Blue Jug demo

blue jug cunninghame art club

My 300th post – I never knew I had so much to say!

Last night, it was a demonstration for New Cunninghame Art Club. I chose the blue jug still life demo, as I had the bumph from my earlier class demos and I thought they would be interested in the approach to this painting.

Here is the full exercise:-

Still Life – Palette Knife

……and the use of  coloured grounds


“A toned ground can be used to create atmosphere or mood, to unify a composition, indicate lighting conditions, or to give sculptural form to an object by giving depth to shadows. A toned ground speeds the process of painting, allowing simpler modelling and killing the stark white that otherwise would confront the artist initially.”


This exercise will focus on the use of coloured ground as a decorative effect. Left to show through the subsequent layers of the painting, to become an integral part of the picture plane. Seen at the edges of the objects in the composition and in gaps between paint strokes, on the subject itself or in the background.


Still life, as a subject matter, gives the artist total control of the painting in a way that landscape or portraiture cannot. The choice of objects, the arrangement, the lighting, the placement, are all under the artist’s direction.


My own approach to painting includes the idea of having casual rules to follow when considering a new painting. It helps me to control the picture to the finish and fulfil the intended vision I had at the beginning.

It could be seen as calculating, but each style must have a semblance of order and attachment to its own guidelines, written or imagined. Think Cubism or Constructivism or any “ism” that has guiding principles to adhere to.


So, our guidelines in this challenge are as follows;


  • Choose a strong colour for the ground
  • Try and paint the whole thing using a palette knife
  • Leave gaps in the painting for the ground to show through
  • Use as few paintstrokes as possible to describe the objects
  • Look at tonal relationships over details (ignore the small stuff – the palette knife helps here)


Outside the guidelines, you can choose any object/objects to paint; flowers, fruit, something from the home, clothing etc.


When considering what colour to paint the ground, be careful not to choose one which is too close to the dominant colour of the still life e.g. if you have a bunch of red flowers, avoid red or orange for a ground. A complementary colour would generally work better.


Some artists to look at online : Stanley Bielen, Christine Lafuente, Mhairi McGregor, Chelsea Bentley James

2 thoughts on “Blue Jug demo

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