Winter oak day 6 of 30 in 30

Another study done from life.  I am looking forward to when the kids go back to school to have more time to paint, but I am enjoying these studies done with drawing with the brush. I see that the branches come out of the tree at exactly the same height — funny what you don’t notice until you catch it in a photograph.  

Winter tree day 5

Today’s contribution to the 30 in 30 challenge. I am having fun playing!!  

Pinecones Day 4

Pinecones painted freehand . It was another busy day but I painted these first thing but then didn’t have time to blog. 

Thx for stopping by!

Turkey Feather 2 — Day 3 of 30 in 30


Turkey Feather 2 — day 3 of the 30 in 30 

This feather came easier to me today, and it’s a good thing because today is a busy one.  it’s a newer feather, less worn and I had fun with it.  The challenge has almost 1000 artists participating this year, if you’d like to check out some other artwork.

Thanks for stopping by!  Feel free to leave a comment.

Turkey Feather — Day 2 of 30 in 30


Here is today’s offering for day 2 of the 30 in 30 painting challenge:  a turkey feather from my sister’s house in PA.  They have occasional turkey wanderings through their yard (I’m so jealous!) and I get to benefit from their feather stash on occasion.

img_20170102_202335289-936x1664This particular guy was quite old and wispy until near to the top, as you can see by the photo,  and I had difficulty portraying that to my satisfaction and making the two very different looking pieces of the feather look like they belonged to one unit.  However for my first feather “flight” in watercolor I think it isn’t half bad.

Any feather suggestions from you painters out there?  I’m definitely giving this another try or two….

Thanks for stopping by, and please leave me a note. I enjoy hearing from you!


Tulips 30 in 30 day one


Tulips. Watercolor by Rachel Murphree.   2017 30 in 30 Day One. 

It’s a windy gloomy rainy day here, as close as we’ve gotten to snow here this winter, and it’s fun to paint some spring flowers from a bouquet that brightens up the studio.  This is a small piece, just 5″ x 7″, and now that this is done, I’ll be doing more work on a larger quarter sheet painting for an upcoming show.  More on that later….

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a note, I enjoy hearing from you!


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


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!

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!




More winter branches

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Snow branches 3, small watercolor

I’ve been painting but not posting, so here’s a catch up post of two more paintings of snowy branches and a wintery sky.

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Small branches 4, small watercolor

I’ve been having fun getting to know my dagger striper brush, a Silver Black Velvet brush.  I’ve been really happy with this brand of brush that combines the softness of squirrel hair with synthetic bristles.    I have no affiliation with the company, but heard of it from friends, watched videos of them, and read reviews.  It’s a versatile brush because you can press down as the larger part of the wedge is on the paper and then left off to aid the skinnier part of the wedge to make smaller branches.

At this halfway point of the month, I thought I’d point out the slideshow of paintings from this month, as well as linking to the 30 paintings in 30 days page where you can see my progress from last year to this.  As with golf, I feel sometimes like watercolor is two steps forward, one step back, but I like doing these challenges and documenting the paintings, because it lets me see the progress I’m making.

Today’s plan is to start a larger piece following the mesquite shade study I did earlier this week.  However there’s a big school project that I need to shepherd for my 8th grader, and we’re celebrating my mother in law’s birthday tonight…and there’s the playoff game this afternoon.  So we’ll see….

I enjoy hearing from you and appreciate you stopping by!

Field of Flowers Day 13

Field of Flowers Day 13 (6)_rachel_murphree_watercolorsExperimenting was really fun this morning!  I’m calling this Field of Flowers and I don’t think it’s quite done, it needs some more darks, perhaps in the middle, but I want to mull it over.  It’s easy to paint over the cool details that are already there.

I’ve tried this before, a la Jean Haines, last month when I talked about my inability to see pictures in the clouds, and I had trouble seeing exactly how to make something from the abstract shapes.  I’ve learned a bit more from doing it today and that is to make lighter valued changes, softening at least one side of the paint stroke.  So, for me, rather than seeing this 3″ section as “X”, I play with a small portion of it, see what happens and then keep playing.

Here are some in process photos:

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yellow and blues, salt, cling wrap, and some additional lifting and playing 

I wet the back and front of the paper and put it on acrylic sheet.  I used new gamboge yellow and three blues: cerulean chromium, cobalt and ultramarine.  focused the colors on blue at the top, yellows in the middle, greens at the bottom and then smooshed and pressed down in various places the cling wrap while it was nice and wet.  Then I played with salt in a few places and lifted and added a bit of paint before letting it all dry.

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once dry and cling wrap removed.  see the salt blooms? 

I like the merging of blues and yellow to make the foliage.  The salt blooms are cool.

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Here’s a midway shot.  You can see that I’m playing with the idea of buds or seed heads under the left black eyed susan and under the right one, I’ve used pale values to make larger a leaf shaped cluster.

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Here’s the black and white version of where it is right now…and looking at it, I can see that more darks are needed, just a touch here and there.

Thanks for stopping by!


Mesquite Shade Day 10

Mesquite Shade_pencil_value_sketch _rachel_murphree_watercolor (3).jpgAnother value study for today’s studio productivity report!  On the left is the reference photo I took at the (beautiful) Keystone Heritage Botanical gardens, and I experimented with only using a point within the photo for the second value sketch, adding a tall dark shape on the right.  I liked the one that more closely matches the photo.

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Painted value sketch

So I was able to get in pencil sketches and a painted value sketch this morning, in preparation for a busy day.  On deck for the day was laundry, shopping, a fun day out with the DH in a nearby town and a watercolor demo by Laurel Weathersbee at the Southern Chapter meeting of the New Mexico Watercolor Society.  You can see her loose and lovely work at her blog.  It is always SUCH fun to watch a watercolor demo, and this one was fabulous.

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Now that I’m back home I see that I didn’t get the values quite right.  Do you see what’s not the right value in the painted sketch at left?I converted the photo ref  into black and white to make the difference more apparent.

I’m too tired to address it tonight, although it wouldn’t take long, but other duties call.  Tomorrow I’ll post the amended value sketch.