Finished! Here’s Shiloh….

shiloh_rachel_murphree_watercolor

I took the painting down to Shiloh’s folks and they loved it so now I’ll get it framed and take it down to them. We are using a white on white mat to pull out the white of his fur with a dark frame.  I am thrilled they are so happy with him!

And now while I’m in the dog painting mode, I’m starting work on a painting for my sister in law of her sweet golden retriever Murphy who is no longer with us.  here’s the initial sketch of him:

murphy sketch (2).jpg

In related news I have the opportunity of putting pet paintings down at the Crossroads Animal Hospital which I’m very excited about.  I’ll frame prints of Tulie (below) and Shiloh and perhaps some others and include information on doing commissions and how to get in touch with me.  I am quite thankful for this opportunity.

Here's Lookin at You

Here’s Lookin at you. 16 x 20 framed $225

That’s it for now!  more soon as I intend on blogging daily in March.

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Where Shiloh stands now

shiloh-wip-feb-23-rachel-murphree

I am enjoying the challenge of capturing Shiloh in watercolor.  I’m at the stage now where I want to lay in a varied color background probably in blues and browns that will capture the shaggy white edges around his ears and shoulder fur.  I also have to decide what side to shade his face.  I’m thinking on the right side as we are looking at him.

Since putting in the background would involve uninterrupted time and attention to get the edges just right and keep all the pigment  flowing without sharp edges, I’m going to work on that tomorrow.  The kids are almost home now and even though they are teenagers, uninterrupted time is hard to find!

Here are previous posts in this process:
https://rachelm.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/shiloh-early-stages/
https://rachelm.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/shiloh-in-progress/ (first attempt)
https://rachelm.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/shiloh-study-day-24/ (wild study)
https://rachelm.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/shilohs-eye-study-day-22/

As always, thanks for stopping by and letting me know your thoughts!

Shiloh’s eye study — Day 22

Shiloh commission

Shiloh commission reference photo

Photo of Shiloh

The client would like these dreadlock hair on the ears included in the painting

Before Christmas I got a call from a  dog owner who saw my work at an art fair I did and wanted to commission a watercolor of her Australian shepherd.  Isn’t he beautiful??  I just love him.  We met and I got to know this feisty three year old dog. What a love!

The owners are very patient with me because I had this important show deadline (tomorrow!) for which I’m painting, but I feel like that’s in a good place.

WC study

Small study of eye and colors (click to view larger)

detailed line drawing of dog

detailed line drawing

A while ago, I had done a detailed line drawing of the portrait without the ear changes. And today I grabbed a scrap piece of watercolor paper only intending to try out colors, but it morphed into this eye study done without preliminary drawing.

 This is going to be such a fun painting to do. I’ll be working on techniques to get the color blending and the hair texture and keep the white patches… and will probably do a nose study as well…

I’m liking it!  What do you think?

A Christmas Fair: Feliz Navidad y’all!

Good friends of mine are associated with Junior League and their Christmas Fair in early November is their largest fundraiser and a huge draw in the city.  When I was approached to donate artwork to help fund their good works, I was happy to do it.  These are the three I’ve chosen.   I’m in the process of matting and framing them, so the first two are taken without the glass in so there isn’t the glare.mountain_flowers_donation_christmas_fair_rachel_murphree_watercolors

This is called Mountain Flowers and I’ve written about the process of creating it at this blog post if you’d like to take a look.

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I’m calling this one “Commision Study of Charley” and I’ve written about this little pup and the process of doing the commission before.  The commission is finished and owner and Charley are happy!

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The third piece I’m donating is “Fall Hillside” in the muted colors of a late fall day in the mountains.

Christmas Fair  “Feliz Navidad, y’all!” runs the first weekend of November at the El Paso Convention Center. At this point I’m not sure when or how the paintings will be auctioned, but I can find out and let you know.  Drop me an email at rcmurphree@outlook.com if you’d like more information or if you’d like to discuss having a pet portrait done!

Charley finished! — 30 in 30 day 13

charley_finished_rachel_murphree_watercolors

I am very pleased to announce that my first commission, Charley, is finished and the owner loves it!  I asked if I could quote her.  She said “The painting makes my heart smile!”

I am so glad.  Doing the commission was a great and pleasurable learning experience that I would definitely do again. You can see the last post on this commission, and the first post. 

I’ve ordered the matboard for it, she decided on an offwhite and a steel gray blue, and I’ll post a photo when it’s framed.  The painting itself is 13″ by 15″ so I’m thankful I have a mat cutter so I can cut this custom size myself.

I’m counting this as part of the 30 in 30 because we last saw it without a background and I’ve added that this week.  Once again life is busy so I’m not posting every day but I am painting most days, and that’s a habit that I will be happy to continue.  That’s my goal for this month and next…painting most days and posting several times a week.  Wish me luck!

Speaking of goals, I’ve ordered a variety of matboard colors and will soon have prints in standard sizes for sale at the Sunland Art Gallery and later this fall, available online.  Stay tuned!

How NOT to do a demo!

My first demo @ the Sunland Art Gallery, August 2016

My first demo @ the Sunland Art Gallery, August 2016

I have to say first off that doing the demo was a wonderful learning  experience.I’m glad I did it and I will certainly do more of them! However, I set myself up to not have the best experience, so here are four points I’ve learned not to do, especially when starting out.  Remember, this was my first demo.

  1. Don’t expect it will go perfectly or even turn out well because you’ve done the image before.
    Of course this is a death knell for any painting whether in a demo or not. If I think/hope ahead of time that  it’ll turn out great, or even good, well….you can guess what happens!
  2. Don’t watch a painting video beforehand and decide on a whim to try a technique on this image you haven’t used in previous attempts.
    Yes, you would think this would be a “nobrainer”.  Yes, on a whim I tried wet in wet fur before the eyes were dry. On a quite vertical slant.   ‘Nuff said on that.
  3. Don’t work on something that inherently needs to turn out a certain way (like a portrait).  Instead play with something like wet in wet landscape or image that you can play and explore as you go.
  4. Don’t use a set up you aren’t as familiar with.
    Case in point:  I normally paint on a counter high bureau with a 1″ thick piece of wood on top to make it wider but it doesn’t have depth.  It’s flat and I sometimes prop up my board on something, but the angle varies.  Because the gallery isn’t huge, I wanted to keep compact and I thought I’d use my plein air easel (which even though I went out weekly with before it got beastly hot, I’m still not thoroughly used to or pleased with).  Well, again, seems like a no brainer to not deviate from the familiar!

    rcdemo2_SAG

    Demo 2 after adjusting for height and angle.


    My main complaint on the easel is that the palette in front keeps me at a distance from the paper and so I tend to have it be at an almost vertical angle to compensate  If I lay it down flatter,  then I need to lower the tripod which of course I did in the middle of the demo with help from several artists.  again, not optimal for paint drying/running/ etc. while the leg heeight was being adjusted.   Do you get the picture? LOL

 

So I do have five things TO recommend:

  1. Start out small, as I did, with people gradually coming by, or not.  During my demo we had about 13 people drop by and stay for various times. Don’t start out with a demo for 30 artists with a screen projecting your every move. I eventually do want to feel comfortable doing that but I’m glad it wasn’t my first experience.
  2. Bring along several prepared sheets to keep you from overworking a piece without letting it dry appropriately.  In this way you can work on another version or a different piece entirely.  OR bring a hairdryer, if you’re used to using that…see #4 above.  I rarely use a hairdryer.
  3. Don’t feel you have to rush.  I felt I had to jump right in and balance the questions I got while painting.  That is something you have to handle, for sure, but I could have taken my time.
  4. Find someone you can relate to.  I enjoyed meeting and talking to everyone, but the best time I had was explaining my steps and why to a  10 yr old boy who liked to paint.
  5. Find something fun in what you’re doing.  Even though the pink of Charley’s tongue ran all over his muzzle in demo 1 below, I had a thrill of excitement when the blues and the oranges mingled so beautifully above the right eye.

So here were the demos as I left the gallery.

On both the white sparkle in the eyes was masked out so that the white paper would show when the masking rubber fluid was removed.  Not sure if I will work on these more, there are some good points in each, but time will tell.   It’s sad to see the tongue bleed on the left, but a lot could be fixable.  After several days I find them more acceptable.  which do you like better?

So thanks for reading through my extra long post.  I hope my tips will help you in your first demo!

Oh yes, and if you’d like to see the beautiful award winners from the My Masterpiece show, go to the Sunland Art Gallery FB page.

Demo on Saturday

I’m excited to be doing a watercolor demo at the Sunland Art Gallery this Saturday, August 13th.  The opening is from 12-6 and my demo will be from 2-4.  

I decided to paint one more version of Charley, this sweet dog that is my first commission in watercolor.  You can read about my experiences with painting dogs.  During the times when the paint has to dry I have a landscape in mind to work on.  If you have time, please stop by!

Here’s the My Masterpiece show description:  This is something new.  Art work could be a piece with a favorite masterpiece included in the painting.  For example, a still life of tropical fruit with a Paul Gauguin painting on the wall.  Or it could include several masterpieces in a collage.  Or it could be a painting “in the style of” a famous artist.  Or a copy of your favorite artist. Use your imagination! One or two entries per artist.

So this is my contribution to the show.  “It’s What’s for Lunch, Andy”.

watercolor of campbells soup can

Watercolor a la Andy Warhol for “My Masterpiece” show @ the Sunland Art Gallery

Dog Days of Summer

charley_commission_rachel_murphree_watercolors

Hello Folks, This is Charley!  He’s my first watercolor commission and I’ve written about making the first study at painting him earlier this summer.  It’s been quite the dog days for me, we’re in triple digits here since what seems like forever.  I’ve had to work on plenty of other obligations and haven’t had much time to paint.  As I was working on painting this sweet dog in the quiet of my house this morning, I realized just how much I’d missed painting (and perhaps that’s why I’ve been a bit crabby lately….I’m just sayin!)

Since the first study, I’ve met Charley and the other pets in his house, I’ve been painting eyes and noses, and then working on several other studies. charley_photo_refHis human sent me some other photos, here’s one which show his colors more clearly than the brightly lit one I was working from. So my sketch was from the earlier photo, but I used the colors from this.   Don’t you just love the eyes of the older sweetie behind him?  I kept getting drawn into the sweet elderly face!

I thought it might be helpful to show you the steps that led up to the current painting.  I’m not sure it’s the final one…we’ll have to see what his humans say, but I can always learn more by painting another one!  To begin with I did some sketching:

and then did studies of eyes and noses:

Don’t the noses look like flying aliens??  they crack me up.

charley_dog_boosted pencil sketch_rachel_murphree

Then I took the image and put it through the “pencil sketch” effect in picasa web and boosted the contrast to get nice dark lines.

I put it on my light table with a piece of 140 lb Arches paper on topcharley dog on lightbox_rachel_murphree and the dark lines showed through.

You can see it here but the lines weren’t quite that dark, I enhanced the charley after light table_rachel_murphreecontrast so you could see them.  It turns out that i didn’t need all those extra lines of the hair, because that’s more naturally done by just playing with the paint.  in future tracings I only did the nose eyes and mouth.

In researching how to do the painting,  I watched two watercolor technique videos which were very helpful:  Watercolor Secrets: Realistic Pets with Carrie Stuart Parks and Jake Winkle’s Going Wild in Watercolor.  Of the two, I find Jake’s style bold and invigorating and that showed in the first study, but I like the more realistic view with techniques taught by Carrie.

charley_in process_rachel_murphree_watercolorsSo here’s an in process stage where I had wet the right side cautiously over top of the underpainting soft colors with no hard edges,  and added extra color and fur brush strokes.  After this I did the same on the left side and then started adjusting details and adding whiskers.

So that’s what I’ve been doing in the dog days of summer.  How about you?  What have you been up to?  Have you painted dogs? if so, what tips can you share?

Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll let you know what Charley’s humans have to say…

 

Dog portrait commision “Take One”

I recently got my first commission to paint a pet portrait, and for some reason it intimidated me a bit, to portray the character and soul of the pet in watercolor, especially when I don’t know the pupper.  I did a portrait of our Tulie dog, but this was different.

I found LOADS of other things to do of course, I can rule at procrastination without trying too hard!  but I finally determined to start and document my progress.  This is the first study.

SM_dog_commission_rachel_murphree_watercolors (2)

In preparation for the eyes, I watched two videos, one by Jake Winkle  and the other by Jean Haines .  Jake talks about making glow in the eyes (and other places) but mingling cools and warms and starting with the blue highlight of the eye (reflecting the sky) with cerulean.  Jean talks about making sure to soften the edges of the eyes, and nose for that matter, by blending out the edges with a damp brush, at least here and there, so the elements don’t look glued on top of the face.

The colors I planed to use were Quinacridone Burnt Orange and Quinacridone Burt Scarlet, Carmine, Cobalt and Indanthrone blue.  Not sure if I added others in there, but those are the mingling splotches to the right of the portrait.

SM_dog_commission_rachel_murphree_watercolors (4)

So here are the stages of progression of the portrait.  I figured I would do several studies and perhaps one would be the one the owner picks, or I may need to do more.  We’ll see how it goes.

SM_dog_commission_rachel_murphree_watercolors (5)

I don’t like the right eye, as we’re looking at it, it’s too large and doesn’t have the glow.  The other eye may be better but I’m curious to know what color the dog’s eyes are in real life, because in the photo they are blue and I’m not sure if that’s accurate.

I think as a further exercise before doing another study, I will do studies of eyes and noses randomly on a page and get the hang of the mingle of colors and the form.

SM_dog_commission_rachel_murphree_watercolors (1)

So that’s it for today’s posting.  What are you up to?  What suggestions or criticisms of the work do you have for me?  Thanks for stopping by…

Tuesday Tips #6 Acetate and our dog Tulie

Tulie. 11 x 15 watercolor of our schnauzer mix dog that thinks she rules the world!

Tulie. 11 x 15 watercolor of our schnauzer mix dog who thinks she rules the world!

Before I get to the tips, here is the finished version of Tulie, our schnauzer mix who has captivated our hearts. After having medium to large dogs, this little 12 pound dog has made me love lap dogs.  She has such personality and quirks, and she is so cuddly.  You can see the before version (and some in process photos from sketch to painting) at this post. Now she has a background and the right side of the portrait has darker tones showing the light coming in from the left.

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corner of clear acetate sheet with its paper wrapper

I used a clear sheet of acetate to figure out what colors I wanted in the background.  I tried out the dark blues and the siennas, and then decided to mix them in a wet in wet flow of colors.

Acetate is a really cool tool.  I read about it in The Watercolor Fix-It Book (vanHasselt and Wagner) a book I’ve mentioned before.  I got it at an art supply place for under $4, and found out that there are several types, so you want to ask for “acetate for wet media”.  It came in a 20″ x 25″ sheet with a white protective tissue wrapper and it can be used over and over.

Purple pigment on acetate over blossom

Purple pigment on acetate over blossom

I’ve included two examples here as a demonstration. The one on the left shows a rather garish purple (for this color scheme) that I tried over the top of a blossom to see how it would look to darken shadows, and then a more appropriate perylene maroon.  The pigments should be more of a cream consistency to stay in place on the acetate, but it all wipes off very easily with a wet paper towel.  I can see this coming in handy in lots of different ways.

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Perylene maroon as a darkening color for the center of this mexican red bird of paradise blossom