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City Portal: More of Chicago

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City Portal, Painting of Chicago, By Jenny Armitage

City Portal (12 x 22 watercolor) $500

The Art Institute of Chicago again, this time from the inside.  While my daughter gift shopped, I took a whole series of photographs of the two doors to Michigan Ave.  The great doors with their iconic lamps and the people silhouetted in front fascinated me.


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The Craftsmen Lantern

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Craftsmen Lantern (11 x 14) $150.00

Craftsmen Lantern (11 x 14) reserved for La Salles show

Last week’s art show was on OSU campus in Corvallis.  Early Friday morning it was dry and clear and the morning light was stunning, but I had no time to do anything but rush inside the Memorial Building to finish setting up.  Sunday was dry, clear and cold too, so I went early and wandered the campus taking photos on the sunlit buildings.  Not only was the light dramatic, but since all the leaves have fallen much more of the buildings were visible than last time I was on campus.

The reflected trees in the arch above the main entrance to the Womens Building caught my eye.  Closer up I noticed the sun on the craftsmen lantern.

The palate is mostly cobalt blue, dioxin purple and burnt sienna. The extreme highlights are raw sienna and the deepest shadows contain phthalo blue.

I began by painting in the windows in cobalt. I added the reflected trees with a mixture on cobalt and burnt sienna. The metal mullions are layers of cobalt, violet, and burnt sienna built up one over another. I painted the lantern and its reflection next to establish the darkest values. I saved the raw sienna for the sunlit portion of the lamp and echoed it it the sunlit side of the arch.

I showed to my painting friend when I had finished. She introduced me to a new word, “tenebrism.” It means the use of extreme contrasts of light and dark with small amounts of light shining out of vast darkness. I love extreme contrast, and I’m happy to have a word to describe it. I’m not sure that this painting as a whole is an tenebristic, but the lantern and its shadow certainly are, and they make the painting.

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