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Music Day and Night or the Bear Facts

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Midnight Duet, watercolor painting of a Sax and Clarinet by Jenny Armitage

Midnight Duet (watercolor 7 x 10) available

These two little instrument paintings were done at very different times in very different moods.  I began “Midnight Duet” yesterday afternoon and worked late into the evening to do it.  Given the painting’s dramatic night time lighting that seems appropriate. 

“Noon Trio,” I began on vacation in the early morning.  I think of it as the bear painting though there are no bears in it.

Noon Trio, painting of a Jazzy Trio, by Jenny Armitage

Noon Trio (watercolor 7 x 10) SOLD

I painted it at my brother’s woodland house above Albuquerque, which he had kindly lent us for a couple of nights.  I was working at the dining room table engrossed in the trumpet when a bump against the window caught my attention.  That was as close as I’ve ever seen a live bear.  He as only about six feet away peering curiously in.  I wasn’t terrified, but I felt very, very alive and my brain when into hyper-drive. The windows on the bear’s side of the dining room were closed, but just on the other corner they wide open.  So I stood up to close them, and the bear turned and lumbered away looking back over his shoulder just before disappearing into the forest.  I closed the rest of the downstairs windows just for good measure.

I told my father and niece at breakfast at a local cafe and got a raft of  neighborhood bear stories.  The most amusing centered around a bear reaching in through a kitchen window to sample a birthday cake.  But mostly the bears just want garbage and quickly learn which neighborhoods put out their garbage when.  I think mine was mostly curious.  “Look at the funny people.”


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Licorice Pieces

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"Licorice Pieces" Painting of a Clarinet in Watercolor by Jenny Armitage

Licorice Pieces (11 x 16 watercolor) available

Another clarinet portrait.  Orange suits it don’t you think?
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Clarinet Candy

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Clarinet Candy, An Instrument Painting by Jenny Armitage

Candy Clarinet (14 x 20 watercolor) available

A portrait of a friend’s clarinet.   She can make it sound like candy too.

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Jazz Improvisation One

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Jazz Improvisation One, digital painting by Jenny Armitage

Jazz Improvisation (digital collage) prints only

I’ve been been playing around with digital drawing and collage the last year or so.    I began by drawing silhouettes with the mouse.  I then use the silhouettes to sample various watercolor backgrounds I have painted and then photographed.   I’ve been using the results to make design mugs, tees, smartphone cases, ties and other things on Zazzle for sale in my Paintbox Silhouette shop.   Just lately though, I’ve been taking this a step further and creating digital paintings or collages.   This image includes five watercolor backgrounds and four hand moused silhouettes and over twenty digital layers.

I began with simpler but more graphic images like these:


Rainbow Violins, painting by Jenny Armitage

Rainbow String of Violins (digital collage) prints only

Cool Sax Band, digital collage by painter Jenny Armitage

Cool Sax Band (digital collage) prints only

These simpler images involve fewer layers by utilize the same hand drawn silhouettes and watercolor backgrounds.

All of my digital collages are available here as prints on paper, metal, or canvas.

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Brass Candy Trio

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Brass Candy Trio, Painting of Brass by Jenny Armitage

Brass Candy Trio (13 x 22 watercolor) Available

More big brass.  This time I really went for the distorted shadows created by the blanket these instruments rested on.

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Flugelhorn and Friends

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Flugel and Friends, Original Painting by Jenny Armitage

Flugel and Friends, (11 x 14 watercolor on clayboard) SOLD

Don’t know what a Flugelhorn is?  Neither did I.   But I can now tell you it not only looks but sounds gorgeous.   Imagine a smooth  buttery trumpet and you won’t be too far wrong.

This particular Flugelhorn (and the silver trumpets too) belongs to Mac McGowan of Faerrabella.   Faerabella is a fabulous jazz trio consisting of  Dana McCarty (vocal), Paul Marche (bass), and Mac (flugelhorn and trumpet).   The sound is swing with a dark alternative rock feel to the lyrics and phrasing.   The songs are all original.  Dana’s voice is nothing short of luscious. Click here to hear them play.   If you like what you hear, Amazon has their first CD here.

Mac was kind enough to lend me his horns for half  hour or so at the Oregon State Fair where the trio treated us to a couple of fabulous sets.    This is the first of what I hope will be several Flugelhorn paintings.  Mac’s brass is beautiful and a joy to paint. One of these days I’d like to paint the whole band.

Painted on Aquaboard and finished with clear satin polymer varnish, this painting may be framed without glazing like an oil, or matted and framed with glass like a watercolor on paper.

This painting has sold, but you may 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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37th Annual Western Federation of Watercolor Societies Exhibition

New Orleans Reeds, painting by Jenny Armitage

New Orleans Reeds, (12 x 15 watercolor on paper) SOLD

Each year The Western Federation of  Watercolor Societies hosts a  juried show open to its member associations. The Western Federation of Watercolor Societies’ members association include:  the Arizona Watercolor Association, The Colorado Watercolor Society, The Idaho Watercolor Society, The New Mexico Watercolor Society, The Nevada Watercolor Society, The Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild, the San Diego Watercolor Society, The Southwestern Watercolor Society, The Utah Watercolor Society, The Watercolor Society of Oregon, and the West Texas Watercolor Society.

I am pleased to announce that New Orleans Reeds has been chosen as one of the 100 paintings to be exhibited in the 37th Annual Western Federation of Watercolor Societies Exhibition.  The exhibit will take place at the Marjorie Barrick Museum on The University of Nevada Las Vegas campus, from April 13th to May 19th, 2012.  This year the show was juried by Gerald Brommer, who will pick the award winners in April.

This painting has sold, but you may still purchase a giclee print from my print-on-demand-outlet.

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Taking a Shine to Each Other

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Taking a Shile to Each Other, painting by Jenny Armitage

Taking a Shine to Each Other (13 x 19 watercolor on paper) SOLD

And here’s the completed painting.

This painting has sold, but

giclee prints are available.

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Reeds Between Sets II

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Reeds Between Sets II, Painting of a Saxophone and Clarinet

Reeds Between Sets II (watercolor 8 x 8 ) SOLD

This is a second and slightly larger version of Reeds Between Sets which sold before I could get it posted.  Like most of the rest of my instrument series it will be on display at Art In the Valley beginning November 1st.

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New Orleans Jazz

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New Orleans Reeds, painting by Jenny Armitage

New Orleans Reeds, (12 x 15 watercolor on paper) SOLD

A brighter version of Bouquet of Reeds. Painted a little larger–this time on paper.

Prints available through my FAA shop.

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Pear Roadie

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Pear Roadie, Still Life Painting By Jenny Armitage

Pear Roadie (6 x 6 watercolor on clayboard) SOLD

This is another little painting, completed during my Southwestern vacation. I started it  in a little Victorian Hotel in Durango and completed it poolside in Cortez.

Finished with clear acrylic and mounted on a black cradle frame, this painting is ready to hang.

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The Color of Music

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The Color of Music, Painting by Jenny Armitage

The Color of Music (16 x 20 watercolor on paper) SOLD

This is a larger and more colorful version of “Brass, Winds, and Shadows.”  I liked the first version, but I like this one better.   Besides enlarging the painting and bumping up the color, I expanded the field of view to include more of the flute.  I also made the shadows more transparent.  I think all of the changes are improvements.

Prints available through my shop at Fine Art America.

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Saxy Trio

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Saxy Trio and Musical Painting by Jenny Armitage

Saxy Trio (13 x 22 watercolor on paper) Available

Three saxophones I captured at my Weathers Music photo-shoot.  I liked this particular arrangement because they  look so social, like they are singing together.  I tried to emphasize that cozy feeling in the painting.

The composition is a new one for me.  I’ve been told that just about any letter makes a good composition.  “S” is very commonly used in landscapes with roads or rivers snaking in the the interior.  “O” is often used to frame landscapes. “X” pops up all over particularly in figurative work.  I’ve seen trees form “W,” but I”ve never done it.  This is the first “W” I’ve ever done and it’s so obviously a “W” that it makes me smile.

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Little Purple Sax

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Watercolor Painting of A Saxaphone by Jenny Armitage

Purple Sax (8 x 10 watercolor on clayboard) Available

Painted in Florida, from a moody shadow shot.  Once more I’m having fun with the keys.


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A Bouquet of Reeds

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Bouquet of Reeds, Painting by Jenny Armitage

Bouquet of Reeds (11 x 14 watercolor on Aquabord) Available

This is my first painting of my brand new rental toy, the saxophone.   Actually, my sax is far from new, but for my purposes, it’s just fine. I’ve paired it with what is turning out to be most painted instrument, the clarinet.  The clarinet itself is hard to compose with because it’s so long and skinny.  It isn’t metal, it’s lacquered wood; so it does have the shine that drew me to painting instruments in the first place.  But it’s black body is the perfect foil for brass.   So here it is as co-star to the sax.

The painting’s name is thanks to my best friend and critique, who also lent me her daughter’s clarinet.  So I owe a double thanks to Terrie for this one.

Painted on cradled aquabord.  May be framed or hung as is.


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