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

 

Prickly spurge collage in progress

This is an experiment I’m working on.  I’ve taken attempted watercolors of Euphorbia rigida, or spurge, entangled in a cluster of prickly pear cactus, and cut shapes from all of them and put them together in a collage.  Nothing is glued yet but I’m pretty excited about the prospect of putting this all together, adding final details and shape defining darks and framing it in a shadowbox.

prickly spurge collage rachel murohree watercolors

Prickly Spurge watercolor collage in process

wp-1490822224454.jpgOver the past several weeks I’ve painted multiple versions from this photograph, trying different styles than my norm which is loose and free.  I’ve tried a limited palette and using masking fluid to preserve the whites of the leaves in the sun, and I’ve been frustrated and in a bit of a slump.

So I’m playing this by ear as I go, keeping in mind design elements and composition, cooler bluer colors receding, warmer colors up front, and soft and hard edges.  For the cactus pads I’ve ripped the edges by softening the paper and either tearing it front to back so white shows, or tearing it the opposite direction to have the white torn edge be on the back.  I’m keeping in mind the watercolor principle that you save the whites and can always paint over them if they are distracting.  I’ve done the same with the flower heads and arranged them to have the most detailed one at the focal point.  I’m doing multiple levels of the flower bracts to create dimension.

The sky background is streaked because I am (so far) using a multimedia paper I painted rather than watercolor paper for the background, so I’ll have to decide if I need to replace it or if I can live with the streaks.

prickly spurge bw

Black and white view to check values

Below is my first attempt at painting this scene, and it will be on display in July at the Cottonwood Gallery of the Southwest Environmental Center in Las Cruces at the corner of Main and Las Cruces streets.  The Southern Chapter of the NM Watercolor Society is hosting a show there with the theme of Nature, and there will be a lot of beautiful watercolors on display to enjoy in the coolness of air conditioning on a summer day.  I hope you can make it!

spurge among the prickly pears

Spurge among the Prickly Pear framed to 18″ x 22″ $300 

Regarding painting this again, or other pieces, I’ve decided to go back to my normal  loose and free style.  For this view I’ll wipe out the leaves from a rich dark puddle, but that’s for another day and another post.

Mother’s day flowers

Here’s a glimpse in my sketchbook. This was a  loose contour drawing of the bouquet which included calla lilies which are unusual in a bouquet. Then I painted in quick washes.

YUPO demo today @ IMA

Quite a last minute reminder I know, but I will be doing a demo of watercolor on yupo paper today at the International Museum of Art on Montana Street during “Elevate your Art” an afternoon of fun from 1-5 today to raise funds to repair this historic building’s elevator.

elevate

There will be a silent auction from 1-4 of small masterpieces donated by local artists, and tons of other fun.  Here’s complete info: 

ELEVATE YOUR ART 8X10 SILENT Art AUCTION
May 7, 2017 1pm – 5pm
Bid on a wide selection of art by outstanding El Paso artists to repair the elevator!
Bids begins at $35 and close at 4pm
Go home with a masterpiece!

LIVE ENTERTAINMENT WITH RECEPTION & MARGARITAS
1:30 PM THE DESERT DIAMONDS – Barbershop quartet
2:15 pm TIM THOMPSON
3:00 pm CLIFF SEAMAN – THE TEXAS TROUBADOR
SIX GUNS AND SHADY LADIES

ART DEMONSTRATONS BY CandyMayer – Rachel Murphee – Judy Hampton

HAVE YOUR PORTRAIT DONE Charcoal Portraits By Manny Guerra and Pastel By Barry Martin Suggested minimum donation $10 – all proceeds to museum

Childrens’ art activities with Carmen Navar

International Museum of Art
1211 Montana Ave, El Paso, Texas 79902
Lots of free parking!

My plein air painting Spring Morning is available at today’s auction:

Spring_morning_plein_air_rachel_murphree_watercolor

Spring Morning. Plein air watercolor framed to 8 x 10. 

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 darknd light patterns throughout. 

In the ref photo you will see scurge 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.

 

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.

Early Bloomer

early-bloomer-rachel-murphree-wip

At least this year, my Texas Mountain Laurel bush is blooming two weeks earlier than usual.  I’m so glad I wandered over to check on whether it was in bud, and there are many clusters that are already open.  If you don’t know this bush, the clusters smell like grape koolaid, and it was the first shrub I planted when we moved in a long time ago.  I went out after 4 to paint it in the afternoon sun and shadows, and I feel like after several years, I finally have a handle on how to express the blooms.  Expect to see more paintings over the next week.  One of my favorite parts of the bush are the seed pods that linger and over several years they turn rusty and blue but in the first years they are light tan.  can you see them in the painting?

Cholla Trio

cholla-trio-_rachel_murphree_watercolor

Here’s another piece that I’ve finished and I’m really happy with it! The thorns are made by scratching on the paper surface to add more texture to the negative pained thorns and segment edges of the cactus itself.

If you remember here’s what it looked like in an earlier post.

So what did I learn from doing this?  First that negative painting to preserve lights is not that difficult.  Negative painting is when you create an image by painting what is around it  I did that on the branch, and also to create a stamen and pistils in the center of the main bloom.  I remembered to describe the elements in varying amounts of specificity.  In other words, not all of the blooms are equally detailed or in focus which gives the viewer something to imagine and fill in the blanks.  I also went ahead and put in the background at the same time as the focal flowers and foliage which helped have some edges soft, some edges sharp (that’s known as lost and found edges).  Plus I learned that all this was FUN to do!

Cholla blooms in progress

Have I mentioned how much I like taking classes with Laurel Weathersbee? This is the third of four classes with her and I have learned so much.  More on that later, because I am energized from class and want to put that energy into my Shiloh commission.


So bye for now. More later…