When people think of still life paintings, the things that typically come to mind are the usual suspects: flowers, flowers in vases, fruit, jars, teapots and the like.
But what if you’ve already painted the flowers, the fruit and tea pots and such. . . or you don’t really have an interest in those items. Perhaps. . . you just want a fresh approach! In that case, there are objects out there that you might never have thought of that can be used for still life paintings.
Look around your house, the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink or even a tub. The wonderful thing about sinks is that the shape of the faucet, the chrome and the reflections always make for a very interesting painting!
Check your garage, too—that old toolbox with the hammers and screwdrivers is a perfect still life wainting to happen. Or how about a flashlight, or that old washboard collecting dust.
As the well known teacher and painter Charles Hawthorne said in Hawthorne On Painting (one of the books I recommended in an earlier article): “Get stuff that’s supposed to be ugly, like a pie plate or an old tin basin. . . ” then tell a story with it! Make it beautiful with paint.
Once a week my boyfriend makes a big breakfast of eggs, bacon and crepes, or an omelet, and he leaves the broken egg shells on the stove. Well the other morning I looked at those broken eggs shells and the way they looked on the stove next to the spatula and yellow bowl and thought, “Oh wow. . . that would make a great still life!”
Food is one of my favorite things to paint as a still life—any kind of food! I did a couple of paintings years ago, one was of Twinkies and Ding Dongs and the other Lemon Pies and Snowballs.
I can’t eat those things (way too much sugar for me) but they sure are fun to paint. :)
Even look for little knick-knacks you might have. Just set up a lamp facing them to get some nice light and shadows, and make the painting come alive.
Anyway, all that to say, the next time you want to paint a still life, check out the stuff in your house, apartment, garage or whatever you come across in your day to day travels. It doesn’t even have to be pretty or beautiful—no matter what it is, you, the artist, can always turn it into something magical.
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