Early bloomer 2, also in plein air


I spent some time today sketching and painting small images of the Texas Mountain Laurel.  This is the most successful of the three.

The hardest part for me is doing the foliage and dealing with the muted activity of what is going on behind the foreground foliage and how to express that all without going in after the firm edges of the leaves and adding background.  On this one I did lighter leaves and laid darker and varied ones on top.

texas mountain laurel ref photo (1).jpg

I’m going to try another wet in wet approach first, as I did yesterday with mingled colors of lights and mediums, not committing myself to placing the darks from the beginning, leaving soft edged areas of whiteness to fill in with blossoms and planning where to put the pods.  In that way some lighter leaves can be lifted out or negatively painted along with positive leaves.

What I’ve had success in is using the brush stroke to make a leaf in one stroke. Happy with that.  The leaves follow along rhythmically along a curved or straight thin stem and those lines could lead the eye through the painting, but one risks having too repetitive shapes, so playing with lost and found edges would help that.


The blossoms are best done with mixing the permanent rose and ultramarine blue, leaning more toward the blue and going in later with drops of water and/or lifting our sworls of light to make the petal patterns that also go in pairs rhythmically on a with darker semi closed petals at the bottom of each pair.

As an aside, the wind was gusting at time today so that I had to hold down my easel while painting!  Next time I shall have to remember to hook my bag with water bottle to the bottom of the easel to weight it down.

Oh the greens of spring!

Forest Spring.  Watercolor by Rachel Murphree

Forest Spring watercolor 9″ x 12″. Click on image to view larger.

Closeup of Forest Spring.  Watercolor by Rachel Murphree

texture enhanced with rice paper collaged on top prior to painting

I truly enjoyed capturing the logs and rocks in vibrant dark colors in this view of spring in the forest. It was done rather quickly, playing with darks, and then tweaked a bit later to pull out some rocks. This was from a class taught by Marie Siegrist in Las Cruces where we randomly placed sheer rice paper along the foreground and then painted on top. You can see the threads and textures of the rice paper more in the closeup. The darks help make the light greens and pale sunlight pop. I believe I will enter this in the Colors of Spring local show.

Painting makes all kinds of daily activities interesting, even the mundane driving of kids back and forth to school and other activities. I find myself looking at trees and bushes and seeing how sometimes the branches appear in front of the foliage, and other times behind it. Another thing is noting how much of the sky shows through the foliage…and then thinking about how I would paint what I see. And have you noticed that the lightest part of the foliage is usually at the top, because it is nearer the sun? but sometimes the section of the bush protrudes enough so that light hits the top of it even if it is in the middle of the height of the bush. Fascinating how painting has opened my eyes!

I hope my thoughts will make your drives and walks more enjoyable. Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to share or comment!