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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

Second try — way better!

“Not having a goal i more to be feared than not reaching one”.

That’s a chinese cookie fortune that I’ve kept and I truly believe.  As you may know, my goal is to travel and teach watercolor when my kids are in college, and my first attempt to do a demo in a small setting at the gallery had its ups and downs.  So I knew that I had to try it again, and when the opportunity came to do a presentation for the Southern Chapter of the NM watercolor society, I accepted.  and I’m very pleased to report that it went well!  What a great friendly group of artists and very attentive.

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My topic was challenging yourself and ways that I do that.  I talked about my involvement in the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge that I’ve done four times so far, twice in January and twice in September. The photo above shows one of my collages of paintings done in a certain month.  You can see it and other collages at my 30 in 30 page. nmws-sc-demo-oct-2016-2

As part of this September’s challenge, I moved forward to painting on half sheets, which is double the usual size that I do.  A full sheet is 22″ x 30″ and my largest paintings so far have been 1/4 of that size, or 11″ x 15″.  So moving to a page that is 15″ x 22″ is a challenge because the brushes have to be bigger, the puddles of pigment bigger and more thought placed on how to do smooth washes etc.

Behind me in this photo you see the two half sheets so far of the Century plant, an agave that doesn’t really live to be 100 years old, but it takes several decades before the plant is large enough to flower and then die while its pups, or small plants that surround it, can take over. I’ve written about painting the first one here.  It is on the left in this photo, and here’s a better view of the second one (on the right above).

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So here’s my second attempt which isn’t finished yet, it doesn’t have the deep darks in it to make the center spine stem “pop” and it may not pop as much as the first that has whiter parts of the paper showing. I like how smooth and satiny the washes are in this one but I have a feeling I will paint this at least one more time in this size.

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And here’s the palette after the demo where I put down the first wash of this beautiful Daniel Smith color:  Cascade Green.  all the color in the middle of the palette is this pigment which is a mix of pthalo green and raw sienna.  I just love how it separates and moves and granulates.

So what I learned from this whole procedure is that if you aren’t successful the first time — as I’ve written about in “how NOT to do a demo“,  you have to try again rather soon afterwards, and keep trying! My next demo must be more painting, and less talking and showing images, because that’s the part that still makes me nervous…

Demo this Saturday at 3

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In progress century painting #3 started at my NM Watercolor Society presentation

Hey everyone, I’ll be doing another informal watercolor demo in conjunction with the El Paso Scene art show opening at the Sunland Art Gallery this Saturday.  The opening runs from 1-6 pm, and my demo will be at 3.  John Collins will be doing a demo at 5 and there will probably be other artists earlier in the afternoon.  If you’re in the area, please stop by and say hello and enjoy the finger foods, wine and good art and company.  We’re located next to Tippi Teas in the Placita Santa Fe shopping complex at 5034D Doniphan.

We had a great little painting group today, not many people, we were all quietly working away…it was a productive and fun session.  This is what I worked on.  You can see  another version painted of the same image

These are the two paintings I have in the show, both done plein air.

Mountains and Media

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Balcony View. Plein air watercolor by Rachel Murphree  framed to $16 x 20. $225.

I’ve just submitted this watercolor to the Celebration of our Mountains Art Show at Ardovino’s Desert Crossing.  This is a fabulous restaurant/lounge/farmer’s market that I love.  I did some plein air paintings there earlier his year.

In other news, the Gallery Talk column of the August El Paso Scene was devoted to the members of the Sunland Art Gallery (including me)

 

Here’s the text of my portion:

Born in Pennsylvania and raised in New York State, Rachael Murphree displays a wealth of enthusiasm and energy in whatever she does. Arriving here in 1997, Rachael immersed herself in working with the PTA at Polk School while her two daughters were grade schoolers. Now that the have moved on to middle and high school, Murphree decided to indulge in what she calls her “Me Life.” Her mom had been an accomplished seamstress so it was only natural that Rachael turn to a needle to foster her creative outlet.

From quilting she branched out into beaded embroidery. “Still inspired by what was going on in my life, I made such things as a ‘mommy glove,’ which detailed events in the lives of my children, and portending the future I also did a palette with a beaded paint brush.”

In 2014 she discovered watercolor painting. She reading books on techniques and also took workshops with local painters Bill Bissell and Owen Rath. Memberships in the New Mexico Watercolor Society and the Plein Air Painters of El Paso gave her further opportunities to take workshops with experts in the field and to enter her work in juried competitions.

Murphree says she prefers smaller subjects such as a flower or sea shell and how they are influenced by light and shadow.To challenge herself, she shows her work in public as often as possible. In June she participated in the Women’s Club exhibition, where she sold two pieces of her work. “For me the reward comes not only in selling my work but also in talking to the people who purchase it. They tell me where they plan to hang it in their home or that perhaps it was purchased as a gift. This type of input tells me that I am making a connection with the people for whom I am painting.”

And here’s a sneak peak into a piece I’m working on now….red BOP WIP