Painting of Rose Tea

It all starts with the teacup. I like a vintage piece with a fabulous form, a little iridescence or gilt (for the light to play on) and, most importantly, a flower or fruit that I have either in my garden or someone else’s!

Rose Teacup - photo Marie Cameron 2013

Then I like to to a bird that compliments the still life. Here I thought an Anna’s Hummingbird  would be the right scale and it’s plumage echoes the golds and greens and roses of the cup.

Rose and Teacup - photo Marie Cameron 2014

I took many shots of this teacup and rose and while there were aspects about each photo  that I liked, in the end I chose this one because of the dramatic side lighting and the fact that there was a space the made sense compositionally for the humming bird to land on the rim.

Rose Tea WIP 1 - Marie Cameron 2014

My initial loose oil sketch tells me if my composition is working or not – I was concerned with this big rose off to one side, but the bird and handle should balance it out well.

Rose Tea WIP 2 - Marie Cameron 2014

I really liked the gold outline of a rosebud and leaves on the saucer and since it doesn’t really show up in the painting, I thought I’d use it as the background pattern.

Rose Tea WIP 4 - Marie Cameron 2014

Building up my darks in the hummingbird and teacup.

Rose Tea WIP 5 - Marie Cameron 2014

Building up the mid-tones.

Rose Tea WIP 6 - Marie Cameron 2014

Working the volume with highlights and shadows.

Rose Tea WIP 7 - Marie Cameron 2014

Filling in the background, hoping the dark color and flat pattern won’t overwhelm everything.

Rose Tea WIP 8 - Marie Cameron 2014

Pulling up more highlights to make sure everything pops against the busy background.

Rose Tea WIP 9 - Marie Cameron 2014

As I continue to work the painting, I try to balance realistic polish with a sense of painterly spontaneity. There are hits and misses along the way as I work on.

Rose Tea WIP 10 - Marie Cameron 2014

I decided to loose the big white rose painted in the background, it was too confusing and distracting. I also decided to put in gradient lighting that would make sense with the light source. I also worked a lot on the teacup and hummingbird, my goal is to really make them glow.

Rose Tea WIP 11 - Marie Cameron 2014

Hey, that saucer’s looking great now! There are elements that I miss from the previous version though, the pink glint on the back feathers and the more dynamic posture of the bird. I kind of like the darkness left in the gold leaf pattern in the background too – It’s less realistic but more interesting. How “real” do I need to be with a hummingbird on a teacup anyway?