Still Lifes


‘Sunflower and Tulips’

Austin Still Life Paintings

Here are several still lifes I painted in my Austin art studio. The first ‘Sunflowers and Tulips’ is a floral still life oil painting I did during an art class by Dreama Tolle Perry my cousin Karen and I took in Marco Island, FL. I really liked the vivid colors Dreama uses, and was eager to incorporate these in my own paintings.

Several months later, I received commissions for two more floral still lifes, the second of which ‘Carrie’s Hydrangeas’, pictured below. These hydrangeas have been so popular, I have since received two more commissions to reproduce the same subject – but in different colors and sizes. I’ll post them here on the blog as soon as these oil paintings are complete.


‘Carrie’s Hydrangeas

My Favorite Painters’ Still Lifes

Even before I began painting, I admired the classic still lifes done by Matisse, Van Gogh and Cezanne. I was intrigued by how little paint they used to create the impressions of flowers. Matisse’s ‘Still Life Flowers and Fruit’ taught me a lot about composition, colors and shading; and I loved the striking coloration of Van Gogh’s ‘Vase with Twelve Sunflowers’ and Cezanne’s ‘Apples, Peaches, Pears and Grapes’.

I tried to emulate these when I painted my early still lifes – mostly fruit and vases at first. These were good learning experiences, because I got to experiment with light coming from different (or multiple) directions, and began do develop the ability to portray the reflection and shading on the curved surfaces of the fruit and glassware. I’m doing floral still lifes almost exclusively now; but I think I’ll try another traditional fruit/vase/furniture subject again some day. Maybe a grouping including a pear, apple and banana with a curved dish so I can play with the shadows and reflections.


pear-martini-still life

‘Pear Martini’

My Early Still Life Paintings

One of my first still lifes was this ‘Pear Martini’, painted in early 2011 It was a great experience for me, because I was learning how to visualize and paint the curved glass and reflections. It took a while to get it to look the way I wanted; but it turned out pretty well. This was the first of the still lifes I painted in my Austin gallery; and I created another version of this same subject when Karen was visiting last Fall.

My early still life paintings were mostly vases, glasses and fruit. These were a good introduction to the impressionistic painting method — where you paint in a way that causes the viewer’s mind to perceive the desired image. But I’ve since come to prefer flowers – mostly because of the amazing colors and textures nature has provided. The daisies, lilies and hydrangeas are so vibrant, it’s almost inappropriate to call these paintings still lifes – they seem to be moving!

One of the tough things about doing portraits and still lifes paintings in Austin is having to do this indoors in the studio. Our weather here is so nice, I’m tempted to go outside and paint landscapes or people sitting al fresco at a café. But hopefully we’ll have some more rainy days this summer/fall, so I won’t mind being inside painting still lifes from photos.



Valerie Rawlings – Austin Still Lifes Artist

When I first began painting seriously, my favorite genre was oil portraits; and I especially liked painting my friends and relatives – and pet paintings of their cats and dogs. But as I ran out of willing friends and relatives, I started to do more still lifes; and this has become my favorite art form. But I just recently took a tremendous class on portrait painting, in which we used brilliant colors (very counter-intuitive) to depict facial lighting and shading; so I may end up going full circle and give up still lifes for portraits some day.

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