Flying saucer cupcake

Jenna's cupcake _murphree watercolor in progress

This painting has a ways to go yet, but I wanted to show you what I’ve been  working on.   My daughter is a fabulous baker, and this is her chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting that is her latest creation all from scratch. Right now it looks like it’s a plate flying in the area with a blob on top, I know!  The background reflections are partly in, and I have to add the tabletop and work on forming the beautiful frosting, but it’s getting there.

Contemplating one more time (and Tuesday tips)


“Contemplation 2”. 11″ x 15″ watercolor in progress. More wet in wet, less layers of pigment.

I’ve started another painting from the same photograph, and am trying a different approach with it. Here it is in progress, waiting for me to get back to it, and hopefully keep the same light loose feel to it.

I wet both sides of the paper (this time it was 140 lb, the first completed one was on the thicker 300 lb paper) and I started painting on it wet in wet, meaning flowing pigment onto the already wet paper, and then as the paper slowly dried, I kept using thicker pigment but still in lighter values to start to define the circles and ripples. I think it has a lighter feel than the first one had at this stage. I’m hoping to continue in the same mode and have a more transparent watery surface. It’ll be interesting to hear, when this is done, which one you like better.

So this is my usual Tuesday Tips day, and I don’t have anything formally prepared other than to work in series.  I felt so much more comfortable starting this one after completing the first.  I only drew small circles and the edges of where the dark and light would meet, and I found more circles in the painting than I had seen previously.

My second tip is to paint with other supportive people and give each other advice.  My friend Karen suggested on looking at this that I could suggest the circles, not necessarily complete all of them, to avoid the ‘bulls eye” look, and she was so right!  I lifted areas of paint in several places that left part of the circles “not closed” and I like the look better.

One of these days I will post paintings on this blog of my watercolor friends, so you can see their work too.

I enjoy hearing from you…and thanks for stopping by.

Contemplation: The surface and below…


“Contemplation” 11″ x 15″ watercolor inspired by the Contemplative Garden fountain at UTEP. Click on image to view larger. $99 unframed.

For today’s post I thought I’d give you a finished piece and its accompanying inspiration photo, and then a bunch of in process photos for you to see how this piece came together.

Photo of fountain's surface

Photo of fountain’s surface

I took the photo at UTEP’s Contemplative Garden and it’s the surface of a fountain created by dripping water off of bells above the surface.  You can see the fountain itself at the link for the garden.

contemplation 2 transfering

image printed close to full size on two pieces of paper to transfer.

contemplation 1 drawing

Initial drawing on paper, darkened so you can see the lines.

Because the photo was so dark, and I was using 300 lb paper (quite heavy), my lightbox wouldn’t work to transfer as I usually like to do, when I’m not freehand drawing on the paper.  So I printed out the photo on white paper in a size big enough for the paper, taped the edges together and used Saral transfer graphite paper to transfer the lines.

I was inspired to do this because the painting group I’m in was watching a Soon Warren video on painting koi ponds and I wanted to paint from my own photo.  So I followed her steps working with light washes put on with big brushes, drying it a bit with a hake brush, and then working on areas keeping some edges soft, some hard.

contemplation 3

First light washes of color. Darker dots are masking fluid, a rubbery liquid that dries hard and protects the paper underneath. Later that will be removed.

contemplation 4

after more washes keeping values in mind. darker at the top, in the shade.

contemplation 5

Further on in the process, putting in the dark areas in the bottom right.

So you can see the piece take shape.  Sometimes I lifted and softened edges, sometimes scrubbed out to get the texture of soft that the light on the water (front left) required.

I used many layers on this and lost some of the freshness that I want to get from watercolor, so I painted another in this, starting a series, with less layers, more wet in wet painting and I”ll show you that soon.

I didn’t use masking fluid for the highlights, because the edges dry so hard when you remove the masking.  and it looks artificial unless you soften the edges  a lot.  It’s easier to just lift small reflections from the paint and/or scratch highlights at the end with a calligraphy nib or little razor.

I also didn’t draw all the detail on the paper, because I feel a lot more familiar with the subject.  I got my circles placed and vague lines where I want the dark and light to meet.  More on that in the next post!


contemplation 6

Darker still but I don’t like the front left corner. edges are too hard.

contemplation 7

After a lot of scrubbing on the left corner to lighten and soften the edges, and putting in the brighter blue hues in the bottom right.

contemplation 8

Far along in the process, enough to remove the masking for the highlights of the water. the little white dots.  Note the flower is still masked.

I enjoy hearing from you.  Please let me know what you think, or ask any questions.  I’m in a hurry to get this post finished, and get back to painting, so I may not have been as clear as I wanted to be.