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I painted the above painting with a dark background using a reference from wet canvas. Most everything was there for me with the dark background as the reference was against a dark background.


Next, I changed the still life to sit in a light background.

The above paintings were done following the exercise rules of: Paint the same still life twice.  Paint one on a dark background and one on a light background.

I learned a ton! Even though I used a grid to draw both of these still lifes, note that they are not drawn exactly alike. But, they are both of similar style, probably same artist.  It was easier to follow the shadow shapes and tones in the dark still life because it was all there for me in the reference photo. I didn’t know it as I was painting the dark one, but my brain was logging a lot of information I’d need for the light background painting.

Then I moved on to the light background painting. This one was intimidating, at first. I realized I was going to have to have those background colors reflecting into  and through the clear glass. I knew I would have to use my light background colors in the lids of the shakers as well, in order to unify and balance the painting. I played with about six different colors on a scrap piece of paper until I came up with the blue, yellow and burnt orange combo. This was the most difficult of the two paintings. I enjoyed painting it, though,  because I was able to decide colors and how to use them. I was able to make it more my own.

Just for fun, I am going to add that I had the most fun getting the darks and lights on the metal caps and making the pepper look like pepper in the pepper jars.  🙂


  1. Both paintings are marvellouos, Leslie, and the fine detail you’ve managed is breath taking. Now, did you toss a fingerful of salt over your left shoulder? 😉 I know, superstitious, but you never know!! xPenx

    • I know. I know. My exact thought about taking a pinch and throwing it over the left shoulder. That is why I titled these spilled salt. Thankyou, Pen! 🙂

  2. Oh, I love these two! Such simple subjects so artfully done. Bravo! As always, I love your explanations.


    • I marvelled when I found this. I love what the photographer did. By setting it up rather dark and monochromatic, it gave me the opportunity to play with my own thoughts on color for the light one. Thankyou, Kate! 🙂

  3. Who would think painting something like a salt and pepper shaker would take so much thought! Good for the brain. Well done Leslie! 🙂

    • I had a colored pencil teacher who really introduced me to studying clear glass and what I could learn about value and color by rendering them. Since that time, clear glass intrigues me. Thankyou Stephanie! 🙂

  4. You’ve given food for thought…I have a ready to watercolour sketch of wine glasses sitting on a black/white table cloth. Haven’t even attempted to begin mostly from fear…..
    Now I’ve got a sprig of courage. Not a branch. A sprig. Just the one….

    • 🙂 I’m smiling. Wine glasses are fun and I know you can do it, Jots. I’m coming over, now to see. Thankyou for your comment!

  5. Breathtakingly beautiful Leslie! The details of the metal caps, the pepper inside and the sprinkled salt are perfect to the core! You gave ne something to think about as well, thank you, as always I dont go without learning something from you 🙂

    • The metal caps were fun to paint all the different values on and watch them becom metal caps. Thankyou, so much, Padmaja. 🙂

  6. I like your selection of the cool colors against the warm brown tones. Both experiments turned out well.

  7. How well done these are, Leslie! I love them!! Nice that you didn’t line up the edge of the table/counter with the line of salt & pepper in the shakers themselves too!

    • You are so right about that. I even lowered it from where the photographer had it because I did not want it to appear to slice the page midway, either. I do my best to watch for tangents. Thankyou, Sherry!

  8. As usual, very interesting exercise and post. Thank you very much, Leslie!

  9. I really like both of these Leslie. I can’t decide if I like one more than the other, but I do like all of your details in the shaker caps. In the lighter one I really like the color shining through the glass. I love the pepper. How did you do the little salt crystals on the table?

    • I used a very tiny liner and dotted the paper with liquid frisket (I use a brand called Pebeo Drawing Gum because it is thinner than other brands and I can make finer lines and dots with it). The pepper was fun because it was just various colors with pointillism layered over pointillism. However, I did not know if I could achieve this effect, so it was a learning experience for me. Thankyou so much, Carol! 🙂

  10. Wow, great exercise and great results! Holy cow glass and light reflections, so beautifully done. I need to learn that sort of thing. 🙂

    • I enjoy drawing and or painting clear glass. I had a colored pencil teacher who helped me see glass better. It is fun and abstract while rendering it, Cindy. Thankyou for this comment. 🙂

  11. Interesting concept of painting the same thing twice with a variation. I think I would find myself looking back to the first one while painting the second one. Probably not the point of the exercise. LOL

    • Oh yes it is! Good thinking, Ruth! I found myself referring to the first painting rather than the photo because it already had some of the decisions I had made that made it mine. Had I not liked the first one, I may have tried to change things. Instead, I just tried to improve or bring forward some of the things I liked about the first one. Your mentioning this, gives me a thought. An exercise, like this, may help artists who are trying to become comfortable in their own skin, their own style, so to speak. Thankyou!

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