Red Pepper

Gotta do a still life once in a while…Red Pepper watercolor painting

This is a little 4″x4″ mini painting done on a watercolor board. I have a whole bunch of blank ones in a box somewhere. It’s time to go to the grocery store, I think. Perhaps a pear next, or a pomegranate, perchance?

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Spring Beauty

Sheep's skull with Spring Beauty flowers
Spring Beauty, watercolor, 11 x 14"

After yesterday’s vulture post, this seems appropriate, as it’s also about death, resurrection and the cycle of life.

I did this painting about this time of year five years ago or so.  I guess you could call it a plein-aire still life.  Although I’m afraid landscape escapes me, I do love to paint outside, and back then I was doing a lot of it.  One day I was tramping around in the woods, despairing of ever finding a composition I could handle, when I came across this little jewel lying on the forest floor.

I’m really not sure what animal donated its skull for the occasion.  It didn’t seem quite like a deer skull – perhaps a sheep?  Anyway, I loved the way Life was just reaffirming its hold on the old bones in the form of delicate Spring Beauty blossoms lovingly embracing them.

I like to think of my find as Nature’s brilliant reply to the old concept of Vanitas.  Instead of a meditation on the transience of life and futility of pleasure, it’s a vibrant affirmation of  resiliency and the triumph of life even in the aftermath of inevitable death and decay.

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More work on the cherry bowl

There’s nothing like watercolor to come up with effects you’d never dream of yourself!

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Putting in the background
Putting in the background

The cherries are starting to look less appetizing in real life, but I’ve pretty much got them down.

Now for the background – the fun part!  I started out putting in the line of the table but didn’t like it, so opted for a real dark ground, very wet juicy.  I used Payne’s gray, Prussian blue, a little pthalo blue, and lemon and Indian yellows, dropped wet into wet.

There’s nothing like watercolor to come up with effects you’d never dream of yourself!

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Still Life in Progress – Starting to Paint

Now the fun part – starting to paint! I figure I’d better get those cherries down first before they start getting fuzzy.

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Watercolor still life work in progress
Watercolor still life work in progress

Now the fun part – starting to paint! I figure I’d better get those cherries down first before they start getting fuzzy.

I’m using mostly Winsor & Newton paints on Kilimanjaro paper.  I often lay down a light wash before starting but didn’t this time. I’m using a little masking fluid on the highlights – let’s see if it turns out better or worse than without.

My husband walked in and said, “Whoa, looks like those cherries are just floating in midair!”

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Cherry still life studies

Cherries are fun to paint because of the luscious color and the contrast between the plump fruit and the delicate stems.

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Cherries I, watercolor study, 8x5", 2009
Cherries I, watercolor study, 8x5", 2009

Last week on vacation I got started on cherries!  They’re fun to paint because of the luscious color and the contrast between the plump fruit and the delicate stems.

I like to attack the darks with loads of pigment, just get down as much as I can and leave it.  I did do a little layering with more concentrated paint on top (cadmium red for the red highlights, alizarin, prussian blue & Payne’s gray for the dark darks.)  No masking fluid on these – the light highlights were saved or lifted while the paint was wet.

Cherries II, watercolor study, 8x5", 2009
Cherries II, watercolor study, 8x5", 2009

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