Exercise: Still life with flowers

I am not a fan of flower painting, and thought that the ‘still life with flowers’ exercise was the one I would leave out; however after buying some amazing sunflowers from the market I felt I just had to paint them, they are so beautiful.  I will have to crack on with it as they don’t normally survive that long! I thought because of the bright yellow petals, a blue backdrop would work well to complement this, so I found a blue cloth and set up in my husband’s study (he is away at the moment so I am utilising this space!) I managed to drape this up the wall at the back and across the desk. The shelf above throws a shadow down but I think this works ok. If I turn off the lights in here then the light comes through from the corridor and lights it from the right side, so there are some good dark areas and shadows. I gave the flowers a good move around, and shortened the stem on one for balance. I looked around for what else might work with this, indeed did it need anything else? In the end I decided on a deer antler that my husband found in the woods and laid this across in front of the glass pot. I think this balances out the composition, and I very much like skulls and bones and I am pleased with it, it throws up some shadows as well.  I like this antler and I can also put a dropped leaf next to. The glass vase throws some good light areas as well, although I am sure this will be a challenge but I enjoyed the challenge of painting glass on assignment 1. I can sit on the chair and work at my easel, so it is all on my eye level.image1-14

I have done a sketch of the layout in charcoal pencil and also one in charcoal stick to look at the darker tones. I think it suits portrait. Maybe A2 or just larger than A3. I will use a canvas on a frame.

I have carried on working on this exercise and have tried out some colours in my sketchbook.    20161107_200001

Its is the next day in the afternoon. I have laid down a colbalt blue ground (last night) and have started to paint. I have used a white thin wash to mark out the main flowers and vase and have started by painting the yellow petals, (cadmium yellow mixed in with some white and also red to makes the orange effect the petals have) then the middles of the flowers, then the leaves (sap green with some white). I will of course go back and add more detail to this as it dries. One problem I have found is arrangement myself and the easel without throwing a shadow onto my arrangement. In fact, I am painting with the light on to get the basic arrangement down first. The more I look at the middle of the flowers the more I can see, there is some white in there and some yellow speckels too. I am thoroughly enjoying painting this.

I have been painting for over 3 hours now and need a break. I used ultramarine as the main blue in the background in the end as this is more of a match for the cloth but it works well over the cobalt blue. the glass has proved tricky to describe but I knew this would be the case, I am trying to really look at what is there. I am wondering whether to drop some yellow petals in the foreground, this would add some yellow , I did not plan this but will try it later. It is also tricky with the light off. I tried a head torch but this gave me a headache after a while.  Did the old masters stick a candle on their heads…?image2-13


So, after a break I tidied it all up a bit, lightened the foreground leaf which didn’t stand out enough and added 3 petals to the left. I thinks this works well. I think I have finished.  So it has taken 4-5 hours to actually do the painting in all, excluding the prep. I am pleased with the outcome, although the blue material does not really look like soft material, I think it does well as the background and I am happy to leave it as it is.  I really like the antler and I am pleased to have managed to contrast this with the flowers. It looks strong and dry against the softer sunflowers.’Paint in a way that feels right for you’. Yes, it was nice to be able to do this and I think this is why I enjoyed this so much.




Author: Wendy Kate

Happily sharing my life in Spain with a tall bearded man from Dorset.

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