View Full Version : Pastel Still Life

01-07-2003, 07:59 AM
Hi all,

Some of you might remember I was blown away with the work of a guy named Andrew Hemingway. After some help from you guys (Thank You again :) ), I was able to track him down and wrote to him. He ended up sending me a copy of his latest catalogue and I also bought a signed limited edition diary which he produced a couple of years back.

Now I've been drooling over this stuff since I got it and . . . . well . . OK . . . now this may come as a shock to some of you . . . but I'm toying around with doing my first still life. *Stop Laughing and pay attention!! LOL*

I posted a photo of a still life setup over in the still life forum and yeah . . pretty still alright . . not much life over there LOL Got only two replies and was pushed all the way down to number three on the list!! . . . do I sound biased towards you guys???

(BTW Thanks Jackie and Ginatec for the replies . . . took your comments on board Jackie, and although these pics are heavily influenced by Andrew, I'm trying to do a study in shapes/composition/texture etc. Not necessarily get too deep with the meaning of the subjects or their relevance to each other . . but I agree and point taken . . again . . Thanks :) )

So I need your help in composing my first pastel still life . . .What do y'all think of these??? I'm going for a clean semi-formal still life . .not one for florals is ol' Crumby :)

Let me know which ones you like and don't . . and why.
Thanks in advance

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

No. 4

No. 5

01-07-2003, 08:01 AM
Oh and BTW . . . you can crop, manipulate . .do anything with the photos you want to get your point across :)

01-07-2003, 08:27 AM
Hey Crumby.... welcome to the still life crowd hun!!! Yay!! My absolute favourite has to be the pocket watch. The pebbles in the corner form a lovely pointer to the watch. I haven't read the other comments in still life yet, but to me a still life should not just be a collection of objects but objects that are trying to convey a message of sorts....mmm.... They should still tell a story or evoke feelings and emotions. Just my take on it as that is what I try to convey in my own still lifes which you have seen.

There is a great opportunity with that wood under the pocket watch for lots of variance and detail... though you probably don't want it to be the focal point. If you like Andrew Hemingway I'm sure you will like the American Master William Bailey.. I have shown you a link to his stuff before but will gladly send you more if you wish to see him again. Here is one as a reminder but I think his medium was oil or tempera.

Looking forward to this as I'm a still life fanatic!!!!


Chook!!:clap: :clap:

01-07-2003, 08:35 AM
I like No. 4, too. That watch and those rocks kind of relate.

One thing when starting to work on still life -- don't get too complicated at first. You need to start simple, and then work your way to more complicated set ups.

I agree with Chook -- somehow those other set ups don't tell a story in any way to me. Do they to you? Are they about shapes, or color, or what? You need to have an agenda regarding the association in some way -- at least that is my opinion.

Now I will go to the other forum and read those comments. Love to always see what Jackie has to say!

Let us know and let us see what you do.

01-07-2003, 08:41 AM
I vote for 4 too! The others seem too spread out and unrelated. Or something. NOt that I am that good at setting up a good still life. I just know when I see one I like!
Good luck!


01-07-2003, 10:24 AM
I am not familiar with Andrew Hemmingways work...do you a link?
So I don't know if there is a particular style that you are trying to achieve...

Since this is your first still life keeping it simpler would be in your favor. I did manipulate a few of your images..keeping mind they are a rough manipulation.

From #5-I just took a portion of the photo...very simple...I would move the pebbles away from the bottle and each other a little more...keeping the same layout.


From #3- I moved the rocks...again I would separate them a little more keeping the same angle.


This one is my favorite...I made the canvas slightly larger on the right.. took out the big stones...indicated that a few smaller pebbles cold be added if you felt you needed them.


Just some food for thought...maybe it's not even what you are looking for. Just seeing a few of your pieces, I am anxious to see what you do...and confident it will be brilliant.:)

01-07-2003, 10:30 AM
4 by far seems to be the most striking composition, but I also like 1.

01-07-2003, 10:36 AM
OK Ive stopped laughing :D (just) ... couldnt' believe my eyes when I saw the thread ;) ...... I likes Sunny's first pic or either two with the watch :)

....... this I am really looking forward to seeing (know its going to be great ...... but soo different for you - or at least what you have shown us before) ..... hmmmm comfort zones lol

01-07-2003, 10:56 AM

I researched and found Heminways work...it's indeed exquisite. What I noticed with the few pieces that I found, was the space that he keeps around his objects. Nothing is crowded, I think that is what I was trying to explain in my post...

Being a lover of still life, he definitely is someone to aspire toward.

01-07-2003, 11:36 AM
Ok - so I didn't have my first cup of coffee by the time I looked at this thread and was very impressed with your final pieces - till I scrolled down a bit and read more.

I like #4 but also love the shape and shadows of the funnel in the back of #1. I hope you do something with that as well some day.

Can't wait to see your work. B

Mikki Petersen
01-07-2003, 12:02 PM
My vote is for #4 but it is only personal preference because I too look stories also I think objects laying about with lots of dead space in between are disjointed looking. Again, personal preference. I also like the first set up Sunny illustrated. Any of the pics would make a good study, certainly a good practice. I still like #4 best...there's just something powerful about rocks and time.

01-07-2003, 12:06 PM
Ha .....Thanks, Marsha, you have echoed my advice!

Crumby ... you can do whatever you want, of course, but the bottom line, seems to me, is that if you want your pic to be a)interesting and b) dynamic, you will have to think about the relationships between the objects.

If it is to be about shapes, then yes, the one with the rocks and the watch works really well, with wonderful curving forms. (However, I would be inclined to move the left-hand stones in, otherwise they look like they are trying to escape stage left, and you will end up with a hole in the middle of your picture.)

This would work too ... lovely echoing shapes (note my change to the back of the table and the tone value of one of the stones)
You have other option there, too, shape-wise - those nicely echoing angular shapes of the funnel and bottles with angles too.

That William Bailey still life on the table top is a real lesson in a)subdued colour choice, complemented by the use of echoing forms, and all these things combine to give a feeling of tranquility which is underlined by the use of repeating horizontals. It may be that you know this all ready, but in case you dont, the use of horizontals and verticals in a picture is always more still, peaceful and calming than the use of dynamic angles or the movement of curves.

Why not just get on with it, and produce a series of, say, 6 still life images, each of which depicts a simple set of objects, or even just one object - and I am sure your personal vision will be strengthened with each image you produce, until eventually you are much clearer in your mind about what you want to achieve.
I would suggest you try different backgrounds too to change the atmosphere, and see which appeals the most.

Looking forward to seeing some images................

01-07-2003, 01:16 PM
Crumby get your bat ready cause your gonna kill me!!! :D:D:D

Take that watch and pebbles...and take it to the beach, throw it in the sand! Then play with your composition to shadows, and photograph! :D Sands of Time play nicely in my mind;)

Actually if you are to do Still life I think you need to work with more colors! Everything you have to choose from is so drab, you need a pattern or color to make it snap! When I say pattern I mean something like a weaved basket, or objects with more texture. I know you stated you wanted to study shapes , but what is shape without color and texture??

Okay Im going back to my corner and shushing now:D:D:D

01-07-2003, 03:21 PM
Geeeez guys . . .I knew you'd all come through!
Got me thinkin' now . .and not drawing!! LOL
I'll play a bit more . . .probably do a few studies before I decide a final composition . . . dunno if I can draw a watch!!
Anyway, thanks for looking and I'll let you know what I decide and show you the WIP.Keep the suggestions cominh though.
Crumby . . . . prolly do another bird? LOL

01-07-2003, 03:49 PM
Think we should all chant!! ....... Crumby DO a Still Life!! .... Crumby Do a Still Life !! :D

01-07-2003, 06:07 PM
How can you not even try, for Pete's sake (whoever Pete is ... anyone know the origin of this?)

Go on. Have a go. I am doing ballet dancers, of all things! Why play safe, that's my motto - if you don't have a go and stretch those wings (!!!!) you will never know what you CAN do.

No tweety birds now. You can always go back to them afterwards. Come on, take up the challenge.


Katherine J
01-07-2003, 06:21 PM
Nothing is crowded,

Just want to say there are all sorts of ways of doing still life and the Italian Giorgio Morandi spent his whole life doing still life (and some printmaking which wasn't still life). He always jammed everything up together.

Go for it, Crumby, we're all waiting.


01-07-2003, 07:07 PM
I don't usually like still lifes but you have to love his work. I checked out Andrew Hemingway too. WOW.

Go for it Crumby You can do it You have the eye for such detail *S* I like the watch but not sure with what else *S*

01-07-2003, 08:05 PM
Just want to say there are all sorts of ways of doing still life and the Italian Giorgio Morandi spent his whole life doing still life (and some printmaking which wasn't still life). He always jammed everything up together.

Sorry, I should have clarified my comments a little better...the space around the objects is what I noticed about Andrew Hemingways' work.

I agree there are many ways of doing still lifes...many of my still lifes are a bit crowded.:D

Mikki Petersen
01-07-2003, 08:56 PM
Crumby, if you've been following the "Duel...errr Challenge" thread in this forum, you will see that a great deal of excitement and new learning can come out of challenging yourself to try something different and uncomfortable. You already know you can paint a breathtaking bird, painting another one won't generate near the intensity for you that painting something new will. With all the intricacies of feathers, how hard can a bunch of smooth objects be?

01-08-2003, 07:03 AM
Go Crumby Go!!!!

Let us see a still life from some of these objects -- whatever you decide to do first. You have to start somewhere. Just go for it! Then go for another one!!!!

Last night I taught my pastel class -- they usually paint landscapes or flowers, etc. from photographs. But I thought they had reached a point that needed to go further into the study of light and shadow ---- so I brought bowls, apples, pears and cherries -- and of course cloth! They weren't real happy -- having to paint from a three-dimensional and put it into two dimensions. But, I told them I would be painting today from the same items and hopefully painting as many as I could do in a day. I, too, usually paint landscapes - though both from photo and plein air. Have to go to a meeting this morning (forgot) -- but will paint this afternoon and I'll try to show you my result -- good or bad.

We all have to get out of our comfort zone sometimes. Just do it, don't worry too much about the result in the beginning, enjoy the journey. That does not mean don't plan! Plan, try it, don't like it, try another plan!

I try to paint a still life or two about every 10 - 20 paintings. Not often enough to get me out of my comfort zone.

Show us how it is done. Looking forward to the different ones you might do from these items.

01-08-2003, 07:39 AM
Hey guys,
Thanks all for the supportive comments . . . (I can hear the sniggering from here in OZ!!). Got a lot os support here!! :)

OK a couple of comments . . I don't necessarily agree with many of the comments with regard the objects having to relate to one another, or tell a story or have some deep meaning (or any meaning for that matter). I firmly believe that much still life is done just because a certain combination of totally unrelated objects is appealing to the eye through shape, harmonies, colour, repetition, etc etc and nothing more.

Don't get me wrong, I can get the emotional kick out of those that do have these inter-relationships, but some art is just plain easy to look at without having to delve to some deeper level.

That is how I view the work of Andrew Hemingway, and the other artists mentioned, as well as some of the WC artists I admire very much. Andrew's work varies from the complex (with numerous and varied, and seemingly unrelated items) to the simple (one item in a plastic bag) and from tightly bunched through to evenly spaced . . . I guess I've got a lot to learn here, but I guess the variations are what makes it interesting for me . . . why do such variations appeal?? . . mmmm . . . for just as many varied reasons I guess.

My only hesitation here was in composition . . and I guess I'm trying to work out why certain things appeal to me . . . and for me at this point at least, (and it's a matter of personal taste) it is not the inter-relationships or story behing the objects. I don't feel(yet) I'm out of my comfort zone . . . but then again, I haven't started yet!! LOL

I've got a couple of ideas now and I WILL be doing a still life thanks to your support . . but as some of you know . . I'm a bit of a perfectionist and want to get it right. Nor am I the sort of guy that likes to pussyfoot around by doing simpler items/compositons or whatever . . . I like to jump into the difficult stuff first off and strive for somewhere higher than I've been before . .whether it be in colour, composition or whatever . . I will not be happy just doing something I won't look back on as a challenge at the time.

Anyway, I ramble, thanks for all your input as I have certainly learnt something here . . if not just how different folks view different things . .interesting.

Will keep you posted of course!!
Thanks again

01-08-2003, 08:44 AM
Well said Crumby....tis exactly how I feel too.

01-08-2003, 12:42 PM
It is GREAT that you are so very clear about what you want to paint and why ........ so many people aren't!! I look forward to seeing your results.

If it is composition help you are after, you could certainly get a lot of help with that in the Composition and Design forum, it just occured to me. There are some terrific painters there who get a great kick out of the challenge of composition, and who love to put forth their ideas, I am sure you would get loads of feedback if you re-post your photos there.


01-08-2003, 03:46 PM
Originally posted by crumbedbrains

. . I'm a bit of a perfectionist and want to get it right. Nor am I the sort of guy that likes to pussyfoot around by doing simpler items/compositons or whatever . . . I like to jump into the difficult stuff first off and strive for somewhere higher than I've been before . .whether it be in colour, composition or whatever . . I will not be happy just doing something I won't look back on as a challenge at the time.


:music: Climb every mountain...ford every stream...follow every rainbow till you find your dream...:music:

sorry crumby not very helpful I know but I couldn't resist :) I'm sure whatever you choose to do will be very you and brilliant :)

01-08-2003, 04:13 PM
LOL I didnt even know they used the word Pussyfoot over der in Oz land!!:D:D LOL
All I know is that you are a wizard when it comes to detail and texture, thus the reason I suggested it. Something you can dig your heels into and tear it up;) Ill be anxious to see what comes of all this! ........So ......Stop pussyfootin around and hit them Pastels ALREADY:D:D:D:D

01-09-2003, 11:26 AM
G'day Mate!

Get out a Fosters and sit down and paint.

Good on yah!

Barb (well the Fosters may loosen you up but it could also loosen up the strokes - perhaps a glass of water would be better in that warmer climate).