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spring

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Downtown Chicago

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Downtown Spring Outing, a Chicago Painting by Jenny Armitage

Downtown Spring Outing (watercolor 15 x 23) $500

I took my daughter college looking this  Spring.  As part of that trip we got to stay a couple nights in downtown Chicago. This is Wabash Avenue just North of Adams and about a block from The Art Institute of Chicago.   The mother and child are just passing Palmer House Hotel.  A light snow had just melted and by our Oregon standards it was nippy.


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Bowl Full of Spring

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Bowl Full of Spring, Floral Painting by Jenny Armitage

"Bowl Full of Spring" (11 x 14" watercolor on aquabord) $225

I’m still busy working through glass and reflections.  Long time readers with recognize the green mister.  I love painting it.  In ordinary household lighting, it is a dull unexceptional object.  With the sun shinning through it, it is magical. The camellias are fresh out of the garden.  Here in Salem camellias mean Spring has come.

This time my palette was: phtalo green, phthalo blue, quinacridone magental, new gamgee, and dixion purple.  I used a hint of burnt sienna to dull and darken the greens and for the metal parts of the mister.

Painted on Ampersand’s  aquaboard and mounted on a 2 inch black cradle frame the painting is ready to hang.  Hung this was the effect is much like a gallery wrapped canvas.  A frame may be added for a more traditional look.


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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.


Or purchase a print through my shop at Fine Art America.com.

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Wyoming Glow

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Wyoming Glow, a painting of a Western Morning by Jenny Armitage

Wyoming Glow (watercolor 15 x 18 inches) $225

Back to Wyoming in the morning.  I used the same reference photo for this painting as I did for my last pastel.  I didn’t mess the seasons this time but it looks like spring rather than summer to me.  That’s because it’s been such a wet year.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Wyoming so green.  The early morning sun on the grass was simply spectacular.

The problem for me was not to lose the forest in the trees.   It’s much too easy to get mesmerized by detail and try to paint every tree.  Yet the painting must still suggest individual trees  and I wanted the emphasis to remain on the sunlit grass.  My solution this time was to eliminate detail by using a big brush.  The entire painting is done with a number 14 round brush (about three eights of an inch at the shank but coming to a fairly tight point).*   Usually I work in numbers 12, 10, 8 and finish with 6  (the smaller the number the smaller the brush).

I did not use mask either.  Painting carefully around the lights rather than reserving them with mask forced me to keep them big.

I also used a fairly limited palette:  winsor purple, phthalo blue, cobalt blue, quinacridone gold, and burnt sienna.  This not only helped unify the painting, but helped me concentrate on big shapes.

But I have my husband to thank for the key to this painting.  He came upstairs and looked at it in progress.

“Too fuzzy.”

“But where would I put the detail?”

“I don’t know.”

Stephen is not good at seeing what to do to a painting, but he’s very good at seeing problems.    It pays to listen to him.  I thought about it.  One classic maneuver is to put a lot of detail into the foreground.  I used that approach with my pastel.  But my painting was already too abstract to allow much real detail in the foreground.  In the end I did two things.  I added texture to the foreground and sharpened up the trees just where they intruded on the distant grass at the center of interest.  Together the changes created instant depth.

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*Actually, I used one other brush, but only for my signature.  For that I used a number 2 rigger.  Riggers are very long thin brushes designed to make long thin continuous lines without having to repeatedly re-dip then in paint.  The name comes from their usefulness in painting sail rigging.


This painting is currently for sale on line at my Etsy shop. Or purchase a print.

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