the beach I am drawn to the leading edge of the ocean. Looking out from the edge of the waves the sea does feel like a wall above me. And the breakers rise many feet above sea level. In winter they they tower over the beach.

Standing in front of all that raw power I am awed that something so elemental is also so beautiful. My eyes follow the waves. I rarely scan the horizon.

I want to catch that feeling of being small and looking up into the waves, so when I place people right on the edge of the beach I often place the horizon high, or as in this case eliminate it altogether.

Pigment Notes: The water is phthalo blue, cobalt blue, French ultramarine, all dulled by burnt sienna and raw sienna. The beach is multiple washes, some salted, of burn sienna, raw sienna, and burnt umber mixed with a a hair of cobalt blue. Winsor red and cadmium yellow for the boy’s skin. Quinacridone gold, raw sienna and burnt umber for his hair. Winsor red and raw sienna for the shirt. French ultramarine and cobalt blue for his pants.

This painting has sold, but you my purchase a reproduction of it at Fine Art America.com.
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