Spider Plant Still Life

This week I felt like doing some painting, but wasn’t in the mood to draw. Funny how that works! So what I decided to do instead was add color to an old outline drawing I had done for a college class around 2007 or so. The size of the drawing is 18×24”.

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I approached this little painting experiment without any expectations, which was a good thing, considering what a novice I am at painting. I honestly just don’t know what I’m doing! Of course it has occurred to me to do a little research or take a class, but I am so comfortable with drawing (and not having to clean up paints) that I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

But I really wasn’t in it for the end result this time. I just wanted to see what would happen, and how it would feel. Part of me thinks this actually looks pretty good, but another part thinks that it looks like a child painted it (although I did mostly manage to stay in the lines); I think this is because of the lack of variety in color and highlighting. Really what I’d like to do is go in with my colored pencils and fix it up…It’s hard to say how I felt, although I believe that exhilaration and frustration each passed through me at various times.

Of course, I had no still life to actually look at (which is part of why I didn’t bother with the plant on the left—who knows what color or even what kind of plant that is! It also just didn’t seem that important). I did know that the spider plant was in one of those clay-colored plastic containers. At least, I think so.

Notes on process and color: While I did invest in some very nice paints and a palette and heavyweight paper, I only have a few decent watercolor brushes, as I made the mistake of purchasing a cheaper set. These brushes frequently smudge and leave little hairs stuck to the paper. Those of you who actually know what you’re doing will probably cringe upon hearing that I used a ½” oval wash brush the entire time. What even is an oval wash brush? I should probably find out.

I wanted to mix my own green so I used a combination of Cerulean Blue and Cadmium Yellow to achieve the darkest areas of the spider plant leaves. For the lighter areas in the middle of each leaf, I pulled the darker paint to the middle with my brush, instead of mixing up a new color. I think in general I got relatively accurate (or at least believable) colors, although you may notice an over-blueness in some of the leaves at the bottom.

For the apple, I used slightly diluted Alizarin Crimson, and for the container, Raw Sienna. Somewhere in the scheme of things I believe I mixed one or both of those with the yellowish, bluish, greenish colors already in the palette, but I can’t remember all of the details at this point. I guess I should have written the post sooner! To complete the rock and little twig thing I again made use of the colors already hanging out on the palette.

I do not remember what type of paper this is, but I thought the heavy weight of it would hold the watercolors well. Instead, I got a lot of pilling as I painted. However, you can’t really tell that much when you look at it now.

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So, what do you, my readers, think of this effort? I would love some honest feedback on this one, in particular, since it is such a new medium for me.

4 Comments

  1. Great first effort. I like the effect of leaving some of the painting just as a line drawing. The pot could be more dynamic by mixing the colours on the paper, blue, alizarin and sienna ( rather than mixing on a palette and applying) so that there is some variation in colours. Keep going.

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