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Seal Rock


Low Tide at Seal Rock

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Low Tide at Ono Beach, watercolor painting by Jenny Armitage

Low Tide at Seal Rock (watercolor and gouache 11 x 13) available

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Breakers at Seal Rock III and IV More Postcard Paintings

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The Breakers at Seal Rock III (5 x 7) SOLD

The Breakers at Seal Rock III (5 x 7) SOLD

The Breakers at Seal Rock IV (5 x 7) SOLD

The Breakers at Seal Rock IV (Sold)

Art in the Vally’s December feature will be a group show of mini paintings.  So yesterday during my gallery shift I painted another couple of postcard sized watercolors. (Update: One of these paintings did sell at the Art in the Valley show and the other sold the following day.)

These are the view north from Seal Rock Wayside, looking downs on the beach.  Seal Rock is a great place for wave watching because the beach drops sharply into the ocean and the beach is ringed by rocks for the waves to crash against.  If the tide is coming in, we can always happily waste an hour or two just wave watching there.

The palette for both paintings is cobalt blue, phthalo blue, cerulean blue, and burnt sienna.  The cerulean is all in the sky.

Update: One of these paintings did sell at the Art in the Valley show and the other sold the following day.

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Breakers at Seal Rock or Using all the White Techniques

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The Breakers at Seal Rock II (12 x 16) $125

The Breakers at Seal Rock II (12 x 16) $125

This is the second painting I’ve done of the tide coming in at Seal Rock Wayside.  The first was a little postcard sized painting I did while demonstrating at the fair.  That little painting sold immediately.  I liked it too, so when expanding it to a full sized painting I didn’t mess around with the composition much.  But I did want to get some more variety into the rocks and spray.

Like the previous painting, I began by reserving the whites with liquid mask while painting in the ocean and rocks. I used phthalo blue and burnt sienna for the ocean.

I used the same basic technique to lay down the rocks as I did with the first little painting.  I started with raw sienna and quinacridone gold.  Then I added burnt sienna and quinacridone deep red rose.  While the burnt sienna and deep red rose were still wet, I dropped in cobalt blue and phthalo blue.  Finally I added some heavy burnt sienna and some French Ultramarine.

Once the painting was dry,  I scrubbed the edges of the rock where the spay hit them with a stiff filbert brush to show how the waves obscured them.   Then I broke out the white gouache (an semi opaque white) and added more spray.  Over the dark painted rocks the gouache white looks gray.  I used the gouache primarily for the shelf of the biggest rock and the bases of the rocks on the shore side.  Finally I pulled out the razor and scratched in fine white lines where the water spilled over the rocks and little cuts for droplets of spray.  All four techniques work very differently, and each has a character of it’s own.  I like the variety that resulted from using them all.

Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.

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Sgrafutto or Taking A Razor to my Painting

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Seal Rock Breakers I (5 x 7--damaged) SOLD
Seal Rock Breakers I (5 x 7–damaged) SOLD

Seal Rock Park is one of our favorite waysides on Highway 101. This little painting shows a small part of the view north from the headland looking down at a string of volcanic rocks ringing the shore.
Last winter I took a series of photos of the waves crashing against the rocks as the tide came in. The photos look good in black and white but strangely lifeless in color. The contrast between the black rocks and the white waves is almost too much for color. So I left the photos on the back burner. But earlier this week I decided to try a small close-up view just to get me started.

To solve the overly black rock problem, I decided to make the rocks a chocolate brown. I began with raw sienna, and layered burnt sienna over the top. Then, while the burnt sienna was still wet or in some cases damp, I dropped in phthalo blue and let it interact with the sienna on the page. The result is almost as dark as the black in my photos but much more alive.

As usual I saved the white paper for foam and breakers with rubber mask. But I had a hard time getting the mask fine enough to show the run off down the base of the rocks. So when I tore the paper a little removing it from the pad (left of signature), I decided it was a good time to experiment with sgrafutto. After all, what did I have to lose?

Sgrafutto is an Italian term. It means to scratch the surface of multiple layers of color to reveal the lower layers. It’s a good technique for fine detail. In this case I used a razor blade to scratch through the brown rock to reveal the white paper below. Dragging the tip of the razor perpendicular to the cutting edge worked best. Dragging it toward the cutting edge produced a line so fine it didn’t show.

Now that I’ve tried it, I like this technique and I’ll use it to show more water against rocks in the future. I might also use it to show highlights in brick and stone.

The other technique I used to detail the spray is lifting. I moistened the edges of the rocks where they met the masked spray and scrubbed them a little with the brush. Then I took a dry thirsty brush and lifted as much of the paint as I could along the edges of the rock. You can see the results in along the left hand side of the largest rock and at the base of the far right rock.

I like this little painting and I’ll use the same techniques to make some larger versions of it later. I have plenty of rocks and breakers to play with.

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Breakers SOLD

Dances With Fountains (7 x 10)

Dances With Fountains

I expected to sell prints, but not necessarily paintings at the Oregon State Fair. It isn’t exactly a traditional art venue. So I wasn’t surprised that I hadn’t sold a painting over the weekend. But surprise, surprise, I sold two framed originals today. “Fountain Dance” I blogged about when I painted it. It’s part of my Town Center Park “Splash” Series. Breakers is a little painting I did before beginning this blog.

You can purchase a print of either painting at Fine Art

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Whale Watchers at Elephant Rock

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The Whale Watchers at Elephant Rock (14 x 20) $125

The Whale Watchers at Elephant Rock (14 x 20) $125

This is the head at Seal Rock Wayside park. A long ridge of basalt runs across the coast line. It creates tidal pools and spectacular waves along the beaches. At the the head it is wall defending the land from the sea. This is the view as you crest the last hill and look down on the wall barricading the head. The ridge is easy to climb and it really is a great place for whale watching.

This is my second attempt both at painting this view and at painting on hot-pressed paper. My first is in the entry below. My primary problem to begin with was poor compositional planning. The foreground came to a point almost dead center in the middle of the foreground. Last night I intended to correct the painting by sliding the point over. I found that impossible and so began the painting anew.

This time I established my darks first beginning with the outer ridge. The hot pressed-paper really does aid the creation of luminous darks. I will use it again for low key paintings.

The palate is cobalt blue, cerulean blue, phthalo blue, burnt sienna and yellow ocher. The Ridge is almost entirely grays made of of burnt sienna and the blues. Each of the blues produces a variety of interest grays and browns when mixed with sienna. I used a little yellow in the foreground cliff. I used Chinese white, cobalt blue and yellow ocher for the grass.

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High Tide at Seal Rock Beach or Experimenting with Canvas

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High Tide and Seal Rock (12 x 16) $200

High Tide at Seal Rock (12 x 16) $200

I took the working photos for this one on a cold wet winter day on Seal Rock Beach just south of Newport, Oregon. At low tide it’s a fantastic place for poking in tide pools. At high tide it’s a wave watcher’s heaven.

This is the fourth watercolor I’ve done on canvas. Watercolor is a whole different animal on canvas. It even sounds different, like painting on a drum.

Canvas is just a hair smoother than cold-pressed paper, but the texture is very different. Cotton has a grain whereas paper does not. Greater detail is possible on cotton than on cold-pressed paper. But that’s just the beginning.

Canvas absorbs more water, so it takes much longer to dry; and drying is crucial because unless a wash is bone dry it will lift from canvas in a heart beat. In fact it’s extremely easy to lift watercolor from canvas. All but the most staining pigments will wipe back to white with one swipe of the sponge. It’s great for correcting mistakes but lifting just a little color for highlight is next to impossible. Mask will also lift paint back to white making it easy to add white details.

On the other hand, canvas accepts much thicker darker paint without getting muddy and dead looking. I’m coming to the conclusion that this last is the primary advantage of canvas for me. And that is why I painted this particular painting on canvas. I wanted to make the dark rocks just as dark and cold as they really were without worrying about dead chalky looking paint.

Since it is framed without glass the last step in a watercolor on canvas is to spray it with a clear protective finish. I use a matte finish. I don’t want shine.

This is essentially a two color painting: French ultramarine and burnt Sienna. There is a hair of raw sienna here and there but not much.

Gallery wrapped (painting continues around the edges of the stretcher bars) on cotton canvas so no frame is necessary. Shipped flat.

Or purchase a print at Fine Art

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