Summer Cosmos

Summer Cosmos.  Rachel Murphree watercolor

Summer Cosmos. Rachel Murphree watercolor

Here’s another painting from the workshop with Carol Carpenter done from a photo of my cosmos from several years ago. These were some of the instructions we followed.

  • Show an odd number of items (more pleasing than even numbers)
  • Have their edges be interesting and varied
  • Make the objects big and near the edges of the painting.Having the items go out of the painting increases the realistic appearance.
  • Keep your brush on the paper using a circular motion to fade out the color and distribute it throughout, keeping soft edges
  • Allow a “window” of lighter color so the scene doesn’t feel claustrophobic
  • Don’t put items at the corners that could lead the viewer’s eye out of the painting (a pointed leaf or stem, for example)
  • Vary the colors by charging in heavier pigment into a wet area to have them blend on the page.  An example of this is the blue shadow under the bottom flower on the right.
  • Bring your background sometimes over the objects to soften the edge.  An example of that is the top right petal of the bottom flower.
  • Put more detail at the focal point which for me is the top flower.  See how much more detailed the top center is than the other two?  The one at the bottom left is the least detailed.

And I’m going to add an extra point I learned from a video with Jake Winkle   His work painting animals is expressive and wonderful.  Thanks to my friend Frances for introducing him to our group.  One of his comments that stuck with me was: Accept the marks you make.  So don’t second guess yourself, paint each brush stroke purposefully and don’t fuss with it if it isn’t exactly right.

For me that happened in the top right blossom where the center and petal colors flowed together and my first inclination was to blot it out but I let it go and it’s now my favorite part of the piece.

I hope you enjoyed hearing the process and tips.  It helps me to write it down again, to learn it all over again and my plan this week is to reinforce it with another couple of paintings keeping all this in mind.  It should be a fun week! Thanks for stopping by… I enjoy hearing from you.



Day 29 –Lantana in progress

step by step 3Here are step by step views of a close up painting in progress of lantana clusters. This is done on 300 lb paper and is 11″ x 15″.  After the soft first stage is done and completely dry, then the fun begins of negative and positive painting to bring out the blooms.

The next step will be to map out the stems and leaves, probably using the acetate laid on top to plan some choices.  That’s on the “to do” list for today!

wet in wet painting

Step one of the wet in wet process creating the lantana clusters

step by step paintings

Step 2 of the painting

step by step 3

Where we are now with a lot more of the little blooms defined and some of the edges softened

Yucca Bloom finished for August’s Show!

Yucca bloom in watercolor by Rachel Murphree

Watercolor on Arches 300 lb rough paper. 11″ x 14″

I’m thrilled to announce that this painting is finished. It was a lot of fun to put in the darks around the bloom and then go in and add details to the dried blossoms on top and really define each cup of the bloom and their shadows.

This piece is 11″ x 14″ and will frame up to be 16″ x 20″. It will be for sale in the members show of the El Paso Art Association that will be held in late August. I will be exhibiting 8-10 pieces and sharing one of the gallery rooms with another painter. Exciting! and a bit nerve wracking….

As the months go by, I will probably be taking polls on which pieces you think I should hang. It’ll be fun to hear what you think…

thanks for stopping by. I’d love to hear from you.

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!

Succulent closeup

From WC2010-2011

This was March’s All Paint project on the Watercolorworkshop yahoo group. it’s a succulent rosette, and I had SUCH fun painting it. I used aureolin yellow, antwerp blue and a red on my palette, I think cad red? I’m going to set it aside for a day or two before messing with it any longer. it’s on a 9×12 arches 140 lb block. I’m pleased with it. NIce to have something that turned out ok after taking two weeks off from painting because of real life!

Comments, criticisms, suggestions?