Flower Art Oil Painting Painting Still Life

Peonies Painted in Mom’s Copper Pitcher

Peonies in Mom's Copper Pitcher, oil on Gessobord, 10x8"
Peonies in Mom’s Copper Pitcher, oil on Gessobord, 10×8″

A couple of years ago my mom and I had one of those conversations that goes something like this…

Mom: “You know those flowers that are big and fluffy and round…”
Me: “Uh, no.”
Mom: “You know! One of your neighbors had some that we saw when we walked by once.”
Me: “Do you mean the ones that we always called “popcorn ball flowers” and that I can never remember the real name of?” (referring to Hydrangea).
Mom: “No, ugh, I can’t remember what they’re called but they’re really pretty…”
Me: “Sorry. I have no idea.”
Mom: “Well anyway, I was thinking you should paint some.”

Two months later the phone rings:
Me: “Hello.”
Mom: “PEONIES! That’s what they were! You should paint some.”

While I’d often admired them in paintings, I’d never actually seen them in real life. So when Trader Joes had them in their flower stand I brought some home to paint. This nifty copper pitcher came from my mom’s collection of interesting objects.

Peonies, quick preliminary  thumbnail sketch in journal
Peonies, quick preliminary thumbnail sketch in journal

I made a good start on the pitcher but as I began painting the flowers, life intervened. I broke the “rule” for painting from life: always start with the thing most likely to move, fade or rot (which wouldn’t be the pitcher). So by the time I returned to the studio, the flowers had lost some of their fluffy peony-ness and were looking more like roses. But they hung on long enough for me to finish the painting.

Now I keep watching flower stands hoping to find more peonies to paint. But next time I’ll start with the flowers!

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5 replies on “Peonies Painted in Mom’s Copper Pitcher”

Your oil painting is beautiful — and, I laughed out loud at your story. I, personally, prefer (LOVE) the quick pen & ink/watercolor sketch — in fact, all your watercolors. They are wonderful!


Thanks Pat, I appreciate that comment. It’s funny–I too almost always prefer watercolors but I’m determined to learn to express myself well in oils and every once in a while I come up with something in oil paint I like as much as a watercolor. I’m tempted to make each painting twice, once in wc and once in oils and see what happens. Jana


Gorgeous! I just heard that peonies from Alaska are available now—they’re gone everywhere else! Hope you find some. They are like lilacs, singularly beautiful and fragrant and only available for such a short time!


I love peonies but we only get them here in the Spring and then they are gone! Both your paintings are beautiful although quite different. I noticed your reply to Pat Howard where you said you may do a painting twice, once in watercolor and once in oil. I think that would be a great experiment. I have always wanted to try oils. But Alas, NYC apt = no room. So I will have to enjoy your oil paintings!


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