Sunday, April 27, 2014

Yellow flower with brass - still life in oil

I set this up a couple of weeks ago and just got around to painting it this afternoon. The flower is synthetic - the brass is solid. You might remember the tall Indian brass ewer from a couple of months ago. I now have quite a collection of brass, pewter and silver-plate, all waiting for their turn in a still life.

Sunflower and brass jug pitcher still life oil painting by Andy Dolphin
Yellow flower with brass
25x30cm oil on board. 
 © Andy Dolphin

My intent here was to treat this as an exercise in saturated colour and tonal separation. I wasn't trying for a finished painting but with a little more work after it's dried, it just might end up in a frame.

After marking the approximate location of the three main shapes, I roughed in the darkest shadow areas then methodically filled in mid tones, shadows then highlights.

I gave little thought to the objects as "things" and paid attention only to the relative values, hues and colour temperatures of adjacent areas.

Polished brass is interesting because we think of it as being a warm yellow sort of colour but its surface reflects all the colours around it, warm and cool. I was amazed just how accurately it reflected the red table cloth.

The photo was taken under a combination of incandescent and fluorescent light and I struggled to reduce reflection off the still-wet brush strokes. I guess I need a polarising filter to help with that.


  1. it sounds like you do need a polariser
    it should cut down those highlights
    maybe not get rid of them all together
    if you can use your camera on manual you can get a linear polariser, if not you need a circular polariser to aid the auto focusing and meter reading
    a polariser will likely enhance saturation too, so you may have to dial it down a bit in editing later
    using mixed lighting could give odd colour casts also, a polariser wont help with that

  2. Ahh, interesting. I do use mixed lighting if I shoot at night, but that's a problem that's relatively easy to solve with a trip back to the op shops. I often switch to manual focusing and exposure anyways, so no problem there.

  3. you can get filters to correct various (single) types of lighting, but in this day and age its easy to fix on the comptuter

  4. a polariser will also reduce the light adding about 2 stops
    so you may need a tripod set up
    the a couple of flashes either side with umbrellas or soft boxes and you are set to go :)