Small still life

I had a few hours free recently, so I painted a small still life.  It consisted of a miniature spirits bottle that I filled with rum and an old pewter goblet.

When I first started to learn how to paint, I did lots of these small still lives on 15cm x 15cm or 15cm x 20cm boards.  They only take an afternoon and it’s a good way to try things without wasting a lot of time and materials when things go wrong, as they inevitably will.  More recently I have worked a lot from photographs, so it was good to get back to painting from life.

When I started learning to paint ‘seriously’,  I took a lot of the advice given my Mark Carder from  His ‘no-nonsense’ guide to painting realism was ideal for me and he even has tutorials on how to build studio equipment, such as easels (which I followed and am very pleased with the result).

Anyway, this was my subject.

I painted on a 15x20cm canvas covered panel, that had already had a reddish-brown ground applied.  There’s no particular reason for that, it’s just what I had lying around.  I wasn’t trying to create a masterpiece, just have a bit of fun.

The panel was stuck to a plywood board held vertically in my easel.  The basic structure was sketched in with a turpsy mix of blue and brown.

Unfortunately I took these pictures with my phone and the colours are way off.

Next I mixed up most of the colours that I thought I would need.  Lots of greys for the backround and the goblet and some yellows, greens and golds for the bottle.

I used my ‘normal’ basic palette of burnt umber, ultramarine blue, cadmiums red and yellow and titanium white.  You can mix an amazing range with only these five colours.  I also used some yellow ochre, though I probably didn’t need to.

I painted the background first, then the bottle and lastly the goblet.

After about 4 hours I ended up with this.

I was tight for time as I had to go home (to make the kids’ dinner!), so the goblet was really rushed.  I knew I could always go back over it at a later date.  Perhaps I will, but the point of the exercise was really just to get my hand in again and put in a few more ‘learning hours’.

I enjoyed getting the gold colours of the rum something like right and the long elegant shape of the bottle was satisfying to paint.

I think I am ready for a larger and more adventurous painting though.  Either a portrait or a nocturnal street scene.  Details to follow …

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