On the Easel: Desert Florals

Here are two paintings that are in process, and almost finished. I thought I’d post them so you could see what was occupying my time recently!

The first is a barrel cactus and in reality the blossoms are more vivid than they appear here, but they need to be amped up, and the spines “pushed back” as well as other tweaks.  

Barrel blooms in progress

The second is one of my favorite subjects: The Desert Red Bird of Paradise. I’m happiest with this painting so far, but it also needs tweaks and the stamens!

Red Bird of Paradise blooms (in progress)
Red Bird of Paradise blooms (in progress)

I’ve had the privilege this year of being in a watercolor critique group where we each have 15 minutes to present one or two paintings for constructive criticism. Both of these went before the group this month and I’ll work on them as time allows soon. It’s quite beneficial, I highly recommend joining one of these groups!

On the Easel

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Hello everyone!  It’s been a productive week so far including doing several value sketches, finishing Cactus Queen and hopefully finishing this piece to submit both to a show this weekend!  We shall see…

I wanted to share the progress on this piece including my set up.  I paint exclusively now standing up at my easel for the most part with the painting almost vertical.  If I need to I can quickly level the painting to not have the paint puddle. So on the left I have several reference photos, not working completely and specifically from any of them, but largely using the value sketch to guide me.

flordelsol (2)And I’m happy to announce that pendants made from prints of my watercolors are now available at Dorsey’s Cards, 6101 Dew Dr, on El Paso’s Westside, along with greeting cards.  Stop by and say hello to Andrea Dorsey and her staff!

My prints, cards, and magnets are available at the Marketplace @ Placita Santa Fe, 5034 Doniphan inside the Magic Bistro!

First Day of School

yellow Bird of Paradise blossoms

And that means back to painting for me!  Getting back to a regular schedule just feels so good.   I spent a couple of hours in the studio yesterday painting yellow Bird of Paradise blossoms on scrap paper in preparation for working on the larger painting I blogged about the other day. 

I was really happy with the bloom on the left but then I used too heavy a hand on the delicate red stamens that are so distinctive. On the right blossom I used a smaller brush, less paint and tried to do each in one “take”.  I  painted the stamens first, let them dry and then painted the bloom.

These blooms were done without drawing first.  I wanted to use the paintbrush as the drawing tool and focus on the shapes, curves and 3D effect of the petals and using warm and cool yellows to achieve it.  I enjoyed the practice session a lot!

Getting Back into the Groove

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Yellow bird of paradise in progress

I’ve had some time off from painting because summer with teens is busy and I’ve had knee surgery and other stresses.  But now I’m on the mend, and school starts soon, but when will painting start?  HMMMMM…. that is the big question I’ve been asking myself for a week now, as I find time to mop the kitchen floor, organize cabinets, etc.

Does any of this sound familiar? I bet I’m not the only artist to feel like this.

In the organization, I found a handwritten note that I had made and then lost, and I want to share it with you.  It’s tips on how to get back into the groove,  Here are three that  I got by  listening to this art motivational podcast by Alyson Stanfield:  https://www.artbizblog.com/reboot-podcast/

  1. Show UP! Physically get into the studio, wet your paints, plan your colors, and just PAINT!
  2. Have low expectations…. be your own best friend to whom you would say, of course you won’t do well right out of the gate…you have to warm up.
  3. Remember your “learning edge” or what excites you to learn.  work on that, as if you are painting for the bin or garbage can.

So how did this work for me?  I showed up today, I worked on a piece that I was already not happy with and had put masa paper on top to have a fresh start with background colors coming through, and I remembered to squint to see values.  I’m excited by delicate flowers, especially desert ones, so this project worked to get me rebooted today.  I like how the masa paper which is a Japanese thin paper that puts a texture down helps the delicate blossom effect.  And what I found is that I LOVE putting paint on paper.  that’s the thing I need to remember when I get out of the groove again.

I also used to paint from computer screens thinking that it’s better to be able to zoom in, but I’ve found that I prefer painting by referring to a printed photo.

So, what works to get you back into the groove?  any tips you can share? I’d love to hear some…thank you for stopping by today!

 

 

Work in progress: fantasy beach

As a beach comber this might be a fantasy beach…it is a piece in progress started by laying in colors in a soft wash and then carving out and defining shell shapes with medium and dark values. It is a lot of fun and maybe 75% done.

The next steps are to make some shells more believable and continue getting depth and partial shells. Also I will string a path of darks leading you into the left top shell focal point.

This is the painting in an earlier stage. What do you think? I would love to hear!

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.

GREENS! in honor of St Patty’s day

 

And now for something completely different!  I recently took a class with Nancy Frost Begin on abstract painting beginning with elongated out of scale sketches of ordinary objects and then playing…  It’s very different for me, but I’m sure having fun.  While painting you keep turning the canvas to get a new perspective, and work on using the elements and principles of art to make an interesting piece.  This is in process, so I’m not sure where it will go from here, but I think the journey will be a blast…  I’m thinking it needs more places to rest your eye, and I have to look at it critically with the principles in mind…  but here it is turned three ways.

Does either way catch your fancy?  What do you see in it?

Thanks for stopping by!

Flying saucer cupcake

Jenna's cupcake _murphree watercolor in progress

This painting has a ways to go yet, but I wanted to show you what I’ve been  working on.   My daughter is a fabulous baker, and this is her chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting that is her latest creation all from scratch. Right now it looks like it’s a plate flying in the area with a blob on top, I know!  The background reflections are partly in, and I have to add the tabletop and work on forming the beautiful frosting, but it’s getting there.

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!