Chiles en la Mesa

I am putting the finishing touches on this piece which will be donated to the Art Con Corazon fundraiser run by El Paso Human Services, Inc.  for their programs helping current and former foster youth.   

This is a first for me, not in donating, but in using watercolor ground to put on a surface, in this case a wooden board, to allow it to accept watercolors.  The ground needs to cure at least 24 hours before it can be painted on. 

I like how the wood grain surface shows through the ground which is the white background. The next step is signing it, putting a finishing spray on it, I believe, and getting it to the organizers. 

It has been a hectic couple of weeks so I am happy that I accomplished this and hope it does well in the auction. 

Art con Corazon will be held next Saturday, October 7th at First Baptist Church, 805 Montana Street, El Paso. It runs from 12-3 and the $10 entry includes appetizers, refreshments and music. Lots of beautiful art will be available for auction and all funds benefit the kids.  Hope to see you there! 

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Getting Ready for an Art Fair

queen of peace setup (2)

This is my second year having a booth to sell my originals, prints and cards at art fairs.  I did two last year and will do four this fall.  The first is this weekend:  The Franciscan Festival of Fine Art at Holy Cross retreat center in Mesilla Park, NM.  I just got new business cards and the county license for selling today.  The countdown continues!

Here’s the set up at my first fair last year right after I got it all set up.  The fair was in prime shopping time before the holidays at Queen of Peace Holiday Bazaar.  I’ll be doing that fair again this year but will be in the main hall rather than in one of the smaller rooms.

There’s a lot of work behind the scenes to get there, and that’s what I’ve been doing the last several weeks. I thought I’d blog about this process for a bit because there’s a lot to explain.   There’s resizing photos and choosing ones to print, getting cards designed and ordered early so they arrive in the mail in time, having photos printed locally, ordering ma tboard and then cutting, cutting, cutting, followed by bagging and tagging. I have muscles in my right arm that I don’t believe have ever been used before!!

So here are photos of the cards as they came in the mail before being folded, bagged, and priced.  You can click on any of them to view it larger in a slideshow.

I’ve ordered more bags for my 8″ x 10″ prints and I’m crossing my fingers that they aren’t coming from the Houston area or they won’t arrive in time.  Here’s a shout out to my friends in Houston hoping they continue to stay dry and safe.

If you’re local and can stop by the Franciscan Festival this weekend, I’m in room 5 and would love to see you!

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…

 

 

 

Rosy Oleanders

Rosy oleander study

I have continued to work on oleanders in various ways. In this study I was playing with colors, whether to include red in the  blossom and greens and grays in background. It helped me decide on colors: quin rose, ultramarine blue and hansa med yellow, along with pyroll orange. 

Oleander sketch

I added black micromarker lines around major forms to make transferring to watercolor paper easier using my lightbox. 

Here are the first stages of the next painting. The first layer was done wet in wet with front and back of paper wet first with clear water. The next two stages were done with wet paint on dry paper. 

My next step is to sketch foliage forms into paper and then paint the background including dark points, so that I can see how many layers are needed on the blooms, if any. 

What do you think? I would love to hear from you! 

Negative painting in process

negative oleander demo 5In thinking about what to do for a lesson for today, I started explaining negative painting in a small demo and in a larger painting.

Negative painting is when you paint the space around an object to make the object appear.  An example would be if you wanted to show a house with trees behind it, you show the shape of a house by painting the tall trees normally shaped at the top, but the sides and bottom would end at the straight lines of the roof and house.

Another way to do it is to paint pale layers, draw a design of a leaf, for example, and that leaf is the closest one to you as it’s the lightest.  The next leaves that can go under the first, are darker because of the paint you’ve put on to form the first leaf. There are lots of videos and pages on this technique that is sometimes hard to get your head around, but I thought it might be fun for her to try.

So to explain how it works, here are pictures in order of what I’ve done so far on the demo:

negative oleander demo 1

After a quick drawing of a simple clump of white oleanders.

 

 

negative oleander demo 2

a pale wash of thalo blue and hansa yellow surrounding the clump of oleander blossoms.  I let it dry thoroughly,

 

negative oleander demo 4

I’ve added more washes of similar colors carefully going around some leaf shapes.

negative oleander demo 3

I’ve gone in with light purples (made with quinacridone rose and thalo blue) to separate the blossoms as a start

negative oleander demo 5

So here’s where it stands in the latest photo with additional washes on top, sometimes with quin rose in them, to define more leaves and put some behind the lighter ones on front.  The key to this is to let each layer dry completely before doing another, and to smooth out the edges of the latest wash so that it only makes a hard line to define the shape.  I do see a hard line I need to soften, and it needs more leaves and stems and darks and detail work on the flowers. Tomorrow I’ll post the larger oleander painting in process that I’m working on.

What I’m enjoying about teaching is that it gets me excited about a new project!  there are so many good things about teaching that I’m discovering as I go along, not least of which is enjoying her process and successes, and showing the process of figuring out what went wrong and what to do differently the next time.  Exciting!

 

 

 

Apples a la Blasdell

Apples a la Blasdell

This was done in the last day of Patsy Blasdell’s workshop put on by the NMWS Southern Chapter. The apples are made from a variety of oranges, reds and red purples with spots of turquoise in them in fact.  Fun fun! Colors are used throughout the piece to give it harmony.  This is a half sheet, one of only several I’ve done in that size.

I learned the most this day by watching how she paints, and hearing her thought process as she proceeds.  Because the paper is wet thoroughly both front and back, and put on a glossy surface, it stays wet for an hour or two, less when it’s really dry in the room.  I was focused on how she blends on the paper and thoughtfully places a stroke, evaluates, it thinks about the patterns of lights and darks she wants, and then places more strokes, mingling the colors on the paper.  She works top to bottom with the board and paper almost on a vertical on an easel.  I used that position to make the drips along the bottom portion of this half sheet.

There is so much more to say about what I learned in this workshop, but frankly, I have to get painting again today!  so more later…thanks for stopping by!

Workshop day 1

This workshop is right up my alley. The paper is really wet and scrubbed front and back and put on plexiglass and it will stay wet for hours. And we are focusing on dark and light patterns throughout.

In the ref photo you will see spurge which flowers in January here among prickly pear.

The teacher looks like and talks like my sweet sister in law Martha but with a mid texas accent rather than a North Carolina one. Love it!

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.

 

Another moonlight piece

This was a fun piece done in a class where we wadded up the paper while dry to get texture, even tears, in the surface.  We then wet it and worked wet in wet.  I like how the wrinkles helped add interest to the mountains.  Other elements that work well are the papa, mama, baby bear size and details of the flowers and lost and found edges.

What do you think?

Early bloomer 2, also in plein air

early-bloomer-2-sm_rachel_murphree_watercolor

I spent some time today sketching and painting small images of the Texas Mountain Laurel.  This is the most successful of the three.

The hardest part for me is doing the foliage and dealing with the muted activity of what is going on behind the foreground foliage and how to express that all without going in after the firm edges of the leaves and adding background.  On this one I did lighter leaves and laid darker and varied ones on top.

texas mountain laurel ref photo (1).jpg

I’m going to try another wet in wet approach first, as I did yesterday with mingled colors of lights and mediums, not committing myself to placing the darks from the beginning, leaving soft edged areas of whiteness to fill in with blossoms and planning where to put the pods.  In that way some lighter leaves can be lifted out or negatively painted along with positive leaves.

What I’ve had success in is using the brush stroke to make a leaf in one stroke. Happy with that.  The leaves follow along rhythmically along a curved or straight thin stem and those lines could lead the eye through the painting, but one risks having too repetitive shapes, so playing with lost and found edges would help that.

texas-mountain-laurel-ref-photo-2

The blossoms are best done with mixing the permanent rose and ultramarine blue, leaning more toward the blue and going in later with drops of water and/or lifting our sworls of light to make the petal patterns that also go in pairs rhythmically on a with darker semi closed petals at the bottom of each pair.

As an aside, the wind was gusting at time today so that I had to hold down my easel while painting!  Next time I shall have to remember to hook my bag with water bottle to the bottom of the easel to weight it down.