Exercise: Still life with complementary colours


Still life with bottles and vases

I decided to take a playful and experimental approach to this as I’ve been getting bogged down with detail lately and I have also been spending hours fiddling with still life site up which has eaten in to painting time. I’m not a great fan of still life (it is I think my weakest area) and I needed to refresh myself and start enjoying my work. I gathered together some glass bottles and vases and rather than putting them into a formal still life I drew them with a brush one at a time.

The only thing that remained consistent through the process was my choice of complementary colours – I used blue green and yellow, with lots of white and a little black here and there. I’ve had a lot of fun with this. Experimented with different ways to paint – dripped paint, sponged it, sanded it away, scraped at it with scissors, applied it with a credit card and palette knife… oh and I even put some on with a paintbrush.


I may not have produced a stunning picture but I’ve learnt a great deal about how to make interesting marks with texture and layered effects. I photographed my painting at the various stages and it’s quite fun (for me at least!) to look at the progress. I found the use of a limited palette forced me to think carefully about the colour mixing in order to create a variety of tones. It also made me think a lot about how to differentiate areas of the canvas by creating texture and enabling lower layers of colour to show.


I liked the curly topped vase but didn’t like the way it was placed…




Photoshopped to three


Repainted and curly vase replaced with a straight one

I think I’m going to have to change my work process a little for the next still life painting… I’ll continue with the glass vases but arrange them formally this time.


2 thoughts on “Exercise: Still life with complementary colours

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