Following the success of Red & Blue #1, I used the same props and 4-colour limited palette to do a second still life.

Oddly, this one threw some unexpected challenges at me. I had essentially completed the painting but for some reason, I could not get the small vase to look right – despite painting it twice. Once again it was looking like I should take up golf instead (do all artists think like this?).

I knew the composition worked and I was happy with the overall colour concept but the vase had to go. So I grabbed a painting knife and scraped off the vase and background. I never used to do this with my disappointments – I just “added them to the pile” – but if the overall composition is working, scraping is a very useful technique.

A few swift scrapes across the surface with the long side of the knife leaves an impression of the image behind in the primed surface, even on a smooth panel like this one (primed MDF). The ghosted image acts as an underpainting so from this point all attention can be focussed on colour rather than layout.

I took a photo of the setup and did a 20 minute painting in Photoshop.

(Red & Blue #2 – digital. 720x520px. © 2010, Andy Dolphin)

This was enough to convince me I did have some vague idea of what I was doing – I just had to make the paint do what I wanted it to do.

So the next day I took to the painting again and I think I got it right this time. Phew!

(Red & Blue #2, 20x24cm oil on panel. © 2010, Andy Dolphin)

Golf can wait until another day.