Art theory Flower Art Oil Painting Painting Still Life

Baby Hydrangea: Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

Baby Hydrangea, oil on panel, 6x6"
Baby Hydrangea, oil on panel, 6x6"

I’d heard that saying before, “Little Pitchers Have Big Ears,” but without giving it any real consideration, assumed it had something to do with Little League baseball pitchers. Wrong. According to The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, “Adults must be careful about what they say within the hearing of children. The saying refers to the large handles (ears) sometimes attached to small vessels…” like this little pitcher.

My other reference for the saying is the refrain in John Prine’s touching song, “Sam Stone” about a Viet Nam vet returning home.

Hydrangea and pitcher preliminary sketches
Hydrangea and pitcher preliminary sketches

I was looking for flowers to paint and this little lavender hydrangea was hiding at the bottom of the bush all by itself. I did the value/composition sketches above and set about painting, completely forgetting the first step that I usually find helpful: doing a quick and simple 2-value block in using thinned paint in one color (usually Ultramarine Blue) first.

I think it worked out OK anyway, and in the next painting I did (still waiting to get photographed) I remembered to do that.

8 replies on “Baby Hydrangea: Little Pitchers Have Big Ears”

Beautiful painting!

I’ve heard that saying before, but never gave it a second thought what the literal meaning was. Very interesting!

I love your style! 🙂


Lovely little painting.

I look forward to your comments about doing 2 value preliminary sketches.

Thanks for this blog.



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