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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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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.

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


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Biting Off More Than I Can Chew: Demonstrating

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I have difficulty painting in public. I never paint my best or even close to my best with an audience. Even at the gallery where people wander in and out infrequently, I have a hard time with painting in company. I don’t blush or drop my brush. But I don’t concentrate as well as I do in private. And I make fundamental errors more frequently.

But I must learn to paint in public and soon. And what is more I must be able to talk about it while I do it, because this coming August I have agreed to demonstrate painting and sculpture at the Artisan’s Village in the Oregon State Fair.

It’s sculpture that got me into this. I’ve sculpted for seven years now and I’m quite comfortable doing it with an audience. For the last four years I have sculpted all day at just about every art fair I’ve been in. Only heat and fancy carpets stop me.

Last Christmas a representative from the Artisan Village saw me demonstrating at the Salem Saturday Market Christmas Show and asked if I would be willing to take a booth at the fair. This is plum. Commercial booths at the fair rent for several thousand dollars. Booths in the Atrisan Village rent for $75.00. The difference? The Village is a juried venue. The catch? —artists in the Village must demonstrate from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Most artist share a booth and share demonstrating hours. But I know no one else who sculpts polymer clay. And besides, it’s an outdoor venue and the hotter it gets the hotter polymer clay gets until it becomes much to soft to sculpt. What to do?

Well, I was looking for a way to display my new watercolors so I talked myself and the director into both sculpture and painting. I am to sculpt in the cooler mornings and paint in the heat of the day. Switching mediums halfway through the day should help me keep my brain active too.

Now all I have to do is learn to paint in public. I spent this weekend learning. Saturday and Sunday I sold sculpture while painting watercolors. I tried to stick to easy subjects and to leave the detail work for later.

I will try my hand at painting in public again at The Salem Art Festival in July, and the Silverton Fine Arts Festival in mid August. At the end of August it’s show time.

Here are my three half finished paintings. With luck I’ll be posting the finished paintings later this week:

Dances with Fountains (in progress)

Dances with Fountains (in progress)

This is the beginning of another painting in my Splash series of the children playing at Town Center Park. I began by masking the boy and the fountains and painting the water in cobalt blue and burnt sienna. After lifting the first mask I masked the splashes on the boy and the high lights in the fountains. Then I added raw sienna to the palette and began painting the boy. I think I am going to need a real red to complete his skin. Then I will lift the mask and complete the detail work.

Boy with Umbrella (in progress)

Boy with Umbrella (in progress)

This is a full size painting of the boy with the umbrella. The boy is mostly finished, but I want to add a second umbrella on the lower right. I didn’t have a reference photo for that at the show. But I have plenty of pictures of umbrellas in the same light to choose from here.

The painting is on hot pressed paper. The palate is cobalt blue, phthalo green, quinacridone deep red rose, yellow ocher and ceruleum blue.

Pumice Seekers II (in progress)

Pumice Seekers II (in progress)

This is a much smaller version of a painting I did a few months ago of my husband and the girls looking for pumice stones at Crater Lake. Stephen loves the original and won’t let me sell it. But it’s too large for his office. I’m hoping to have this smaller office sized version finished in time for his birthday.

So far I’m using just three pigments: cobalt blue, yellow ocher and burnt sienna. The painting still needs a great deal more contrast.

In the meantime I’ll be preparing to sell sculpture and paint at the Salem Art Fair. I will be at the State Fair August 28th through September 1st in Booth 414 on the south side of the village next to the floral gardens. Wish me luck.

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One Big Umbrella, One Small Boy, Three Small Sketches

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About a month or so ago the Titanic exhibit, or at least a small piece of it came to Salem. Stephen and I took the girls. It was a hot day and we were grateful to the sponsoring bank bank for providing us all with sunshades. And all of those great green and white umbrellas made the crowd rather picturesque. I puzzled the volunteers by photographing the crowd rather than the outside of the exhibit.

I think I will eventually do a back-lit painting of the line. But right now I have an upcoming art fair in Seattle (for my sculpture not my paintings) that’s taking up most of my time. Nevertheless I want to keep my brush hand in. These three little sketches are of a toddler ridding on his daddy’s shoulders and playing with one of those umbrellas.

Boy with Umbrella I (5 x 7) $20.00

Boy with Umbrella I (5 x 7) $20.00


He was having so much fun twirling that umbrella around and so happily oblivious to everything else that I was afraid he was going to bean his father with it. Come to think of it the father has slid of the paintings. None of the angles I liked showed the man’s head. When I included too much of his back and shoulders it looked like the boy was ridding the headless horseman.

Boy with Umbrella II (5 x 7) $20.00

Boy with Umbrella II (5 x 7) $20.00


I began the sketches because I liked the umbrella. I ended up doing three of them because I got carried away with the infinite variety of color in the boy’s hair and skin. Blue, yellow, red, brown, purple and orange. It’s all there.

Now that I look at the sketches I may make a full size painting out of one of these.

Boy with Umbrella III (5 x 7) SOLD

Boy with Umbrella III (5 x 7) SOLD

The palette was phthalo green, ceruleum blue, cadmium red, quinacridone deep red rose, yellow ocher.

These three sketches may be framed or used as postcards. Purchase all three for $50.00.

Because they are so small, I’ll mail these little sketches flat rather than in a tube. As always prices include postage within the continental United States.

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