Playing with Monochromatic Palettes in Still Life Paintings

Monochromatic color palettes can be used to create beautiful works of art. The Art of Painting Still Life in Acrylic shows you how.

This nearly monochromatic palette of blues, greens, and grays will allow you to focus on form and reflections without fussing too much over color. A simple background emphasizes the subtle shifts of value within the glass and allows the flowers and dark bottle to “pop” as the focal point.


Color Palette
burnt umber light • carbon black • Hansa yellow • Hooker’s green • neutral gray • permanent green light • primary cyan • Prussian blue • raw sienna • titanium white


Step 1 – The key to painting glass is working in thin, transparent layers. Planning ahead is essential. I begin by painting the board white, keeping it smooth and avoiding ridges. This step may require multiple coats. I load a large flat brush with primary cyan and use the chisel edge to haphazardly swipe blue slashes across the upper three quarters of the board.


Step 2 – I pick up medium gray in my brush and wipe off excess paint on a paper towel. I swipe a few dry gray slashes on the board. When dry, I paint over the entire board again with white to quiet the intensity of the blue and gray, pushing them into the background. You may need to add an additional coat of white.


Step 3 – I measure three-quarters of the way down from the top of the board and lightly draw a horizontal line across the board. Then I outline the bottles with pencil, positioning them a little lower than my horizontal line. Next I thin permanent green light with water and wash light color over the three clear bottles at right as well as the bottom of the bottle at left. When dry, I add more color to the areas with thicker glass or where another bottle shows through. I wash over the frosted bottles with cyan and white. I use this color to deepen the background where it meets the table. I also add this color inside the clear bottles. For the dark blue bottle, I use a mix of Prussian blue and gray. With the bottles established, I erase the pencil lines.


Step 4 – I paint the corks with a mix of Hansa yellow, raw sienna, and white. I create shadows and suggest deeper areas of glass with a mix of permanent green light and Hooker’s green.


Step 5 – I add another coat of blue to the frosted bottles and then add darker areas with cyan blue. I start defining the bottles using a liner brush and continue applying slightly darker values to all the bottles. I deepen the thick bottom glass of the bottles with colors from my palette. I add dark specks on the corks with burnt umber light and deepen areas of shadow.


Step 6 – I continue layering the darker values. I add black to the Prussian blue mix for the dark blue bottle. To create shine and transparency, I place lighter blue in the lower-middle area of the bottle.


Step 7 – I paint the flower stems inside the bottle with Hooker’s green. I add white to the first cork mix and apply light specks on the corks. Then I apply my first layer of white shine on the bottles. For the frosted bottles, I use the mopping method; for the other bottles, I add more defined strokes with a flat brush. I paint the flowers with a mix of white plus a little raw sienna (which makes a cream color). I paint the stems and leaves with Hooker’s green plus a touch of the raw sienna mix.


Step 8 – I apply another layer of white over the bottle highlights. I add dark values to the flowers by adding more raw sienna to the first mix; then I further deepen with raw sienna. Finally, I add burnt umber and raw sienna to the darkest areas. I stroke white highlights on the lightest areas of the petals. For the dark values on the stems and leaves, I use Hooker’s green and a touch of black for more contrast. I add lighter values with Hooker’s green plus my Hansa yellow mix. If they need more lightening, I add more Hansa yellow. I paint shadows on the table under the bottles with cyan, gray, and a touch of Prussian blue. I re-evaluate everything and fine-tune where necessary. To complete the painting, I sign it, let it rest, and add a protective finish.




the-art-of-painting-still-lifePacked with beautiful illustrations and expert instruction, The Art of Painting Still Life in Acrylic is a comprehensive and indispensable resource for all aspiring painters.

Designed for beginners and intermediate artists, The Art of Painting Still Life in Acrylic offers valuable drawing and painting techniques, as well as inspirational artwork that’s sure to motivate artists of all skill levels. The Art of Painting Still Life in Acrylic opens with a guide to essential information on the necessary tools and materials for both sketching and painting, including pencils, paints and brushes, palettes, supports, and mediums. In addition to learning about basic drawing and painting techniques and color theory, readers will learn how to create compelling compositions, achieve depth, and render realistic textures. This new title in the Collector’s Series features a large variety of stunning still lifes, from lovely florals to tasty treats. Packed with beautiful illustrations and expert instruction, The Art of Painting Still Life in Acrylic is a comprehensive and indispensable resource for all aspiring painters.