watercolor paintings from the kitchen

How Unremarkable White Tiles in a Kitchen Spawned Two Decades of Watercolor Paintings

A couple of decades ago, I walked into the kitchen of a house we had just purchased. I turned to my husband and said: “These white tiles will have to go.”

I imagined toothbrush-scrubbing strawberry juice and red wine from the white grout. The white looked so mundane. He agreed – they were pretty blah.

We settled in, and got acquainted with the bones of the place. Our kids started new schools, we sketched landscaping ideas, and taped bright paint colors on walls that might embolden rooms. I planted roses and started bringing them into the kitchen to line the sill in fragrant bud vases.

a kitchen with a large window
Our unremarkable, white tiled kitchen with a nice, big window facing the back yard

Kitchen Inspiration Paintings

Early one morning, I was struck by the way the white kitchen tiles reflected the colors above them; the sky and trees outside the window, and a rose I set along the sill in a glass vase.

Sunrise was particularly beautiful, as a beam of light cast rose reflections on the tiles. The mirror images in the tile glazes looked like a frilly-dressed can-can dancer. And the grid of the tiles added fun geometry.

I started photographing the arrangements and colors for future painting ideas.

Starting the tiled counter and roses paintings
Early Bird Breakfast, Watercolor on paper

Painting Small Still Life Art from Your Kitchen

Over the course of two decades, I arranged flowers, figurines and fruit along that window for a treasure trove of inspiration. (Read this post about how to find still life painting subjects with your cell phone camera.)

I snapped thousands of photos to use as watercolor painting and printmaking ideas. In the process, I learned that with one arrangement – a small bouquet next to a bird figurine – I could collect twenty different angles in pictures as painting fodder.

looking at photo thumbnails for the best compositions to use in a painting
Selecting best compositions from thumbnails in the Photos Application on my computer, for a still life watercolor of red roses in a window

Painting Success Begets More Painting

Another great lesson from that time was related to composition. If I snapped twenty or so photos of a small bouquet – from different angels, and in slightly varied arrangements – I got better at sussing out painting compositions.

When viewing my painting reference photos on my computer as thumbnails (see above), it was much easier to spot the best options. My ability to select compelling compositions improved.

(Here is a post with tips about how to arrange and plan still life watercolor paintings of flowers.)

Watercolor painting of ranunculus flowers on a sunny windowsill by Belinda Del Pesco
Ranunculus – Watercolor on paper

Finding Joy in the Entire Process of Painting Watercolors

Planning watercolor paintings – from subject, arrangements, composition and execution – helped boost my confidence as an artist.

I wasn’t using anyone else’s photos. I planned and snapped my own arrangements. The items in the still life set up were from my own garden. Or they were mementos handed down from family – items that meant something to me. That increased my pleasure to paint them.

Each watercolor painting I finished was wholly mine, and that felt pretty good.

Watercolor painting of roses and succulents on a sunny windowsill by Belinda Del Pesco
Cocoon Succulent and Roses – Watercolor on paper

Be a Noticer in Your Own House

Look around your home with an artist’s eye. Carry an artist’s viewfinder if it helps to block out surrounding chaos. Time your painting idea treasure hunt during the brightest part of the day, considering your home’s angle to the sun.

Open blinds and curtains, and make an arrangement out of a few simple items from your kitchen. (Read this post about how to add patterned backgrounds to your still life painting ideas with wrapping paper.)

Roses and Apples Still Life in Watercolor by Belinda Del Pesco
Apples and Roses, Watercolor on Paper

No Fancy Required

The kitchen that started a whole series of rose paintings on white, reflective tiles was not something out of House Beautiful magazine. But a small patch of space by the window sill became an enormous source of inspiration for two decades, with the simple addition of a bud vase and a rose. And some noticing.

I hope you’ll experiment with items you’re interesting in painting in your own home too. Look for bright sun spilling through a window, and pull out some of your favorite still life objects. Snap some photos with your cell phone and have a painting party.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you in the next post!

Belinda

P.S. Each of these paintings were given “subject titles”, because, at that time, I could never think of a more compelling name for my paintings. After a deep dive into learning the best ways to forge more meaningful titles for art, I built a video course to show you how to title your art too. <–Have a look.

Watercolor painting of roses on a sunny windowsill by Belinda Del Pesco
Kitchen Bouquet, Watercolor on paper

Art Quote

Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way, so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.

Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451
a tuxedo cat with golden eyes inviting you to get back into making art
Free Video Mini-Course: Six Tips to Paint More Often
floral watercolor painting of pink and white roses in a vase in front of a window on reflective tiles by Belinda Del Pesco
Pink and White Roses – Watercolor on Paper

P.P.S. A few years into my watercolor painting spree with kitchen window still life arrangements, my husband asked me if it was time to put Corian or granite counters in the kitchen. I had forgotten my dismissal of the white tiles when we moved in! With a grinning finger wag, I replied “No one is allowed to touch my white tiles!!” 😀

24 thoughts on “Watercolor Still Life Paintings from the Kitchen”

  1. Thanks so much for the inspiration Belinda – your posts give me confidence to paint more still lifes!

    1. Hi Lisa, I’m glad to know you’re reaching for inspiration and painting time. I hope you guard those moments, and move quickly to pin them down and act fast. Many paintings wishes for you…

  2. Thank you, Belinda. This is such an inspiring post, just what I need right now! Your kitchen tile watercolors are truly beautiful as well.

  3. Your sense of observation, your kind encouragements for those who follow your guidance, and your wonderful talents of artistic execution always boost my spirits and make me smile. Thank you, Belinda!

  4. This post is wonderful! Personal, about inspiration from home, a great art quote, it just couldn’t be better! Thanks for the push today, Belinda!

    1. Hello Marie,
      Thanks so much for your feedback. Home is loaded with inspiration, and I truly hope you find some in yours. The treasures in your nest are waiting to be painted. 🙂

  5. I love hearing about your white tiles, Belinda! I have white tiles in my kitchen as well!
    It was this series of yours that inspired me to pick up my brushes again after a hiatus from painting. It has a special place in my heart.

  6. Elizabeth Shively

    This piece, “Kitchen Spawned Watercolor Painting Series,” has been my most singular inspiration to get back to the enjoyment of painting. Thank you for your words and your beautiful work.

    1. Hi Liz, Thanks for your compliments and feedback… I appreciate hearing from you, and knowing these missives are nudging you towards your brushes. Happy hours of painting to you!

  7. Those kitchen tiles…What a great example of someone who looks for the best in things. And I love your art quote…it really isn’t about being famous or even important in a worldly way, it is about whether you left the world a slightly better place.

    1. Hi Nancy,
      I love that quote too… it really got me thinking. And what better thing to leave behind than a huge pile of art? 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind compliment.

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