Post #3 on Lantana WIP

in progress watercolor

Lantana in progress with negative painting of stems and leaves

I put soft graphite with the edge of a 4B pencil on the back of the tracing paper but then realized I couldn’t see the sketching I’d done on the front! so I softened the back graphite with a tissue to not have scratch marks that would interfere with the drawn stem outlines, and I was able to quasi see what I wanted to transfer. I used a mix of sketching directly on the wc paper and doing the tracing transfer technique. then I mixed up

in progress watercolor

Lantana in progress with separating some of the clusters with background colors

and blues using cobalt and ultramarine with new gamboge and aureolin yellow. I put some water in areas and painted up to those letting the color blend into the water. You can see that to the right of the largest cluster there’s a water blossom run that I’m happy I didn’t try to fix while wet….I’m finally realizing that doesn’t work! as it is, it looks like it can suggest leaf edges for the background.

In the next image on the right you can see I’m painting over the light rose tones to separate the clusters from each other and put in the first background leaf. I’m leaving the primary leaves and stems in the light color for awhile and see what I like.

I’m enjoying taking my time with this painting, as opposed to doing smaller pieces daily…they both have their merit, but I’m going to enjoy the change. I do intend on sketching daily and posting. I had a drawing breakthrough in our painting group today, can’t wait to share that with you tomorrow!

Rose blossom

Backlit Rose.  Watercolor with acrylic background by Rachel Murphree

Backlit rose blossom. Available. Click on image to view larger.

This painting was from a class taught by Penny Simpson from Las Cruces, NM.  She provided us a lovely photograph and a drawing to transfer to our paper.  It’s about 6.5″ x 12″ and is on a heavier watercolor paper (300 lb).

The process is to paint the black background first with acrylic paint which gives a crisp edge to the focal point and then paint the central design.  I used mostly wet in wet techniques with pale washes.  I got the first layer down and realized the underside of the petal on the right (with the various colors) was deeper than the others.  so I carefully re-wet those lighter petals and added deeper washes on them to balance it out.

It is difficult to get that kind of stark dark coverage with watercolor alone, but I have read there are other ways (here’s one from a Daniel Smith email ) so I’d like to experiment more with both. Nanci from our class brought in black gesso which also worked really well.

Penny was the one I wrote to around the holidays asking if she taught private lessons, and she doesn’t but directed me to the local group run by Jacques Barriac.  Being with them has opened up lots of other doors and I’ve found lovely people to paint with.  It’s been a great experience.

Penny will be with us for three more weeks, and tomorrow’s painting will be a pair of wine bottles.  Please be sure to check out her link; you will love her work!

Red hot poppy

Red Hot! poppy blossom watercolor

Red Hot! poppy blossom watercolor

Here’s the latest painting, done from a photo posted on the Watercolor Workshop yahoo group as their June challenge.   I haven’t been active in that group lately, but that will change now that I’m painting a lot more!    This is done with new gamboge, quin red, cobalt, perylene maroon for the dark reds, and painted on a 1/4 sheet of Arches (11″ x 15″).  I almost gave up when starting the painting because I didn’t think I could do it justice, but I’m calling it finished.  Comments and criticism welcome, especially if there are parts that jump out at you as needing to be addressed.

Datura Shadows

Datura Shadows watercolor painting

watercolor, 11″ X 15″. 1/4 sheet 140# Fabriano Artistico paper

My project these last several days has been the Datura plant, a poisonous plant with an aptly named nickname of  Devil’s Trumpet.  It has very cool seed pods, spiral opening buds,  and a gorgeous huge white bell of a blossom. I’ve seen these on my walks recently and fortunately snapped a picture when the sun created lovely shadows. With our 108 degree temps this week, my dog walks now occur before the sun comes over the Franklin Mts onto our side of the city. I still am mindful on my walk and snapping photos of interests, but it’s not the same without LIGHT to add that magic!

This was such a learning process for me.  I sketched it first, got the values, tested out colors and mixtures, did some studies and then taking a big breath (smile), started on the painting.  I used frisket paper and masking fluid to mask out the flower to do the background, and some of the earth color got onto the blossom.  Got a couple of watercolor blooms on the blossom which I didn’t want…still putting extra brush strokes and inadvertently adding water with it which creates the blooms, and I’m not sure the leaves are done.  I used the same mixture for all the shadows (indigo and carbazole violet) not sure they’re deep enough, and I think it’s normal to have the shadow look different depending on what color it lands on, but not sure if I should leave it or do more on them.  Any thoughts?   I’d love to hear from you.

Here are some photos of the plant and its beauty, including the one I used to paint the picture

.Datura blossom

2014-06-02 06.14.17

2014-06-02 06.14.05

When White Isn’t White


White Oleander

White Oleander

Creating the core shadows (to form the shape) and the cast shadows (created by the light source) has been challenging and occupied my attention these past weeks.  This is the 3rd attempt, and the one I like the best, although I can still find places to improve!  It is on Saunders Waterford 140# paper, 11″ square.)

In the shadows of a white blossom are many colors, some blues, some purples, roses, yellows.  It’s been a fun project to work on.  You can see the previous attempts (both on 300 lb Arches 11″ x 17″) below.  Which one do you like?  I welcome your comments…

White Oleander Version 1

Version 1

White Oleander Version 2

Version 2

Found item sketches

Found item sketches

faded barrel cactus blossom

Shell under the dirt with a plant growing right through it

Shell under the dirt with a plant growing right through it

Later that morning I was pulling up spent plants and unearthed this shell I’d laid on top of the earth a couple of years ago. it had, either on its own or with canine help, migrated to under the earth and a plant had grown right through it. so I sketched it, dirt and all.

Photos from my walk

Spring is blooming here and I took some pics on my dog walk.

My small red bud tree finally has blossoms on it this year at least one’s to actually photograph!  Either I don’t give it enough water OR it needs to be a certain height/age before it flowers well.  I’m happy.

This is my beautiful Texas Mountain Laurel bush that didn’t bloom AT ALL last year because of the four day freeze we had (that killed a bunch of trees) but it’s blooming its heart out now!  The smell of grape kool-aid is all over the front yard from this bush.

Cherry blossoms in a neighbor’s yard.  I might want to paint these!