When I was young and taking art classes, I was always
stumped when my teachers would let us decide individually what to paint. There
were just too many creative options and I would simply shut down. One time I
went home in a funk, stressed out about what to do, and I said to myself,
"Well, toss it. I'm just going to paint what's for dinner."
|This is a simple but moving still life by Richard Edward Miller,
composed of a simple tea pot and cup.
And that's what I did. Or at least that is where I started.
Still life paintings
are a great way to warm up when you feel uncertain or
conflicted about what you really want to paint. So when you don't know, just
wait for dinner (if you are lucky, you won't have to make it first!) and start
Still lifes give us permission to just look and react. We
don't have to deal with anyone's emotions but our own, and we don't have to
manage expectations. It is one of the best painting exercises I could ever
||Stovetop by Michael de Brito, 2009,
oil painting, 12 x 19.
And what's even better is that still life painting means you can
always change it up to suit your whims. There are always objects around that
can spark inspiration—the cup sitting at your elbow right now, the plant on the
windowsill, or even your next meal!
If you want to go down memory lane with me and paint still
lifes that may not be glamorous but sure are real—and
convenient—for any artist at any stage in their career, you may first want to
brush up on your still life skills with spot-on resources like Botanical
Sketchbook. There are some great tips on color mixing and how to stay sensitive
to the little details that really matter in a still life. Enjoy!
P.S. How do you feel about still life painting? Has it been
an art-saver for you the way it has been for me?