Balcony View (plein air)


Balcony View of Franklin Mountains

This week I’ve been busy either painting plein air or finishing paintings that were started outside in preparation for an upcoming show.  The Plein Air Painters of El Paso group that I joined in spring has a show next month, and the stipulation is that the paintings have to be started plein air.  Well, let me tell you, this is a great incentive to finish paintings that I started on site and didn’t know either where to go with them, or thought they didn’t turn out well (so frankly there’s no harm in trying to fix them!)

Either way, the process of committing to taking a painting from “what could be” to a finished product, whether good or bad, is all LEARNING….so it’s all good.


Coming home stage after painting outdoors

This is a painting that I was kind of happy with when I came home, but didn’t know where to take it.  I talked it over with my teacher, Oween, and we discussed perhaps a unifying shadow along the bottom left that would balance out the bottom right shapes.  What bothered me was the diagonal lines that seemed to all point to the left corner.  I thought softening some lower points or edges might help along with the shadow.

She also suggested softening some edges, that not all had to be hard lines, and a new friend at the New Mexico Watercolor Society tea suggested ranges behind in the distance which were kind of suggested already.  Both of the ideas were good ones — it’s great to take works in progress and consider suggestions from other painters — I highly recommend it.

When I got into adjusting the painting I found that I enjoyed putting in other plant growth, suggesting other sharp rock edges, putting in the far mountains, and generally I think the changes helped keep your eye inside the painting. I lightened up some edges to suggest sun hitting the mountains in various places.

What do you think?  Click on the photo to see it larger and let me know what you like or what bothers you.

I’m calling it Balcony View because it was painted from a fifth floor balcony of the Fairmont Building near downtown.   The balcony wrapped around the building so some of the painters were doing a downtown view, and others were on the mountain side with me. If you can come to the show, you may see other views.

The show is called “Out and About in El Paso” and runs from May 4-June 29 at the Sunland Art Gallery, Placita Santa Fe on Doniphan St, El Paso.  To learn more about the show, check out the Plein Air Painters website.  I will have four pieces in the show and will blog about them in future posts.  Stay tuned!



11 thoughts on “Balcony View (plein air)

  1. Rachel,

    Your extra effort really paid off. I like the improved version very much. One thing I’ve been told by teachers is to minimize or blur lines at the edges of paintings, so as not to carry the eye out of the painting. So the near and far edges of the mountains on the left margin might be blurred or softened a bit. Also the distant mountain in the middle has a somewhat hard edge. That’s not bad, but a thin wash of cobalt might soften the edge and push it back. If your center of interest is the greenery in the lower right, adding some more warmth and definition/detail would boost the strength.

    Good luck with the show.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Barbara, I really appreciate your thoughtful suggestions and support. Thank you so much! I will look it over in the light of day tomorrow and probably make some changes before framing it for the show. Thanks again.


  2. Dear Rachel, thank you so much for sharing your journey with this lovely painting. I like its simplicity; it does justice to those big mountain ranges which are just there, without a fuss. Wonderful light effect on the hills on the right-hand side. To be honest, I don’t see much that needs improvement at all but if I had to make a suggestion it would be to somehow make the line of the distant mountains less parallel to the foreground mountains. Right now, the distant hills sort of handrail the other ones. Maybe they could get a wobblier outline or a blurred one as Barbara suggested? – I really had to look and think hard before I came up with this one, for this is a superb painting! Have fun at the show! A.


    • Oh Antje, thank you so much. I agree wtih you on the similar shapes of the distant mountains with the middle ground peaks. I will have to think if I can fix those without making a bad smudge… I’ve been considering it yesterday, in between running around with the kids, and will have some time to make changes today.


    • Thanks Diane. I think the changes worked. You need a lot of sharp edges to make it look like rock, don’t you? but watercolor is a push and pull of opposites so some soft should be there as well.


  3. I really love your finished painting. The mountains are very dramatic and interesting. I really like the distant mountains. They pull the viewer in. The only thing that distracted me was the greenery in the lower right corner. Since it’s closer to the viwer it should have more definition and be cemented into the lanscape. Right now it seems to be floating a little.


  4. Pingback: See you at the ADC show? | Rachel Murphree Watercolors

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