Redrawing and Repainting | A Demo by Ilaria Rosselli Del Turco

Ilaria Rosselli Del Turco, who is featured in the November 2011 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, builds layers of color in paintings inspired by classical techniques and modern masters’ ideas of process and design. Read on for her step-by-step demonstration of The Blue Jug (below; oil, 18×22).

still life oil painting Ilaria Resselli Del Turco artist

The Blue Jug (oil, 18×22)

This demonstration is a typical example of my working method: I start with what I think is a definite plan, but I change ideas several times, assessing the needs of the composition along the way. I feel that all the previous layers are there under the final piece and help add depth to it.


1. I’d been thinking about painting this jug for some time, and clementines seemed an almost obvious choice to complement the blue. I placed the jug slightly off center and included a lot of background. I drew directly on the canvas with a brush.


2. My goal was to cover the whole of the canvas with patches of color in order to better judge tones. I worked on rendering the peculiar shape of the jug.


3. I felt something was missing so I decided to add a bowl on the left. I continued working on all the elements at the same time. The jug was still presenting difficulties, but I was very keen on getting it right. I painted and repainted over the top; I never wipe paint as this makes the surface too slippery.


4. I added details on the clementine on the left, which was rotting very fast. I kept redrawing the objects: Elements of drawing are always visible in the final state of my works. I softened transitions between colors. At this stage I was having doubts about the composition and was about to make some radical changes.


5. Here I’ve re-stretched the canvas on smaller stretchers, getting rid of some of the background and moving the jug to the right. I decided to change the background color to make the whole picture lighter. With the new light background, the pomegranate, with its dark red, had to go. The area to the left of the background is very important to me; those two “ugly” colors prevent the picture from getting too pretty and define the slight slant of the back plane in The Blue Jug (above; oil, 18×22).


Ilaria Rosselli Del Turco trained as an illustrator in Rome and Florence, then moved to London, where she studied at the Heatherley School of Fine Art. She paints portraits professionally in England and Italy. She’s had several solo exhibitions in Italy and London, and her work has been included in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition (2006, 2008, 2009), the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize (2008, 2009) and the Threadneedle Prize (2011), all in London. Her portrait Geneva was a finalist for the BP Portrait Award in 2010 at London’s National Portrait Gallery. Learn more in the November 2011 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, and at and


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