The merits of Still Life

Tulip Study.jpg

Whilst on the fog bound painting trip to Norfolk with my Mum, we decided to give up on painting the beautiful Norfolk skies 'en plein air' as we had planned...and make the best of our predicament by painting still life instead. 

We bought these gorgeous tulips and I dropped them into a vase, allowing them to settle in a naturally haphazard arrangement. We then moved the vase to a position beneath a spotlight and set about taking black and white photos with our camera phones until we found a composition with potential for developing a painting. Then we squeezed our easels around the tiny kitchen table and set about painting the flowers in a single sitting. Leaving the tulips in bunches helped to create blocks of colour in the painting where the tulips overlap, linking one colour spot to another. A more evenly distributed arrangement of flowers may have produced a 'spotty' painting where the composition broke down into a polka dot pattern of individual coloured flowers against the green, this would have been too 'busy'.

I have been making more still life studies in recent months and I'm finding the process increasingly valuable. Not only does it sharpen my drawing, observation and colour matching skills, it also allows me to play with composition and lighting in a way that landscape will not permit. And, of course, when our lovely British weather is not on my side, it allows me to make very productive use of otherwise wasted painting days!  .