I was holding my breath!

matted heart of the matter in progress

As you may remember, this piece “The Heart of the Matter” is twice as large as paintings I’ve done before.  It is 15″ x 22″ and will be assembled in a 22″ x 28″ frame.  This means, since I mat and frame my own pieces, that I had to wrestle a piece of mat board twice as big and larger than rulers that I have on my cutter.  Because I like to double mat originals, it involved all the fiddly work of double matting, measuring  not once or twice but THREE times and cutting once!

I’ve put this off for several days since the huge mat board box arrived in the mail midweek, but it’s due ready to hang on Wednesday at the show!  so needs must…

I am thrilled that it came out perfectly!  whew.  what a huge relief.  as you can see from the shadows in this photo, it’s just lightly taped in without being secured, in process of being framed, but YAY, the hard part is done!

I have to give a shoutout to the new free border cutting app from Logan:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.logan.bordercalculatorapp  
it’s also available on Itunes.  It’s very easy to use, just put in inner dimensions of the frame and the dimensions of the hole for the painting and then choose single or double mat.  Easy peasy.  And I re-watched their youtube video on double mat cutting.

Franciscan Festival Sept 2-3, 2017

Franciscan Festival, Sept 2-3

And now I can take a deep breath!  and keep working on cutting mats and assembling prints into bags for the Franciscan Festival which starts a week from today.  I’ll be in room 5 at the Holy Cross Retreat which is in its 60th year of hosting this festival of fine arts.  It’s a really fun festival with great food, art and people.  I hope you can stop by and say hello! More on the print assembly process in a later post…





The Art of Flowers — show at the IMA

I am happy to announce that these three watercolors were juried into the Art of Flowers show that opens June 3rd at the International Museum of Art, 1221 Montana, El Paso.  The opening is 2-4 pm.  The show has flower paintings in all media.  Hope to see you there!

Watercolor of rocks and flowers by Rachel Murphree

Stumbled Upon. Watercolor. matted and framed to 18″ x 22″ $300

Buzzing in the Mountain Laurel #2. Watercolor on Yupo

Buzzing in the Mountain Laurel #2. Watercolor on Yupo Framed to 18″ x 22″ $300

Columbine Vignette

Columbine.  Watercolor framed to 11″ x 14″ $200


Going going gone…

Sorry I’ve been “gone”  from my blog recently, but I have a very good excuse.  I was on a murder jury for nine days, my first jury experience, and it was eye opening, hard, and I’m glad I had the experience.  It certainly messed with my schedule though!  I planned on spending many studio hours reinforcing skills I learned at the three days workshop in the end of March, but that didn’t happen!  I did spend my free time at lunches sketching outside in our redone downtown park, and also read Jan Hart’s fabulous color book during down times.


I found out when my piece Gone But Not Forgotten: Globe Mills will be auctioned.  It will be this Saturday, April 22nd, from 6-6:30.  You can see the piece and others that will be auctioned that evening at this KCOC TV page.  Bidding starts at $140.   This is my second time to participate in the auction and I hope that it sells well! You can read about the auction process details here.

This beautiful historic building was torn down early last year to make new highways.  I hate when that happens.



Contemplation. 16″ x 20″ framed. $250.


I also found out that my piece Contemplation was accepted into the New Mexico Watercolor Society’s spring show in Albuquerque!  The show opening is May 6th from 1-4 at the Expo-NM fairgrounds and is free and open to the public.  In previous years I’ve attended and it is a LOVELY show!  well worth attending if you are in town.  It runs through May 28th and is open Thursdays-Sunday 10-4 pm.

Please share my blog post with anyone you think may be interested in either piece or in following my art progress! and thank you for leaving a comment…



Buzzing in the Mountain Laurel

Buzzing in the Mountain Laurel #1_Rachel_murphree_Watercolor

Buzzing in the Mountain Laurel #1

Buzzing in the Mountain Laurel #2 on Yupo_Rachel_murphree_Watercolor

Buzzing in the Mountain Laurel #2 on Yupo

These are two pieces that I just framed yesterday for the Colors of the Wild show opening this Friday at the Crossland Gallery, 500 W. Paisano.  The theme is animals, wild or domesticated, and while I was painting plein air my early blooming Texas Mountain Laurel bush, I was amazed at the wild buzzing activity of the big black bees that swarmed the strong smelling flower.  They were very busy getting the most they could out of the hanging pendulous blossom bunches.  They were the “star attraction” for the bees as they are for me, but  I am also drawn to the new and older seed pods that remain on the shrub.  They are beautiful to me in a different understated way.

The second day I worked on Yupo paper, rather than traditional watercolor paper, and that’s always a “wild” ride!  The smooth synthetic almost plasticky surface of Yupo shakes up all the normal expectations of how you use the pigments because they continue moving and blending for long periods of time, and they also can easily be wiped away to “fix” a problem, but the wiping creates its own unique set of issues to solve.  I’m just starting to use this surface for watercolor, but I’m having fun playing! I will be demonstrating the process of watercolor on Yupo on Sunday, May 7th at the International Museum of Art’s Elevate Your Art fundraiser, auctioning 8″ x 10″ artworks donated by local artists.


2017’s first Art Show

My  first show for the year opens this Friday at the EPCC Administrative Building A, 9050 Viscount. It is hosted by the Alliance Francaise and the opening is from 7-9 pm, Friday January 6. I will have these eight pieces on display, and all can be purchased by contacting me directly. No sales are allowed on campus. The show runs from January 6-24 during normal business hours. It is a lovely venue and the refreshments are always delicious! Hope to see you there.


Contemplation. 16″ x 20″ framed. $225.

along the rio  (1)

Along The Rio.  Plein Air Watercolor $225

Here's Looking at You! watercolor of schnauzer mix by Rachel Murphree.

Here’s Looking at You! Watercolor.  $225


Gone But Not Forgotten — Globe Mills.  Plein air watercolor $225


A Moment in Time.Watercolor. $225.

Morning dog walk. watercolor by Rachel Murphree

River Trail Dog Walk.. Plein air watercolor. $225

Farmers' Market Scapes watercolor by Rachel Murphree

Harvest Song.  Watercolor.  $225

Walk with me. Cholla blossoms watercolor by Rachel Murphree

Walk with me. Plein air watercolor framed to 16 x 20. $225

Merry Christmas Ristra


Merry Christmas Ristra

We have had a quiet Christmas here, the kids are home and we’re all sleeping in late, reading books we didn’t have time for during the year, and just enjoying being together.  I have been painting though, and this is one started plein air in my courtyard when the afternoon soon was hitting the ristra on either side of gate.  I had fun making the background by awakening the colors of the ristra by running a damp brush over the edge.

I hope you all had an enjoyable time with friends and family.  It’ll be time soon to gear up for the new year, which for me means exhibiting eight pieces at the Alliance Francaise art show at EPCC Administrative Offices at Viscount.  The opening is January 6 from 7 – 9. Hope to see you there!

It also means painting 30 paintings in 30 days during January for the twice annual challenge I do.  Stay tuned!

El Paso Union Depot

There is something really beneficial in joining an organization and jumping in to participating in challenges.  The NMWS local chapter in Las Cruces is hosting a “For the Love of Art” show at the Las Cruces Railroad Museum, and the theme is railroad architecture. I’m not horribly comfortable with drawing or painting architecture, but I wanted to pitch in and have something to contribute to the show. Just this very process led to a great experience in learning about perspective, and trying new materials.

Well, I’m calling the masa paper that I have “new” but truth be told, it has been in my supplies for years waiting for “just the right time”….haha!  I know you understand how that goes… I also have a lot of books on my shelves, several at least have to do with perspective and drawing and architecture, and again…they have been on my shelves for quite awhile.  I guess I think that if I own the books, the knowledge is in my head automatically.  A little learning turns out to be a great thing!

So on a gloomy day with some sun shining through, I drove down to the El Paso Union Depot and sketched and took pictures.  The sun never came out when I was down there, of course, but that’s ok.

El Paso Union Depot tower sketch

El Paso Union Depot tower sketch

El Paso Union Depot sketches 2

El Paso Union Depot sketches 2

Rough painting El Paso Union Depot

Rough painting El Paso Union Depot










I went to my painting group and tried to paint it without a good drawing underneath, no ruler, and no ability to concentrate.  Life gets like that sometimes, and I knew that I’d have to try it at home.

After a day or two, I thought the colors and basic shape were interesting on the painting and thought, why not try and collage masa paper over it?

After viewing several tutorials and videos on the paper, I jumped in, cut paper to the right size, wadded it up several times, dunked it in water and glued it down to the wc paper with a mix of diluted gel medium and water, and then put some layers of color over it and let it dry.

first stage of masa paper overlay

first stage of masa paper overlay

Second stage of masa paper overlay

second stage of masa paper overlay

So I had a decent collage with potential, some of the previous painted image painting through, and I thought, ok, perhaps that could be the “historical” depot shining through the collage with the present day painted on top, an idea that didn’t come through because of the logistics of the size, but again, playing with possibilities was fun.

I used the book The Art of Perspective.  On page 115 it speaks about your eye level, a line you determine and you use to establish the sideways angles on buildings with the vertical lines parallel to each other. In this sketch, my eye level is below the tower, so the angled lines on the sides of the building go DOWN to meet the eye level line, and if I were looking down on the tower, hovering in the air, those same angled lines would be angled UP. it makes perfect sense when you see it in black and white, and even better sense when you get out a ruler and try to make the lines and angles match what you see in real life or in the photo.

I used the angle of the left side of the cupola or steeple top from the photo and copied that angle and laid my paper on a much larger paper with a yardstick and drew the line down to that eye level line I drew and that point where they intersect  became my vanishing point.  Then all the other lines on that side met at that vanishing point which made the window tops and bottoms, the decoration on the building, etc all line up in perspective.

Masa paper collaged and painted overtop with accurate sketch

Masa paper collaged and painted overtop with accurate sketch

positioning on the lightbox

positioning on the lightbox

I took the collage and the sketch to the lightbox and played with where I wanted the sketch to be in relation to the existing lights and darks of the painting. The piece must be 8.5″ square, so that limited where I could put it, so I couldn’t do the vague idea of a shadow depot in the painting, but I’m much happier with this and how the lights hit the side of the steeple.

graphited on back, spray fixative, light marks on piece

graphited on back, spray fixative, light marks on piece

Because of the layers of paper, I couldn’t use the lightbox to transfer the sketch onto it, so I used an 8B graphite pencil to darken the back of the sketch, sprayed it quickly with a workable fixative, and then lightly sketched. I didn’t want to put graphite smudges onto the collage, and I could see that even with the spray the potential was there, so I kept my marks light, but I could, and should, have darkened the details on the tower because I had to go in later and do that roughly after the background tower was on.

So here are the final stage of painting the tower.  I really like the misty effect of using the masa paper to add texture.  Because it is soft and fragile, this technique doesn’t allow for much lifting color, but I could do enough manipulation of values and color to be happy with it.

Stage one of the finished painting

Stage one of the finished painting

Stage 2 of finished

Stage 2 of finished

Stage 3 of finished

Stage 3 of finished

Stage four of finished

Stage four of finished

So I am now looking forward to the show! The opening will be on the First Friday Art Ramble of February, and all of the pieces in the show will be framed identically in 12″ square metal frames with an 8″ piece of art inside the mat. All the pieces will be $125. I will blog more details about the opening as it gets closer.

Keep current on what’s going on in my art world through monthly emails. I’ll let you know where you can see my art, what shows I may be in, and other art related news. Free subscription to my email updates includes a discount on purchases of my original work. Thanks for stopping by.  I’d love to hear from you!

Early Journey Show

The New Mexico Watercolor Society started something new this year:  An Early Journey digital juried art show for members, such as me, who are not signature members yet nor have won one of the top four prizes in an NMWS show.

If you don’t know, being a signature member means that you get to put the initials of the giving organization after your signature on a painting, and each organization grants the status differently.  NMWS grants if after the artist has five paintings juried into an NMWS sponsored show within a certain period of time.  Getting signature status in this organization is one of my long term goals which is one reason I took the Tina Stallard workshop in November to learn good design skills.

I had two paintings juried into the show!  You can see all of the pieces, including the amazingly beautiful best of show horse painting only until the end of December:  Early Journal NMWS digital show

Yucca bloom in watercolor by Rachel Murphree

Yucca bloom.  Original sold.  Prints and cards available. 



Agave Shadows #2 .  Original sold.  Prints and cards available for Agave Shadows #1.

While the originals were sold already, you can get prints and cards of either at my online store.  

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. 

See you at the ADC show?

My watercolor “Balcony View” was juried into the Ardovino’s Desert Crossing Celebration of our Mountains art show, and the opening is this Thursday from 6-9.  Will I see you there?

I’m excited about going first of all because it’s the first time I’m in this long running show, and second because the food there is amazing!  and the whole vibe is fabulous.

The painting was done “en plein air” painting outside with our local group.  I’ve written about the process here and here. It is framed to 16″ x 20″ and is $250.