Saturday, February 9, 2013


On Fridays, I mentor Anne P., who has studied with me on and off for a couple of years.  We usually meet in my studio where we either paint or talk about art-related matters.  Yesterday she walked in with an armful of tulips and a crystal vase!  We quickly set up an impromptu still life composition and proceeded to photograph it from various directions.  Then we added a lamp for additional drama and cast shadows (and highlights) and then we FINALLY got down to the business of sketching our still life! 

Our still life setup with my initial wash in the foreground.
Close up of the tulip photo
This was my initial attempt (I had incorporated pen & ink).  I thought I captured the delicateness of the flowers, but I thought it looked a bit weak. Below is the final piece, which I feel is a much stronger painting.  Which do you prefer??  Should I have left it alone????
"Tulips"  (watercolor)by Helen K. Beacham
Unframed (11x9): $395 or Framed (23x21) $495 total

And here's Anne's version (not finished when she left my studio), painted from a totally different angle!
I love the horizontal composition!  Very intimate!
Tips when painting floral still lifes:

1.  Play with the composition and move around your still life till you "feel" it (decide from which angle you want to paint it).  Add a simple light to cast some interesting shadows.

2.  If you have trouble with drawing still lifes, think of what's in front of you as a 2-D image (like a photo).  Picture the edges of the photo (to correspond to your paper size) and draw in the major points of the still life before you fill in the details.

3.  Add flowers (and/or leaves) to your drawing where you need them for balance, even if they're not there.

4.  If you wish, add masking fluid to save a few sparkles of white.

5.  After your overall first wash, start painting in the focal area.  The rest MIGHT not need much more.  If you start somewhere else, you might be committing yourself to a more detailed piece than intended on the front end.

By the end of the afternoon, our tulips had opened so deliciously that we had to spend another few minutes photographing them for a future painting!  Thank you, Anne, for Friday's challenge!

Come with me to paint Venice this HERE for details!