Thursday, 24 March 2011

How much detail?

I started a still life this week-end when I was inspired by a picture of a lovely brass watering can, and thought that some other elements of a painting would give me some lovely reflections. As always flowers would be quite an important part of the finished work, as well as a bit of lace cloth (as an ex- textiles teacher I am always fascinated by bits of fabric!) I pulled out various bits from my china cupboard and raided the fruit bowl, and thoroughly enjoyed putting together and painting the picture you see above.

The question running through my mind whilst I was putting this still life together and executing the painting was what do you put in and what do you leave out! The Hydrangea are complex flower heads and the skill is to know which flowers do you paint in, and how do you deal with the rest of each mop head to still give the impression of a mass of flowers.

Similarly I did not want the lace to be too photo-real. I wanted to be as freely painted as the flowers so that those two elements were a foil for the more sever lines of the jug and watering can.

I included the fruit as they were small enough to give me some reflections in the copper can.

I am pleased with the result, and it looks well in its mount and frame, but it is something that I will keep having a go at, as with lots of flowers, there is often too much to paint it all, and something need to be left for the viewer to imagine or the whole thing quickly loses its impact.

The painting was done on Fabriano Extra White on a block as usual. I am finding, however, that more and more often, the block does not hold the paper flat, because of the amount of water I use to create my backgrounds. So, maybe one of these days, I am going to have to buy sheets and stretch them each time, which I really do not want to be bothering with.


  1. Your usual high standard Yvonne.

  2. Your work is beautiful. I paint flowers in watercolor as well, but my website isn't up to date now but will be soon. I just wanted to say that to avoid having to stretch watercolor paper, I use 300# paper. It is thick enough that you don't need to stretch it.

    Take care, Sara

  3. Thanks for the nice comments Sara! in fact I already use 300lb paper which is glued into a block. I use Fabriano Extra White blocks of various sizes, but the paper still buckles quite badly when I do the backgrounds with masses of water. The paper always dried re-flattened, but during the process the washes can collect in the hollows and spoil the painting, also when the paper starts to come adrift from the block and is buckled, it is like painting on a wobbley table. These things come to try us. Look forwards to your web site.