Rules in creating an effective still life painting or drawing.
Here is a list of things that I think about when planning out my still life.
1. Always use odd numbers of objects.
2. It is not just about the objects, it is about where they are located, (the background) and where the light is coming from.
3. Pick three different size objects.
4. Design the background like you are putting on a play with a stage.
5. Horizontal and vertical lines stagnate the design, keep with diagonals.
6. Pick objects that are harmonious with each other. Either similar or complimentary, as if you were going to wear them tonight to the ball.
7. Do not use dull object with one brightly colored object, particularly if that bright object is really big, it will take over the painting.
8. Do three sided crops if you are going to crop at all.
9. Do not crop thing in halves, awkward.
10. When designing, draw the flow of the objects..not the objects themselves. How do you want the eye to move around the space. This is achieved by sharp edges, bright color notations, descriptiveness, etc. Tell me what you want me to look at first, second third..etc.
11. Do not put objects in the middle unless that is what you want.
12. Do not put objects equal distant from each other or grouped in the middle.
13. Pick objects that are your own and unique. Bottles, fruit and other subject has been done over and over. If you choose them, pick something unique about it. Unique Eye level, cut them up, break them into pieces something to make it your own.
14. Get personal with the objects. See them as figures in a room. See how they relate or don’t relate to each other, play with the idea that they could be people in a room.
15. Do you thumb nails to figure out how to package your composition with strength right from the beginning. You won’t get it to work well later. If a composition isn’t working within 15 minutes…it is not going to work.
16. Change the set up around as you work to make it better…subtle changes.
17. Don’t paint the object in. Get the drawing issues out of the way and start using the paint to represent areas or color, value, texture, idea. Don’t save an outline, it won’t help the painting.
I hope this helps all my students with their visual thinking. Look at others, how they set up their still lives and figure out what they are doing…so much to learn.