Plein air perseverance

Morning dog walk.  watercolor by Rachel Murphree

Morning dog walk. watercolor by Rachel Murphree

Hi all.  Today’s post is on the value of perseverance with plein air watercolor.  Last Friday morning the group went out to a part of the trail along the Rio Grande in the upper valley, and it was beautiful….that is until the wind kicked up!  I’m not as excited about landscapes as I am detail work of flowers, seedpods, etc. so I almost thought…oh I won’t paint here today.  There’s nothing that interests me.  But I thought to myself, you should be able to find something to paint anywhere, just settle down Rachel!

ref photo rio grande plein air

Ref photo for Rio Grande trail

I thought the path had neat shapes and would draw you into the painting, and I liked the morning shadows, so I set up on the path, and had an idea on how neat I hoped the front salt cedar bush would be wet in wet.  Well, the wind had other ideas.  As I got some of the darks in wet and was trying to charge in other colors the wind grew fierce and it all dried much too quickly.  But I kept working and liked the rest of it.

set up rio grande plein air

Painting in progress along the Rio Grande trail

I let it sit for several days contemplating how/if I could fix it and would it be worth it.  I didn’t wan to overwork it, but decided it was worth the effort to learn how.  I moistened the bush and charged in other darks, letting colors mingle on the paper and strengthened the shadows across the path and lifted out some for texture.  After another day I thought I’d add the figure walking the dog since there were bikers and dog walkers up and down that day.  It was delightful to speak to them while painting and hear their reactions to the piece.

So that’s my story for today.  What I’ve learned from this and from working on other plein air paintings to finish is, whether or not the finished painting has merit, there’s always something to learn and to hopefully to better on the first go, the next time!


16 thoughts on “Plein air perseverance

  1. Oh I loved this! I felt like I was there along with you. I can relate to having to talk to yourself to settle down….I have done that so many times. I really like your painting you got the lighting just right. I have a hard time with getting the light with watercolor. By the way what is the name of your palette? In fact the entire kit and caboodle?


    • Thanks Margaret. I really like the right hand side of the painting a lot, and the left hand side /bush more now that I’ve done more on it.

      I bought the whole thing, after research, from they have palettes for oil, acrylic and watercolor. I bought the whole set up from them, including the bag, but I find the tripod is a bit too hard to get into the bag so I use another bag I happened to have. However, now that I think about it, I let it fall a bit out of that bag too, I have no patience for getting it in there just right, so perhaps the bag it came with would be just fine. I still have to do practice drills to know which of the adjuster things to what in a pinch, to adjust the slant or the height, etc. etc. my brain isn’t quite wired that way.

      I get into ruts where I check blogs, and then I don’t check blogs…and I see at a quick glance that you’ve been quite busy posting, so I will hop over now to your blog and read…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your painting better than anything I see in your “Ref Photo” including the dog walker!!


  3. Dear Rachel, what a lovely painting! I agree with Beth – it’s got so much more ambience than the photo, and your shadow is superb! And there’s a third thing: having read this post helped me today when I was outdoors painting. It was hot and I really struggled with the quick drying time and the strong wind. I said to myself: This is what Rachel was struggling with as well. It made a difference to me to know that it perhaps was similar for you 🙂


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