Christmas Star Day 8 (with a poll)

Christmas Star_Rachel_murphree_watercolor

Christmas Star Watercolor by Rachel Murphree

Here’s my favorite of the ornament paintings so far.    I think I’ll keep the tree up a bit longer this year and use it as a sketching/painting prop!  and besides I love the serenity of the lights…

Christmas Star stage 1_Rachel_murphree_watercolorThis is stage one of the painting.  I knew I wanted soft fuzzy backgrounds suggesting lights and atmosphere and cranberries, but I added the magenta orbs of color too early and they ballooned out.  I took the hard edge on the right, softened it a bit, and took a round stencil to pencil in a ball shape and then played wet in wet.  I love the “star” pattern that magically appeared and I won’t be able to duplicate in exactly the same way again.  You can see the pink undertones in the finished painting and I put in a cranberry strand above it, finding out that the colors will cover paler pigments.

The full 8 x 8 painting isn’t strong compositionally — I don’t like the even spacing of two items on the page, so I had fun cropping it in various ways. Here are some options and a little poll to take, if you’d like, to tell me which crop or original is your favorite.  We haven’t done one of these in awhile….

Christmas Star rectangle crop_Rachel_murphree_watercolor

Rectangle crop of Christmas Star

Christmas Star square 1 crop_Rachel_murphree_watercolor

Square crop #1 of Christmas Star

Christmas star square 2 crop_Rachel_murphree_watercolor

Square crop #2 of Christmas Star

Christmas Star Cropping — which do you prefer?

Bluebird Ornament Days 6-7

Yesterday I painted some ornaments on the tree, and here are two of the bluebird, a pottery ornament from Vermont which used to live on my sister’s tree and now lives on mine.  One of many bird or bird related ornaments I have, frankly.  They are on an 8 x 8 sheet pad of Lanaquerelle paper which I find ok, but I don’t care for it as much as Arches.  But there are some artists that swear by it, so I’m giving it another chance.

Bluebird ornament 2_Rachel_murphree_watercolor

Bluebird Ornament #1

Bluebird ornament__Rachel_murphree_watercolor

Bluebird Ornament #1

They are on an 8 x 8 sheet pad of Lanaquerelle paper which I find ok, but I don’t care for it as much as Arches. But there are some artists that swear by it, so I’m giving it another chance.

Ornament #4 — Day 5 of the challenge

Red Christmas Ornament #4

Ornament #4 watercolor. About 7″ x 11″. Available.

For a change of pace from the muted pinecones and seedpods, here’s the final try at the ornament hanging from the tree.  I love the sparkly lights so I think our tree will stay up awhile longer…but I don’t think I’ll be painting ornaments anymore until next December…

Five days done of the challenge, and (gasp) twenty five more to go!  I’ve found some neat artists doing this challenge. This watercolor artist, Simone Ritter, is doing an unusual theme:  campers. And Theta has lovely dreamy watercolor landscapes.  Just wanted to give you other watercolor artists to check out and enjoy…  thanks for stopping by today. The rest of the 30 in 30 challenge artists can be seen here.

Fall droppings — day 2 of challenge

Ink sketch with watercolor wash

Ink sketch with watercolor wash of fall droppings found on walks

I appreciate your confidence in me, but I have to tell you this is stressful! I don’t want to put up any paintings that are “dogs” — no offense to our best friends — but I do want to paint every day. So, today’s offering is a ink sketch with watercolor wash of things I’ve found on my fall walks: dried leaf, bark peeling and a seed pod. I also started working on another ornament painting…so stay tuned. you may see it…if it doesn’t tank…

I’ve been having fun looking at the other painters’ contributions…there are over 1200 painters now, around the world. Not too many are watercolorists which is disappointing for me. One of my favorites so far is Andy Sewell’s series of birds. here is A is for Avocet .  Be sure to scroll down on the post to see photographs of these beautiful birds with their cinnamon colors and long waterbird legs. Yesterday’s was B is for bluebird…you can see the whole series as it happens here:

30 in 30 painting challenge begins

watercolor painting

1st painting in the 30 in 30 January 2015 challenge

I have committed myself to a 30 paintings in 30 days challenge run by Leslie Saeta. Over 1000 artists have signed up to paint every day and upload their work daily to her blog.  It’s quite neat to see all the variety of work.  Here’s Day 1 postings if you’d like to check it out.

I was excited and confident about this until it got closer to January 1st, and then I wondered, what in the world did I get myself in for?  It all of a sudden sounded like a jail sentence, who did I think I was?  what did I get myself into? I *should* be committed….

But in reality, the challenge is not to produce masterpieces every day, but it’s a way to jumpstart my practice, and incentive to get the brushes wet every day working on something, whether it’s a technique, more work on a painting, playing around, etc.

The playing around I think is the key.  I’m working on ways to psych myself to not take it seriously but look at it as a chance to grow, even if I don’t upload 30 photos in that time.  So you may see parts of a painting, or maybe sketching with watercolor washes, but I will paint every day.

Since I’ve last posted I’ve worked on various attempts at an ornament and I don’t like any of them better than Ornament #1, so I didn’t post them.  And now I’m frankly sick of trying this, so I”ll have to be moving on. but here’s one of yesterday’s tries.

So what did I learn?  I’ve learned I don’t mix enough of a puddle on my palette so i’m stopping to mix a new batch while the already painted area dries and then the color isn’t fluid on the paper.  And I don’t have a clear idea of the pine needles so it’s hard to negatively paint them, especially with no drawing on the paper ahead of time.

Negative painting is putting down the lightest color (i.e. the light glinting off the needles) and then painting around that to create the other needles or background foliage.  It’s a hard concept for me to wrap my head around especially without a clear understanding of the structure, based on sketching.  So I think one of my jobs for this month is to sketch pine boughs and needles, transfer it to paper and then try the negative painting.  Or let that go and work on a myriad of other projects…  we shall see!  My blog should be busy this month, so I hope you’ll come along for the ride and see what happens!

Ornament #1 or Ornament #2?

Loose version of red ornament hanging on the Christmas tree.  Watercolor

Loose version of red ornament hanging on the Christmas tree. Watercolor

2-141223_red ornamentB

“Tighter” version of red ornament on the Christmas tree

Which is your preference?  I think I’m going for Ornament #1 but I’m curious to hear your opinions.  I think the sharper edges highlights of the surrounding lights on the ball in #2 show the glass texture better…but I like how the colors blend and flow in #1.  Of course, neither is exactly what I had in mind when I started, but that seems to be the magic of watercolor and the process of learning the technique.

it’s a bit daunting to put out my art like this but I think documenting my progress and sharing the journey with you all is a good thing, and keeps me painting.