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.

 

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Finished! Here’s Shiloh….

shiloh_rachel_murphree_watercolor

I took the painting down to Shiloh’s folks and they loved it so now I’ll get it framed and take it down to them. We are using a white on white mat to pull out the white of his fur with a dark frame.  I am thrilled they are so happy with him!

And now while I’m in the dog painting mode, I’m starting work on a painting for my sister in law of her sweet golden retriever Murphy who is no longer with us.  here’s the initial sketch of him:

murphy sketch (2).jpg

In related news I have the opportunity of putting pet paintings down at the Crossroads Animal Hospital which I’m very excited about.  I’ll frame prints of Tulie (below) and Shiloh and perhaps some others and include information on doing commissions and how to get in touch with me.  I am quite thankful for this opportunity.

Here's Lookin at You

Here’s Lookin at you. 16 x 20 framed $225

That’s it for now!  more soon as I intend on blogging daily in March.

Where Shiloh stands now

shiloh-wip-feb-23-rachel-murphree

I am enjoying the challenge of capturing Shiloh in watercolor.  I’m at the stage now where I want to lay in a varied color background probably in blues and browns that will capture the shaggy white edges around his ears and shoulder fur.  I also have to decide what side to shade his face.  I’m thinking on the right side as we are looking at him.

Since putting in the background would involve uninterrupted time and attention to get the edges just right and keep all the pigment  flowing without sharp edges, I’m going to work on that tomorrow.  The kids are almost home now and even though they are teenagers, uninterrupted time is hard to find!

Here are previous posts in this process:
https://rachelm.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/shiloh-early-stages/
https://rachelm.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/shiloh-in-progress/ (first attempt)
https://rachelm.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/shiloh-study-day-24/ (wild study)
https://rachelm.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/shilohs-eye-study-day-22/

As always, thanks for stopping by and letting me know your thoughts!

Shiloh early stages

Here is where the Shiloh commission painting stands now.  I will be working on it further this weekend. Once the area around his right eye has more done, I think it will be well along.  

Here’s the board I have handy to work from. The top photo is the principal one, the black and white next to it shows me the values. The bottom right photo shows his ears, the dreadlocks, that I am incorporating. And the bottom left is the initial practice painting. 

I got lost in keeping some of the white areas of his fur, and with watercolor keeping the white paper is imperative. So on the current painting I have a tiny white x  in each area to remind me to keep them white. 

Here are earlier stages of the painting. 

Shiloh in progress

shiloh-wip-1

Here’s where it’s at with earlier shots, and I’m not happy with the eyes, especially the left one and know that I need to save more whites in his fur.  With this one I tried painting wet onto dry paper and have some fur like edges in places, giving myself a map to follow as you can see from the first step below.

shiloh-wip-2

And below is stage 2.  I have to admit even though I’m not happy with the outcome, I am having fun with the process and rethinking my procedures.  Happy with the colors on the whole too which is nice.  I’m doing this on strathmore aquarius and it is a very soft paper and I think I’m going to switch to arches or saunders waterford.

shiloh-wip-3

You can see earlier blog postings in the journey of painting Shiloh.  Here’s where I painted in bed without a pencil sketch and here’s an eye study.

Now that the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge is over, I’ve been painting plein air, taking a painting class, and working on the Shiloh commission.  I just haven’t been blogging about it.  But I will catch up on that. I promise!

 

Thanks for stopping by!  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Shiloh study day 24

Today was a hectic day, and as I was laying down relaxing after dinner I realized I hadn’t painted yet today. Yikes!  After over three weeks I had developed a habit! Imagine that. 

And American Experience Rachel Carson came on on PBS and I really had to see it right then.   What to do? 

I ended up painting in bed while really just listening and looking up occasionally. 


As you can see from the photo I am working from a black and white image, playing with color.  His nose ran more than I expected and the paint doesn’t lift up well to fix it, so it is twisted weird. Other than that I think it is a fun study.  The actual commission will be much more realistic in colors but I was considering concentrating on dark and light values tonight. 

I have to think more on the colors I will use and techniques for feathered fur. I may try rough paper for this which I haven’t used as much. That texture would help the brush skip across the paper helping the feathery effect. 

It is the first time I have painted in bed on a large plexiglass piece and thankfully no accidents occurred although our little dog tried her best by sailing up onto the bed.  Yikes again! 

Thx for stopping by. I would love to hear what you think. 

Shiloh’s eye study — Day 22

Shiloh commission

Shiloh commission reference photo

Photo of Shiloh

The client would like these dreadlock hair on the ears included in the painting

Before Christmas I got a call from a  dog owner who saw my work at an art fair I did and wanted to commission a watercolor of her Australian shepherd.  Isn’t he beautiful??  I just love him.  We met and I got to know this feisty three year old dog. What a love!

The owners are very patient with me because I had this important show deadline (tomorrow!) for which I’m painting, but I feel like that’s in a good place.

WC study

Small study of eye and colors (click to view larger)

detailed line drawing of dog

detailed line drawing

A while ago, I had done a detailed line drawing of the portrait without the ear changes. And today I grabbed a scrap piece of watercolor paper only intending to try out colors, but it morphed into this eye study done without preliminary drawing.

 This is going to be such a fun painting to do. I’ll be working on techniques to get the color blending and the hair texture and keep the white patches… and will probably do a nose study as well…

I’m liking it!  What do you think?

Charley finished! — 30 in 30 day 13

charley_finished_rachel_murphree_watercolors

I am very pleased to announce that my first commission, Charley, is finished and the owner loves it!  I asked if I could quote her.  She said “The painting makes my heart smile!”

I am so glad.  Doing the commission was a great and pleasurable learning experience that I would definitely do again. You can see the last post on this commission, and the first post. 

I’ve ordered the matboard for it, she decided on an offwhite and a steel gray blue, and I’ll post a photo when it’s framed.  The painting itself is 13″ by 15″ so I’m thankful I have a mat cutter so I can cut this custom size myself.

I’m counting this as part of the 30 in 30 because we last saw it without a background and I’ve added that this week.  Once again life is busy so I’m not posting every day but I am painting most days, and that’s a habit that I will be happy to continue.  That’s my goal for this month and next…painting most days and posting several times a week.  Wish me luck!

Speaking of goals, I’ve ordered a variety of matboard colors and will soon have prints in standard sizes for sale at the Sunland Art Gallery and later this fall, available online.  Stay tuned!

How NOT to do a demo!

My first demo @ the Sunland Art Gallery, August 2016

My first demo @ the Sunland Art Gallery, August 2016

I have to say first off that doing the demo was a wonderful learning  experience.I’m glad I did it and I will certainly do more of them! However, I set myself up to not have the best experience, so here are four points I’ve learned not to do, especially when starting out.  Remember, this was my first demo.

  1. Don’t expect it will go perfectly or even turn out well because you’ve done the image before.
    Of course this is a death knell for any painting whether in a demo or not. If I think/hope ahead of time that  it’ll turn out great, or even good, well….you can guess what happens!
  2. Don’t watch a painting video beforehand and decide on a whim to try a technique on this image you haven’t used in previous attempts.
    Yes, you would think this would be a “nobrainer”.  Yes, on a whim I tried wet in wet fur before the eyes were dry. On a quite vertical slant.   ‘Nuff said on that.
  3. Don’t work on something that inherently needs to turn out a certain way (like a portrait).  Instead play with something like wet in wet landscape or image that you can play and explore as you go.
  4. Don’t use a set up you aren’t as familiar with.
    Case in point:  I normally paint on a counter high bureau with a 1″ thick piece of wood on top to make it wider but it doesn’t have depth.  It’s flat and I sometimes prop up my board on something, but the angle varies.  Because the gallery isn’t huge, I wanted to keep compact and I thought I’d use my plein air easel (which even though I went out weekly with before it got beastly hot, I’m still not thoroughly used to or pleased with).  Well, again, seems like a no brainer to not deviate from the familiar!

    rcdemo2_SAG

    Demo 2 after adjusting for height and angle.


    My main complaint on the easel is that the palette in front keeps me at a distance from the paper and so I tend to have it be at an almost vertical angle to compensate  If I lay it down flatter,  then I need to lower the tripod which of course I did in the middle of the demo with help from several artists.  again, not optimal for paint drying/running/ etc. while the leg heeight was being adjusted.   Do you get the picture? LOL

 

So I do have five things TO recommend:

  1. Start out small, as I did, with people gradually coming by, or not.  During my demo we had about 13 people drop by and stay for various times. Don’t start out with a demo for 30 artists with a screen projecting your every move. I eventually do want to feel comfortable doing that but I’m glad it wasn’t my first experience.
  2. Bring along several prepared sheets to keep you from overworking a piece without letting it dry appropriately.  In this way you can work on another version or a different piece entirely.  OR bring a hairdryer, if you’re used to using that…see #4 above.  I rarely use a hairdryer.
  3. Don’t feel you have to rush.  I felt I had to jump right in and balance the questions I got while painting.  That is something you have to handle, for sure, but I could have taken my time.
  4. Find someone you can relate to.  I enjoyed meeting and talking to everyone, but the best time I had was explaining my steps and why to a  10 yr old boy who liked to paint.
  5. Find something fun in what you’re doing.  Even though the pink of Charley’s tongue ran all over his muzzle in demo 1 below, I had a thrill of excitement when the blues and the oranges mingled so beautifully above the right eye.

So here were the demos as I left the gallery.

On both the white sparkle in the eyes was masked out so that the white paper would show when the masking rubber fluid was removed.  Not sure if I will work on these more, there are some good points in each, but time will tell.   It’s sad to see the tongue bleed on the left, but a lot could be fixable.  After several days I find them more acceptable.  which do you like better?

So thanks for reading through my extra long post.  I hope my tips will help you in your first demo!

Oh yes, and if you’d like to see the beautiful award winners from the My Masterpiece show, go to the Sunland Art Gallery FB page.

Demo on Saturday

I’m excited to be doing a watercolor demo at the Sunland Art Gallery this Saturday, August 13th.  The opening is from 12-6 and my demo will be from 2-4.  

I decided to paint one more version of Charley, this sweet dog that is my first commission in watercolor.  You can read about my experiences with painting dogs.  During the times when the paint has to dry I have a landscape in mind to work on.  If you have time, please stop by!

Here’s the My Masterpiece show description:  This is something new.  Art work could be a piece with a favorite masterpiece included in the painting.  For example, a still life of tropical fruit with a Paul Gauguin painting on the wall.  Or it could include several masterpieces in a collage.  Or it could be a painting “in the style of” a famous artist.  Or a copy of your favorite artist. Use your imagination! One or two entries per artist.

So this is my contribution to the show.  “It’s What’s for Lunch, Andy”.

watercolor of campbells soup can

Watercolor a la Andy Warhol for “My Masterpiece” show @ the Sunland Art Gallery