Hummingbird nest — Day 8


Here’s my hummingbird nest for Day 8.  I’m happy with how it came out.  I’ve posed it with the actual nature treasure, isn’t it cool?  I just love things like this.  And I included the brushes I used for it.  The striper (the one on top) is so amazing for doing thin to thick lines.


This is the first stage of it as it was drying.  I wet that portion of the paper and dropped in color carefully and watched it spread and blotted some if it went too far, and painted again with the brush, not doing a pencil drawing first.  Once it dried I went in with the finer brush and thicker paint and sometimes water to smooth out lines and finished it.


Hummingbird Nest in Watercolor by Rachel Murphree

You can click on the images to view them larger.  Thanks for stopping by, and please feel free to leave a comment.

Bluebird Ornament Days 6-7

Yesterday I painted some ornaments on the tree, and here are two of the bluebird, a pottery ornament from Vermont which used to live on my sister’s tree and now lives on mine.  One of many bird or bird related ornaments I have, frankly.  They are on an 8 x 8 sheet pad of Lanaquerelle paper which I find ok, but I don’t care for it as much as Arches.  But there are some artists that swear by it, so I’m giving it another chance.

Bluebird ornament 2_Rachel_murphree_watercolor

Bluebird Ornament #1

Bluebird ornament__Rachel_murphree_watercolor

Bluebird Ornament #1

They are on an 8 x 8 sheet pad of Lanaquerelle paper which I find ok, but I don’t care for it as much as Arches. But there are some artists that swear by it, so I’m giving it another chance.

Riordan workshop wrap up

Cloud_Shadows #2_rachel_murphree_watercolor

Cloud shadows #2

When I was unhappy with my clouds in “Storm Approaching” there was some extra time, so I figured I would try another clouds/mountains landscape. This one is it, and I’m happier with the clouds because they are expressed confidently and freshly. But the rest of it? hmmm….I think the mountains are a bit wonky as is the cloud shadow, but regardless.  it is what it is!!

Views earlier in the morning

white winged doves on a dead scrag with the beautiful Organ Mountains in the background socked in with clouds.

The last workshop day (Friday) was plein air and it was a chilly, windy, cloudy, spitting rain cold day for here.  We were huddled under a shade structure watching the demo and trying to scout out places to paint.  I wished I had brought a hat and gloves!  You can see the earlier cool of the day in the photo of birds in the desert brush. This might be an interesting photo to paint from some day.

Michael gave us a several good tips on finding a subject when painting plein air:  Look for the area of deepest contrast and work out your back, middle and foreground. Move around other components, like trees or bushes, from elsewhere in the landscape if they make the composition more effective.  Also if you’re doing architecture, roofs are lighter than you think because they reflect the sky.  I guess now is a great time to say that he has a new book coming out in February where all the stuff he drilled into us, and tons more I’m sure, will be in.  

Eventually the weather warmed up and the sun came out, followed by sprinkles, and it was a beautiful afternoon.  I think I was just tired from the whole four days and the driving and parenting stuff in the evenings, and didn’t want to do another landscape.  They’re not really what I’m passionate about.

So with his cautions I tackled a more difficult subject, santa rita prickly pear plants that were getting old and tough.  And because it was plein air, I sketched a value sketch but didn’t take a photo.  Silly me.  Those cactus pads are pink/purplish when fresh, and as they age, these ones got very cool gradations of peachs/lime greens/purples/browns, and they really drew my eye.  They were sprawled on the ground and a challenge to work out (invent) a foreground and background.

So in the end, it was an off day.  I didn’t come out with something I’m proud of, but I sure did have fun mixing deep colors wet in wet and playing on  how to pull out edges to make the stiff bristly bits on the edges of the pads.

plein air in Riordan workshop Oct 2015

playing wet in wet

plein air in Riordan workshop Oct 2015

santa rita prickly pear plein air in Riordan workshop Oct 2015

On the left is a play piece I made and then on the right, the not -so-fresh planned one heavily cropped!!  but still, it was fun, and I was proud of myself for persevering to get something halfway representative. And yes, on more than one bush, I’ve seen prickly pads that are distinct heart shapes, as the little one here in the center.

And I had my first sighting of the year of white crowned sparrows (winter visitors) squeaking to each other in the brush, and a I had to shade my eyes from the warm fall sun to get a gorgeous sighting of a hawk (either  sharp shinned hawk or coopers) flying low overhead.  WOW!  you can’t get better than that for a day that started out dismally!

Day 8 of 30 in 30 — Hawk on a Wire

Painting of hawk perched on a metal wire

study for a painting of a red tailed hawk on a windmill in the west texas desert.

I painted this hawk yesterday from a photograph I took when my teenagers were not even in kindergarten yet! I knew someday that I would want to paint it, and I guess the time is now!!

it’s a great photograph that brings back the whole day we spent exploring a wetland bird refuge area in west Texas, complete with cows grazing, herons in the water and hawks in the air!

sketchbook rendition of hawk

sketchbook rendition of hawk which I traced onto wc paper using my light box.

It’s a red tailed hawk and I really enjoyed mingling the browns and blues to get the feathers and tones of his body.  I’m in love with quinacridone burnt orange and indanthrone or ultramarine.  I could wax on and on…  but I will demur.

He is perched on a piece of rebar (or what I think is rebar) and the curved wire in front of his body is part of the windmill system, so in the finished photo it will make more sense than it does here.

I’ve started sketching out the windmill piece with him in it, working on composition, and can’t wait to get started on it, now that I have a better understanding of drawing/painting the hawk.

Thanks for stopping by and letting me know what you think of my feathered friend…

What a fun show!

"Peaceful Spot" watercolor by Rachel Murphree

“A Peaceful Spot” This is taken from my imagination, a peaceful spot I’d love to visit and contemplate. SOLD.  Click on image to view larger

I had such a good time at the show last night! A lot of people came from various parts of my life and I was so touched for their support and presence. Amazing. The show was packed with pieces from seven artists, all different in styles, and it was quite exciting to see so much of my work up on the walls in a show. It was really rewarding to sell a couple dozen cards, two framed prints AND two originals! My husband took a photo of me putting the “red dot” on the price label which signifies the painting was sold. If it turned out well, I may post that later.

I’m writing this in a hurry because I’m heading down soon to the gallery to staff the show, and I’ll be taking my paints and paper with me to paint in between visitors. If you’re local and couldn’t make it last night, please stop by if you can. The gallery is open from 11-3.

Painting of wren figurine.

Wren figurine. SOLD. Click on image to view it larger.

By the way, the painting of my dog Tulie was a big hit!  It captured people’s hearts.

Woodpecker on Feeder

11″ x 14″ watercolor with pen and ink. Click on image to view larger.

Here’s a watercolor with pen and ink detailing in places. It’s a glimpse into my back garden and the feeder I have to attract woodpeckers (one of my favorite birds). This is part of the view from my studio windows.  As I’m typing now there are at least a dozen birds chowing down on the bird buffet in my backyard!

It was fun to do some detail with ink, I will probably try this technique again.

Please feel free to share this post, or leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for stopping by.

A Little Wren — Day #14 of the challenge

Painting of wren figurine.

Little wren porcelain sculpture.  Click on image to view it larger. Available. 

This little wren is one of my favorite pieces and it was a lot of fun to get the shape and beak just right on this little guy.  They are the perkiest little birds, such fun to watch flit around.  too bad we don’t have them around here as much as in other places.

So this is day #14 of the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge, and how knows? this weekend may be the time I “catch up”  although it’s not really a requirement.

Here are some other watercolor painters doing the challenge:  Diane Wallace featuring birds now, and lovely wet in wet work by Valeri Art.  Thanks for stopping by!! I enjoy hearing what you think about my paintings…

Dead sparrow

Going out to fill the bird feeder I discovered this poor dead house sparrow in front of my door. I bundled up to sketch it outside and then added paint indoors. Too vibrant colors to be realistic –they are more suited to a kestrel–but it was fun to get the paints out again.



Early morning birds

This morning i came back from an early morning walk to find this juvenile white winged dove in my courtyard. It stayed for over an hour and when it attempted to fly over the walls it didn’t have the skills. It ended up on another pot and it let me drag it out to the front yard. It since joined the other birds feeding on the ground under the feeder.




Yesterday we came back from the dog walk to find four juvie woodpeckers in our front yard trees. You can see one’s silhouette on the mexican elder branch here on the left w grown white winged dove at top.


Bluebird present for me

I recently purchased an original watercolor from Jeannette Jobson in Canada, and it arrived yesterday. It’s BEAUTIFUL. even lovelier in person than on her blog, which I follow. Here’s my little beauty at the top of her recent sales page