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Italy

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Diocletian Courtyard

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Diocletian Courtyard, Watercolor By Jenny Armitage

Diocletian Courtyard (watercolor 13 x 18) $500

This is an upward view of the courtyard behind the Diocletian Baths currently the Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, in Rome.


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Three Towers

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Three Laccan Towers, Watercolor Painting by Jenny Armitage

"Three Luccan Towers" (17 x 19 watercolor) $500

Another Italian painting, this time of Lucca.  The view is from a window in yet a fourth tower.  I will have to paint the tower we climbed.  The oak trees growing from it’s roof give it a surreal feel.


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Village Stairs

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Village Stairs, Painting by Jenny Armitage

Village Stairs (19 x 12 watercolor) $500

This is a back “street” in Riomaggiore where the streets are not only likely to be too small for cars, but may include staircases.  I loved the light at the end of the tunnel effect and the contract between the brightly painted wall and the natural stone stairs.  The woman was both beautiful and big.


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Lucca Cafe

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Lucca Cafe, Watercolor by Jenny Armitage

Lucca Cafe, (watercolor 13 x 17) $400

Cafe in Lucca, Italy, just before lunch.


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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

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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) Reserved for Western Federation of Watercolor Societies 2015 Annual Show

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 may be purchased through the 2015 Western Federation of Watercolor Societies Annual Show. Or 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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Top of Milan

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Top of Milan Painting by Jenny Armitage of an Italian Cathedral

Top of Milan (watercolor 14 x 22) Reserved for Spring Watercolor Society of Oregon Show

When we Armitages travel, we climb things–towers, monuments, mountains, cathedrals, arches– we generally go up for the purpose of looking down.  We are never disappointed.  We weren’t disappointed in Milan.  But the Milan Cathedral rooftop is different.  The rooftop itself is an amazing place to be.  It would be an amazing place were it on the ground floor.  Here is my first painting of the marble forest that lives atop the Milan Duomo.

This painting may be purchased through the Watercolor Society of Oregon Spring 2015 show. Or purchase a fine art print.

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Dawn at the Station

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Dawn at the Station, fine art painting by Jenny Armitage

Dawn at the Station (watercolor 16 x 23) $700

Milan Central Station in the wee hours of the morning.


 

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Lucca

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Bike Lucca, a Painting of Italy, by Jenny Armitage

Bike Lucca (watercolor 16 x 21) $700

This is Lucca.  It could be just about any narrow lane in the old part of a Tuscan city, but this particular lane is in Lucca.  The bicyclist is appropriate, because Lucca is a bicyclist’s city.  The old city wall around town has been paved as a broad street for pedestrians and cyclists, and everyone, natives and tourists alike seem to spend much of their time biking the wall.  Down in the city, bikes are as common as at Oxford.


Fine art prints can be purchased here.

Here is a view of Lucca from the city wall:

Two Towers, a Digitally Altered Photo of Lucca by Jenny Armitage

Two Towers (Digitally Altered Photo)

Prints of Two Towers can be purchased here.

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Riomaggiore Harbor

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An Italian Jewel, Painting of Cinque Terre by Jenny Armitage

An Italian Jewel (16 x 23 watercolor) SOLD

Riomaggiore is built on the cliffs above it’s harbor, rising chaotically up in a happy clutter of homes.  The effect is charming whether seen from the harbor looking up or from the narrow streets looking down.  The final shape of the village looks like a jewel set into the hills.

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

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Riomaggiore

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Riomaggiore Hillside, Painting by Jenny Armitage

Riomaggiore Hillside (16 x 22 watercolor) SOLD

We visited the Cinque Terre or Five Lands  in 2012.  Clinging to the the cliffs about the Italian riviera, these charming wine and fishing villages are an Italian national park and a tourist magnet during the summer.  I painted Monterrosso, the largest of these villages last year.  This is Riomaggiore, the smallest of the Cinque Terre, and the first village many tourists see.  It was the first village we visited.  And yes we were charmed by it’s pocket sized harbor and steep narrow streets.   But these first paintings are not of the houses on the harbor cliffs, but the vineyard hills.

A Slice of Riomaggiore, watercolor by Jenny Armitage

A Slice of Riomaggiore (10 x 12 watercolor) SOLD

These paintings have sold, but you may still purchase fine art prints here.

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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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Changing in Milan

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Milano Centrale, Watercolor Painting By Jenny Armitage

Changing in Milan (14 x 21 watercolor) $600

In our month long odyssey to Europe last year we had only one really long travel day, but it was a dozy.  We left London in morning  to take the train to Paris.  We boarded the train without a hitch and ate lunch as we emerged from the channel tunnel in France.  We walked the streets and had dinner in Paris. Then we boarded the night train Milan.

I’ve heard mixed reviews of the night train, but it did well for us.  Our cabin mate was a gorgeous young Frenchmen who man managed to be both chivalrous and bashful at the same time.   The cabin was spacious and the bunks comfortable. We agreed to an early bedtime and all fell asleep easily.  Which is surprising because the trip was tinged with worry because  Italy was scheduled for a railway strike, and we intended to go on from Milan to Rome.

So it was with some relief that we arrived in Milan in the wee hours to discover our connection to Rome was still on the board.  Relief and time to enjoy the beauty of the modern railway station with the morning sun lighting up the tracks’ exit to the greater world.


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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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Light and Shade in Cinque Terre

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Monterosso Cafe, Original Painting of the Cinque Terre, by Jenny Armitage

Monterosso Cafe (watercolor 16 x 22) $600

The Cinque Terre, or five lands do not have much in the way of tourist sites.  They are the tourist site.  The five coast hugging Italian villages feature brightly colored townhouses, residential streets made up of nothing more than a flight of stairs,  beautiful coastal trails, and tight picturesque beaches.  In July of last year they were also hot as blazes and ought to have been uncomfortable, but the narrow shady streets, and cool ocean made up for the heat.  Oh, and there was gelato too, lots of handmade gelato.

We visited the four villages actually on the coast,  and dipped our toes in the water at more the one beach.   We also climbed innumerable stairs just for the fun of climbing and looking down.  This painting is of  Monterosso, the largest of the five, and the one with the widest flattest beaches.  We stopped to sample the gelato at the cafe.  We ate it while watching our girls play in the warm surf.


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Colossus

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The Colossus, Painting of the Colosseum by Jenny Armitage

The Colossus (12 x 15 watercolor) $400

This building needs no introduction.  If there is a ruin that everyone recognizes, it is  Roman Colosseum.  Even in ruins, it is an impressive building. It dominates the horizon, larger even than you expect to be.

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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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September 8, 2012 4:05 pm

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
 

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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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