When I lived in Portland, I attended the Pacific Northwest College of Art for a year or so and earned credit towards a certificate in painting. I haven't been painting much lately as I have been very busy with the horses. Last Sunday I got the urge to paint, and I did this still life (normally I do landscapes) in oil.
I really like the vertical orientation here, I think it really emphasizes the strong vertical lines of the composition. The rounded forms at the bottom, oriented in a more horizontal fashion, work really well against the strong vertical lines, keeping them from totally dominating the painting. I don't normally use a lot of white space, which I did in this painting, but I think it helps the forms stand out and provides a visual relief from the highly saturated color.
I rarely use black in a painting, and this one is no exception. The darks are a combination of ultramarine blue (my favorite "black") and/or one of the darker earth tones (raw sienna, burnt sienna, or burnt umber). I find it makes the darks much more vibrant.
I don't think the painting is entirely done yet, could use some more color depth (especially on the rounded forms and yellow areas). But a pretty good start!