30 in 30 day collage — wow, I’m glad this is over!

collage of paintings

September 2015’s 30 paintings in 30 days challenge — the collage of my output!  Click on image to view much bigger.  

YAY! that’s all I have to say!

Post #3 on Lantana WIP

in progress watercolor

Lantana in progress with negative painting of stems and leaves

I put soft graphite with the edge of a 4B pencil on the back of the tracing paper but then realized I couldn’t see the sketching I’d done on the front! so I softened the back graphite with a tissue to not have scratch marks that would interfere with the drawn stem outlines, and I was able to quasi see what I wanted to transfer. I used a mix of sketching directly on the wc paper and doing the tracing transfer technique. then I mixed up

in progress watercolor

Lantana in progress with separating some of the clusters with background colors

and blues using cobalt and ultramarine with new gamboge and aureolin yellow. I put some water in areas and painted up to those letting the color blend into the water. You can see that to the right of the largest cluster there’s a water blossom run that I’m happy I didn’t try to fix while wet….I’m finally realizing that doesn’t work! as it is, it looks like it can suggest leaf edges for the background.

In the next image on the right you can see I’m painting over the light rose tones to separate the clusters from each other and put in the first background leaf. I’m leaving the primary leaves and stems in the light color for awhile and see what I like.

I’m enjoying taking my time with this painting, as opposed to doing smaller pieces daily…they both have their merit, but I’m going to enjoy the change. I do intend on sketching daily and posting. I had a drawing breakthrough in our painting group today, can’t wait to share that with you tomorrow!

Day 30 — Lantana Further Progress

In process photo

Lantana in progress stems and leaves on tracing paper.  Click on image to view larger.

Today I want to take you further through the process of painting the lantana blooms. Not too much to show for huge work for the last day of the painting challenge, but there was a lot of planning, sketching, and patience waiting for the wash to dry!

So my first task was to figure out where the stems and leaves would go and how they would look.  I considered putting in a seed cluster also but it muddied up the composition.  it would have to be somewhere between the blossoms and it was too crowded there.  You can see that I used the plein air painting sketches to influence how I sketched and what the structure is.

Once I decided on the drawing, the next step would have been to transfer it to the watercolor paper somehow, and you dont’ want to put extra pencil and erasure marks on the paper because it mars the surface.  This paper is 300 lb which is thick and doesn’t work well on my light box to transfer, so I will probably cover the pencil marks on the back with a pencil rubbed sideways (to put a layer of graphite onto the back of it), place it on the paper and trace the design so that the graphite will make marks on the watercolor paper.

Garden photo

bird’s eye view of a representative lantana to determine soft shapes and colors to add to background.

I realized that it would leave me with a white background, looking like a botanical type illustration, and that’s not the effect I wanted, with the soft washes of the blooms.  I know that the best thing to do is to put in colors that suggest areas of foliage and other blooms in the background, so I went back to my garden, knelt down to get a bird’s eye view photo of a random blossom, and snapped to see where on the picture plane the colors would go.  How far up would the foliage greens go? do you see blooms, etc.?

In process photo

Lantana in progress soft background wet in wet wash that has dried. Click on image to view larger so you can see the white area next to the bottom left blossom.

The next step was to wet the paper with water with a soft brush going over the edges of the blooms and then laying in the colors from the prepared puddles of yellows, blues and rose, letting the colors mingle on the paper.  I covered the edges of the blooms because I didn’t want the background colors to dry with a hard edge where the water stopped and have it be kind of a hard halo around the bloom.  there were places where the colors mingled and the rose with the green made a brownish gray and I lifted that area with a tissue (along the right side of the bottom left cluster) to get a soft white glow.

In process photo

Lantana in progress. Tracing paper leaves and stems on top of dried background wash. Click on image to view larger.

The last in process picture is with the tracing paper back on top so you can see where the stems and leaves are in relation to the dried pale colors on the background.  the process today will be negatively and positively painting the stem and leaves, floating more color in wet in wet and then seeing if the background muted colors need to be amped up in any place.  Stay tuned!

Day 29 –Lantana in progress

step by step 3Here are step by step views of a close up painting in progress of lantana clusters. This is done on 300 lb paper and is 11″ x 15″.  After the soft first stage is done and completely dry, then the fun begins of negative and positive painting to bring out the blooms.

The next step will be to map out the stems and leaves, probably using the acetate laid on top to plan some choices.  That’s on the “to do” list for today!

wet in wet painting

Step one of the wet in wet process creating the lantana clusters

step by step paintings

Step 2 of the painting

step by step 3

Where we are now with a lot more of the little blooms defined and some of the edges softened

Guest Artist: Jacques Barriac

Ferocactus Emory ss rectispinus. Watercolor by Jacques Barriac.

Ferocactus Emory ss rectispinus. Watercolor by Jacques Barriac.

I’ve blogged before about my friend Jacques Barriac who taught me the matting/framing process. He runs the informal transparent watercolor group in El Paso, and does a fantastic job finding teachers and videos from which we learn. He has been painting for five years, and does precise excellent work! I’ve been wanting to put up some of his beautiful paintings for awhile.

The first two were accepted into the Arts International show this coming Saturday, October 3rd and running through the month of October.   This is the signature event of the Art Association and includes 68 works selected from 145 submitted.  The gala opening is this Saturday from 6-9 pm at the Art Junction, 500 W. Paisano (near the baseball stadium).  The show runs through October, open Tues-Fri 11-4, and Saturdays 11-3.So please come down and check out the show!

Two Echniopsis hybride. watercolor by Jacques Barriac

Two Echniopsis hybride. watercolor by Jacques Barriac

Jacques will also be participating in the Members show in November, also at the Art Junction, where he will have a good number of beautiful watercolors for sale.

If you would like to send him comments on his work, he can be reached at 3012jacques@gmail.com

Japanese Eggplant watercolor by Jacques Barriac

Japanese Eggplant watercolor by Jacques Barriac

Day 28 — Feathered dahlia

day 28_feather_dahlia_ink_wc_rachel_murphree

Feathered Dahlia ink sketch with watercolor wash. 3″ x 5″.

Today’s posting is a ink sketch of a feathered dahlia from my mother in law’s garden, with a watercolor wash on the top. It’s a small little piece, just 3″ x 5″ but fun to do.

A good friend suggested to me that the top right green patch on my mountains yesterday caught her eye too much, she wondered if it was a meadow. Good catch Diane! I think its value was too bright and it drew your eye up and out of the picture plane…and we do NOT want that!! Big smile. So I toned it down with a light wash of permanent rose to gray it down (red and green are complementary and neutralize each other) and added a touch of blue at the bottom for shading. I think it’s better now.

day 27_plein air

Desert’s Green Glow with the top grass area muted.

I have to say that plein air painting in our 20% humidity with a wind was a challenge yesterday. the paint dries almost before it hits the paper — ok, a slight exaggeration — but it’s a lot different than how quickly it dries in the studio.

Plein air painting of mountain with green patches

Desert’s Green Glow. 8″ x 10″ watercolor. $25

So below is how it was yesterday. Do you think the change helped?

Day 27 — Desert’s Green Glow (plein air)

Plein air painting of mountain with green patches

Desert’s Green Glow. Click image to view larger. 8″ x 10″ watercolor. $25

The El Paso area is bisected by a mountain range.  The mountains are a beautiful rocky presence in the life of the city.  For most of the year, they are subtle shades of ocher, sand,  gray, blue, purple, and browns, tinged into a watermelon color for the several moments of the gloaming before sunset.  We get 7″ of annual rainfall, and most of it falls in late summer/early fall.  It’s called our “monsoon” season which is a laughable name in some respects! It is during this period that we see the subtle green glow of grasses on the mountain. It’s an exciting time for me and lets me feel like a true El Pasoan (even though I’ve lived here less than 20 years) because I know that freeway travelers passing through will not even notice this green glow.


My painting set up under a shade overhang of a picnic table in the state park area of the mountains. The mountains across the road are what I focused on. Click image to view larger

I traveled over the mountain today through the pass created when the road was built, and set my plein air paint set up on a covered picnic table in the state park area.  You can see it here.  The weather was cool, even with the sun’s heat, and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours painting and experiencing nature on a quiet Sunday morning.

Day 26 Lantana Studies

botanical type illustrations in watercolor

Lantana Studies for day 26. 9 x 12″ watercolor

Day 26 found me in the courtyard sitting right next to my pastel variety lantana plant and attempting to capture the ball of little blossoms. Each round cluster is about 1.5″ across and starts from a flat cap from which tiny bugle blossoms appear. Once I relaxed and let the paint do its magic, they started coming to life for me.I didn’t focus on the leaves as much but that’ll be for another time.

I’m thinking about doing a very in depth large view of a ball of blossoms because I think it would be such fun to mingle the permanent rose and yellows in each little bugle.

And now I’m off to do a plein air of the mountains that bisect our city.  Yesterday without a camera I was on the other side of the mountain and the colors of the rock and the glowing grass from the extra rains we’ve had recently were amazing.  So I’m hoping that it will be a good session.

happy Sunday!

Day 25 — The back garden

My back garden. watercolor 6

My back garden. watercolor 6″ x 10″ watercolor $25

Here’s today’s quick sketch of my back garden in early morning sunlight.

I like how it turned out,, and  I think it’s because it was done outdoors, I did a bit of planning and had patience to let layers dry before going back in to add more — that’s when you get mud.  Mud in a garden is good; mud in a watercolor painting is not!

Day 24 another portrait sketch

hard worked portrait of daughter #2

hard worked portrait of daughter #2

“What’s on your mind?”

That’s the prompt for this section in the blogging software I use.

Well, frankly….  I’m thinking…wow…I don’t like doing portraits!

I learned a bunch in our painting class today on how to draw faces, how to get proportions and angles, but I sure did struggle over this!  so many erasures of features and shading…she looks blotchy and doesn’t have the soft smooth skin that she has in reality.  But it does look more like her than her sister’s sketch looks like her.