Setting up a still-life, picking the props, figuring out the best lighting, the best angle to view it from are all part of what goes into a painting. Elegant objects? Ordinary objects? Related objects?
Some think still-life painting is the simplest to paint; it can be the most challenging, most rewarding, and most developing. Arranging the objects into a composition, considering the effects of lighting on the objects plays into how viewers read the still-life. Taking ordinary objects and capturing one’s interest is very challenging. Painting still-lifes greatly improved my landscape paintings and my figure paintings and it improved my editing when out on-the-spot painting. Editing is what makes for a good plein air artist.
Recently I got a postcard from an artist who relies on copying photos exactly. The painting on the card was done rather well, a pretty scene, a beautiful scene in fact, but very common. The artist hadn’t taken that extra step to raise his painting above the ordinary. With the number of artists out there, it is important to be able to get something extra into each painting. Settling for simply copying a good photo isn’t going to make it. Worse is taking a photo off the internet. I see these paintings done from photos put out there for artists to use. It sounds like a good way for learning how to paint, but that’s all it is. The lighting is all done for the artist, the pose is all done and where is the connection between the subject and the painter? Artists who copy from internet photos most have no life. My friend Chris used to use photos off the internet and recommended the practice to his friend. I convinced him to try doing a painting of his back yard and he loved it so much! He has become a better artist and is now represented by a gallery. People want to know who you are and painting the life around you is more interesting than painting a pretty girl you don’t know. Show off your mind by revealing life around you. Let people see the junk, the clutter you collect, and the strange people in your life.