How to Paint a Warm & Cool Still Life Painting – 2 of 3

limited palette acrylic still life

With only 2 colours

A step-by-step warm & cool still life acrylic painting – Part 2

In this limited palette painting series using acrylics, I am posting a weekly video on my YouTube channel that you can follow along at home. It’s free to subscribe to the channel so you can keep updated with the painting progress…

The next 3 steps

cool and warm painting

Step 1 – Blocking in the Background

I mix a muted blue by adding a touch of the Burnt Sienna to the Ultramarine Blue, working around the shape of the jug pay particular attention to the negative shape in between the handle, this will help you to adjust any drawing mistakes.

The paint handling is quite a loose technique, to add energy and interest to the background.
As it is only one colour on the reference photo I want to bring life to the background using these gestural marks. Notice how I also leave odd areas of the tonal ground showing through.

Step 2 – Mixing a shadow Tone

still life cast shadows

Using the black that we mixed in Part 1, I add a touch of white and some more blue so I keep all of the darker shadows with a cool blue hue. This will help to both unify the background and send the shadows back when we introduce the warm of the jug.

In the next step, we can start to introduce tiny amounts of warmth into the tabletop.

Step 3 – Bringing warmth to the Foreground

warmth in the shadows

limited palette shadows

For the tabletop shadow, I mix a warm grey and a cool grey. Much like Velázquez used a warm black and a cool black in his portrait work.

The same principles apply and you can learn how to alter the balance in your painting through the use of warms and cools, rather than adding stronger brighter pigments.

I also add a bit of warmth to where the light hits the tabletop in the foreground, this is in preparation for the stronger orange of the jug, so we have elements of warmth in other parts of the painting.

acrylic painting shadows

I now add some of the dark shadow colours into the shadow of the jug and swap to the round brush to paint in the white rim of the jug and to check the drawing, it shouldn’t be too neat to maintain the painterly feel we’re after.

adding detail to a still life

end of stage 2

The still life painting at the end of Part 2.

Tune in next week for the final Part 3, when we start to paint the jug.

Any questions just drop them in the comments below.

Limited palette still life acrylic painting – Free video Course | Part 2

The video below shows the second steps in the acrylic warm & cool still life painting.

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You should follow me on my YouTube Art school Channel so you don’t miss the next video.

If you want to take your still life painting further you should have a look at my Still life Painting Course

You might also like:
1. Warm & Cool Jug still life painting (using only 2 colours) – Part 1
2. Warm & Cool Jug Still life Part 3 (video)
3. The 3 Steps to Becoming a Better Painter, by Painting Less
4. How to balance warm and cool colours

This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. Eric GUILLERM

    Hello sir, I have very recently started to paint and, I love it. I came across our your courses on youtube, and I think you the best one out there, you are so easy to watch and listen to, you are not show of not condescending. Thank you. It’s a Real pleasure to follow you.

    PS. I am a French man, who lives in the UK.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hey Eric,
      Thanks for your kind words, so pleased you are enjoying painting and finding the tutorials helpful.

  2. Andrik Sim

    I feel a great energy of need to paint arising and am beyond thankfulness for your site. You’re absolutely brilliant, so easy to listen to because of your humility and warmth. You’re a real gift!

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Andrik, thanks for dropping by, really pleased to hear you’re feeling inspired to create! thanks for your kind words. Let me know how your paintings go.


  3. Shirley

    Hi Will, I have spent one of the best days of my life watching your acrylic painting workshops. You are so inspirational, encouraging and make the complexity of colour mixing exciting. I can’t wait to get started. Thank you! You are a fantastic teacher!

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Shirley,
      Thanks for your lovely comments, really kind of you. Great to hear you’ve been inspired by the painting tutorials and colour mixing doesn’t seem so complicated!


  4. alizeh aneel

    i love painting cuz of you sir!


    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Alizeh, very kind of you to say so.



  5. Wende Sanchez

    Hi Will,
    I just finished painting the still life jug picture – it was my first adult painting ever! My husband said “very, very nice” and my daughter’s comment was “amazing”! Thanks for a great tutorial and I can’t wait to try another one of your suggested projects. It was fun!

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Wende, congratulations on your first painting! an ‘amazing’ and ‘very, very nice’ are high praise indeed! so pleased you achieved some great results.


  6. Diane Robert

    Love your explanations. Hope to see more.

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks Diane, pleased you’ve been enjoying them.

  7. Mimi

    I’ve just found your video randomly through internet searching.
    Your explanation is so clear and easy to understand.
    ( I’m Korean and studying visual art in Austalia but somtimes it’s hard to understand in english)
    Thanks for sharing your technical painting skill.

    1. Will Kemp

      Pleased you’re finding them helpful Mimi,

  8. Linda

    Will, I discovered your website Christmas Day after receiving an art kit containing acrylics, oils, pastels and colored pencils for Christmas. I’ve since painted both the cherry and jug with (I think) great success. I appreciate your ability to both show and describe steps in such a clear and direct way and especially appreciate the confidence you instill! I’ll be signing up for your on line classes soon.
    Thanks so much!

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Linda, thanks for your kind comments and so pleased you’ve been putting your art kit to good use. Hope you’re pleased with your results from the lessons.

  9. Agnese

    Thank You, Will, for sharing Your vast knowledge with us. You have enough self-confidence as a true professional, so You focus on giving and teaching, unlike other youtube “artists” with their Youtube channels that just wish to show-off their own work and get more subscribers. I love Your methods and Your work inspires me. Without You I would’t have gone so far. Propably would’t have started to paint at all. Wish You all the best,

    1. Will Kemp

      Thanks for your kind words Agnese, so pleased you’ve been finding the lessons helpful in your painting journey.

  10. Phil

    Hi Will,

    First of all thanks for these videos! They’re really helping me to get to grips with acrylic painting. I noticed that your burnt sienna looks so much nicer than mine. So much more vibrant and warm but I guess this comes down the quality of the paint. I’m using fairly inexpensive student grade acrylics. Also when I tried to blend with the glazing liquid, my paint didn’t behave at all like yours did! It just started to rub it all off the canvas so I was only left with the coloured ground. Could this also be down to the paint/glazing liquid I’m using?

    Nevertheless I managed to work around it and my painting turned out pretty well and I’ve received a lot of lovely comments from friends and family!


    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Phil, that’s great to hear, pleased your paintings have been getting some great comments from friends and family. Different brands of paint can give different opacity and vibrancy even if they’re called the same colour on the tube, and derived from the same pigment. The paint rubbing back can come if you’re working on a board that has been pre-primed and the paint underneath hasn’t fully dried and ‘grabbed on’ to the surface below.

  11. Pola

    Hi there, Mr. Kemp,
    Just want to thank you for making this course available. I stopped painting about ten years ago when the gallery that was carrying most of my best work burned down. It was as if my love for painting burned down along with it. I’m watching your very well done teaching course and gaining a new respect for fine art and beginning again.

    1. Will Kemp

      That’s great to hear Pola, so pleased you’re feeling inspired again with your painting.

  12. Anne Hewitt

    I love this painting. Will try to paint this – not as good as you are – but will give it a shot. I am 76 years old and just taking up some painting. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Beni

    Hi Will,

    Loving your skills and easy and friendly instructions in your videos and websites, I have never painted before but planning to start thanks to your inspiration!

    I just have a quick question about this video, the way you blend the colors slightly, for example while coloring the table cloth. Is the blending happening because of using your fingers or the type of the brush, or because you dip your brush with little of water in order to blend them in a little? Or is it because the aclyric paint hasn’t dried up yetwhich is making it possible for you to easily blend them?

    Thank you!

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Beni, pleased you’ve been enjoying the videos. The main way two paints will blend together is when they are both wet, then next thing that can help is a little water or medium on the brush to control the consistency of the paint and the final part is the stiffness of smoothness of the paint bristle, with a soft hair giving a more subtle smoother blend.
      Hope this helps,


  14. Parul

    Why we paint the whole canvas before start sketching

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Parul, so it’s easier to judge the different values in the painting.

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