I have a lot of hellebores in my garden (also known as lenten roses). I love their muted colors when they start to bloom in winter. Last week I picked a few and tried to put together a still life. I experimented with several different vases but every set up overpowered the subdued flowers. Then I pulled out an old port box and laid the flowers on top. Perfect. My husband has had this Quinta do Vesuvio port box for at least 15 years. Even after our apartment was broken into and most of the port was stolen, we kept the box with one lonely bottle for several years. We brought it from Boston to Berkeley. And now it plays a dignified role with my lenten roses.
Still lifes with flowers pose a challenge. One may find a flower alluring. But I need more than just a flower. If you look at the lenten roses still life you will see that the flowers cover less than 20% of the painting's surface. All of the other elements (the port box, the books under the port box, the bit of table, and the wooden panels behind the table) give me the opportunity play with shapes and colors on the canvas.
In the yellow rose still life I was attracted to the rose and the light through the beer bottle. But there are other important elements in this painting: the light behind and beneath the table, the indication of a tea pot and a pomegranate, the triangles light on dark and dark on light, and the texture of the table cloth. Without these elements, the rose and beer bottle would have no context.