Shiloh early stages

Here is where the Shiloh commission painting stands now.  I will be working on it further this weekend. Once the area around his right eye has more done, I think it will be well along.  

Here’s the board I have handy to work from. The top photo is the principal one, the black and white next to it shows me the values. The bottom right photo shows his ears, the dreadlocks, that I am incorporating. And the bottom left is the initial practice painting. 

I got lost in keeping some of the white areas of his fur, and with watercolor keeping the white paper is imperative. So on the current painting I have a tiny white x  in each area to remind me to keep them white. 

Here are earlier stages of the painting. 

February Art Show!

The Distance, watercolor by Rachel Murphree

The Distance.  Watercolor by Rachel Murphree, framed to 11″ x 14″.  $125.

I am pleased to announce that I have two pieces juried into the “For the Love of Art” show in Las Cruces at MAS Art, 126 South Main Street, Las Cruces, NM 88001.  The show opening is February 5th from 5-7 pm.  If you are local, it would be great to see you there!

The Distance was actually done during the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge I did in September.  You can read about the process from my blog post at that time.

Agave Shadows #1 Watercolor painting by Rachel Murphree

Agave Shadows #1, done mostly dry on wet. Framed to 12″ x 16″  $125.

The other is Agave Shadows #1 which I did earlier last year.  You can read about the process at this post. 

File Jan 11, 6 30 30 PM

darker foreground shape

And here is the painted value sketch amended from yesterday.   I realized that I didn’t have the value of the foreground prickly pear dark enough, so I added another layer of color.

Mesquite Shade_painted_value_sketch _rachel_murphree_watercolor (2)

lighter foreground shape

You can’t always judge the value of items from a photograph, but I think in this case the dark value of the front is appropriate because it is in shade, and it reinforces the brightness of the sunlit area by the wall.

I think it works better.  What do you think?  I think tomorrow I will do a value sketch with using just one pigment to focus on values and not play with the color.

 

4–>Fall Fig step by step

fig_detailed_sketch_rachel_murphree

Detailed value sketch

Here are some of my preliminary sketches, more detailed than I expect a lot of more experienced painters would do, but it helped me to fully understand what I was seeing, how the leaves and the shadows looked.

 

It was interesting to see that the larger sketch reinforced the thumbnail value sketch I made previously.  It helped me to do a line sketch another day.

fig_more_sketches_rachel_murphree

Other sketches

 

 

So I felt that I “knew” the fig leaves and light and I had the painted value sketch hanging around on the easel over several days and I was still excited about translating it into a real painting.

Step one was to put a light under-painting to define and isolate the whites and put down warms and cools in a very pale wash. As usual in this stage, I lost my place and left whites on different leaves than my original plan, sigh!, so I just adjusted my thoughts and went with the whites I was “given”.

fig_first_stage_rachel_murphree_watercolor

Stage one of Fall Fig

Once that wash dried, I put in the darks of the Italian cypress behind it because I knew that the effect of sunlight making jewels of select yellowing leaves relied on the dark values around them.

Then I started putting in the next layer, trying to mix pigments on the paper rather than in the palette, keeping in mind that cooler colors receded so I used them in the leaves in the back and keeping focal leaves pale and warm.  I also warmed up the leaves in bottom front.

Fig Stage Two

Fig Stage Two

 

 

I deliberately left the foreground suggestive rather than detailed. But I am open to suggestions that it might need a bit more definition, or warmth?  I really like it now because as I was bringing color down into the bottom and then just brushed it aside with a sweeping motion mixing colors at the same time, as I often see in professional painting videos.

I thought I was finished before I really was, at the stage three photo, but my daughter suggested (and I saw it when she mentioned it) that she knew I was trying to have the yellows pop, but the values behind them weren’t dark enough…and sure enough, it didn’t match my value sketch.  Once she’s left the house for college, I will have to figure these things out on my own!   I’m sure with fresh eyes on another day, I would have seen it.  If you squint at this stage three, you see that the a lot of the leaves all have the same value of darkness.

Stage three of fig

Stage three of fig

I wasn’t crazy about adding more layers to those leaves because I would be losing some of the transparency, so in the future I have to practice, practice to get the values spot on the first time.  It’s hard to do because paint dries lighter than when it’s wet, so it’s a matter of more painting and paying attention to that.

So when I was deciding what dark value blue to use, I tried out indigo and indanthrone  blue on a separate piece of paper, and noticed that indanthrone was warmer, so I chose that one to let the cooler cerulean chromium layered leaves at the very back look further away.

Fall_Fig_rachel_murphree_watercolor

Fall Fig in its final stage

So I would love to hear your comments and suggestions.  Do you think the foreground, left corner, needs more?  is there anything confusing that bothers you?  I really appreciate your comments and suggestions and hearing from you!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

The Scapes return, stages four and five

in process painting of veggie still life

Scapes painting stage 4.  Click on image to view larger.

 

As you can see, if you compare with the last post, I’ve added some darks into the kale and made it so much more lively!  The darks I used were a mix of thalo green blue shade and quinacridone magenta.  This is a great dark combination that’s also transparent, and I plan on using it in the background along with charging into it some other colors used in the existing veggies to give it color harmony.

 

 

 

 

in process painting of veggie still life

Scapes painting stage 5, with a dramatic background! Click on image to view larger

 

 

And you can see it here, I’ve taken the plunge and started on the background.  I think I’m going to be happy with it and you can see that the background is really broken up into sections which is nice.  I can work on parts and soften the edge where they would join up so that there isn’t a hard line where they meet.  you can see I did that to the left of the pepper stem.

I plan on using this background with other colors mingled in with it to cover all the area where the scapes are, and I think the dark colors will make the sinewy snakelike scapes “pop”

What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by, and as always, I enjoy reading your comments, critiques, suggestions, thoughts…

The Stages of the Scapes

in progress painting of veggie still life

Scapes painting stage 2.  click on image to view larger

Here are some further photos of stages in the painting. At this stage I hopedit could be ok, but I felt overwhelmed by I put down the colors of the kale but was getting lost in the curves, ruffles, and edges. After doing anything BUT painting on this — i.e. cleaning the baseboards, organizing closets, I think some of you will understand these impulses! — I realized I need to look at each section and develop it in an attempt to not get lost. Following the process one would use to paint petals of a flower. Work on each and build it up to a certain level, what feels right, and then do another.

In process painting of veggie still life

Scapes painting stage 3.  Click on image to view larger

So here’s the following stage.  I  worked on the swirl of the bud of the scape, to the left of the pepper.  It needs a bit more refining but it’s more true to the spiral.

I worked on various sections of the leaf.  I knew I wanted the detail where it would catch your eye in the middle of the painting, near the red pepper — because red and green are complements so they “zing” against each other and that draws your eye.  I knew I didn’t want a lot of detail, at least not now, in the darker, blue green shadows in the bottom right corner.  With the advice and support of great friends in my painting group — you know who you are! — they counseled me on lifting out some lights, and going in later with the DARKS to give the leaf depth.  Right now it is all medium values, if you squint at it, the kale is all one value, no darks in it so spike it up!

So that’s what’s coming next…  stay tuned….

Thanks for stopping by.  I’d love to hear from you — your thoughts, reactions, advice, critique!  it’s all welcome.

Scapes anyone?

farmer's maket photo

My own photo reference of scapes, pepper and kale from farmer’s market

No, not EScapes, but scapes.  Have you heard of them?  I hadn’t until visiting a farmer’s market recently and picking up these curvy stems of the garlic plant that just make me smile!  You can chop them up into salads (very strong) or saute them as a milder garlic taste.  And when their heads pop open with a bit of the flower beginning — see the bulge to the left of the pepper — it’s enchanting.

Knowing I wouldn’t be able to do these in life before they wilted and dried, I decided to pose some still lifes, with the light source to the left.  For “fun” I added the kale bunch, and that’s proving to be QUITE the challenge to paint!

preparatory sketch of scapes, pepper and kale

Value sketch of scapes, pepper and kale

I thought I’d share a bit of the process with you on how I go from a photo to starting the painting. I first make a small sketch with values to understand the shapes, curves, shadows and other elements that will make the objects recognizable. This was in my sketch book.  I added the grid on top later, in order to enlarge the drawing to fit the selected paper size, in this case 11″ x 15″ (or what is called a “quarter sheet” of watercolor paper, that has traditionally been made in sheets that are 22″ x 30″.

By making the grid and putting in a grid on the larger paper, it’s a matter of transferring lines from one square to a larger one, by seeing where the drawing of the left bulge of the pepper, for example, intersects the grid lines in the smaller version and making it fit a similar dimension in the larger grid opening.

enlarged sketch for quarter sheet of watercolor paper

enlarged sketch for quarter sheet of watercolor paper. Simplified connection of darker and lighter values

enlarged sketch on the lightbox to transfer to watercolor paper

portion of enlarged sketch on the lightbox to transfer to watercolor paper.

While I’m doing this I’m not restricted to how I drew it originally but because I’m understanding it better, I can omit some lines, make less but cleaner shapes, connect shapes of certain values together to make other more interesting shapes, etc.  This is an ongoing learning process for me on how to do that, and I perhaps didn’t do it enough.

Then I trace the major lines with a darker pen or maker in order to see them more clearly when I place them on my light box and put the thicker watercolor paper on top to trace the image with a mechanical pencil onto the paper.  here’s a snippet of how that looks.

in progress watercolor

early stage of watercolor painting of scapes, pepper, and kale

And now the fun part, to start painting!  Here’s the first pass of building up color on the pepper and the scapes and putting in lights for the kale.  I’m using hansa yellow  and clear water for the highlights with warm reds (pyrrol orange and pyrrol scarlet) with a neutral Quinacridone red for the areas of each bulge that are facing the light.  I use cooler reds for the sides away from the light (permanent rose, quinacridone magenta).  I do each bulge (there must be a more precise word for these?) individually, charging them wet into wet to mingle the colors and the hard edges that form help separate one bulge from its neighbor.

Yellows glow through colors layered on top of them, such as blues or greens in this case, so we want the glow of the warm greens to contrast with the color blue greens and shadows in the kale leaves.

Stay tuned because I’ve done more work on this that I’ll talk about in the next post, on how I got “lost” in the kale leaves and found my way out!  Thanks for stopping by.  If you’d like to leave me a comment, I’d love to read it!

Yucca bloom step by step

In progress watercolor of Yucca Bloom

The painting as it stands now… Click on image to view larger

My friend Susie suggested that I might want to post a painting in stages so ya’ll  could see the process as it develops. What a great idea! but I often don’t remember to snap the photo. But in this case I have.

Here’s where the Yucca Bloom painting stands now.

These are the photos I’ve taken on which the painting is loosely based.  I like the closeup but not how washed out the sun on the blossoms made them.

photo photo

In progress watercolor of Yucca Bloom

Wet in wet wash that will become the bell shaped flowers of the yucca bloom. Click on image to view larger

Scroll down to see the painting as it has developed thus far.  It’s a lot of fun to tease out the images by creating either hard lines by damping one side of a stroke of paint, or soft lines by painting wet in wet to form the bell shape of the blossom.  Fun to create magic by making something 2D look 3D.  I love it!

In progress watercolor of Yucca Bloom

Some darks in the dried blossom area. Click on image to view larger

In progress watercolor of Yucca Bloom

Continuing blossoms. Click on image to view larger

In progress watercolor of Yucca Bloom

More blossoms and the stem sketched in. I expect to do darks or stems in the rest of the areas. Click on image to view larger

In progress watercolor of Yucca Bloom

Blossoms done in bulk and stem and other stalks started. Click on image to view larger

In progress watercolor of Yucca Bloom

Now some of the darks are going in and I can see the lights start to “pop”. Click on image to view larger

Thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear from you if you liked this explanation or have any questions…

Adolescent Art

watercolor painting

In progress watercolor of agave plants and their beautiful shadow

No, these paintings were not done by my adolescents, but *they*  are adolescents!   A new friend of mine said a workshop instructor said that all paintings go through this phase, a perhaps “ugly” phase, or not complete, where you as the artist are frustrated, worry it won’t come out well, or want to ditch the painting. I wish I could remember the artist’s name to credit him or her.

watercolor painting

In progress watercolor of wine bottles.

I find this quite a comforting thought as I face my pile of started paintings from various recent classes and also my attempts at plein air painting (painting outdoors) last week.

I think I will work on the wine bottle painting today when we meet to paint as a group. The plan is to mix a watery pigment puddle and carefully brush it over the existing bottles, one at a time, and selectively soften the edges of the reflections in the glass. I’ve put this off for two weeks, while we were on spring break with the kids, but now I will have to address it.

It’s ONLY PAPER after all…I have to keep telling myself that.

Thanks for stopping by.

Stop and rest

Watercolor painting

Stop and Rest. Forest scene with rock. Click image to view larger. Available.

 

Here’s the second piece from Wednesday’s class on creating textures and fixing problem areas.  The instructions were a rock with grasses in front and lots of green behind, letting rich colors run in the background.

I posted a picture below of what it looked like when I came home.  The rock was floating, flat bottomed like some weird space hovering.  I didn’t like the grasses.  I can’t wrap my head around yet how to negatively paint the tops of grasses to get them to be thin blades, and I liked some colors in the mixing but the blues were too prominent and separated in the forest.

painting at early stages

How it looked after the class. it needed some help!

So I did some scrubbing out of edges with a coarse hair cheaper acrylic brush that I cut down to make a stiff ridge, painted down over the tops of the grasses and then pulled up with a palette knife to get the grasses I wanted.  added more color in the background, tried to create masses of bushes/trees with spattering of water, etc.  

While I wish that I had gotten this look earlier on so that it looked fresher and less worked, I’m glad I rescued it.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!   Thanks for visiting.