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Still Life from Multiple Vantage Points

For this lesson, create representational, quick-study paintings from direct observation of one still life from multiple vantage points. This should be a true representation of what you are observing from different positions around the still life.

If this is your first still life painting or you have painted still life before, make this one as simple as you can. Set up the still life so that you can move around it and be able to paint from different locations without rearranging the objects in the composition. Use no more than 3 to 5 simple objects in the composition, objects that are simple basic shapes. Do not use complex figurines, branches, flowers, etc. As you arrange the objects, pay attention to how they overlap and interact with each other and the negative spaces created between them. If possible, work with only one light source, keeping the shadows and cast shadows simple. When you have your composition to your liking, move around it and observe it from various vantage points, straight on, high, low, making any last-minute adjustments. Once you see that you have at least three places where you can position yourself to paint from, you are ready to begin. See examples (a), (b), (c), and (d) below showing the same compositions viewed and painted from different vantage points.

Use small starched canvases or canvas sheets and a full range of colors on your palette. Start the painting with diluted/thin paint for blocking in the large forms, and then build to heavier paint as the painting progresses. As always, it is important to paint from "lean to fat." You can use a graphite pencil to draw the compositional elements on the canvas. Once you have the drawing correct, start blocking in the large forms, paying attention to the color values, dark and light values, the objects' shadows and cast shadows. As you add somewhat thicker paint, try to work on the transitions from light to dark, blending the paint in the direction of the cross contours of the forms. Your brush strokes should be applied in the direction of the cross contours of the object to enhance the illusion of dimension. Once you have one worked out in simple form, move on to the next position and so on until you have a few studies done as in examples that follow.









Below are examples of students' still life studies.


Still life study by Peg Taylor.


.Student still life study, artist unknown.


Student still life study, artist unknown.

Inspirational still life paintings by master painters.


Henri Matisse,  Apples, 1916.


Pablo Picasso,  Still-Life with a Pitcher and Apples, 1919.

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