Cactus queen

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Cactus and iceplant in progress. Rachel Murphree watercolors

I’ve been I’ve been away from painting for a while because of work and travel and a bit of illness, but I am so happy to say that I am back in the studio again. This is a piece in progress on my easel.

For some reason I think of her as a cactus Queen even though she’s been mis-shapened by pollution and the like.

When I saw her over the years by Hillside Coffee in Montecillo, El Paso, I was impressed by her colors of oranges and yellows, and the ice plant’s soft succulent texture spreading around the bottom of her spikiness.

For awhile there I quite lost my way in creating depth in the ice plant foliage, but I’m happy to say that I think I have a handle on it now.

So there is more work to do in working on the distressed areas of the cactus and adding more spines and more details.

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Flor del Sol @ KCOS Auction

Flor del Sol_rachel_murphree_watercolor

I’m very pleased to announce that my painting Flor del Sol won a Juror Award for Still Life and Landscape in this year’s KCOS Auction!  You can view the award winning paintings here.  I’m honored to be in such good company .  https://www.kcosartauction.org/about

Globe Mills plein air_rachel_murphree_watercolors

I will let you know what times this painting, and my other donated painting, Gone but Not Forgotten (Globe Mills), will be auctioned to benefit our wonderful public TV station.

Art Auction Air Dates
Saturday, April 22: 5:00 pm–9:00 pm
Sunday, April 23: 5:00 pm–9:00 pm
Saturday, April 29: 5:00 pm–9:00 pm
Sunday, April 30: 5:00 pm–9:00 pm

 

Birthday Studies in Color and Value

I’ve been laying low online, but in real life I’ve been working on studies and homework from group lessons with Nancy Frost Begin.  She’s from Las Cruces — here’s a bit about her and her varied work.   I have gotten so much out of the two classes we’ve had with her.

Here’s homework that I just finished where we had to paint a small painting in our regular style, and then repaint it two ways:  once in darks/shades, and the other in palest hues/tints.  I took my birthday bouquet as the starting point.

And here they are in black and white through the magic of software.

I found the dark one the most difficult to paint.  I knew that yellow would be the lightest dark on the value scale, but I thought I was getting the rest pretty dark, but as you can see above, they are a bunch of lights in the painting.

All in all, it was an excellent exercise all around in the pigment/water ratio, mixing darks, while just having fun!   oh yes and my birthday was chill and relaxing…just what I needed!

Autumn Art Fest this Saturday

Autumn Art Fest Artists Sept 23, 2017

I’m excited to be in this show.  I’ll be there with originals, prints, cards , ornaments, and magnets on the patio.  Please stop by and say hello!

Here’s one of my latest paintings that I will have available as an original and in matted prints. I’m calling it “Feel the Glow”.

Glowing -- Red BOP

Paint group begins

And we have a great teacher, Laurel Weathersbee, whose enthusiasm and encouragement to “just have fun” and “enjoy the process” sings to me.  These are two pieces done quickly, 1/4 sheets, focusing on mingling colors on the paper. 

The second one was planned to be rocks but perhaps there are buildings in there? What do you see??  

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! 

Spurge redone

I’m working behind the scenes on several pieces for upcoming shows, including a watercolor collage of spurge blossoms which I find fascinating.  They bloom in January and February, a yellow green cluster of tiny blossoms and I’ve run across them intermingled with prickly pear pads and I love the feel of English gardens with blossoms all intertwined but here in a desert setting.  so here’s one of the clusters from the collage and more photos will appear in coming days…   I’ve painted the scene before and my collage comes from several less than succcesful attempts to paint it differently.  I’ve blogged about this earlier.

“Spurge Among the Prickly Pear” is on display at the Cottonwood Gallery of the Southwest Environmental Center’s Nature show which runs through the end of August.  The gallery is at 275 W Main Street, Las Cruces, and is open M-F 9 am – 6 pm.

spurge among the prickly pears

“Spurge Among the Prickly Pear” on display at SWEC until August 31.

More Oleander layers 


I am having fun doing this in a random building up way–i.e. without a plan. Perhaps not the best method, but we shall see. I am realizing I need to be sketching and doing value studies much more! Still it is gun to see what emerges.  

White oleanders in process

Over the past several days I have been working on this painting of white oleanders using the negative painting method I talked about in the last post. 

I got ahead of myself in trying some browns made from the primaries I am using, so that stem, right now, seems out of place. The colors are thalo blue, hansa yellow, quin rose and ultramarine. Perhaps I need to be more orderly in my steps…but that probably won’t happen!! 

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!