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Painting a Pot Plant

I was so excited at getting stuck back into my paints with my kiddish cup piece, I managed to do another painting a few days later!

This is a pretty plant that I have in my kitchen, and since I wanted to just paint a simple still life in one sitting, I thought this would make a nice subject. I set it up in box again, but this time I lit it with a lamp, quite important as I painted it in the evening when it was dark. I like having a strong light source, though whilst I was painting I tried to avoid making the highlights too yellow, which is what can happen when using an ordinary lamp in an arrangement.

Pot Plant setup


The techniques I used for this painting were inspired largely by the Impressionists, especially Cezanne, who I have been studying with my pupils at school. The canvas was prepared with a warm ochre wash, and I began by drawing the plant with a thin mix of Ultramarine and Cadmium Yellow (light). I kept it quite loose, just sticking to the basic form of the plant, without getting too particular about each leaf. I also was more interested in tone than precise colours, looking for a punchy tonal contrast. The flowers were more pink on the plant than in my painting, but I wanted to keep my palette limited, so I just stuck to Windsor Red, using Cadmium Yellow (light), Ultramarine and Titanium White to achieve tonal variation. Once I had finished the plant and pot itself, I was quite tempted to leave the ochre wash of the background, but I wanted to experiment with a Cezanne style background, using various pale hues - peach, lilac and pink, to try and catch that Impressionist shimmer. I don’t think my mixes were strong enough the colour of the background is fairly uniform; perhaps working in daylight would have helped me working with such pale colours. Nevertheless, I am happy with the background, particularly how some of the ochre wash shows through giving the painting a warm glow.

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Pot Plant