Centerfold Models Don't Come Along Every Day

21 Jun 2012

The number one strategy for still life painting and drawing that professional artists have recommended to me or have explained to art students within my hearing (yes, I'm a major eavesdropper) is that you should not settle for the first object that comes along. The object you choose trumps all. And that means not just closing your eyes and randomly selecting the flower or vase or figurine that will be, essentially, the centerfold of your painting or drawing.

Sherrie McGraw is a master at color juxtaposition and working angles in her compositions as in this still life painting.
Sherrie McGraw is a master at color juxtaposition and working angles in her
compositions as in this still life painting.

So have some care with the items you pull into your composition, and let them inspire you--don't force it. I was walking around the grocery store with a painter-friend who was all of a sudden struck by inspiration for an entire composition when she saw a pile of raw, unshelled almonds that looked fresh off the tree. They were a delicate green color and had a fuzzy sheen to them that was unique. I could see from the faraway expression in her face that she was already working through the possibilities as she turned the nuts over in her hands.

I've also seen a draftsman spend close to an hour sorting through a bouquet of flowers before he found the right buds that were worthy of his flower drawing. He discarded flower after flower, stripping off leaves and shortening stems, until he really felt passionate about what he saw. He wanted the beauty of his rose drawing to lie in the beauty of the specific roses he chose to draw.

It's your artistic right to be choosy when it comes to the items you are going to spend a good deal of time depicting and visually exploring on the surface of your canvas or paper. So if you are challenged by how to draw flowers in a unique way or want to make an impact with your latest still life composition, carefully study the objects that draw you to them. They pull you in for some reason. Be mindful of that in your work. In the Visual Concepts in Still Life DVD with Sherrie McGraw, you'll find that this decision is the jumping off point for the entire concept of your painting. It's the starting point of the deeper dimension and conceptually rigorous work you may be after. Enjoy!


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