Tuesday Tips #5: Painting Sizes

Painting of wren figurine.

Little Wren.  Framed to 12″ x 16″.  Click on image to view it larger.  $90.

These two pieces that I am framing for the show were painted on paper I cut small just to try something out.  And the something “to try out” turned out to be kind of nice!  Unfortunately when it came to framing, the paper size was 7 ½ inches by 11 inches, and you can see how that wouldn’t fit into a standard size mat.

The tip I have for you today is to be conscious of painting sizes.  You never know whether a painting may turn out well, so be sure to paint it in a size that can be easily matted in a precut mat.  Precut mats are usually available with an opening of 5″ by 7″, 8″ by 10″, 11 “by 14″ , and so on.  These fit into readily available commercially made frames, which makes framing a more reasonable cost for you or your collectors.

painting of aspens

Winter Twilight.  Framed to 12″ x 16″.   Click on image to view larger.  $90.

If you don’t have a mat cutter, it will cost significant money and time to have one custom cut.  If you are interested in buying one, my friend recommends the Logan brand: http://www.logangraphic.com/.

Watercolor paper comes in the 22 inch by 30 inch sheets.  So often what I do is to fold and tear these into fourths, which is called a quarter sheet (11 by 15 inches).  On several paintings I taped it to my Plexiglas Board which made a very nice white edging frame around the edges when I pulled the tape off.  It looked great!  But I had trouble with matting.

For this size, the best thing to do is to use a double mat whose outside dimensions are 16 by 20”.  Because it has that extra little bit of a second mat inside the opening, the opening is 10 by 13”.   If I had painted to the very edge of the paper that would’ve worked, but because I taped it on top, that white edge peeked out.

Painting to the edge

close up of edge painting

To fix this, I carefully lifted and blotted the sharp edge of the paint, let it dry and then continued the painting to the edge of the paper.  Now it fits inside the 10 by 13 opening with no white showing.  Here’s a close up of a fix of the edge. You can see a pale difference where the edge used to be, but at the edge of the mat, you won’t see it.  You can see the other edge is left alone because it fit well.

But really.  Repainting the edges of every painting  is not a good solution for the future!  I am now doing what Soon Y. Warren , a fabulous watercolorist, recommends: Make a double sided sticky tube with 2 inch wide masking tape. put a tube along all four edges on the backside, and press it to your board.  Paint to the edge.  It works like a charm!

Hope you’ve found this helpful.  Feel free to let me know what you think, and thanks for stopping by!

Happy mail days — The CARDS are here!

They have arrived!  the printed 5 x 7" cards from 11 of my watercolors.

They have arrived! the printed 5″ x 7″ cards from 11 of my watercolors.

The printed cards have arrived!  Here’s a picture of them, fresh from the box, not yet folded.  The cards look so wonderful!  They have a slight glossiness to them, and I’m really pleased with how they look. They are $4 each, and are available directly from me or at the show on August 28th @ the Art Junction.

In preparation for the art show next month, a friend taught me how to frame my paintings and what supplies to buy.

Framing stapler and flexible staples

Framing stapler and flexible staples

Framing stapler and flexible staples

soft stranded finger friendly wire and triangle picture hooks

The tools that arrived are shown here:  dual point elite stapler that shoots staple type objects that come out in the FRONT of the unit rather than below.  It is much easier to shoot them into the wooden frame at the right angle to keep the mat, glass, and painting in place. The flexible staples let you remove the painting if necessary.

The wire is not the old fashioned kind that rips up your fingers when you twist it around the eye hooks.  The triangle hooks are flat, screwed in, with a triangle hook on a hinge to hang the wire from.

All this and more will be explained in a later Tuesday Tips post when I show you how the framing process goes.

And OH YES, the Splash 16 book arrived and I savored it.  Only allowed myself a certain number of paintings per day to drool over.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Splash is an annual publication that highlights the best of that year’s watercolors and as usual, it did not disappoint!

contemplation garden utep (12)-002

Meanwhile, this is the photo from which I am painting these days. It is the surface of the contemplation fountain in the UTEP Centennial Gardens, one of my favorite botanical places in our city.

In a later post this week, I will have in process photos from drawing to whatever painting stage I am at. I may need to paint this, or similar water reflection pictures, 10-20 times before I start to do them justice.

Poll Results on printed card. Thanks for voting!

poll winners

The nine winners from the two polls. Thanks for voting!

Here are the poll results from last week’s polls (see here and here.)

The top winners of paintings that people voted to make into cards were:

Poll 1 (total 91 votes) I vote you make cards from:
C. Yucca Bloom 19.78%  (18 votes) 
E. Red Hot! 16.48%  (15 votes) 
J. Echeverria 14.29%  (13 votes) 
H. Little Wren 10.99%  (10 votes) 
A. Stumbled Upon 8.79%  (8 votes) 
G. Agave Shadows 8.79%  (8 votes) 
I. Listen. 8.79%  (8 votes) 
D. Garden Visitor 6.59%  (6 votes) 
B. Moment in Time 3.3%  (3 votes) 
F. Walk with me. 2.2%  (2 votes) 
K. I can’t decide. Make cards from all. 0%  (0 votes) 
Poll 2 (24 votes): I vote you make cards from:

A. Contemplation 16.67%  (4 votes) 

B. Winter twilight 16.67%  (4 votes) 
C. Better Days Ahead 16.67%  (4 votes) 
I prefer cards that are 5″ x 7″ 12.5%  (3 votes) 
I prefer cards that are 4.25″ x 5.5″ 12.5%  (3 votes) 
D. The Secret Life of Wrens 8.33%  (2 votes) 
F. A Fresh Start 8.33%  (2 votes) 
E. The Promise 4.17%  (1 votes) 
G. The Mommy Glove 4.16%  (1 votes) 

Tuesday Tips #4 Try and try again!

Watercolor painting of autumn leaves

October leaves with redone background. Watercolor 11″ x 14″ Available. Click on image to view larger.

My tip today is to not be afraid to rework your painting.  After all, it’s only paper!!  If it doesn’t work out as planned, you can lift or scrub or even WASH off the paint under a faucet and work with the colors and shapes remaining.

This is a painting that I did last year and I put a cobalt blue background on it, thinking that the orange in the leaves and the blue background would pop and that it would be a good idea!  well, maybe applied differently it would work, but it didn’t for me.  See the next photo down.  I used the blue too thickly, and it concentrated in places, and I wasn’t able to move it. At the time I was intimidated by backgrounds and I thought…oh well, that doesn’t look good.  and I left it.

previous painting of leaves

Previous version of October leaves with vibrant blue background. Watercolor 11″ x 14″ Click on image to view larger.

This week I pulled it back out and thought, I like the leaves and I have nothing to lose if I scrub off the background.  So I did.  I also took a photo of it in its naked scrubbed self, but somehow I deleted  misplaced that photo so I can’t upload it.  I hate when that happens! It would have been so cool to show you.  Rats.  If I find it, I will upload it.

Anyway, as to the process: I used an older brush, wet it, wet the areas I wanted to lift off color and blotted it off with a tissue.  Sometimes left the water on longer and then blotted it.  “Rinsed, lathered, repeated” until the offending blue was gone.  I was left with a mottled effect of blue staining that I thought might work under browns or greens.

So I put down some lighter tones on top, let them dry, and then came in with darker tones and negatively painted the leaves that appear to be “under” the pile of vibrant ones.

Framed painting

Finished October leaves in square copper finish frame. Watercolor Framed size 18″ square. Available. Click on image to view larger.

So, do I like it now?  Yes, I do because it’s rescued.  If I were to do it again, I would want clearer more transparent tones in the background, but that would be a different painting, not THIS one.  So yes, I like it. Do you?

And I put it quickly into one of my favorite frames, a copper finish square one.  I think it looks pretty good!

Art Cards for Sale

red hot card echeverria card yucca bloom card

Thanks to everyone for voting in the polls recently.  When the week is up, I’ll tell you the results.

I needed to order the cards as of Tuesday with Vistaprint, so I went ahead and ordered a lot of the top winners in the polls, in 5 x 7 sizes.  They have smaller ones available, but not in the vertical format, so I thought I would keep it simple for now and just have one size.

I have 11 designs available.  If you’d like to take a look at what I have available, check the Art Cards for salbetter days ahead carde link at the top of the blog.  They should be in by the 27th of July but my experience with this company during the holiday season last year was that they delivered way earlier than they said.  Hope that’s true in the hot days of summer as well.

Great Scape!

Isn’t it funny how things just seem to come together?  Last month I started working and blogging about scapes, and how really cool they are, and today I was working on finishing touches on the painting and this FABULOUS blogpost Great Scape came up on my reader.Please click on it to view a gorgeous photo of a “rollercoast” of scapes from the blog Leaf and Twig (which I totally enjoy reading daily!)

vegetable still life

Almost finished this 11″ x 14″ watercolor of a farmer’s market collection of scapes, pepper, and kale.  Click on image to view larger.

So after spending a good deal of time yesterday on the business end of painting,  it was nice to get in painting time today.  Please let me know what you think.  I need some fresh perspectives on it.

This won’t be in next month’s show, but the deadline is rapidly approaching (mid August) for submissions to Arts International, the juried show put on annually by the EP Art Association.  So I will be working on it and others hoping to have some ready to submit for that show.  It’s  a busy summer here!

And with traveling, putting together frames/mats/paintings, ordering cards and business cards, I have been remiss in keeping up with reading art blogs…so that’s next on the agenda.  I so appreciate the support of other bloggers, and artists in particular, and I miss keeping up on what y’all are doing!

photo card

art show in El Paso, Texas.  Click on image to view larger.

So, how about these for cards?

When I started looking at ordering cards, I realized I had forgotten some choices.  So let’s do another poll, shall we?  I think these are fun.  Hope you do too.

The first two are pieces that will be in the show; the next two are only available in cards and prints.  And the last three are from the bead embroidery sculptures I’ve made in the past that have won prizes at Arts International shows.

There’s also a question on the poll on what size cards you usually would buy.  I’m torn on what size to offer.  I prefer 5×7 because they can easily be framed, but I can see how smaller cards would be easier to use to jot a quick note.

A. “A Peaceful Spot” This is taken from my imagination, a peaceful spot I’d love to visit and contemplate. Click on image to view larger.

painting of aspens

B. “Winter twilight” Watercolor that is available. Click on image to view larger

Better Days Ahead. Sunflower watercolor by Rachel Murphree

C. “Better Days Ahead”. Watercolor.  Sunflowers painted from life. Click on image to view larger. Original in private collection,  but prints and cards available.

Ivy plant with wren scene

D. “The Secret Life of Wrens”. Watercolor of a Caroline Wren nest in an ivy plant on my sister in law’s deck. Click on image to view larger. Original in private collection, but prints and cards available.

beaded palette photo

F. ” A Fresh Start” Bead embroidery sculpture. Artist made felted background, beaded clumps of “paint” and an actual brush beaded.

Beaded glove sculpture

Bead embroidery sculpture depicting my first seven years of parenthood.

Bead embroidery sculpture

“The Promise” — bead embroidered and felted toddler shoe

Which paintings should I make into cards?

Okay folks I am back home from my trip and am getting back into painting AND framing! I had forgotten just how much fun painting is…  Silly me.  anyway…

The EPA A members show is August 28 and  that means I need to get into gear and have all the paintings matted and framed a week before.   Thankfully I started planning mats and frames  before I left because if I hadn’t, I would feel so behind!  I am grateful to my friend Jacques who taught me how to cut mat board and frame, and it really helped me get that process set in my mind.  Some day perhaps I can help him make a blog/website of his own, so you can see his lovely watercolors!

I have the opportunity to sell printed cards at the show, so I thought I would put out a poll and get your favorites and use that information in making my decision about which pieces to get printed.  I was thinking to have 5 x 7 cards printed so that people could take home a little piece of the show, if they didn’t have room in their house or budget for an original.

Would you like to help?  You may choose as many as you’d like.  The poll will go on for a week.  Thanks for your help!   The poll results are anonymous.   If for some reason you can’t get the poll to work properly or would prefer to leave a comment instead, please do so.

Watercolor of rocks and flowers by Rachel Murphree

A. “Stumbled Upon”.  11″ x 15″ watercolor. Click on image to view larger.

B.  “Moment in Time.”  Watercolor painting 11″ x 14″. Click on image to view larger

Yucca bloom in watercolor by Rachel Murphree

C.  “Yucca Bloom.”  Watercolor on Arches 300 lb rough paper. 11″ x 14″

Garden Visitor

D. “Garden Visitor.”  11″ x 14″ watercolor.  Click on image to view larger.

Red Hot!

E.  “Red Hot”! 11″x  15″  watercolor. Click on image to view larger.

Walk with me. Cholla blossoms watercolor by Rachel Murphree

F. ” Walk with Me.“, 11″ x 14″ watercolor. Click on image to view larger.

Agave Shadows #2 Watercolor painting by Rachel Murphree

G.  “Agave Shadows #2″,  11″ x 15″ Watercolor.  Click on image to view larger.


H.  “Little Wren”. 8” x 10″ Watercolor Click on image to view larger.

Watercolor study of conch shell

I. Listen. 5′ x 7″ watercolor.  Click on im

Echeverria watercolor by Rachel Murphree

J. Echeverria. Watercolor. Click on image to view larger.

Tuesday Tips #3

Walk with me. Cholla blossoms watercolor by Rachel Murphree

Watercolor of cholla blossoms, 11″ x 14″ Click on image to view larger.

I have been traveling recently and not painting, but I will be back in the swing of it shortly now that we’re back home!  So here’s another painting that will be in August’s show, framed and for sale.

Today’s tips are geared toward traveling, whether away from home or traveling around your own town.

Look for art opportunities, to revitalize yourself with seeing art, or appreciating color combinations or shadows all around you.  While on our travels, I had the very good fortune of seeing the mid Atlantic show of the Baltimore Watercolor Society and you can download the PDF of the show catalog and see all the works.  The quality of the work was simply amazing!  Take an armchair tour of the show!

Seek out opportunities to view artists in their studios.  I visited Goggleworks, a cultural arts center in Reading PA, and highly recommend it if you are in the area.  It will be a “must visit” place for me whenever I’m in town there.  The refurbished google factory has six floors of artists and art associations, ongoing exhibits, an art film theater, great shop and café.  here’s a link to some of their artists and some video interviews with them.

Do you have artists’ studio open days in your community, or is there a museum or gallery you’ve always meant to see, but haven’t gotten there yet?  Make an art date with yourself and get inspired!

Tuesday Tips #2

Sprouting onion still life with marble and shell.  Watercolor painting by Rachel Murphree

Sprouting onion still life with marble and shell.

This is another watercolor that will be framed and available for sale at the El Paso Art Association show on Friday August 28, 2015 at 509 W. Paisano.

And now for more tips…

Draw often. I mean  often! I heard an interview with portait artist Laurel Boeck who worked with a master painter after art school, when she realized she hadn’t learned the nuts and bolts of the art practice, and for the first year with him she drew —  she never picked up a brush!  Can you imagine?  The interview is part of the Artists Helping Artists podcast which I highly recommend.

Do value sketches with paint in three values with one color.  Take a color such as the traditional ones of sepia or ultramarine or be sure to use a pigment that will paint light, medium, and very dark. Those are the three values you need as a base to make a successful painting.    Some pigments such as yellows won’t go dark enough.  

Squint at what you are painting and just how in low light such as dusk, you see some lights and some darks and a lot of medium values that all look similar, the same occurs when squinting.  The different medium values all look the same and that makes painting simpler if you can merge all those medium valued shapes into connecting shapes.  The lights and darks correctly placed will render the object or scene believable so you can see if the painting composition will work.  

These tips serve as reminders to me to do them more and often.  I hope they help you too!