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Looking Up Cologne

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Looking Up Cologne, Original Watercolor by Jenny Armitage

Looking Up Cologne (watercolor 10 x 14) available

The tower leading up to Cologne Cathedral’s tower is uniquely lit with multiple windows.  Here is my take on the view up to the bells.

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A Few Alcohol Ink Mini Paintings

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These are my very first alcohol ink paintings. The process is fast and exciting if not exactly controllable. Each of these paintings was completed in under thirty minutes working on Yupo with an eyedropper, cotton ball, cotton swab, gravity, and a mister. The good news it creates beautiful glowing results almost by magic. The bad news is that over half the painting made this way are fit only for the trash. These are the winners:

Blue Mountains I, Small Original Painting, by Jenny Armitage

Blue Mountains I (alcohol ink 5 x 6) Available

Blue Mountains II, Small Original Painting by Jenny Armitage

Blue Mountains II (Alcohol Ink 5 x 7) Available

Blue Mountains III, an Small Original Painting by Jenny Armitage

Blue Mountain III (alcohol ink 5 x 7) Available

 

Blue Cliffs, Original Alchohol Ink Painting by Jenny Armitage

Blue Cliffs (Alchohol Ink 4 x 7) Available

Coastal Moon, Small Original Painting by Jenny Armitage

Coastal Moon (alcohol ink 4 x 6) SOLD

 

Cliff Dwellers (alcohol ink 5.5 x 7) Available

 

These paintings are available in reproduction and on various products here.

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Saint Jost Church

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Saint Jost Church, Original Painting of Cesky Krumlov by Jenny Armitage

Saint Jost Church (watercolor 10 x 23) Available

The Saint Jost bell tower in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic.

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Birth of Venus One and Two

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Birth of Venus Two, Original Watercolor by Jenny Armitage

Birth of Venus One (18 x 24 watercolor) Available

Birth of Venus Two, Watercolor Painting by Jenny Armitage

Birth of Venus Two, (18 x 24 watercolor) Available

Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is stunning, but it never captured the delivery part of birth for me.  Botticelli’s Venus is serene.  She is arriving at the shore, the messy birth process long behind her.  My Venuses  are actually in the process of emerging from the sea foam.

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The Yellow Church in Zahara

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The Yellow Church, Watercolor Painting of the Torre del Reloj by Jenny Armitage

The Yellow Church (watercolor 16 x 23) Available

This is the Plaza Mayor in the village of Zahara, Cadiz Province, Spain.  The village is one of the more picturesque pueblos blancos in Andulacia.  The church I’ve painted is known as the Torre del Reloj (Yellow Tower), and it dominates the square.

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Miranda del Castanar

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Via Miranda, Original Painting of Spanish Village by Jenny Armitage

Via Miranda (watercolor 9 x 19) Available

From Miranda del Castanar, all the views are vistas but all the vistas are framed by narrow streets.  This little half timbered village, with a population of less than five hundred is a joy to wander.

 

The View From Miranda, an Original Painting of Miranda del Canastar by Jenny Armitage

The View From Miranda (watercolor 11 x 19) SOLD

 

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Breaktime Caceres

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Break Time Caceres an Original Painting by Jenny Armitage

Break-time Caceres (watercolor 11 x 13) Sold

This is old town Caceres.

This painting has sold, but you can still purchase a fine art print.

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Door to Chicago

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Door to Chicago, an original watercolor by Jenny Armitage

Door to Chicago (watercolor 16 x 22) Available

A look through the Chicago Art Institute’s doorway onto Michigan Ave.

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I Heart Amsterdam

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I Heart Amsterdam, Watercolor By Jenny Armitage

I Heart Amsterdam (11 x 19" watercolor) Available

Amsterdam street lights.

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A Girl’s Best Friend

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A Girls Best Friend, Bicycle Painting by Jenny Armitage

A Girl's Best Friend (13 x 17" watercolor) Available

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Pillars of the Humanities

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Columns of the Parthenon in Paris France

Pillars of the Humanities (watercolor 17 x 21) SOLD

This is my first painting since returning from our month long odyssey to Europe. I began with the Pantheon in Paris. I made the cream colored columns vibrant to match the intellectual vibrancy of the persons buried in the crypt: Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Louis Braille, Pierre Curie, Marie Curie, Alexandre Dumas.

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Florence in July

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July in Florence, Painting of Old Florence by Jenny Armitage

July in Florence (13 x 23 watercolor) SOLD

July in Italy is hot.  This July was particularly hot.  The week we were there, highs hovered in the upper nineties and topped one hundred from time to time.   It had been the same in Rome the week before.  But it didn’t feel quite as hot in Florence because of the narrow little streets.  It simply isn’t possible to find a street in old Florence without shade on one side or the other.  In this painting I tried to capture that cool shade under hot hot skies.

Like The Pilgrims at the Gate and The Arch of Titus, this painting is poured.   Pouring is not an easy process to describe so, this time I took photos of the painting in progress.

I begin the design process by making a value  sketch of the painting.   A value sketch is a rough black and white sketch with very clearly defined values.  It is my broad outline for the painting.  I refine it until I get a compositional plan I think will create a striking painting.

Next I create a detailed line drawing or cartoon.  A cartoon is the extreme opposite of a value sketch.  It has no shading at all, just lines.  It is as detailed and small picture oriented as the value sketch is loose and big picture.  If the value sketch is the destination, the cartoon is the road map. The image on the far right below is my cartoon for this painting after I transferred it to my watercolor paper.

Together my reference photo, the value sketch, and the cartoon function as my guides during the painting process.

With poured paintings, I always begin by washing the cartoon loosely with color.  The idea is to make sure none of the paper is truly white, even though it will read as white later.   In this case, I washed the sky and the pavement with light blue and the buildings with yellows and oranges.

Once the color wash had dried, I use a removable liquid mask to cover everything I wanted to remain white.  The mask shows as a blotchy coral color in my photos below.  Then I mixed some very watery cups of yellow and orange paint.  I wet the paper with clear water and then poured each cup of paint on  the base of the builds and tilted the paper to let the paint run off the top.    Then I poured cups of watery blue and purple on the lower left and tilted the paper to the right to let the paint run off.

Pour one above, shows the results of that first pour.

For pour two I masked the lightest values and poured again.  This time I used thicker paint and no yellows.  I added more reds and allowed the blues and violets up into buildings.

I masked medium values for pour three.  Then I poured yet darker paint and left out the golds.   After pour three had dried I removed some of the mask to check to see that I was maintaining the value contrast I wanted.  Then I re-masked the lifted areas and masked the areas I wanted to remain dark to medium values before doing the final pour.  In the end I did five pours total.

As you can see, each pour makes it a little harder to tell what the painting looks like as more and more of it gets covered up with liquid mask.   This is why the value sketch is so important to me when pouring.  It helps me remember where the majority of the lightest and darkest values must go.  The cartoon and the reference photo help me place the smaller details.  This helps me keep my eye on the final painting even as it disappears under mask.  But, there are always a few surprises after the mask is removed:

Once the mask came off, the brushes came out.  I cleaned up the windows, finished the figures and added the darkest values.

This painting has sold, but you may still purchase a fine art print.

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Laurel and Hardy

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Laurel and Hardy, painting of a Euphonium and Clarinet, by Jenny Armitage

Laurel and Hardy (18 x 19 watercolor on paper) Available

I have a confession to make– I accost musicians who like my work with pleas to let me photograph their instruments.   I’m not proud.  I prey upon the amateur and professional alike.  At art fairs where there is music, I bring a white blanket just so I will have a soft protective surface to lay instruments on and against.   Nothing beats sunshine for photographing brass and silver.

This painting comes from a series of photos I took at the Oregon State Fair’s Artisan Village.   It’s the result of just plain begging a fellow vender to bring in her trombone, euphonium, and trumpets in for me to photograph.  The clarinet I asked a girl friend’s daughter to lend me to use as a foil when photographing brass and sliver. I think they make a lovely pair.

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Arch of Titus

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Arch of Titus, Painting by Jenny Armitage

Arch of Titus II (watercolor 16 x 21) Available

I knew I wanted to paint the Arch of Titus before we ever got to Rome this summer.   I remember being struck by it on our honeymoon, eighteen years ago and when I remember an object that long, it simply must be painted.  But eighteen years ago, things were simpler.  Eighteen years ago in September my husband and I felt as if we were alone in the forum.  We walked under the arch and touched the carved stone.  This summer in July the forum was mobbed and the arch was surrounded by a wrought iron fence.

The painting I had in mind, featured tourists walking through the arch.  Obviously, that painting, no longer reflects reality.  So instead, I shot the arch looking up from below, avoiding the ugly iron fence.  This turned out to be a challenge.  I like the striking steep upward angle, but perspective is difficult to pull off.  The fact that that exterior of the arch is a light blue marble and the interior a warm yellow orange didn’t help as it made the shadowed underside warmer in color than the cool exterior.  But more difficult yet, the upward angle exposes intricately carvings covering the  interior ceiling of the arch.

I began painting the arch and quit four times, each time simplifying the arch a little more.  The second to last attempt I used to demonstrate painting at the fair.   The result is good, but it didn’t have quite the oomph I was looking for.

Arch of Titus, Painting by Jenny armitage

Arch of Titus I (watercolor 15 x 20) Available

So I simplified even further and poured the painting. (For a description of pouring click here). The result is more richly colored and much more graphic.

 
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Foggy Morning on the Old Railway Bridge

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Foggy Morning on the Railway Bridge, a Watercolor Painting by Jenny Armitage

Foggy Morning on the Railway Bridge II (12 x 17 watercolor) SOLD

I’ve always heard that art is therapeutic.  And perhaps it is for some people, but not for me.  When I’m depressed, I get in fights with paintings and I lose all sense of self  judgment.  Everything I paint, I deem of no value.  Sometimes I’m right.  Sometimes I’m not.

I painted these three almost identical views of the old Salem railway bridge about two years ago during a fit of depression.  They are the survivors of perhaps six different attempts.  I doubt the ones I threw away were all that much different.  In the end I put the project aside in frustration and painted other easier things.

Foggy Morning on the Railway Bridge III Painting by Jenny Armitage

Foggy Morning on the Railway Bridge III (12 x 16 watercolor on clayboard) Available

About a week ago, when getting ready for the Silverton Fine Arts Festival (last weekend) and the Artisan Village at the Oregon State Fair (next weekend),  I discovered that I had sold so much this last year, that I was in some danger of not having enough art to fill the space.  So I looked back through some of my older work for things to frame and found these old bridge paintings.  Looking at them now, I can’t figure out why I didn’t like them.  They do exactly what I wanted them to do.  They capture the foggy morning atmosphere, and they give a sense of how much the trestle draw bridge feels like an open cathedral.

Foggy Morning on the Railway Bridge I (12 x 18 watercolor) Available

Because version number two was painted on clayboard, I didn’t even have to frame it to hang it.  The painting got a surprising amount of attention considering that I hung it on the back side of my booth.   Several people asked if there were prints available.  So I promised that by this evening I would get the painting on line.  And here, they are.

 
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In Europe

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I will be away for a month or so.  Our house sitter is a gem, but she won’t ship paintings for me.  So any orders placed between now and when we get back will not be shipped for a month or so.

I hope to come back with sketches and photos of London, Oxford, Bath, Rome, Florence, Sienna, Pisa, Lucca, Paris, Riems, Zurich,  St. Moritz, Chur, and many other places.

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Handyman’s Preserves

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Handymans Perserves, Painting by Jenny Armitage

Handyman's Preserves (9 x 23" watercolor on paper) SOLD

Right now I feel like a magpie–I’m attracted to shiny things.  I’ve just finished a series of shiny brass and silver instruments.  The last couple paintings, I’ve done cut glass.  This subject is a little humbler, but it’s still all about shine.

I like the nostalgia of it too.  Surely I’m not the only one who’s seen a shop window full of jars of screws, nails, washers, and bolts and noticed how beautiful they are.  The subject may be humble, but it was a bit of a challenge too.  I began by painting the background in layers starting with new gamgee and ending in dioxin purple and cobalt blue.

In Progress

Filling in the background brought the jars into instant relief.  After that it was simply a matter of adding the contents one jar at a time. I treated each jar as it’s own little painting, with it’s own compositional problems. The result is a happy variety.

This painting has sold but you may still purchase a fine art print.

 

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The Painting That Sold Before I Finished It

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Below Lodge Trail Ridge

The Ranch Below Fetterman's Masacure (watercolor) 9 x 16 SOLD

 

I began painting it at the Oregon State Fair this summer. When the light got bad in the evening I switched to clay and propped the painting up behind me. It caught the attention of a lovely woman and her teenage daughter. It reminds them of a ranch they know. After much discussion she bought another two big sky paintings and asked to purchase this one on completion. Last week she saw the completed painting for the first time and bought it. I’ve never been quite so pleased with a sale.Visiting the mountain west this summer, my husband and I toured two American Indian War Battle sites.  The first was that of the Fetterman Massacre which happened about ten years before Custer’s Last Stand.  The view is from but not of the site of the Fetterman Massacre in Northern Wyoming near Fort Kearney.

Fort Phil Kearney was set up in the northern Rockies to guard the Bozeman Trail. The Bozeman Trail (northwest from the Oregon Trail), passed through Wyoming, and on to the gold diggings in Virginia City, Montana. Unfortunately the trail crossed traditional Sioux hunting grounds. Sioux war chief,  Red Cloud, vowed to defend the territory. Washington, however, ordered the trail kept open at all costs.

In 1866, Colonel Henry Carrington, in command of the 18th Infantry Regiment, was sent to build and garrison a series of posts along the trail. Captain William Fetterman joined the regiment.

The Sioux harassed the fort and posts, particularly parties detailed to work outside the fort and those traveling between the forts.  Red Cloud and Roman Nose of the Cheyenne assembled several thousand warriors to remove the U.S. Army from the trail. Red Cloud’s plan was to send small parties of warriors to attack the wood trains and lure the soldiers off to meet the main band of warriors.

On December 6th, a wood train was attacked by a large party of warriors. When Carrington came out to retaliate he was met by an imposing force of Cheyenne warriors including Red Cloud and Roman Nose. He retreated to the fort, leaving too dead and five wounded. Carrington forbade any of his men to pursue fleeing Indians in the future.

Two weeks later, Red Cloud staged another strike on the wood train. But this time, Carrington was not sucked in. There was just one day of wood cutting left for the winter. Carrington prepared to send out a Captain Powell to reinforce the wood train, but Fetterman demanded the right to lead the rescue. Carrington yielded. Fettreman rounded up 79 men and – with the exact number he had bragged that he could wipe out the whole Sioux nation – set off to meet the foe. Carrington’s orders to him were, “Relieve the wood train. Under no circumstances pursue the enemy beyond Lodge Trail Ridge!”

As Fetterman’s men approached the the wood train, the warriors began to break off from the assault and flee from Fetterman’s approach. The soldiers chased them up the side of Lodge Trail Ridge. As they reached the crest of the ridge a second party of warriors, swung around on Fetterman’s rear. Fetternan and his men were surrounded by nearly 2000 men.

Fetterman attempted to ascend the ridge he had just come over and hide behind the cover of some rocks. But Indians were massing up that side of the ridge too. Within minutes all 80 of Fetterman’s men were dead.

Lodge Trail Ridge is now Wyoming State Historical Site.  (More information about the massacre, Fort Kearny, and the Bozeman Trail can be found at the official site for The Fort Kearny State Historical Site.)  A hiking trail leads along the ridge, and despite the markers and other information about the massacre remains beautiful. This is the view west from the lower end of the ridge.

 

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Through the Bamboo Grove

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