Painting a Still Life in Acrylic with Marilyn Allis

24th March 2021 Estimated reading time: 4 mins


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Marilyn Allis uses SAA acrylics to capture the reflections in this silver teapot.
I love the colour, bustle and heat of Morocco and wanted to capture this with the colours that I chose for this painting. We returned to Agadir last year and revisited a little cafe we had been to years ago. I loved the reflections of the busy Medina onto the silver wear and the mint tea. It always astonishes me how you can paint silver with just colour, light and dark shapes without using evena hint of metallic paint.These wonderfully creamy SAA acrylics lend themselves to dipping the brush into several juicy colours at a time and are ideal for letting your painting evolve as they can be painted over until you are happy with the colours and the feel of your painting.

Step 1: Prep your board and mark your outline

I started by covering the board with a coat of Cerulean Blue and White mixed together. When dry I drew the images on with a Faber-Castell Sepia Bold Pen. Notice how the camera lens has distorted the silver teapot and glasses. I liked this effect so decided to draw it as the photograph and not correct the image on the canvas.

Step 2: Block in your darker areas

Using the 1.5″ Flat, I dipped first into the French Ultramarine Blue and then into the Rouge and started to block in the darker areas without mixing the paint. If you feel confident you can go straight into plotting the dark shapes without drawing.

Step 3: Keep building darker shapes

Using the 1″ Flat brush, I dipped into each of the following colours: Hookers Green, French Ultramarine Blue and Rouge, again without mixing. I continued to dip into these colours to build up the darker shapes on the silver teapot.

Step 4: Start adding some lighter tones

Now for a little Phthalo Turquoise, French Ultramarine Blue, Hookers Green and Rouge using the 1″ Flat to paint in the medium tones. I then dipped into a little Brick Red to give more warmth before moving on to the fun stuff. Using some warm colours: Brick Red, Cadmium Yellow, Phthalo Turquoise and a little White, I dipped again using my size 12 Flat. I added some of the much lighter tones that you can see in the silver, bringing in colour and balancing with the rest of the painting. For the mint tea in glasses I dipped into the Cadmium Yellow, Brick Red and Hookers Green.

Step 5: Keep adding colour

Although I know the saucers are white I decided to use my imagination with some Moroccan colours and dipped into Turquoise, French Ultramarine, Hookers Green and a small amount of White and Cadmium Yellow for mid tones. This is far more interesting than painting just grey shadows on white. I also blocked in some of the darker shapes using French Ultramarine and Rouge.

Step 6: Blend in some paler tones

Next using the size 10 Flat, while the underneath paint was still wet, I blended in a few of the paler tones using white to give me a feel for the overall picture. I then filled in the spaces on the table using Cerulean Blue, a touch of Ultramarine Violet and a hint of White. I was not worried about picking out definite shapes like the menu as I just wanted to fill in with lighter colours. For the hand I used the Size 12 flat and dipped into the Brick Red, Cadmium Yellow and a little Ultramarine Violet, keeping it very loose as I just wanted it to be an impression of a hand – without this is might look as if the teapot was floating. I then blended a little white into the lighter areas of the hand. Next, with the 11/2″ Flat brush I randomly put some warmth into the background with a few marks of Brick Red.

Step 7: Add the finishing touches

For the finishing touches I felt a little more warmth was needed to depict the hot climate and the atmosphere of the tea room, so using 1″ Flat and the SAA Red and Cadmium Orange, I added a few touches of these colours onto the silver teapots. Once this was all dry, using the SAA 0 pointed brush I added a few bright highlights around the top of the mint tea and to the shiniest areas on the teapots.

Time to relax now and enjoy the atmosphere.

Marilyn’s Top Tips

  1. Squeeze out the colours you will be using for your painting into the Keep-Wet palette. If you don’t finish, the acrylics will stay usable for months. It also means that if you leave your work on hold for a long while you will remember which colours you used

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