Smalls framed

I have all the smalls framed and ready to go to the gallery today.  The ornaments are popular too so I am taking more of them with me to work on while gallery sitting.  We have two trees decorated with artisan ornaments. It is so festive! 

New Small Originals @ the Gallery

This weekend has been a time of going through paintings in my files and adding touches, mostly dark values, to enhance them and call them “ready”.  Then came the process of cutting the mats, and today I’m framing them to take into the Sunland Art Gallery for our Holiday season.  So I thought before they went behind the glass of frames, I’d prop them up and have a photo shoot to share.


“Up in the Clouds”  Watercolor matted to 11″ x 14″

This is the largest of the originals that I’m taking in.  It and the other two mountain scenes were the result of playing around with wet in wet pigments to create the soft clouds and the distant clouds.


Purple Mountains Majesty.  Watercolor matted to 8″ x 10″

The frame I have picked for this painting pulls out the warm browns of the foreground.


“Spring Poppies” Watercolor matted to 9″ x 12″

Paintings in nonstandard sizes like this one at 4″ high make it great to have my own mat cutter so that I can paint in the size that fits the subject.  These tiny flowers become a carpet in the spring in the Franklin Mountains.


Mountain Meadow.  Watercolor matted to 8″ x 10″


“Nosegay”  Watercolor matted to 6″ x 9″

This one also was a result of playing wet in wet.


Ornament #1. Watercolor matted to 8″ x 10″

I have some cards left of this print, but am ordering more!


Vitex.  Plein air watercolor matted to 12″ x 16″

This was a plein air painting of our wonderful vitex shrubby trees that flower so beautifully here and live on little water.  With additional water they can grow to be huge gnarly trees.

All of these will be available at the Sunland Art Gallery starting tomorrow.  I will be at the gallery (in the Placita Santa Fe) several times this week:  Tues morning, Wednesday afternoon, and Friday morning.  And we will have our holiday open house Saturday December 10th from 10-6 and I will be painting a demo 2-4 that day.  Hope to see you there!

If you can’t make it to the gallery, check out my online store at squareup or available from my Facebook page. 

Abstract rocks — Tina Stallard workshop


This week I took a fun and really informative workshop with Tina Stallard, a fabulous watercolor painter from Albuquerque.  The class was structured to teach us design elements to make stronger work to submit to juried shows.  It was intensive and I learned so much.

She brought two black and white photos for us to choose from to use as a basis for creating a value sketch that really works, including strong design scenarios such as the cruciform shape of darks/lights in a intersection shape around the focal area, a radial arrangement that radiates out from the focal area, and another common one, a horizontal/vertical arrangement.  She strongly recommend buying this book Seven Keys to Great Paintings. If you are unsure what I am referring to, browse some of her pages.  I can’t wait to get my book in the mail.

This is an abstract based on a black and white photo she took of the rock pattern in a dry river bed, and some of us really made it abstract with wild fun colors.  I chose more earth tones but added pops of dark color near the focal point which made me uncomfortable initially, but now I see the value of it.  I think I will eventually crop this smaller but I’m happy with all I learned.  I’m hoping to have the time in the next couple of days to work on value studies for future paintings to really “bake in” what I learned.


As a wind down activity on the last day we did a wet in wet wash with colors and let it dry during lunch.  Then we came in and sketched a design lightly on the top and used negative painting, or putting darks in to define shapes, to create a painting.  I like how this one turned out!

And now the rest of the workweek will be focused on getting ready for my booth at the Queen of  Peace bazaar.    I can’t wait to see how that all plays out!

Thanks for visiting and thanks in advance for your comments.   I enjoy hearing from you!


Guest Artist: Jacques Barriac


Two Ducks in the Lotus Patch by Jacques Barriac

My friend Jacques Barriac has three paintings that were accepted into the Sunbowl Exhibition that will have its opening this Wednesday, November 9th, from 5:30-8.  Congrats Jacques!!


Bearded Iris by Jacques Barriac

I believe Bearded Iris is my favorite. aren’t the color blendings beautiful?


Fleur de Tournesol by Jacques Barriac

I am embarrassed to admit that the deadline for this show completely passed me by!  but I will hopefully remember to submit entries for it next year.  Here’s the complete info on the show.   Bonne Chance Jacques!!

5:30 to 8:00 pm.

      Each year, the International Museum of Art sponsors the Sun Bowl Art Exhibit, a juried competition featuring the top artists from all over the country. The exhibit is held in conjunction with the Sun Bowl  festivities, and typically runs from November to December. Since the International Museum of Art is along the Sun Bowl parade route and houses the Sun Bowl sponsor parade viewing party, this exhibit provides an opportunity for all involved in the Sun Bowl festivities to see this yearly show. There is free general admission while the Sun Bowl Art Exhibit is on display, the public is welcome to come and view. All items on display in the exhibit are available for purchase. Appetizers and refreshments will be served. Please join us for an exciting event.  

Chile Trio again demo

The other weekend I did a second informal demo during the opening of the Sunland Art Gallery’s el Paso Scenes show and it went more smoothly for me.  I am consistently using my easel these days to get more comfortable with it.  I also did an underpainting first (see below) to not have the “fear of white page” syndrome!


I’m realizing several things about demos.

First, it’s not a race and I don’t have to “finish” the painting.  So if I’m not at a critical point with washes, I can stop and answer questions without painting.  This may seem obvious but I realized it was one of the thoughts that was stressing me.

Second, you do learn more by teaching or demonstrating, so it’s worth doing and getting better at.  And you don’t have to do it perfectly; you just have to be able to explain why you are doing X and if it worked or not, and why /why not.


Speaking of not perfect, right off the bat i had a runaway wash that dripped down the paper and was staining.  So after that, nothing else could go wrong!  Big smile.  I don’t have the glow of the first painting in this one, and I don’t think I’ll finish it, but I’m happy for what is:  a demo.

The third thing i realized is the continuation of “it’s only paper”  is….it’s only a demo!


So here’s the finished framed piece which is now hanging at the Sunland Art Gallery but I have prints, cards, and ornaments of it for sale there and at the show this weekend at Queen of Peace church.   (and also at my online store)

I have blogged about the process for the framed piece here. 



Flor del Sol @ Queen of Peace

Hi all– I’m getting ready for my show and wanted to let you know that Flor Del Sol will be available for sale at my booth. The original will be there as well as prints and cards. The show is this weekend, November 12th and  13 @1551 Belvedere.  My booth will be in the classroom and I hope to see you there! 

I also have a new online store at

Selling locally AND online


Basket of Christmas Ornaments available at the Sunland Art Gallery, online, and at local shows

I’ve been quiet lately on my blog, but still painting and doing the business behind the scenes of getting ready to sell at several holiday fairs this season and to open my online shop!  You can see a sampling of what is available on the Online store page at the top of the menu or by going directly to my store at Rachel Murphree Watercolors.

I will be at two fairs this season:

  • November 12-13 at Queen of Peace Bazaar, 1551 Belvidere on El Paso’s Westside :  Saturday  from 9-7 and Sunday from 9-3.
  • December 3 at Bethany Christian Church, 10453 Springwood on El Paso’s Eastside from 9-3.

My online shop has some inventory available and will be growing steadily over the weekend.  I have to get this all done before taking a three day watercolor workshop starting Sunday!

Just in time for the holiday season: ornaments from mini prints of my paintings.  They are about 2.5″ x 4″ and are mounted on a square of mat board with a pretty ribbon for hanging.  You can see some of the ornaments close up here:

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Chile Trio and more in the Gallery


I’ve written about the process of painting these three chiles here and decided to frame it and take it to the Sunland Gallery.  It’s definitely a harvest/fall piece and I really enjoy the copper frame that it’s in.  This is an inprocess framing job, taken before the glass was inserted. It’s available for $225.

I’ve also matted and bagged various sizes of prints of my paintings, some of the originals are already sold, and some still available.  Prints matted to fit in a standard size 8″ x 10″ frame are $15, matted to a standard 11″ x 14″ are $30, and prints matted to fit a standard 16″ x 20″ frame are $45.    They are at the Sunland Art Gallery now  and soon to be available online.

I will also get my feet wet at selling at an indoor fair.  I will have originals, prints, cards, and ornaments for sale at Queen of Peace Bazaar on Belvidere Street, on November 12-13.

Second try — way better!

“Not having a goal i more to be feared than not reaching one”.

That’s a chinese cookie fortune that I’ve kept and I truly believe.  As you may know, my goal is to travel and teach watercolor when my kids are in college, and my first attempt to do a demo in a small setting at the gallery had its ups and downs.  So I knew that I had to try it again, and when the opportunity came to do a presentation for the Southern Chapter of the NM watercolor society, I accepted.  and I’m very pleased to report that it went well!  What a great friendly group of artists and very attentive.


My topic was challenging yourself and ways that I do that.  I talked about my involvement in the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge that I’ve done four times so far, twice in January and twice in September. The photo above shows one of my collages of paintings done in a certain month.  You can see it and other collages at my 30 in 30 page. nmws-sc-demo-oct-2016-2

As part of this September’s challenge, I moved forward to painting on half sheets, which is double the usual size that I do.  A full sheet is 22″ x 30″ and my largest paintings so far have been 1/4 of that size, or 11″ x 15″.  So moving to a page that is 15″ x 22″ is a challenge because the brushes have to be bigger, the puddles of pigment bigger and more thought placed on how to do smooth washes etc.

Behind me in this photo you see the two half sheets so far of the Century plant, an agave that doesn’t really live to be 100 years old, but it takes several decades before the plant is large enough to flower and then die while its pups, or small plants that surround it, can take over. I’ve written about painting the first one here.  It is on the left in this photo, and here’s a better view of the second one (on the right above).



So here’s my second attempt which isn’t finished yet, it doesn’t have the deep darks in it to make the center spine stem “pop” and it may not pop as much as the first that has whiter parts of the paper showing. I like how smooth and satiny the washes are in this one but I have a feeling I will paint this at least one more time in this size.


And here’s the palette after the demo where I put down the first wash of this beautiful Daniel Smith color:  Cascade Green.  all the color in the middle of the palette is this pigment which is a mix of pthalo green and raw sienna.  I just love how it separates and moves and granulates.

So what I learned from this whole procedure is that if you aren’t successful the first time — as I’ve written about in “how NOT to do a demo“,  you have to try again rather soon afterwards, and keep trying! My next demo must be more painting, and less talking and showing images, because that’s the part that still makes me nervous…

Demo this Saturday at 3


In progress century painting #3 started at my NM Watercolor Society presentation

Hey everyone, I’ll be doing another informal watercolor demo in conjunction with the El Paso Scene art show opening at the Sunland Art Gallery this Saturday.  The opening runs from 1-6 pm, and my demo will be at 3.  John Collins will be doing a demo at 5 and there will probably be other artists earlier in the afternoon.  If you’re in the area, please stop by and say hello and enjoy the finger foods, wine and good art and company.  We’re located next to Tippi Teas in the Placita Santa Fe shopping complex at 5034D Doniphan.

We had a great little painting group today, not many people, we were all quietly working away…it was a productive and fun session.  This is what I worked on.  You can see  another version painted of the same image

These are the two paintings I have in the show, both done plein air.