End of Summer Lantana

End of Summer.  11" x 15" watercolor.

End of Summer. 11″ x 15″ watercolor.

I’m going to call this finished! I hope its new owners like it.

I’ve sure have enjoyed working on it. It’s on 300 lb paper which is lovely to work on, and I plan on using this weight more in the future. I’ve enjoyed pulling out the leaves and stems using negative painting. and forming the details of the blossoms.

In other news I’ve been sketching a sotol and prickly pear image and envisioning how to make it a snowy scene for a potential holiday card. That’s on the studio schedule this morning. Stay tuned…

End of Summer Lantana almost done!

The final stage so far of the end of summer Lantana.  11" x 15"  already spoken for, but prints will be available!

The final stage so far of the end of summer Lantana. 11″ x 15″ already spoken for, but prints will be available!

Ok folks, I’ve taken my time with this one and I’m pretty happy with it.  I thought it was almost done, and it is, but as is quite usual, I see problems once I’ve taken a picture AND uploaded it!  LOL. It’s the uploading that makes the problems pop out.  

I see that there’s a leaf hiding behind the right cluster that should be greener, and the edge of the out of focus area above that blossom bothers me. it’s too hard an edge. And now I think I like the one without as much of the defining better. What’a gal to do with that, but just paint another? It would be different and looser.

Stage four of the painting

Stage four of the piece. a lot of negative painting done in the background.


Initially I thought that more color was needed at the top, but I’m thinking now, it’s light and airy and a good contrast to the leaves and stems below…

What do you think?  I would love to hear from you, especially if you see things that bother you or have suggestions to make it better.

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!

Day 30 — Lantana Further Progress

In process photo

Lantana in progress stems and leaves on tracing paper.  Click on image to view larger.

Today I want to take you further through the process of painting the lantana blooms. Not too much to show for huge work for the last day of the painting challenge, but there was a lot of planning, sketching, and patience waiting for the wash to dry!

So my first task was to figure out where the stems and leaves would go and how they would look.  I considered putting in a seed cluster also but it muddied up the composition.  it would have to be somewhere between the blossoms and it was too crowded there.  You can see that I used the plein air painting sketches to influence how I sketched and what the structure is.

Once I decided on the drawing, the next step would have been to transfer it to the watercolor paper somehow, and you dont’ want to put extra pencil and erasure marks on the paper because it mars the surface.  This paper is 300 lb which is thick and doesn’t work well on my light box to transfer, so I will probably cover the pencil marks on the back with a pencil rubbed sideways (to put a layer of graphite onto the back of it), place it on the paper and trace the design so that the graphite will make marks on the watercolor paper.

Garden photo

bird’s eye view of a representative lantana to determine soft shapes and colors to add to background.

I realized that it would leave me with a white background, looking like a botanical type illustration, and that’s not the effect I wanted, with the soft washes of the blooms.  I know that the best thing to do is to put in colors that suggest areas of foliage and other blooms in the background, so I went back to my garden, knelt down to get a bird’s eye view photo of a random blossom, and snapped to see where on the picture plane the colors would go.  How far up would the foliage greens go? do you see blooms, etc.?

In process photo

Lantana in progress soft background wet in wet wash that has dried. Click on image to view larger so you can see the white area next to the bottom left blossom.

The next step was to wet the paper with water with a soft brush going over the edges of the blooms and then laying in the colors from the prepared puddles of yellows, blues and rose, letting the colors mingle on the paper.  I covered the edges of the blooms because I didn’t want the background colors to dry with a hard edge where the water stopped and have it be kind of a hard halo around the bloom.  there were places where the colors mingled and the rose with the green made a brownish gray and I lifted that area with a tissue (along the right side of the bottom left cluster) to get a soft white glow.

In process photo

Lantana in progress. Tracing paper leaves and stems on top of dried background wash. Click on image to view larger.

The last in process picture is with the tracing paper back on top so you can see where the stems and leaves are in relation to the dried pale colors on the background.  the process today will be negatively and positively painting the stem and leaves, floating more color in wet in wet and then seeing if the background muted colors need to be amped up in any place.  Stay tuned!

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

Day 26 Lantana Studies

botanical type illustrations in watercolor

Lantana Studies for day 26. 9 x 12″ watercolor

Day 26 found me in the courtyard sitting right next to my pastel variety lantana plant and attempting to capture the ball of little blossoms. Each round cluster is about 1.5″ across and starts from a flat cap from which tiny bugle blossoms appear. Once I relaxed and let the paint do its magic, they started coming to life for me.I didn’t focus on the leaves as much but that’ll be for another time.

I’m thinking about doing a very in depth large view of a ball of blossoms because I think it would be such fun to mingle the permanent rose and yellows in each little bugle.

And now I’m off to do a plein air of the mountains that bisect our city.  Yesterday without a camera I was on the other side of the mountain and the colors of the rock and the glowing grass from the extra rains we’ve had recently were amazing.  So I’m hoping that it will be a good session.

happy Sunday!

Day 16 — in studio Plumbago and Lantana

watercolor painting of blue and orange/yellow flowers

Plumbago and Lantana 2.  8″ x 10″ watercolor done in the studio after experiencing  painting these late summer flowers plein air

After surviving ant bites while painting these blooms from my garden yesterday, I took several photographs in my garden  and then came inside and painted from them. I have heard, and am now experiencing first hand, how painting from life enhances the experience and the painting, and I’m thoroughly enjoying this rhythm!  I’ve heard an interview with plein air artist Anne Blair Brown speaks to this topic, and it’s a great interview if you’d like to listen.  I may have mentioned this before. It’s on the AHA (Artists Helping Artists) podcast.

Day 15 — Plumbago and lantana

30 in 30 day 15_late_summer_flowers_plein_air_watercolor_rachel_murphree

I went out this morning and did a plein air (painting outside) piece from my garden.  It’s a late summer riot of plumbago and lantana flowers out there, with some flowering garlic and ruellia (mexican petunias).  I tried to capture the blues of plumbago and brights oranges and yellow of the lantana, and the feeling of being out in the warm sun and gentle breezes.  I also worked on brush work, using the point of the brush at the center and gently pressing on the belly of the brush to get the petal shape.  My favorite bloom is the one at bottom left.

30 in 30 day 15_quick_mat_rachel_murphree_watercolor
One of the dangers of plein air is being explored by ants while my attention is captured by the painting!  Ants were crawling on my feet, yuck, but once I moved myself out of their way, things got better.

Here it is quickly put into a mat, to see how it would look.  Forgive the wonky angles.