My students wanted to learn how to paint a piece of glassware. We started with simple pieces since painting glass involves observing the collection of abstract shapes and values (lights and darks) that make up the whole. One has to stop thinking about painting a specific object and carefully observe all the highlights, the local colors and the changes in value in order for it to look transparent and yet have form.

Here is the set-up we used:

I made a drawing, masked out the highlights, and put on a light wash, allowing the colors to flow into one another.  The darker lines in the background will become the folds in the fabric.


Then I began to build up the grapes, the cruet and the fabric background. After the light value layer dried, I added medium values.

Adding the darkest layer, especially at the edges and where the glass changes shape, completes the illusion of a transparent object.

Cruet and Grapes, watercolor, 7″ x 5″

Finishing touches included removing the masking and softening the edges of the highlights and adding shadows under the objects.