Still Life Painting

As we spend time talking about still life painting, I would like to expand our thoughts about this subject.  What is a still life? ...."things that are still, not moving"  That is certainly one definition.  However, many people immediately think of a rather dark painting of flowers or china, hanging over Grandma's buffet in the dining room.  Or perhaps a piece of family china with a doily and, maybe, a patterned tablecloth or a piece of crystal.  How we love to imagine painting crystal!  But still life has come to mean so much more than that.  Think for a moment of Salvatore Dali.....

Let's ask some personal questions and find out what your personal still life might look like.

  • Why paint one? ....
    • Look at the materials in magazines and art books.  Go on line and google still life paintings.  You will find a wide variety of reasons for painting still life and a huge variety of items which are included.  From crystal vases to dead fish, from wine bottles and reflections, to a collection of bottle caps.  See what appeals to you in way of style and theme.  Let your mind wander over what might appeal to you in your environment that you would like to share with others.
  • What makes people paint their particular topics? .....they find something in the items that has meaning to them - meaning that they want to convey to the viewer.
    • Mood, theme plot (other words for meaning):
      • beauty, hopefulness, serenity, hatred, battle, purity, power, sorrow, exuberance, grief, time, loss, quiet, rest, cruelty...
    • What is it that you would like to communicate through your painting?
      • If you can answer this question, you are halfway to composing your still life.
Here is a still life that I have painted of wine bottles.  They were from a small local winery near our home and the owner wanted an image for some cards that she could sell.  She wanted to communicate the delicacy of the wine, the solidness of her business and a sense of joyfulness.  I chose sunlight to transmit this message, using the reflections of the wonderful wines and the stability of the fruits that she used in making them.  The sense of light makes you want to sit down and try a glass for yourself.

Start designing your own still life - and do it with purpose!  Happy Painting!!

    Jean Corbett

    Walk along the painting and creativity path with me.  It is never boring!


    September 2015