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Florence

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Divide and Conquer or the Power of the Scissors

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Italian Heat is not my first attempt at that painting.  It is the second.  I made several mistakes with the first painting, most of them having to to with composition.  I left too many people from my reference photos in the image, and that took away from the real subject, the biking couple at the end of the street.  Having reached the conclusion that the painting was a failure, I played around with photos the spoiled painting before sketching out the second version which ended up in the blog entry below.

That left me with a poor complicated painting with great color but no real focus.  So I set the failed painting aside for a while.  Then a few weeks later, I got out the mat corners (“L” shaped pieces of mat board used for visual cropping) and singled out the two bicyclists.  The result is Florence Bikers.

Florence Bikers, a Watercolor by Jenny Armitage

Florence Bikers (9 x 16 watercolor) SOLD

Or purchase a fine art print.

Having rescued one painting I looked at the remainder and found Three Italians.

Three Italians, Painting by Jenny Armitage

Three Italians, (9 x 21 watercolor) $125


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Italian Heat

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Italian Heat, Original Painting of a Couple Bicycling in Florence by Jenny Armitage

Italian Heat (watercolor 15 x 22) SOLD

We visited Florence in the heat of summer.  The shady narrow streets opening up into white hot plazas continues to fascinate me.   Couples biking over the rough stone streets had their own heat.

This painting sold but you may still purchase a fine art print.

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Oregon State Fair

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I had a stellar week in the Artisan Village at the Oregon State Fair. I sold seven originals.  Three of Riomaggiore on the Italian Med:

An Italian Jewel, Painting of Cinque Terre by Jenny Armitage

An Italian Jewel (16 x 23 watercolor) SOLD

A Slice of Riomaggiore, watercolor by Jenny Armitage

A Slice of Riomaggiore (10 x 12 watercolor) SOLD

Riomaggiore Hillside, Painting by Jenny Armitage

Riomaggiore Hillside (16 x 22 watercolor) SOLD

Two of Florence:

The Ultimate Alley View, Painting of the Duomo, Florence, Italy
The Ultimate Alley View (12 x 19 watercolor) SOLD
July in Florence, Painting of Old Florence by Jenny Armitage
July in Florence (13 x 23 watercolor) SOLD

One of Oxford:

Oxford Lane, Original Painting by Jenny Armitage
Oxford Lane (watercolor 13 x 19) SOLD

And one of The Valley of the Gods in Utah:

Moki Dugway View of the Valley of the Gods, a Watercolor Painting by Jenny Armitage

Looking Down From Moki Dugway (14 x 24 watercolor) SOLD

My “problem” now is putting together enough paintings for my feature at Art in the Valley this coming October.

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Late Afternoon Florence

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Late Afternoon Florence, Painting by Jenny Armitage

Late Afternoon Florence (13 x 22 watercolor) $600

Florence is worth visiting just to walk the streets.   The twisting turning little alleys are endlessly fascinating.  The light pours through in dramatic shafts between the buildings spotlighting slivers of streets and buildings.


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The Ultimate Alley View

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The Ultimate Alley View, Painting of the Duomo, Florence, Italy

The Ultimate Alley View (12 x 19 watercolor) SOLD

A colorful back alley view of the Duomo, Florence, Italy.

This painting has sold, but you may still purchase a fine art print.

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Bicycle Florence

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Waiiting Bike, Original Painting of Florence, Italy, by Jenny Armitage

Waiting Bike (13 x 19 watercolor) SOLD

This painting has sold, but you may still purchase a fine art print.

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And Suddenly, The Duomo

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And Suddenly The Duomo, Painting By Jenny Armitage

And Suddenly the Duomo (15 x23 watercolor) Reserved

Old town Florence streets are shaded lanes so narrow they almost feel like tunnels running at irregular angles to each other.  The view at the end of the tunnel is often as not another narrow lane cutting the street off at not quite a right angle.   But here there the streets open into plazas with startling sunny views of churches, cathedrals, bridges, train stations and castles.  Walking from our apartment, the Duomo complex burst upon us in much the same way–the light at the end of the tunnel.

Another poured watercolor painting, a process much like batik.

This painting is reserved for a show but you may purchase a fine art print.

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Florence Arcade

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Florence Arcade, watercolor painting of Italy by Jenny Armitage

Florence Arcade (watercolor 11 x 18) $400

Florence in heat again. This time it’s the beautiful arcade running along the Arno between the Uffzi and the Ponte Vecchio.


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October 7, 2012 6:26 pm

Florence in July

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July in Florence, Painting of Old Florence by Jenny Armitage

July in Florence (13 x 23 watercolor) SOLD

July in Italy is hot.  This July was particularly hot.  The week we were there, highs hovered in the upper nineties and topped one hundred from time to time.   It had been the same in Rome the week before.  But it didn’t feel quite as hot in Florence because of the narrow little streets.  It simply isn’t possible to find a street in old Florence without shade on one side or the other.  In this painting I tried to capture that cool shade under hot hot skies.

Like The Pilgrims at the Gate and The Arch of Titus, this painting is poured.   Pouring is not an easy process to describe so, this time I took photos of the painting in progress.

I begin the design process by making a value  sketch of the painting.   A value sketch is a rough black and white sketch with very clearly defined values.  It is my broad outline for the painting.  I refine it until I get a compositional plan I think will create a striking painting.

Next I create a detailed line drawing or cartoon.  A cartoon is the extreme opposite of a value sketch.  It has no shading at all, just lines.  It is as detailed and small picture oriented as the value sketch is loose and big picture.  If the value sketch is the destination, the cartoon is the road map. The image on the far right below is my cartoon for this painting after I transferred it to my watercolor paper.

Together my reference photo, the value sketch, and the cartoon function as my guides during the painting process.

With poured paintings, I always begin by washing the cartoon loosely with color.  The idea is to make sure none of the paper is truly white, even though it will read as white later.   In this case, I washed the sky and the pavement with light blue and the buildings with yellows and oranges.

Once the color wash had dried, I use a removable liquid mask to cover everything I wanted to remain white.  The mask shows as a blotchy coral color in my photos below.  Then I mixed some very watery cups of yellow and orange paint.  I wet the paper with clear water and then poured each cup of paint on  the base of the builds and tilted the paper to let the paint run off the top.    Then I poured cups of watery blue and purple on the lower left and tilted the paper to the right to let the paint run off.

Pour one above, shows the results of that first pour.

For pour two I masked the lightest values and poured again.  This time I used thicker paint and no yellows.  I added more reds and allowed the blues and violets up into buildings.

I masked medium values for pour three.  Then I poured yet darker paint and left out the golds.   After pour three had dried I removed some of the mask to check to see that I was maintaining the value contrast I wanted.  Then I re-masked the lifted areas and masked the areas I wanted to remain dark to medium values before doing the final pour.  In the end I did five pours total.

As you can see, each pour makes it a little harder to tell what the painting looks like as more and more of it gets covered up with liquid mask.   This is why the value sketch is so important to me when pouring.  It helps me remember where the majority of the lightest and darkest values must go.  The cartoon and the reference photo help me place the smaller details.  This helps me keep my eye on the final painting even as it disappears under mask.  But, there are always a few surprises after the mask is removed:

Once the mask came off, the brushes came out.  I cleaned up the windows, finished the figures and added the darkest values.

This painting has sold, but you may still purchase a fine art print.

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July 26, 2012 10:50 am

The View From Our Apartment in Florence

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Before the Dinner Rush, Watercolor of Florence by Jenny Armitage

Before The Dinner Rush (11 x 14 watercolor of clayboard) $250

This restaurant was below our apartment in Florence, Italy.  Early every evening the waiters gathered to shoot the breeze and smoke while waiting for the dinner rush to begin.  I liked the way their black clothing stood out against the stucco building and flag street.  The street is typical of Florence, narrow, flagged in uneven stone, gritty, and full of life.

Painted on clayboard and coated with a clear polymer varnish this painting may be framed without glazing like an oil or acrylic painting or matted and framed behind glass like a watercolor on paper.


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