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Cafe Snapshot

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European Cafe, Watercolor Painting by Jenny Armitage

Snapshot Cafe (watercolor 14 x 23) $600

 

Despite the lack of canals and only a single bicycle, this is Amsterdam on a summer evening. But it could be anyone of a number of European street scenes.

The title is a bit of a pun.  I painted the picture from a series of snapshots, and girls in the foreground are sharing a snapshot.  I hope the atmospheric nature of the painting has little to do with snapshots.


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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) SOLD

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 sold but you may still purchase a fine art print.

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Between Amusements

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At the Fair, Watercolor Painting by Jenny Armitage

Between Amusements (17 x 21 watercolor) $700

For the last four years I’ve been taking pictures of the Oregon State Fair confident that with all those people and colors there must be a good painting in there somewhere.   Four years of pictures with images taken from four different photos and I finally have one.


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Sun-Drenched Parasols

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Sun Drenched Parosals (watercolor 12 x 18) $400

There’s a reason why artists like to paint umbrellas.  They are shapely and brightly colored.  They add grace to the human form.  We associate them with romance and romantic cities.  And here I live in the Willamette Valley were it rains all winter, and yet I’ve never really painted umbrellas and now when I do it’s umbrellas used for shade.

Why?  Because Oregonians hardly ever use umbrellas.  We either ignore the rain with a macho sort of only wimps think this is rain air, or we wear sports gear with hoods.    On the coast we have some excuse as the rain there so often comes with enough wind to invert any umbrella, but here in the Valley we hardly ever have real wind yet we don’t use umbrellas.   Our family does keep a couple collapsibles in the car, but we tend to forget we have them.

These are Oregon umbrellas lent by the exhibit sponsor to the line of people waiting in the sun to see the Titanic exhibit some years ago.  I embarrassed my young daughters by taking pictures of the line of people with all  those beautiful umbrellas. One of my girls looked at the painting and said instantly that was when we saw the Titanic.  She doesn’t remember being embarrassed, just the pretty umbrellas.  My other girl is younger.  She does not remember at all.  Neither girl remembers many Oregon umbrellas.  They associate umbrellas with London.

A couple days ago, I saw a friend’s painting umbrellas in Rome, and thought to myself, I wish I had some umbrellas to paint.  And then I remembered how I had embarrassed my children by taking photos of people standing in line because the umbrellas were so pretty.

Sell Art Online

My painting doesn’t have the lovely rainy reflections Marsha’s does, but I do have shadows.


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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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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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August 22, 2010 6:58 pm

Wet Summer in Big Sky Country

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Wet Summer in Big Sky Country a Watercolor by Jenny Armitage

Wet Summer in Big Sky Country (watercolor 10 x 14) (SOLD)

I grew up in the mountain-west.   It’s dry country.  On the plains it’s high desert.  In the mountains it’s not exactly a desert, but it sure isn’t lush either.   This summer, it was wet all across the mountain states.  Wyoming was green.   Let me repeat that, sage brush covered Wyoming was green. Yellowstone was positively lush with green grass. The park probably had twice it’s usual allotment of wet land.

This is the east side of Yellowstone National Park above the lake, but below Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. The colors looked like spring, but the grass was much too long.  The silver stream is really just endless wet ground—a spontaneous marsh, made just for this year.  But between the cloud shadows and the sky reflecting on the water it was beautiful.

I painted it conventionally beginning with the sky and stream, then building up the greens layer by layer.  To get all those shades of green I used three blues (cobalt, phthalo, and cerulean) and two yellows (quinacridone god and yellow ocher). In addition I used burnt sienna and quinacridone deep red rose.

This painting has sold, but you may purchase a print from my gallery at Fine Art America.

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August 9, 2010 1:13 pm

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.

____________

*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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June 15, 2010 11:44 am

My Kind of Beach Boys

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My Kind of Beach Boys ( 10 x 19 watercolor) $175.00

Believe it or not,  this is February in Oregon.  Where is the rain?  I don’t know, it took a vacation for our vacation.  I took a number of photos of these boys who were obviously enjoying the unseasonable weather.  They seemed immune to the 62 degree water, and quite happy to get wet.

I painted this watercolor very traditionally starting which the sky which I painted wet into wet with ceruleum blue.  I dropped in a mixture of cobalt blue and burnt sienna  to give the clouds some depth.

Then I masked the foam and the boys.  The ocean is a combination of phthalo blue, cobalt blue and burnt sienna. I used the phthalo blue mostly for the green cresting waving.  After removing the maske, I spent much time scrubbing the hard edges left by the maske and lifting highlights from the waves.

I added the boys using burnt sienna, raw sienna, and quinacridarone rose form there skin.  Their trunks are quinacridone rose, colbalt blue, and phthalo blue.

Available for purchase at my Etsy Shop. Or purchase a print from my print shop at Fine Art America. Prints of my oceanscapes and those of others are also available here: ocean paintings

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