After Manet: “Flowers in a Vase”

Last week, I attended both the Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon watercolour classes, because, wow do I NEED some painting time! The assignment was a painting by Manet, “Flowers in a Vase”, which is a rather lovely impressionistic oil painting. We, of course, work in watercolour, so it’s interesting to see what we come up with.

Source image


Manet is regarded as one of the first impressionists, preceding Monet who is undoubtedly more famous. This painting is quite interesting in capturing the reflections and highlights in the glass, and the delicate blossoms. The background is also quite striking, in it’s non-descript greyness.

Tuesday, day 1

Masked out white, starting to work on the background


The pale blue on the painting is the masking fluid, guarding the whites on the paper. I thought it would be interesting to see the painting in progress next to the source photo. I use my iPad a lot in painting class, including here to provide the reference for what I’m working on. The software I’m using, Procreate, lets me zoom in, rotate, and do manipulations of the photo to help me understand it’s structure and to hopefully paint it better.

I really like the background wash, which was a mixture of Aureolin (Cobalt Yellow) and Cobalt Blue Violet. I went in fast, and tried to make it somewhat random and interesting, occasionally dropping straight CBV in spots.

Same step, isolating the painting


I’ve paused here to let the background wash completely dry down. There’s a bloom at the top of the painting where I got too much water on my brush, but I’m kind of liking it; it’s going to stay the way it is throughout the painting, so get used to it 🙂

Mask removed, working on the flowers and stems



The mask has been mostly removed; there’s still some in the middle of the purple blossom.

There’s a delicate underpainting for the red and yellow blossoms. For the red, I used Rose Madder Genuine, which is a gentle colour, and needs to be coaxed. I plan to do several layers to bring it out. The yellow is a pale Aureolin wash, which will also be built up.

In contrast is the bright purple of the central clematis (so I’m told) in Cobalt Blue Violet and Cobalt Blue.

The underpainting on the leaves is Sap Green with a tiny bit of Payne’s Grey to give it depth. The darker portions on the leaves and the main stem going in to the vase is purer Sap Green, with a bit more of the Payne’s Grey.

I’m really loving how the painting is beginning to flow and move 🙂

Wednesday, Day 2

Overpainting the blossoms and stems

Looking at the work in progress against the larger printed source photo to keep the overall structure in mind.

I love how this is working out. More of the same Rose Madder Genuine on the red blossoms, Stronger pigments on each of the other areas as well.

Painting in more of the details on the vase and in the foreground, capturing the shadows and highlights.

Looking at the nearly finished painting, dry

Very much liking this, but there’s still something missing…

The water line


The water line in the vase was actually a pretty important unifying feature. The line on the front I made by using a Magic Eraser to pull off the paint, but I decided to put the line in using a white watercolour pencil, which I thought worked .a lot better.

Final, with signature and acknowledgement


This is the final version


With a mat

Post processing


This image was taken back home on a copy stand, to get more even quality of light. I’m quite liking the result. I kind of like having the edge of the paper shown here, but I also am looking at it cropped:


I think the crop loses something the full edged version has.

The Paintrag Gallery

One of the things my coworkers enjoy when I do a show-and-tell is looking at my paint rags and seeing if they can make something of them. It’s quite good natured, and I’ve obtained the domain “” with the intent to use it to highlight the lowly painting rag.



  • Aureolin (Cobalt Yellow)
  • Cobalt Blue Violet
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Rose Madder Genuine
  • Sap Green
  • Payne’s Grey
  • New Gamboge (to add more brightness in the vase)


  • Dreamcatcher #10 round
  • Alvaro straight


  • Arches Aquarelle, 140lb cold press, 9×12 block