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??  

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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!! 

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.

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?

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 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.

Gearing up for January’s 30 paintings in 30 days challenge

century_laterstage_rachel_murphree_watercolor_30in30-day-7-9

Century Plant 1/2 sheet. Worked on during September’s 30 in 30

Hi all — In the middle of holiday preparations, I’ve also been thinking about next month and getting organized for the new year.  In twelve days, gulp!, I will be participating again in the 30 in 30 challenge run by Leslie Saeta.  If you’d like to paint along with me, click on the link below and get excited about the process!

https://www.saetastudio.com/30-in-30.html

I will let Leslie explain the challenge, text taken from her page:

I am so glad you are joining the Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge.
This is the eighth Thirty Painting in Thirty Days Challenge I have hosted. In September of 2016 over 1000 artists participated in the challenge. Our next challenge starts on January 1, 2017! Our goal is to paint 30 paintings in 30 days. We will have fun and the goal is to complete 30 new paintings during the month. But please remember it’s ok to miss a few. Nobody will know but you. In fact nobody will care but you! Life gets in the way sometimes and if that happens, don’t sweat it. The only “rule” is to have fun! That’s it!

So why should you join this challenge? The challenge is not about finishing 30 gallery quality “perfect” paintings. It’s about getting in to the studio to try new things. It’s about painting more often. It’s about having fun and developing new habits! This challenge has changed the lives of many artists and I hope you you will experience the same! It’s important to remember you are not doing this challenge alone. We had over 1500 artists (in 38 countries) commit to painting every day in January. Who knows how many we will have in September? So let’s share and support each other.

lantana stage 5_rachel_murphree_watercolor

End of Summer.  Prints and cards available in my online store. 

This will be my fifth time doing the challenge, you can see previous times here, and how my skills have improved.  I have yet to complete 30 paintings, but that’s ok.  It has always jump started my studio practice and has led to successful pieces that I’ve entered in shows or sold!  I’ve also presented a demonstration on it to the Southern Chapter of the New Mexico Watercolor Society.

So, are you in?  Would you like to paint along with me?  Please stop in during January because I will be blogging my way through the challenge!