Still Life Painting with Teal Pitcher and Fruit

still life painting

Never in a million years did I think I would take a liking to still life painting. It certainly was not on the things I must do before I kick the bucket list. But I gotta say, I’m really enjoying it. Even though this still life painting is on my website, I had forgotten all about it. It all started with this small, cool looking teal blue pitcher…


 Still Life Painting with Teal Pitcher and Fruit

still life painting

“Still Life with Teal Pitcher and Fruit”, Craig Shillam, Oil/Canvas, 16″ x 20″

I ran across this teal blue pitcher (I call it a pitcher, maybe there is a better name for it) while bummin’ around somewhere in my home town. I really liked it and wanted to include it in a still life painting.  I didn’t really have anything that went with it, and I like painting fruit, so I chose the fruit in the painting for their shape and color.

While setting this composition up and playing around with different things, I remembered this feather thing I had sitting around and thought it would provide a nice diagonal inward from the left of the painting, so why not?

More about this Still Life Painting…

  • In sharing my thoughts about this still life painting with you, the first thing I will say is that I really like painting fruit, but not flowers. I don’t know why, but I suspect that may change at some point.
  • I think the peach and the pear turned out pretty well. I was trying to soften the edges around the peach and pear especially, so it wouldn’t look like they were cut out and pasted on the painting. I did this by “blending” the edges of the fruit so to speak, with my a small brush (flat #4). In the photo here, it doesn’t look like there is much softening there, it’s much more evident on the actual painting.
  • I used a lot of cadmium red deep in the grapes, more than I had ever used before. I wanted some red in this still life painting,  and it seemed like I kept adding and adding more red, along with a bit of ultramarine blue and yellow ochre. After all that, the grapes aren’t really all that red, but they started out much more purple.
  • The teal pitcher had all these kind of different colors and shapes on it, and I wanted to indicate some of that, not render it. It was a challenge to show the curvature of the pitcher from top to bottom, and also left to right. I probably could have added more intense color right where the light meets the shadow, but I felt it looked good the way it was, and I didn’t want to screw it up.
  • In the fruit and pitcher of this still life painting, I wanted to have some texture, but not a huge amount. I used smaller brushes to blend heavier paint, resulting in smaller chunks of texture.
  • As for the top of the pitcher, the goal was to have it look gold, with colors of the rest of the painting sprinkled in. Special care was taken to get the shape as accurate as possible, as the original pitcher handle and pour spout was very graceful, and I was hoping to replicate that.
  • You know how some still life paintings have beautifully rendered folds in fabric or dresses, etc?  I was tempted to get really detailed with the folds in the background, but I didn’t want them to be too distracting.  For the background in this still life painting,  I thought maybe it could have been a little darker, but I liked the color of the blue (ultramarine, black, and cobalt).
  • The tablecloth was some of the thickest paint used, and painted with a large flat. For the shadows, I took some of the blue from the background, as well as some olive-green and a little yellow ochre, and used a smaller brush.
  • Last but not least came the feathers. I really tried to keep everything very soft in the feather area. Soft edges, not much texture, toned down colors, and a degree of subtlety.

A Final Thought on this Still Life Painting

For a while I thought that the items in a still life painting probably should have something to do with one another. Then, after about fifteen minutes, I thought, why? What matters is the composition, and content can then be secondary. A feather, a peach and a pear have really nothing in common, except, in this case, the painting above. As Neil Patterson says in this post featuring 20 oil painting tips“there are no rules.”

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