Tuesday Tips #3

Walk with me. Cholla blossoms watercolor by Rachel Murphree

Watercolor of cholla blossoms, 11″ x 14″ Click on image to view larger.

I have been traveling recently and not painting, but I will be back in the swing of it shortly now that we’re back home!  So here’s another painting that will be in August’s show, framed and for sale.

Today’s tips are geared toward traveling, whether away from home or traveling around your own town.

Look for art opportunities, to revitalize yourself with seeing art, or appreciating color combinations or shadows all around you.  While on our travels, I had the very good fortune of seeing the mid Atlantic show of the Baltimore Watercolor Society and you can download the PDF of the show catalog and see all the works.  The quality of the work was simply amazing!  Take an armchair tour of the show!

Seek out opportunities to view artists in their studios.  I visited Goggleworks, a cultural arts center in Reading PA, and highly recommend it if you are in the area.  It will be a “must visit” place for me whenever I’m in town there.  The refurbished google factory has six floors of artists and art associations, ongoing exhibits, an art film theater, great shop and café.  here’s a link to some of their artists and some video interviews with them.

Do you have artists’ studio open days in your community, or is there a museum or gallery you’ve always meant to see, but haven’t gotten there yet?  Make an art date with yourself and get inspired!

Birthday trip: painting, chocolate and more…

Bare branches against blue NM sky

Winter tree against blue sky in sketchbook. Click on image to view larger.


The other week my DH and I went overnight to Silver City, NM which happened to be holding their chocolate fantasia event — 31 chocolatiers made their specialties and there was a treasure hunt through art galleries, antique stores, restaurants and the like. Such fun!

I got in some outdoor painting (plein air) for the first time and it really made the day memorable.

Yes, the sky really was this blue, if not even bluer!  lovely winter New Mexico sky.  The tree was made again with the credit card technique, and done in a small watercolor sketchbook. The paper isn’t nearly the quality of buying good watercolor paper by the sheet, but it’ll do, pig, it’ll do!

2015-02-07 10.24.56

Artsy patio door at the Copper Quail Gallery, Silver City, NM.  Click on image to view larger.


This is my favorite art gallery in Silver City, NM. The Copper Quail Gallery has a great collection of jewelry, woven clothing, paintings, photographs, woodworking, metal working. The artists take turn in the store and are really friendly and open to talk about their work.

2015-02-07 10.25.01

Interesting, artsy way to recycle glass bottles and keep the birds from resting on the wall. Copper Quail Gallery, Silver City, NM


Sketch while a passenger, with watercolor wash later. The beautiful rust colored cliffs at Hurley, NM.  Click on image to view larger.

photo of peach roses

Peach roses earlier in the week. You will see these in a painting I’m sure some day!



I came home inspired and ready to paint, draw, excited about the coming artsy year!




Artsy weekend in Tucson

The other weekend my DH and I headed over to Tucson for a long awaited break and had a lovely time.  We did gardens, galleries, Gather antiques, and took in a movie at the Loft Cinema. I got to go back to Tohono Chul Park by myself to reflect in the native gardens, do some sketching, bird watching and seeing a watercolor show in their gallery. This place is a real jewel in Tucson and I’m so glad I got to go there.

A lovely docent directed me to this Echinocereus  blossom which was as big as a saucer. Literally 6″ across. You can be sure I’ll be attempting to paint this beauty.  I did some onsite sketching and painting.   Here it is in the pot, just to give you a sense of scale.


just to give you a sense of scale

It was by this lovely soothing water fountain with benches to sit and just enjoy the beauty. See the close-up. I love the horsetail plant there.

2014-05-18 10.02.55   . 2014-05-18 10.03.15

The property was built in the 1930s and at the time was very isolated and grew palm trees and citrus.  The art galleries and gift shop are in the original house and they are always a real treat.


Euphobia ResiniferaThis was a really interesting plant clump.  It is called Euphobia Resinifera , common name is Spurge.  We have one that grows here and blooms lime green in January, but I haven’t seen this particular variety.  look at the close-up.  It stood about 18″ tall and each spire was perhaps an 1″ or more in width.

Euphobia Resinifera Close-up

We also went to the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild gallery, in an upscale market area with a Whole Foods, public library branch and neat restaurants.  There is beautiful work on display and it changes regularly.  I picked up a brochure on classes offered in the fall/spring, and I think I will actually take one of them with Carol Carter, an artist whose work and blog I follow!
We tried two new places:  fabulous Thai food…I can still taste it in my mind, it was incredible.  at Bai Thong on E. Speedway.  and then we saw an article in their locavore magazine: Edible Baja Arizona
which has a beautiful cover of fish in blues/oranges. You can read the article was on Boca Tacos y Tequila, a place we’d driven by several times on Speedway near the University. On the sign was “Our salsa is hotter than your wife!” who could resist? the flavors were complex and wonderful. Oh MY! it’s a definite addition to my favorite restaurants.

Ardovino’s Farmer’s Market YEAR ROUND!

from farmer's market

from farmer’s market

I just found out that the Farmer’s Market  at Ardovino’s will be open year round, starting this year.  For local folks, this is great news.  it’s a fabulous place to visit, good vendors, yummy food and artists’ stuff!  Here are some of my favorites there:

Jewelry and art by Cecil and Susan, phenomenal couple and great work!  http://www.etsy.com/shop/SooZen Their jewelry has spoiled me for any other jewelry artists.
Cactus Mary soaps  this is the only hand soap I use, and I love her subtle natural scents.

And the restaurant is fabulous!  For those of you who don’t know, it was a roadside inn, before travel on the interstates, that was featured in Life magazine, and is still in the family, has been restored and continues to serve locally sourced food that is crazy good!  Here’s more on its history.   The grounds are so beautiful, done by Jennifer Barr Ardovino of Desert Elements Landscape Design.  It is a special place.

In April a very good friend (who currently lives in Cambridge, MA) visited me for the first time in 12 years.  We went out to for her birthday dinner and had a scrumptious feast, she thoroughly enjoyed the classy duo playing in the bar area, the view was so beautiful.  it was a really special night and I was so proud that El Paso has quality places that rival the whole range of choices she has in the Boston area.

Gather: A Vintage Market

Gather: A Vintage Market

Vintage display from Gather in Tucson

Vintage display from Gather in Tucson

Another Gather display

If you’re traveling through Tucson, or are lucky enough to live near by, this is a fabulous place to check out! Only open one weekend a month, it’s an artsy collection of vintage items, large and small, with really reasonable prices, and great friendly people. I would furnish my whole house from there if I lived close enough! check them out at http://www.gathervintagemarket.com/ (scroll down for tons of vignettes from August’s Gather) or https://www.facebook.com/Gatheravintagemarket?hc_location=stream the next one is in October. Each has a theme. CO COOL!

They said there are several of these in Phoenix, but they are the only one in Tucson. Wish there were one in our fair city!

Downtown Art and Farmers’ Market

Today was my first time down at the newish DWNTWN Artists and Farmers’ market ., it’s in the Union Plaza area and has a different feel than the Ardovino’s market.  More younger artists, smaller veggie stands, a wool stand that I enjoyed, and yummy home made breads, cupcakes, and more.  I will definitely go back and hope it continues to thrive.

I’ve snapped some of my purchases.

Veggies that may show up in watercolor pictures

Veggies that may show up in watercolor pictures

Home made sweet breadsHome made sweet breads

Yarn from Wooly Burro Fibers, jewelry from Nenas Art and Designs and a cool cabochon for a beaded barrette

Yarn, jewelry and a cabochon

Yarn from Wooly Burro Fibers, jewelry from Nenas Art and Designs and a cool cabochon for a beaded barrette

Surround sound mural

This amazing mural, spread over three walls, of El Paso’s downtown back in the day, complete with dogs is at a local groomers-Julians. http://www.elpasopetgrooming.com





Birthday trip to Alpine and Marfa

My sweet husband and I took another Miata trip this weekend, to Alpine and Marfa, TX, coming back through Fort Davis. Beautiful country. Can’t wait to go through it again with the kids and keep going to Big Bend National Park! The first night in Marfa, we stayed at the Hotel Paisano, on the historic register, and very lovely. here’s the lobby I sat and sketched for awhile, the ornament on the pillars.  very relaxing.


Further sightings in town were this hearse, (only in Texas is what I think!) that was parked outside a  mid century modern home interiors shop that was sadly never open.


Got a neat book on West Texas women artists at the Marfa Book Company and sat in these cool woven wood chairs.


This sculpture is amazing.  It’s made from natural wood with metal and more.  The artist is Craig Schowengerdt and here’s an interview with him on Marfa Public Radio.  The show was in the Greasewood Gallery at the hotel.

Other funky things on the trip:

Vintage picture in the Holland Hotel,
a man walking his Javelina


Neat texture and color of the underside of a tin overhang.

larger than life boot planters.

Cactus growing out of a life alligator juniper evergreen.

Wonderful Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine at Sul Ross State University.  This is a recreation of the Tall Rockshelter pictograph found in the nearby mountains.

and lastly, some presents from the journey, from my inlaws and my husband.  I am very blessed!


I saw works by Anne Eckley at the Gallery on the Square in Alpine.  Her threadpainting is so beautiful!  Books are from the fabulous Front Street Books in Alpine.

The shawl was spun, dyed and knitted by Lynnae at Chamomile Connection.   The yarn is Manos del Uroguay from a cool yarn shop in Marfa called Wild Woolies.

Silver City in September part 1

We went to Silver City in the miata to attend their Red Dot Studio Tour.  It’s been a couple of weeks already, too much else to do to blog about it, but today’s a down time day, so I’m catching up!  Silver City, New Mexico is such an art filled town, it’s one of my favorite destinations.  I toured four studios and in one, was able to try deconstructed screen printing, and now I see what all the fuss is about!






So first on the trip we took the country route to Mesilla, NM and went through pecan orchards being irrigated.  By the time I realized I couldn’t capture the light and reflections and shadows of pre sunset glory, the magic moment was gone, but I did get some shots when we stopped the car.

We ate dinner at Zefiro’s artisan bakery/restaurant which is in the downtown pedestrian mall in Las Cruces, NM and took shots at dusk of the tiled walkway, bridal wreath vines starting to grow up canopy created with metal posts and rebar, SO cool, and white lights lining the walkway.


I thought this lamp by Vernonique de Jaegher was so cool!  she made handmade paper and molded around this beautiful branch and lit it from within.  I saw it at the The Common Thread,  store front for Southwest Women’s Fiber Arts Collective. 

While I was there there was a couple from Belgium traveling through following the brochure for the Fiber Arts Trail of New Mexico, and they were buying a handwoven rug to take back with them.

On Saturday I went to three studios on the Red Dot tour.  Two were combined, husband and wife of Moonstruck Art Studio.  Both artists are retired teachers and you can see their enthusiasm for teaching still comes through!  Bill Blakemore is the potter, and I didn’t have my camera out to take pictures, but I plan on going to the November Fiber Festival where he’ll be selling yarn pots (that guide and contain your yarn ball while knitting).  Hopefully I can attend Pat Bouchard’s workshop on japanese stab binding too.  She demonstrated another type of bookmaking that I really enjoyed.

In the afternoon I went to the Susan Szajer Studio  in her beautiful studio/home near Pinos Altos.  I’m in love with her studio, and her work is amazing.  I bought three pieces (gasp!) for family to give me for Christmas and my birthday, and loved every minute I was there.  She shares her knowledge freely, allowed us to try deconstructed screen printing and showed how the whole process worked.  If I had even a small room devoted to a studio, I might consider making my own fabric like this, but I’m staying firm to stick with the fabric I have that works in my small space….  at least for now!  <big grin>  I’ll show and tell the pieces after I’ve received them as gifts.  for now, you’ll have to wait!

Miata Mountain Trip

Sun just coming upWe left El Paso at 6:20 AM with the top down, enjoying the morning coolness of the desert.  We came over Mt. Franklin to see this gorgeous view of the sun just coming up.  And as we went down the mountain, it got better and better! Sunrise

And that was the start of a whirlwind day that included breakfast in Alamogordo, up the mountain to Cloudcroft NM and little hikes to see this vista of White Sands National Monument in the Tularosa Basin below:

White Sands vistaAnd then on to Sunspot, one of the National Solar Observatory locations in the US.  Neat little museum, informative, if sometimes over my head, not being a physicist.  When the girls get older, we’ll visit again with them.  Outside the museum were neat art pieces that I was drawn to.  The Armilary sphere (read about it) Armillary sphere (Time teller)

and a public art piece by Pedro Romero Sedeño.

Sunspot public artThe day then turned really rainy and blowy, so it was top down then top up several times on our trip over to Ruidoso.  Fun roads to drive with the miata.  Had coffee at Sacred Grounds and enjoyed a viewing of the original La Cage aux Folles in their media room before we headed back.  I did a bunch of work on my knitted shawlette while watching, about 98% done!  Drove by this cool sculpture of a roadrunner beside the road in Alamogordo. Roadrunner sculptureDriving past White Sands I took some more shots from the car.  See the sand dunes in the foreground. Sunset over White Sands

The moon rising ahead of us

Moon risingand buttermilk evening skies taken straight up over the car

Evening skies

Then on to Thai food in Cruces  and back home.   A really fun reconnect trip with my husband!