On My Easel #2: The Challenge of Painting the Illusion of Blown Glass

still life painting demonstration easel blown glassPainting the illusion of a glass vase can be challenging for the artist, however recreating a ‘blown glass’ vessel in paint is even more complex.

Collecting unique vases and objects along the way is one of the fun parts of being a still life painter. I bought the vase in this photo at the Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival many years ago. This delicate, hand-blown glass vase has been sitting on my shelf, gathering dust, for all these years.

Right now, I am working on finishing up a new series of still life paintings for my upcoming winter exhibition at Kneeland Gallery. I am always on the lookout for fresh inspiration, so the other day when I glanced up at this lonely vase, I pulled it off of my bookshelf and finally decided to try my best at painting it!

Capturing the artistic irregularities and multi colors of a handblown vessel is not an easy task to portray in paint. But, I am always up for a good challenge in art and life…because this is how I learn and grow.

I took these pictures as my painting progressed with my  HTC Incredible phone camera. The phone died on me, and was so ‘un-incredible’ that and I lost most of the demonstration photos…my apologies! However, I hope these few images inspire you to try something new that challenges you in life or art.

I learned a lot from painting this subject matter. The challenge for me was to differentiate the pattern of the vase from the sticks within and above the vessel. I chose to paint a Bohemian Waxwing because they love to eat the dried cherries that are portrayed in this painting and the birds have an exotic look. Thus the name of the painting, “Exotica”.

©2011 Lori McNee
oil/board, 36×24

Here are some interesting articles:

On My Easel: Still Life Painting Demo #1

3 Steps to Set Up &b Light a Still Life Painting

Overwhelmed in the Studio or Office? Check Your Work Habits

A Favorite Book: The Art Spirit by Robert Henri

Life Imitates Art & Attitude

2011-01-15T16:42:24+00:00 January 5th, 2011|Fine Art Tips, General, How To Paint, Draw & More|9 Comments


  1. Sandhya Manne January 5, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    All I can say is WOW…I love Vase and Glass objects in paintings….and your painting looks sooo effortless…

  2. Susan Tantlinger January 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing the progress. The result is lovely. I love seeing photos of your studio.
    Do you really sit at an angle (so that you have to turn to see the subject) as the photo seems to show?

    • Lori McNee January 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      Hello Susan-

      Yes, I really do sit and stand at an angle. However, it is only a 45 degree angle and I only have to shift my head, not my body. My studio has limited wall space because of doors and window, so I have had to adapt!
      Thanks for commenting.


  3. Jes Artist April 21, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Hi Lori,
    Thanks for the share !! I often feel it difficult to paint glass with oil paint. It will be much helpful if you could include detailed images and show it larger size.. I wonder if you could take photos when you paint a glass at several stages n share it here.

    • Lori McNee April 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      Hello Jes,

      Thanks for a great blog post idea. I will do that next time I paint glass. I appreciate the feedback.

      Lori 🙂

  4. Matt June 13, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    what colors comprise your basic palette in the Cobra Talen water mixable paints? Thanks.

    • Lori McNee June 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      Hello Matt, here is my basic studio palette…(with a warm and cool from each color family). This works for me, but it is so individual! Thanks for asking.

      Titanium white
      Naples yellow
      Cad yellow light
      Cad orange
      Cad red light
      Ultra marine blue
      Cobalt blue or cerulean blue
      Permanent green
      Raw Umber
      Burnt Sienna
      Madder Lake

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