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Dreaming of Prague

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St. Charles Bridge at Night, Watercolor Painting by Jenny Armitage

Dreaming of Prague (watercolor 16 x 21) $600

Impressionists view of the Saint Charles Bridge at night.


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The Columbia River on Paper and Clayboard

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Foggy Morning on the Columbia River (paper) Painting by Jenny Armitage

Foggy Morning on the Columbia (watercolor on paper 12 x 16) $175.00

These are two paintings I did at the gallery in late September in preparation for a workshop with Karen Vernon. Karen, best known for her huge floral paintings on clayboard. My primary goal for the workshop was to learn to paint on clayboard. So the week prior to the workshop I painted the same scene twice, once on cold pressed paper and once on Ampersand’s Aquabord.

The first painting I did conventionally painting from light to dark and reserving the whites without masking. Some of the fog is lifted, some of it is reserved. I used a very restricted pallet of burnt sienna, cobalt blue, phthalo blue and new gamgee.

Foggy Morning on the Columbia a painting by Jenny Armitage

Foggy Morning on the Columbia (watercolor on aquabord 8 x 10) $60.00

For the second painting I added dioxon purple to my palette. I proceeded once more from light to dark getting to know the new surface. The first thing I discovered is that the surface has to be bone dry to accept an over glaze. The second thing I discovered is that it’s very hard to lay down an even wash on the clay surface. On the other hand lifting is very easy. Rather than reserved the whites, I lifted them after the painting was almost completed. The result is softer than the watercolor painted version.

In class I learned that the trick to even washes on clayboard is to saturate the surface and let the water soak all the way through the clay part of the board before beginning. Over glazes require that the board be thoroughly dry. A hair dryer is an absolute must for working with clayboard.

The workshop turned out to be a fantastic experience.  I will be detailing so of the lessons learned in the coming blog entries as well as posting the paintings I started in class.

The clayboard version of the painting is protected with a clear satin polymer varnish and may be framed with or without glass.

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

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Submerged I and II: Playing With New Methods

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Submerged I (9 x 12) $75.00

Submerged I (9 x 12) SOLD

I’ve been experimenting with a couple of new methods.  These two paintings are the result.  Both are based on  some photos of trees half drowned by the swollen Willamette River I took  this weekend.  I wanted to catch the cold grayness of of the scene and the mystery of the half hidden trees.

Blowing:

I blew the trees.  I placed puddles of paint on the paper and blew them into trees with a straw.  The line of paint running out from the puddle  looks surprisingly like a tree limb.  And the direction the paint goes in is quite controllable.  But once the paint has started in one direction it’s hard to make it turn.  The paint follows the wet path as if it were a stream bed.  The solution is to drag a little paint in the direction you want to take it and thus start a new path.  Where the trees over-lap it’s important to let the first tree dry completely before starting the next, otherwise the paint form the new tree will run up the first tree.

There are several ways to vary the color in the tree.   Leaving the supply puddle partially unmixed is one. New colors can be blown into the wet tree from the base.  Accents and be directly painted onto the dry trees. I used all three methods on these paintings.

Layered Masking:

The second method is painting grass and bracken with multiple layers of mask.  Thin lines of mask establish the highlights.  Then color is applied.  Then more lines are applied. Then more mask for multiple layers.  When the mask is removed a complex texture is revealed.  I was less successful with this method.  It’s hard to see what you are doing or to guess the result.  More practice is needed.

I used layered mask in Submerged I.  But I didn’t like the results immediately.  The foreground was too busy and detracted from my trees, which then looked much like the trees in Submerged II.  After some thought, I painted over the trees in dark tones to match the foreground.  The result is an evening picture.

Submerged II (9 x 12) $75.00

Submerged II (9 x 12) $75.00

For the second painting I added the foreground wet into wet.  The result is simpler and gives the feeling of the gray afternoon on the river.

The palette for both paintings is:  burnt sienna, phtholo blue and dioxion purple,  plus a dab of hansa yellow.

Original Paintings

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Reeds at Sunset

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Reeds at Sunset (11 x 15) $75.00

Reeds at Sunset (11 x 15) $75.00

This is the Willamette again, but it could really be anywhere.  I was struck by the way the reeds look like they are growing out of a sunset.

Like the Broken Dock I painted a couple days ago, I began this painting by masking everything except the water.  After the mask on the reeds dried, I painting the sky’s refection on the still water wet into wet beginning with an overall wash of very diluted burnt sienna.   When the shine left the paper, I added various mixes of quinacridone deep red rose and new gamgee (yellow).  I used cobalt blue and burnt sienna to ad the darker clouds and phthalo blue for the water.

Once the  sky had dried, I removed the mask and painted the reeds in new gamgee, colalt blue, phthalo blue and burnt sienna.


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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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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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