A time lapse video: painting of a parrot tulip

This is a short time lapse video of the first painting sessions (1-3) covering the grisaille stage of the tulip painting (10x15cm, oil on wood):

Another painting session is needed to finish the grisaille stage, after which the painting can be worked up in colour and finally, glazed. I like working on wood as this surface is very smooth and the oil paint provides a beautiful sheen.

The tulip was sourced from Moyses Stevens florist in Chelsea, London.

I’ve posted a video of a still life painting in progress. You can see an overview of the following process:

Classical painting technique – time lapse video

Starting with:

    1. a sketch over an imprimatura, a toned, transparent first painting layer;
    2. dead-colouring layers (several sessions)
    3. work-up in colour (several sessions);
    4. glazing and finishing (several sessions).

Plums on a silver platter, oil on fine linen, 60x40cm.


How to paint a Delft blue plate

The dead-colouring stage

I’m working on a new commission: a painting to go with the Silverware with plums painting the client has bought. The painting features a Delft blue plate and several types of fruit scattered on a relatively undefined surface. I break up the painting process in different stages: after sketching the set-up, I first work on the tonal aspects, check the composition and create a ‘map’ ready for the colour stage. I use raw umber and zinc white for this, with titanium white for the brightest highlights. I need several painting sessions to get the light right and provide enough detail. The plate also needs to be anchored to its space: I want it to lean against the wall. The light needs to softly touch the plate and the cracks and chips need to pick up the light – I love this play with hard and soft edges, creating the illusion of soft light and ultimately the expression of a certain atmosphere and calm.

The dead-colouring stage of the Delft blue plate (detail of the still life painting)

The dead-colouring stage of the Delft blue plate (detail of the still life painting)


Delft blue plate

While painting the rest of the set up, I kept playing with the design of the plate.

The colour and glazing stages

Once the dead-colouring stage has reached a sufficiently detailed level, I move on to the colour stage. I use cobalt blue, lapis lazuli, zinc and titanium white as well as raw umber (again) and yellow ochre. In the previous stage I used tonal variations to model the forms, and now using colour I can further bring out the rims and edges of the plate. I want to contrast to be high (but not too high) to help create a certain feel/atmosphere. I’ve FINALLY decided to paint a tulip on the plate. And now it is time for the best thing about this painting – the crack! Using a very fine sable brush, I drag burnt umber paint across the plate to suggest the shadows cast in the crack; variation in line gives the illusion of hairline vs wider cracks. I put in highlights of titanium white.

Painting the Delft blue plate is part of working up the rest of the still life and I come back to it as the painting progresses. I need several sessions. I keep the painting quite light but create just enough contrast. It is important to keep the plate a part of the painting, anchored to it – bringing colours from the rest of the painting into the plate helps with this.


Using very thin layers  of pigment in plenty of medium and also just paint to dry-brush in places, I turn the forms some more and add a bit more depth into the painting. I only glaze those parts of the painting that need further depth and luminosity.


I’m very pleased with the crack.

Delft blue plate


commission a painting

Still life with Delft blue plate, grapes, nectarines, cherries and reine claudes. Oil on fine linen, 70x50cm, 2017.


Commissioning a painting or learning how to paint one

To commission/order a painting, take part in workshops or just to find out more, open the contact page by clicking here or click on Commission a painting.