Drawing the Still Life

Student Work


A still-life is an artistic picture of a collection of everyday items. A bowl of fruit, a flower arrangement, or even a pile of shoes could be great subjects for a still-life drawing. We will be using pencil to draw still-lifes, and the element of Value to make them look real.

Still Life -- a work of art with a collection of everyday items as the subject.
Value -- lightness or darkness of a color
Texture -- how something feels or appears to feel
Space -- the sense of depth in a picture; of the picture plane being 3-D and not flat.

You need:

Here's what you do:

1. Set up a bunch of objects, drapes, plants, furniture, etc… to create a still life that has a variety of shapes and textures.
2. Shine a bright light on your still-life. (First two steps should be already done in the classroom. See me if this is makeup work.)
3. Look at your collection of objects. Pay attention to where the light source is. Where do you see your lightest shades? Where do you see the darkest shadows?
4. Start your drawing by making a few marks on the paper to indicate the dimensions of objects in your picture. Where is the tallest item in your picture? Where is the edge of the object on the farthest right and left of the picture? Where do the objects lie on the bottom of the picture? Use these marks to guide you in placing the objects on the page as you draw.
5. Draw light outlines of your objects so you can erase them if you need to adjust your proportions.
6. When you have your objects drawn, start shading by coloring in the darkest shadows, first. Look at the objects, themselves -- where are the darkest spots?
7. Notice where the lighter spots are. Shade your objects from dark to light, just like you did with your value charts. This time, blend the colors together carefully so you do not see any lines between shades -- it should be one smooth transition from dark to light.
8. The only white spots in the picture should be the shiniest spots on the objects. Even a white ball will have every shade from black to white on it.
9. Sign your work!

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