Mountain Flowers


Mountain Flowers.  Watercolor by Rachel Murphree

Here’s a piece that I started en plein air, painting from a plant in the entryway of a hotel while on vacation with my family. It was beautiful but it was all alone in a bed of rock; not a whole lot of atmosphere.   I was out there several mornings painting and chatting with people that walked by.

In process plein air painting of coneflowers

Mountain Flowers early stage.  Watercolor by Rachel Murphree

I wanted to show you several steps in this process .  At first I went in too dark trying to work speedily because of trying to squeeze in painting with family activities.  Rather than having the plant alone, I suggested foliage and blooms behind it.

step 2 of the process of negative painting to define the foliage

step 2 of the process of negative painting to define the foliage

When I got to the point where the foliage seemed ok, I still felt it looked blah.  The stems were lifted out and suggested but it seemed dark on bottom, light on top.  I have recently read a(nother) book on composition and I thought, wonder if an “L” shape composition of darks would work?

So that’s when I added the dark background on the top left.  Do you think it improved it?


Here’s the photo I took before starting.  Kind of ho hum.  not even nice light and shadow.


Thanks for stopping by.  I enjoy hearing from you.  Stay tuned in September when I do the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge once again!

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!