Agave Shadows #1 and #2

Agave Shadows #1 Watercolor painting by Rachel Murphree

Agave Shadows #1, done mostly dry on wet. framed to 12″ x 16″.  Watercolor.$125.  Click on image to view larger.

These plants and their early morning shadows captivated me on my walk and I have tried several times to capture the moment.  Here are the latest attempts, #1 that was done painting the spears of the plants as positive images and then doing shadows and background.

Agave Shadows #2 Watercolor painting by Rachel Murphree

Agave Shadows #2, done first wet on wet. 11″ x 15″ Watercolor. SOLD.

#2 is done largely wet in wet with light colors of warm yellow and blue green and then when totally dry, I went in with the darks and negatively painted the shades around the spears, almost “carving” them out of the background.

In progress painting of agave shadows

Agave shadows in progress. Note wet in wet side that doesn’t have the darks to form the shapes.

To show you what I mean, here is a picture of it in progress. On the right is what the whole paper looked like initially, soft spongy lines of color and white on the bottom. On the left is the agave being discovered or carved out of the background. It’s a confusing process to get my head around, so sometimes I resort to turning it upside down which makes it easier to draw because you are just drawing shapes, and not thinking about drawing a spear, or anything else for that matter. So I’ll show you that here.


upside down orientation

Upside down in progress painting of agave shadows

This is an exercise you can use to perfect your drawing skills too. I’ve seen it in various places. Take a photograph of someone, turn it upside down and attempt to draw it that way. when drawing the nose, for example, you won’t be thinking “nose” you will be thinking only of the geometric shapes to form the nose when the drawing is right side up.

Thanks for stopping by and checking in with me. I’d love to hear if you prefer #1 or #2 and why. After I’ll tell you which I prefer!

9 thoughts on “Agave Shadows #1 and #2

  1. Lovely work Rachel! Both are very nice but my preference is definitely for the first one. I like the composition of the plants better (slightly going downward which to me creates more interest, and the crispness of the shadows seems to show more life. I am really enjoying all of your work on this blog!~Rita


    • Rita, thank you so much, and for your explanation. I can definitely see now the value of the downward slant and the shadows are much more crisp in that one. Hmmm… now I’m liking that one more! #2 was my preference initially because I learned more on it, but that’s a personal reason and clouds my objectivity. So glad I asked the question to get other viewpoints!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tough call! I like different things in each. Love the background in the wet in wet and the colors in the shadows. But I like the darker values in the plants in the first one. Will be interested to hear which is your favorite. BTW–I think you did a great job with the negative painting in #2 and yes, I think it is hard to do too!


    • Thanks Karen. I know I will be continuing to work on negative painting in almost everything because it intrigues and delights and frustrates me, all at the same time sometimes!! I felt like I understood the plant construction and values to form the shapes better in #2 and I learned so much more, I’m still leaning toward that one being my preference but there are good points in both. I have a feeling there will be a third or more paintings of this as I progress on my watercolor journey….


  3. I like the softer quality and the richer color of #2. Both are really super and I bet you learned a lot doing them. The upside down idea is turning my brain upside down. Hmmm. might try that.


  4. Pingback: February Art Show! | Rachel Murphree Watercolors

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