When I first started painting still life paintings, I often focused on simply the flowers for my pieces with the water jar as an after thought. Then I became a little bit more curious about how to paint my vase in a more three dimensional manor. Now, it’s one of my favorite parts of painting still life pieces. So, in case you were wondering, here is the magic of the water jar/ vase broken down into steps.


Step 1- Get the right shape and lines. I think really the most important part of building a beautiful water vase is to get the right lines for your vase. Look closely at your inspiration. Sketch it out in pencil if needed. Really pay attention to scale in relation to your flowers.


Step 2: Fill in the stems with collage and/ or paint. Think in terms of shapes. Look at a vase and see exactly the direction of the stems. Almost all of the stems are on a diagonal, rarely standing straight up and down. Think of how the flowers rest on the edge of the vase. I once painted a single bloom standing up straight and not resting on the vase. I could never figure out what was wrong. Now I know better!


Step 3: Water Line. You want a believable water line in your jar. Sketch it out first until you get better at it. Look at the pieces I have done. Can you see an oval where the water is from the front of the vase to the back. Add white towards the front and darker colors in the center of your oval. Allow the white to go over stems except for in a few places.


Step 4: Light and shadow. Add areas of light and shadows through out your vase. Look at your inspiration and notice where the light reflects off the jar. Add other areas or darkness for the shadows in your vase.


Step 5: Shadow under the vase. Finally, to finish off water vase, add a shadow under the vase. If you forget this last step, it will always feel like something is missing. Trust me. I can see it now in a few of my pieces



Hopefully, I have demystified the magic of a perfect water jar. As in all of your art, the more you practice, the better you get.


Happy Painting!