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water

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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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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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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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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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New Dawn in the Late Afternoon

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New Dawn in the Late Afternoon (8 x 10) $100

New Dawn in the Late Afternoon (8 x 10) $100

I painted this little picture while vacationing in Colorado.  Obviously I didn’t work plein air.  I used a photo I took last summer.  We love to walk along the Newport fishing docks in the afternoon when the boats are all in and the fishermen are cleaning up.

This is the New Dawn in dock.  I painted her because of the lovely reflections in the water.  But while I began it because of the reflections, I found I enjoyed the subtle shades of gray necessary to give the boat volume too, especially where the floats colored the shadows.

I painted the reflection and the parts of the boat reflected first beginning with the red boat side and the gold float.  Then I added first the lighter water background and than the darker reflections and waves in it.  The lighter water is cobalt blue in the foreground and cerulean blue in the distance.  I used burnt sienna to gray and darken and gray the blues. I used a little raw sienna to make the greens.

Then I painted in the dark rail, the lifesaver and the the floats to help me “see” the rest of the boats.  The rails are phthalo blue mixed with burnt sienna.  I used burn sienna and raw sienna for the floats and lifesaver.  The background came next to define the masts.

With that road map in hand, I set about adding all the various shades of gray.  For those I used all three blues grayed down with burn sienna.


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Dances With Fountains

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Dancies With Fountains (7 x 10) $75.00

I don’t think I’ve ever taken anywhere near as many photos I’d like to paint as I did the day of the Wilsonville Festival of the Arts. Hot sun on skin and lots of water is turning out to be one of my favorite combinations.

This one took a little more teasing out to make it a good image. The photo itself shows not only the boy but also his father and sister and sub machine gun style water pistol too, all cluttering up the background and obscuring the larger fountain. It was easy enough to remove the figures and the shadows they cast. To restore the fountain I need to use other reference material.

I have have been using much the same method for all of the paintings in my Splash series. First I mask the fountains, waterfalls, and water drops. Then I can paint the water without worrying about saving the whites as the masking protects them for me.

After the Mask Came Off

After the Mask Came Off

Dances with Fountains (in progress)

Dances with Fountains (in progress)

Once the paint is really dry I remove the mask from the water features and the figures but leave the water drops over water masked. Then I mask the highlights in the water-features and the splashes obscuring the figures. After I’ve painted the figures and roughed in the water I remove all the mask and add shadows to some of the water drops.

Should you like to try using removable liquid mask yourself, I have two tips. First, use cheap synthetic brushes to apply the mask and soap them before and during the process. Second, never use a hair dryer to speed the drying of a masked painting because sometimes it causes the mask to stick to firmly to the paper.

I painted the water in cobalt blue grayed with burnt sienna. The boy’s hair is yellow ocher, burnt sienna and cobalt blue as is his skin. I added some quinacridone deep red rose to key places in his skin such as his ears. His shirt is cobalt blue and burnt sienna again.

This painting has sold, but you may still purchase a print through Fine Art America.com.

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Her Own Little Fountain

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Her Own Little Fountain (12 x 15) $75.00

Her Own Little Fountain (12 x 15) $75.00

Yes, it’s yet another painting of the children playing in the water feature at Town Center Park, Wilsonville, Oregon. What can I say? I love hot sun on skin. And the children were cute. This little girl in particular was adorable. She was all over that stream and happily oblivious to the camera.

This is my second painting on hot-pressed paper. The last was a rocky seascape and I used hot-press to get more luminous darks. That worked well.

I wanted to test the wipe-out properties of hot-pressed paper. Wiping-out means to paint solid color and then to lift the high lights. Hot-pressed paper wipes easier than cold-pressed or rough paper. It thought it would be a good technique for skin on a hot summer’s day. What I discovered is that it works well except for highly staining colors. Quinacridone deep red rose is highly staining. Actually I haven’t found a red I like that isn’t highly staining. The closest I’ve found is burnt sienna which is really an orange. I think I’ll wait for a less sunburn scene where I can use the raw sienna before trying wipe-out with hot-pressed paper again.

The palette was burnt sienna, colbalt blue, quinarindone deep red rose and yellow ocher. I reclaimed some whites with titanium white.


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Splash Dance

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Spash Dance (8 x 11) $150

Splash Dance (8 x 11) $150.00

I started painting this young man on Saturday. Unfortunately the tummy bug that swept our family earlier in the week caught me just as I was starting to mask the whites. But I thought about him off and on all Saturday and Sunday. This morning I went right to work and here he is, the fourth in my Town Center Park series–one more happy extrovert getting wet.

I used tons of splattered masking fluid to keep the splashed water. I find flicking a damp flat brush produces a lovely semi-controllable spray of mask. The faster you flick the smaller the dots.

I’m particularly pleased with his shirt. To make it look wet and stuck to him I added a little cobalt blue to his skin tone and applied it very lightly to his shirt. Where the shirt is stuck to his pants instead of his chest I applied a grayed down pastel version of the same colors that went into his pants.

The palette is a raw sienna, burnt sienna, quinacridone deep red rose, phthalo blue, and cobalt blue. His skin is raw sienna and quinacridone darkened with cobalt blue. I washed him with burnt sienna at the end.


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Wading In On All Fours

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Wading In On All Fours (8 x 11) $75.00

Wading In On All Fours (8 x 11) $75.00

Another painting based on the the photos I took at the Town Center Park in Wilsonville last weekend.
This young man didn’t think just wading was enough. He had to really get down into the water. I think he had the right idea.

This is another limited palette painting. I used burnt sienna, phthalo blue, cobalt blue and yellow ocher. This time I reserved all the whites with mask. Notice how much sparklier they are than the Chinese white I used in Waterfall in Her Lap.

I’m going to put in a plug for the park too while I’m at it. Town Center Park has the most wonderful made made stream running up the middle with little two foot high waterfalls and lot and lots of little bubblers. It’s designed for toddlers and even babies to wade in and on hot days it’s a lively place.
If you’re taking I5 just south of Portland on a hot day take the Korean War Memorial exit to find the park. You’ll be glad you did. The Memorial is in the back of the park well away from the fountain. It’s worth a visit too.


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