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Oregon

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Fog Over Croisan Valley

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Fog Over Croisan Valley, Original Painting of Salem, Oregon by Jenny Armitage

Fog Over Croisan Valley (17 x 23 watercolor) $600

This painting is a little closer to home than most of my recent work.  I see this view every morning on the way home from my walk down Croisan Scenic Trail.  The trial occupies a long thin, Salem park with our neighborhood a hundred feet above it and Croisan Creek a few hundred feet below it.  The path is beautiful in all seasons and rarely feels nearly as close to town as it is.   It’s particularly evocative in the fog.


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A Friendly Porch

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Oregon City Porch, Original Painting by Jenny Armitage

Oregon City Porch (17 x 13 watercolor) $300


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Beachhead

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Beachhead, Watercolor Painting of the Oregon Coast by Jenny Armitage

Beachhead (12 x 19 watercolor) $400

A little bit of the Oregon coast.


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A Painting to Inspire Jazz Improvisation

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Pacific Rhythms, Seascape, by Jenny Armitage

Pacific Rhythms (18 x 36 watercolor) Commissioned

I painted this seascape for the most marvelous client.  Her request charmed me.   She wanted a seascape with no figures or land masses, beach, or boats; just waves, sky, and clouds.   The waves and clouds must be rhythmic to inspire jazz improvisation.  The painting must be large enough to fill the space above her piano.

The project presented some challenges, most of them having to do with size.  Standard watercolor sheets are only 24 x 30 inches.  She wanted a painting that was 36 inches wide, so the paper had to be special ordered.  I don’t have an easel large enough to accommodate a painting this size, so I used my studio table.  When I taped the paper to my studio table, there was no room left for water and brushes.  To see how the painting looked from five feet back, I had to stand on a chair.

The other challenge had to do with how to create a path through the painting for the eye.  I decided on a sideways “u” beginning on the bottom left following the breakers in and return across the horizon and out through a break in the clouds.

I presented it to the client this morning and I’m happy to say she loved it.  It’s at the framers now.

The original belongs to a lovely pianist, but prints are available here.

 

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Foggy Morning on the Old Railway Bridge

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Foggy Morning on the Railway Bridge, a Watercolor Painting by Jenny Armitage

Foggy Morning on the Railway Bridge II (12 x 17 watercolor) $300

I’ve always heard that art is therapeutic.  And perhaps it is for some people, but not for me.  When I’m depressed, I get in fights with paintings and I lose all sense of self  judgment.  Everything I paint, I deem of no value.  Sometimes I’m right.  Sometimes I’m not.

I painted these three almost identical views of the old Salem railway bridge about two years ago during a fit of depression.  They are the survivors of perhaps six different attempts.  I doubt the ones I threw away were all that much different.  In the end I put the project aside in frustration and painted other easier things.

Foggy Morning on the Railway Bridge III Painting by Jenny Armitage

Foggy Morning on the Railway Bridge III (12 x 16 watercolor on clayboard) $250

About a week ago, when getting ready for the Silverton Fine Arts Festival (last weekend) and the Artisan Village at the Oregon State Fair (next weekend),  I discovered that I had sold so much this last year, that I was in some danger of not having enough art to fill the space.  So I looked back through some of my older work for things to frame and found these old bridge paintings.  Looking at them now, I can’t figure out why I didn’t like them.  They do exactly what I wanted them to do.  They capture the foggy morning atmosphere, and they give a sense of how much the trestle draw bridge feels like an open cathedral.

Foggy Morning on the Railway Bridge I (12 x 18 watercolor) $300

Because version number two was painted on clayboard, I didn’t even have to frame it to hang it.  The painting got a surprising amount of attention considering that I hung it on the back side of my booth.   Several people asked if there were prints available.  So I promised that by this evening I would get the painting on line.  And here, they are.

 

Painting on Paper

 

Painting on Clayboard

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Spring Flood

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Spring Flood, painting of a field by Jenny Armitage

Spring Flood (12 x 16 watercolor) $200.00

Driving the countryside around Salem, I’ve been admiring the flooded fields.   At first I was only looking as I drove places I needed to go.  Then I began taking the back roads just to more of them.  Finally, I began driving  just to see them.

This particular field is  northwest of us out toward Silverton.   I loved the silvery blue reflection of the sky 0n the water and the way the furrows pointed to the horizon.  I took several high horizon photos  to emphasize the retreating furrows, but in my reference photos the sky was flat pale gray and uninteresting so I added the cloud where furrows meet in the distance.  I also removed a a railroad trestle that ran across the back of the field because it created a solid black line just where I wanted everything to fade.

Painted with cobalt blue, cerulean blue, burnt sienna and new gamge.


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Depot Bay Reflections

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Two Times Two at Depot Bay a watercolor by Jenny Armitage

Two Times Two at Depot Bay (6 x 6 watercolor on aquaboard) SOLD

I took the photo for this little painting in Depot Day, Oregon, last summer.  Depot Bay itself  is the smallest working bay I know of.  It’s completely sheltered and hidden from the ocean, which is a good thing because the town that surrounds it, is one of the best places for wave watching I know of, and the only place I regularly see waves splashing Highway 101.   Despite the waves outside, the bay is usually calm and a great place to find reflections.  One of these days I’m going to do it’s cute little arched bridge entrance.

This painting is the first time I’ve used mask on clay-board.  I used it just for the ropes and a couple of the highlights at the window edges.

Like the pears in my last post, this painting is painted on aquaboard mounted on two inch deep wooded frame. After I completed the paintings, I painted the wooden frame black and finished the watercolor with two coats of Krylon’s UV Archival Varnish, and three coats of Golden’s Polymer Varnish with UVLS (satin). The result is that the painting may be hung without a frame or glass. The coating is not only protective, but archival and removable for conservation purposes.

 

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The View From House Rock

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The View From House Rock (watercolor 5 x 7) SOLD

This is the view looking west from House Rock just north of Brookings, Oregon.

I’m not sure why House Rock is named House Rock.  When we were on it we weren’t sure if we were supposed to be on it or looking for it.  A little google search made it clear we were on it, but no information about the name.  I have my guesses though.  The hill was surprisingly flat on top and hiking down below it I discovered wild onion, wild iris, wild rose, and strawberries.  Only the iris were in bloom.  Many years of  hiking around ghost towns have taught me which domestic plants go native when the settlers leave.  Onions, rhubarb, strawberries and roses were common survivors in Colorado and they appear to be survivors here too. I think there was once a house on house rock, not that the rock is shaped like a house.

The palette is burnt sienna, raw sienna, cobalt blue, and phthalo blue.

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Beach Birdie

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Beach Birdie (watercolor 5 x 7) SOLD

We call my youngest daughter “Bird” and “Birdie” and even “Birdles” because she looked a little like a bird when she was a baby.  It’s been a long time since I thought she looked much like a bird.   But crouching down on the shoreline, she made me think of long leggity shore birds.

The palette is simple, cobalt blue, phtalo blue, qinacridone deep red rose, and burnt sienna. I used liquid mask extensively to make preserve the white paper.

See more little girl paintings at Fine Art America: girl paintings.

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Sunset at Brookings

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Sunset at Brookings I (watercolor 5 x 7) $25.00

Last weekend I was in Brookings, Oregon for the Watercolor Society of Oregon’s Spring convention.   We visit the coast often, but we rarely get so farther south than Florance.   Brookings is on the California boarder and getting there from Salem efficiently requires dipping into northern California, hardly a hardship as the redwoods are on the boarder too.

The southern coast is a different. Brookings is a rocky rather than a sandy beach.  The land drops off rapidly into the ocean there.  The result is that the waves do not feel like them are above you as they do in Lincoln City, but they break larger closer in.  I haven’t figured out how to paint the immediacy of Brookings breakers, but I’ll get it.

In the meantime, here are three  postcard sized Brookings sunsets.  I did the first on location and the other two at the gallery yesterday.

Sunset at Brookings II (watercolor 5 x 7) $25.00

The people in the third one are my husband and youngest daughter.  It was one of the few times anyone stood still on the beach that evening.  Stephen and the girls were much too busy skipping stones to stand still.

Sunset at Brookings III (watercolor 5 x 7) $25.00

These paintings are currently for sale on-line at my Etsy shop.

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Derelict Dock at Sunset

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Sundown on the Broken Dock (12 x 16) $150
Sundown on the Broken Dock (12 x 16) $150

Brown Minto Park is one of our local haunts. The park boarders the Willamette on one side and a truck farm on the other. Bicycle trials, bark dust trails, and a dog park lie within it’s boarders. The park has forest, field, and playground. A rather civilized asphalt trail runs along the Willamette. A shorter trail from the playground once led to this dock. The dock was falling down even when I first saw it. Now it has gone the way of all things. But I miss it.

My photo showed real sunset with only a silhouette of the trees and dock left. I turned back the clock about a quarter of an hour to show the island trees and more of the decrepit dock.

The palette is cobalt blue, phthalo blue, dioxazine purple, quinacridone deep red rose, burnt sienna, and new gamgee.

I masked the dock before painting. Then I began with the sky and water working wet into wet. When the sky and water dried I added the far bank and it’s reflection working wet on dry but, still doing much of the mixing on the paper rather than on the palette. To give the foreground bank it’s texture, I salted the paint while it was still damp. The effect was a little stronger than I wanted so I gave it a final wash of phthalo blue. Finally I removed the mask and painted in the dock and it’s reflection.


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Playing With the Newport Bridge

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The Newport Bay Bridge I (13 x 19) $200

The Newport Bay Bridge I (13 x 19) $250

The Yaquina Bay Bridge, better and more informally known as the Newport Bridge, is one of the most photographed and painted objects on the Oregon coast.  It’s a little daunting to add yet another painting to the stack.  But it’s such a beautiful bridge that I just couldn’t resist.

This is the view of the bridge from the south side of bay standing on the ground looking up.  Anyone who knows the area well will see immediately that I took major liberties with the landscape.  I’ve placed tree covered hills in the foreground, where there is really a grassy flat area often used as an impromptu parking lot.  My reference photo throws the parking lot and the bridge into silhouette against the late afternoon sky.  Trees broke up the flat horizon.  I expanded the treeline into undulating hills.

What I did not remove from the photo was the scaffolding.  Somehow whenever I visit the bridge there is scaffolding somewhere in the picture.  And with the light behind it, I found the scaffolding as beautiful as the bridge.

After transferring my sketch of the bridge to the paper, I began by painting the sky.  I worked wet into wet beginning at the top with a combination of cobalt blue and cerulean Blue.  Moving down the paper I added burnt sienna to the two blues to create the grays of the upper cloud masses.  Then I dropped in dioxzine purple on the undersides and the dark areas of the clouds.  I grayed the violet a hair and added some cobalt to it and washed in the lower cloud bank.  Grayed cobalt brought the clouds to the horizon.  The bay itself is grayed down cerulean.

The bridge is various dark combinations of burnt sienna, cobalt blue, french ultramarine, and dioxazine purple.  The hills are are wet into wet layers of various mixes of the bridge colors plus cerulean blue and raw sienna.

When I finished the painting I was puzzeled about where to sign it.  In the end, I signed the painting in removable liquid mask.  The mask has a tendency to lift paint thus leaving a quiet signature behind when I removed it.

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

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Challenging Myself: One Subject, Three Moods

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Queen Anne Nods to Shirley Jackson (11 x 15) $150

Queen Anne Nods to Shirley Jackson (11 x 15) $150

I set a challenge for myself this week.  The idea was to paint a single subject in a variety of moods.  The subject I choose was Deepwoods Estate, here in Salem.  I took all of the photos for the painting in the same light and although the various aspects of the building gave me different ideas, the photos don’t convey much feeling to me.

Its Greener on the Otherside (10 x 13) $125.00

Its Greener on the Other Side

Porch reference photo

Porch reference photo

I began with the front porch. I aimed to emphasize the softness of the light and the romance of the building.  I also wanted to draw the viewer into the painting.

As you can see from my reference photo, my depiction is a little fanciful.  I limited my palate to yellows and blues to mimic the soft shadowy light under the porch and the golden sunlight beyond it.

I think the painting works.  The most common comment about it is that the viewer would like to step through the porch into the garden on the other side.

Turret and Copula (11 x 14) $150

Turret and Cupola

Turret Reference Photo

Turret Reference Photo

Next I painted a detail of the roof-line from in back. This time I tried to contrast the harsh glittering light with the shaded parts of the building.

Because I intended to include many hard lines and less subtle variation in tone I looked for a place where the contrast between light and shade was particularly striking. But I didn’t want it to look like graphic art, so I poured this painting to ensure that the solid expanses of color were lively rather than flat. Once again I exaggerated, the light in the reference photo is not nearly as stark as the light I painted.

I like this painting, but it turned out rather softer than I had intended.  I may try it again with an orange and blue palate.

House Reference Photo

House Reference Photo

The latest painting in this series is of the whole house.  I’ve always found Victorian and Queen Anne houses a little creepy.  Like wrought iron, they can be both sinister and charming all at once.  On a bright sunny day there is nothing really creepy about the Deepwood House, but it does have a swallowed by the woods feel to it.  Despite a generous lawn, there are few places where you can see the whole house.  Instead what you see is patches of house through the trees.

So in order to bring out the sinister feel of Queen Anne archetecture, I pulled the trees in closer to the house and darkened the edges where the trees and house meet visually.  I also distorted the shape of the house stretching it upwards to about fifteen percent more than it’s real height.  Finally I chose a very earthy palate for such a pristine white house:  burnt sienna, raw sienna, yellow ocher, phthalo blue and cobalt blue.

I poured this painting too because I wanted a lot of variation in tone. But pouring produces hard lines at the edges of the mask. The result had too many hard lines for the shadowy woods.  I did so much scrubbing of the edges, washing over, and detail work that painting doesn’t feel poured to me.  But the more I painted the darker it got.  I finally had to stop for fear the house would no longer read as white.

I showed the finished painting to my husband yesterday.  He said he really liked it, but then added tentatively, “Isn’t it a little eerie?”  Yes, yes it is.  But I don’t think it’s so eerie that it’s a caricature of the house.


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Turret and Cupola

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Turret and Copula (11 x 14) $150

Turret and Copula (11 x 14) $150

Back to the Deepwood Estate but with a very different feel.  This is the west or backside of the house looking up at the turret and the tallest roof peak.  The afternoon sun brought the architectural details into graphic relief. I decided to play with the posterized nature of the light by pouring this painting.

Pouring watercolors is much like batik dyeing.  First I mask all the white areas of the painting.  Then I literally pour cups of paint across the paper.  After the first pour dries, I mask all the pastels and pour darker paint.  Then I mask the medium values and pour again with yet darker paint.   Once the painting is dry, I lift the mask and add the darkest values and the details.

In this case I used phthalo blue, deep red rose, and new gamgee for the first pout.  I tried to keep the yellow on the cupola.  In later pours I used only the deep red rose and two blues Phthalo and French ultramarine.  I saved the french ultramarine for the final pour.

I masked the sky after the first pour and overlaid it with cobalt blue when the mask was removed.  The details are all heavy purple and magenta mixtures of phthalo blue and deep red rose.


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Breakers at Seal Rock or Using all the White Techniques

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The Breakers at Seal Rock II (12 x 16) $125

The Breakers at Seal Rock II (12 x 16) $125

This is the second painting I’ve done of the tide coming in at Seal Rock Wayside.  The first was a little postcard sized painting I did while demonstrating at the fair.  That little painting sold immediately.  I liked it too, so when expanding it to a full sized painting I didn’t mess around with the composition much.  But I did want to get some more variety into the rocks and spray.

Like the previous painting, I began by reserving the whites with liquid mask while painting in the ocean and rocks. I used phthalo blue and burnt sienna for the ocean.

I used the same basic technique to lay down the rocks as I did with the first little painting.  I started with raw sienna and quinacridone gold.  Then I added burnt sienna and quinacridone deep red rose.  While the burnt sienna and deep red rose were still wet, I dropped in cobalt blue and phthalo blue.  Finally I added some heavy burnt sienna and some French Ultramarine.

Once the painting was dry,  I scrubbed the edges of the rock where the spay hit them with a stiff filbert brush to show how the waves obscured them.   Then I broke out the white gouache (an semi opaque white) and added more spray.  Over the dark painted rocks the gouache white looks gray.  I used the gouache primarily for the shelf of the biggest rock and the bases of the rocks on the shore side.  Finally I pulled out the razor and scratched in fine white lines where the water spilled over the rocks and little cuts for droplets of spray.  All four techniques work very differently, and each has a character of it’s own.  I like the variety that resulted from using them all.


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Breakers

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Breakers

Breakers SOLD

Dances With Fountains (7 x 10)

Dances With Fountains

I expected to sell prints, but not necessarily paintings at the Oregon State Fair. It isn’t exactly a traditional art venue. So I wasn’t surprised that I hadn’t sold a painting over the weekend. But surprise, surprise, I sold two framed originals today. “Fountain Dance” I blogged about when I painted it. It’s part of my Town Center Park “Splash” Series. Breakers is a little painting I did before beginning this blog.

You can purchase a print of either painting at Fine Art America.com

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Counter-Weight IA: A Pouring Demonstration

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Pouring is one of my favorite techniques. It literally means to pour paint across the paper. It can either be the atmospheric beginning to a painting or a major part of the painting process. Some people use it to create abstract shapes to suggest the painting subject. But however much pouring is used, it provides transparent color passages that can be gotten in almost no other way.

The method I use most frequently was popularized by Jean Grastorf in her book Pouring Light: Layering Transparent Watercolor. Her technique uses multiple masks in much the same way batik uses multiple wax resists.

When I first began painting I used her pouring and masking method as an aide to help me paint with contrast, because it forced me to divide my picture into five distinct tonal values or less. It also helped me loosen up about color. These days I pour only when I think the subject of the picture will be enhanced by pouring.

Sunday I photographed just such a picture, one of the counter weights to a local railway drawbridge recently converted to a pedestrian bridge. The silhouetted subject is perfect for pouring.

Working Photo

Working Photo

After one false start detailed in the previous two posts I had a drawing of the bridge I liked. I began the painting by transferring it to a block of Arches 140 cold-pressed paper. (Because removing mask is hard on paper I always use the more durable 140 weight cold-pressed paper when pouring.) My photo of the bridge has loads of minute detail. In my cartoon I simplified. I want the silhouette of the bridge tower and counterweight to predominate. Too much detail would take away from the graphic nature of the image.

After making the cartoon I taped off the edges of the painting and began masking the sky plus everything I’d like to remain white. The trick to masking is to use nylon brushes and to soap the brushes frequently. This keeps the mask from gumming up the brushes and saves your quality brushes from rack and ruin.

Once the mask was dry, I mixed three cups of very thin paint: cadmium yellow, phthalo blue, and Windsor red. I deliberately choose staining colors, because mask lifts pigments. Then I wet the paper (an important step as otherwise the paint tends to run off the paper without staining) and poured the yellow straight across the top of the tower. I tilted the paper right to let the paint run off and wiped up the excess. Then I poured the red just below the yellow, tipped the paper, and cleaned the excess again. Some of the red bled into the yellow making orange. Then I poured the blue the same way across the counter-weight adding a dull purple where the paint crossed the red paint I had just poured.

After the First Pour

After the First Pour

When the paint had dried completely, I masked all of my lightest values and poured slightly thicker paint over the paper in roughly the same places. After the paint dried I masked the medium values and repeated the process with milk-thick paint. When the final pour had dried, I pulled the mask off, revealing a bold but rough painting in vivid color.

After the Mask Came Off

After the Mask Came Off

It’s all brush work from here.

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