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Dandelions and Wine

Dandelions and Wine, Oil Painting on Gessobord, 10x8"
Dandelions and Wine, Oil Painting on Gessobord, 10×8″

It was time to take a break from portraits and do some still life painting after ten failed attempts at painting a friend from a not-great photo. I gathered some dandelions from my neighbor’s yard (I’m sure he didn’t mind) and stuck a few in my favorite old French Cognac bottle (that I found in the street years ago). With the addition of a bottle of Spanish wine, I had a still life ready to paint.

Dandelions & Wine, Watercolor, 7.5"x5"
Dandelions & Wine, Watercolor, 7.5″x5″

But first I did this watercolor sketch. Even if I plan to finish an oil painting in one go, it always helps do a sketch first to get to know my subject. And since I’m eager to get started with the oil painting, I work quickly which keeps my watercolor fresh and not overworked.

It was a relief to turn out something I liked after my frustrating journey with the portrait. But I haven’t given up on it. There are still two failed canvases facing the wall, waiting for me to make them work (or smash them to bits!)

By Jana Bouc

I am an artist who loves (and lives) to sketch and paint in watercolor and oils. I teach watercolor classes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

11 replies on “Dandelions and Wine”

Lovely paintings both of them. The w/c is very fresh.
But are they dandelions? Not what an English man calls a dandelion. The name supposedly comes from the French dent de lion or lions tooth referring to the jagged edge to the leaves. I believe the French common name is pis en lit (pee in bed) as it is a diuretic!
Grief, what a boring pedant!!! But the main reason for writing is to say I love your blog and your work.


How interesting! I love learning word origins so thank you for sharing your knowledge. It was interesting (not at all boring) and I’ll never think of dandelions as ordinary again. Pee the bed indeed! These guys had really long stems (nearly a foot high) so the jaggedy leaves were close to the ground so I just left them there and cut just the stems and flower heads. Jana


Thanks Carol! Just curious what went wrong in the last word in your comment? Typing in the dark? fingers moved over one key? Typing on an ipad? (Funny to see and sort out but I got the message and appreciate it! [?] Jana


Portraits are beyond difficult, and starting with a not-great photo is a recipe for disaster in my experience. Almost makes me twitch to just think about the ordeal you just endured. I bet it was a relief going to the dandelions – I felt relieved just reading about it!


You’re so right. All it takes to mess up a portrait is getting the drawing a tiny bit wrong, too wide in the nose, too long in the chin, and it doesn’t work. And in the photo my friend has her head tilted (which I start out drawing tilted and as I work I straighten it up for some reason) and one shoulder raised and the light is coming from straight above, so there’s no value changes to model the features except for the creases which are way too dark. Why oh why do I want to work from that photo I don’t know!

It was such a relief to switch to bottles and flowers! Although I got stuck on another painting last weekend of flowers that I painted 3 times, wiping off all three in the end. A bit discouraging but when I looked on the internet for paintings of the orange gerbera daisies I was trying to paint I found I didn’t like any of the dozens I saw online either. Maybe just not an interesting flower to paint?


Jana…nice work here. Both are pleasing, though I think I like the oil best (which is rare for me–to like an oil painting better than watercolor). You nailed it!


Thanks Rita, I like them both, which is rare for me too! But I’m delighted you like the oil and I know what you mean — for many subjects sometimes watercolors are just prettier. Jana


Just love them both, the yellow bg caught me by surprise, but it works out great! It can be very difficult to paint people from poor photo…you are in my prayers! Thanks for posting!


Thanks Beth. I am so honored to have been invited to participate! I loved your painting from St. Mary’s and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to make it. I’d really been looking forward to it but life intervened and I wasn’t able to get there. Was it really as cold as people said? You looked toasty in your blanket. Jana


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