Ginger Jar Still Life Collage


For the weekend assignment we will bring together the different components of this week's module in a large collage with a simple still life in neutral colours, inspired by the Chinoiserie theme.

For ideas about of still life compositions and arrangements of muted colours look at this board for inspiration:

For chinoiserie inspired ginger jars and vases look at this board for ideas:


Making a collage that incorporates the colour sheets and varieties of blue painted brush strokes is the aim of today's project. There is so much to inspire a project like this, and it is best to be kept simple for the first attempt. As an option you could also make an individual ginger jar with a gold background instead, that will not be a still life collage. This process will be shown in this weekend's life demo of module two.


Make some drawings to plan your sill life. Keep in mind that in most still life compositions you 'breathing space' at the bottom of the arrangement, below the fruit and the ginger jar: don't place them too close to the bottom edge. An odd number, three or five fruit is better than two or four fruit. This collage can be done on a larger sheet of paper than the Arches block - in some ways it makes it easier to work on a larger scale. The collage is built up with the negative space and background created first then the details of the jar and fruit added later in the process.

Design a ginger jar shape and cut it out of paper to use as template. It is helpful to draw the still life layout on a paper of the same size as the collage will be. You can trace the different components onto the collage sheets and cut out with the rotary cutter or scissors. Pick your colours for a background. Stick to the neutral palette of the sheets you painted this week. It is a good idea to keep this week's sheets separated from the rest. Do not include any black tints or other colours for this collage. This is important to show how the mixed colours work with each other and the use of the complimentary colours of blue and orange in this collage. The black paint brush marks on deli paper is not used in this project, it will be used in Module Three.

Stick the background colours down with the matte medium. Take care to cover the watercolour paper with enough medium and mix in drops of water to keep it damp. Remember to cover the areas with matte medium and smooth down with the credit card to remove wrinkles. The background colours of the still life in the demo consists of the window area in a darker tone. Two sheets are used, there are curtain drapes on the sides where two neutral toned sheets are used and cut in duplicate.

For the table I cut one neutral sheet in half. The fruit shapes and ginger jar shape is cut out carefully, also in the window space.

The video demonstration will give more insight into the steps. You can follow my lead regarding design or create your own arrangement.

Once you have stuck down the background you can start to fill in the details of the ginger jar, the curtains and the fruit. For the oranges I cut sheets in several colours at one time, making duplicates of the same shape in the different orange hues, I arrange them with a darker colour on one side, to indicate the direction of light. Don't mix this around and use as many shades of orange on the fruit as you like. I added a window frame and plant details in the background to indicate an exterior element.

Is this something that appeals? You can paint plants on the deli sheets and add to the background as collage (do not paint directly on the collage). As an option you can create a Chinoiserie inspired vase instead of a ginger jar with a twig inside or some orange flowers. There are so many ideas to consider.

If you would like to create a collage where the tablecloth or curtain is covered in Chinoiserie flowers, like a pattern, and where the vase is simpler, maybe with just carrot print details, or a precious gold vase, then those are also options. I am putting out some basic ideas, but there is so much one can do with this theme, it is a great way to explore and play. I'd discourage painting on top of the collage for this project - instead look at the many painted marks, adapt them, then cut them into components you would like to see on the collage. Use the blue sheets to cut out branch shapes or bigger details if need be.

One more thing: the colours used in this collage are limited. I added small elements of the collaged colours in the different components, there is blue in the fruit and curtains, and orange in the curtains as well. This is in order to create more cohesion in the collage - not always necessary, but I find it quite important for any artwork.


Module Two is a big and comprehensive part of this collage course. From observing and drawing plants, exploring painted marks and mixing neutral and orange colours, to creating floral and still life collages, there is a lot to take in. Regarding the weekend assignment, feel free to make more collages incorporating other colours once you have made this first one with specified colours in order to get the most out of this exercise.

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour