There’s an old maxim amongst us still life painters–when in doubt, paint blue and white. You will see many a still life painter these days, hip to this trick.
The above is a demo I did last week. Sometimes, if I am having a so so artistic week, and feeling like a painting impostor, and the question comes up — well what ARE you going to paint for that demo Lisa? I will reach for the blue and white pot every time. Here’s how it goes down: you block everything in, create some drammatic contrast in the light versus’ the shadows on everything. Few swashbuckler slashes on the roses which always generates some ewes and ahhs. Get the lit side of the pot NOT WHITE, but a mixture of white with a tad of blue and orange (yes, that would be complimentary colors which gray each other), maybe a touch of yellow to warm it up, and by now, you are running out of time, and must get to the design on the pot. But you’re ready, and the students are ready. They can’t WAIT to see that blue design go in. And they are wondering how in the WORLD you will do it with only two minutes to spare. (I like to push it to the limit – works great every time.) You take straight ultramarine blue and a round brush and tickle that design in there letting it bleed into the “white” and simply indicate that you know what that design is doing. And VOILA. You got the students singing praises. It’s really nothing but an illusion. And once you learn how to do it, it’s like learning there’s no such thing as Santa Claus.