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Old 12-27-2002, 01:27 PM
Ryan Ryan is offline
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how to set up a decent still life

Can somebody please tell me the secret to setting up a meaningful still life? When ever I try to group objects together it just seems random.
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Old 12-27-2002, 04:05 PM
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Linda Ciallelo Linda Ciallelo is offline
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Ryan, first you have to find objects that hold your interest for some reason. I am drawn to things that are translucent , or things that are shiney. I like the thrill of making something look like it is reflecting light. I think anything that shines is pretty. I like water in a vase or patterns through a vase.
When you set things up be aware of the light. Remember that you will be painting the light and the shadows. Use a camera or a peice of cardboard that has a rectangular hole in it to frame your set up. This way you will see what your painting will look like. Try to balance the things in your painting. The focal points can be light, shadows, objects, lines, etc. etc. Everything in the set up will play a part in your painting. Try to BALANCE the details, arrange points of interest, and make the lines lead your eye to the focal point. Much of it is instinct, but some people say that a Triangular line of focus is good. Three objects are better than two or four.
Think of the set up as being a geometric design. The objects are just geometric shapes that you are arranging in a pleasing pattern on a peice of rectangular paper. Try to fill your imaginary paper. Don't put all the objects in the corner, leaving the rest of the paper blank.
I hope this helps a little.
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Old 12-30-2002, 07:11 AM
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Think of your still life setup as a play on a stage. Your objects are the supporting actors, your background is the stage set. The star of the show is the LIGHT. Use your setup box as your stage set, and let it help you create areas of shadow that will work against the LIGHT which is the star of the show. There's an article on the main page of this forum that shows some examples of that.

Consider that the dance of LIGHT across the "stage" as it interacts with the objects (supporting actors) is what the still life is about.

Having some dark shadow areas will allow you to place objects so that they are partly in shadow, revealing only little bits of themselves and hiding some of their edges. This gives interest and mystery to the play. Let some of them be way back (upstage), and some closer to the middle of the stage, and some right up front (downstage).

Let the most interesting objects be slightly off-center and let the light play with these most strongly. It helps to have a dark area in back to really bring this part out. This part is the main plot of the play and has the most detail, color, texture, intensity.


If this doesn't make sense, do a search for some of Leopoldo's still lifes on this site. There's also an excellent book about David Leffel's still life work, can't remember the title or author, but someone here will know. You can probably find it in your local library. There are others who have some excellent examples of what I'm talking about here in this forum. Look through them and see if you can see what I'm trying to say.

Ruth
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Old 01-01-2003, 09:43 PM
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cobalt fingers cobalt fingers is offline
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others

There are several long threads about that right now in "oil painting."
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Old 01-03-2003, 09:05 AM
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arlene arlene is offline
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Also how about asking your question in the composition forum...because a good still life starts with a good composition.
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Old 01-14-2003, 01:37 PM
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jackiesimmonds jackiesimmonds is offline
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A good way to make sure that your still life doesn't look too random, is to use on of the following ideas, on which you could base your still life;

1. COLOUR

You could try all white objects, this is always fun. Use a warm spotlight, and then the lit areas will be warm creams and pinks and pale oranges, while the shadows will be cool blues and violets. Great fun to do.

Alternatively, you could use COMPLEMENTARY COLOURS as your theme. You may need to look at a book on colour, to see what the rules are. Basically, colours opposite each other on the colour wheel are called COMPLEMENTARIES. So, just one instance ... BLUE has, as its complement, ORANGE. So you could do a still life with lots of blue in it, and just a touch of orange for a wonderful contrast. It is best to emphasise one of the pair, and subdue the other. The other main complementary pairs are RED/GREEN, and YELLOW/PURPLE.

Thirdly, you could use HARMONIOUS COLOURS. These are colours NEXT to each other on the colour wheel. So you could use, for instance, red, red/orange, orange, orange/yellow. This will make for wonderful colour harmony, no matter what objects you use.

2. SHAPE.

Another idea is to choose objects for their echoing shapes ... with perhaps just one note of contrast. So, for instance, you could use lots of circular objects .......or square objects.......or long, tall objects. Lots of bottles together always works, they can have similar shapes, but with variety too, some short and fat, others tall and slim, but all with a narrow area at the neck and a wider base. Fruits are always good - lots of echoing shapes, with changes of scale too.........apples, cherries, grapes etc. Groups of lemons, slices of melon - great shapes.

3. TEXTURE.

You could think about texture as your theme. You could either contrast textures - hard/soft , smooth/furry, shiny/matte, or you could have things with similarities to their texture.

4. SIMPLICITY

Sometimes, breaking your head over a still life set up is just not necessary. You can make a superb still life with, say, three oranges, one of which has been cut open so that you can see the flesh, and perhaps a bit of the peel too. Light it well, as someone else has suggested, with some directional light, and you will be up and running!! The light should make it look exciting immediately, and the simplicity of the colours, and forms, can make for a very dynamic picture, (provided you think a bit about the composition.)

Hope these ideas will get you started. Once you begin, there is no end to the ideas you can come up with.

Jackie

website: www.jackiesimmonds.co.uk
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Old 02-14-2003, 09:25 AM
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Just bringing this up to the top. I think it needs to be a 'sticky".

Ruth
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Old 02-16-2003, 08:39 AM
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Thumbs up

I agree!
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Old 02-22-2003, 03:44 AM
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ginatec ginatec is offline
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You have been given good advice here on this thread. What I was also told when I was struggling with still life composition is that it should look like a random moment in time that you have captured for example an open book next to a half empty coffee cup We all have many attemps at lighting and moving our composition about...I think the secret is to make it look like it just happened by accident.
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Old 02-25-2003, 10:19 AM
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Wink Setting up a still life from a unique angle

One of the ways I set up a still life is by using a Lazy Susan as the platform for my objects that I wish to paint.

If you don't have a Lazy Susan, try looking in the kitchenware department in stores like Walmart for those round plastic turntables that spin and are used inside cabinets to store small articles.

After you've set up your still life on the Lazy Susan, slowly turn it just a few degrees at a time until you've seen the entire set up from every angle, and you may find a different vantage point that is even more dramatic than the one you set up. Paint from that! Good Luck!

Last edited by aspiring artist : 02-25-2003 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 04-20-2003, 09:21 AM
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Lots of good advice for those of us who've never set up a still life we liked. I dislike my setups so much that I'm always on the lookout for fortuitous arrangements to work from. Maybe I'll do a little better with the turntable idea.

Thanks,

Calvo
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Old 06-06-2003, 12:44 AM
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henry henry is offline
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concrete and absolute still life arrangement

There are many suggestions
but there is one concrete
and absolute solution.
It is the choice of freedom...
freedom from history and
its suggestions. It is the
"intuitive'' eye .It is freedom
from all economic consideration.
It is freedom from the parrot -like
edicts and "rules of composition".
It is the immediate reaction to a
yearning to understand form.
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Old 06-06-2003, 05:45 AM
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Chelle Chelle is offline
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This thread is great. It's just the advise I need!
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Old 07-19-2003, 11:45 PM
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Katherine J Katherine J is offline
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One of the things I've learned from WCers is not to have objects 'kissing' - a mistake I've made more than once. In other words, have them overlapping, or spaced somewhat apart, but not almost touching each other.

Katherine
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Old 10-10-2003, 01:11 PM
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jackiesimmonds jackiesimmonds is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by calvo
Lots of good advice for those of us who've never set up a still life we liked. I dislike my setups so much that I'm always on the lookout for fortuitous arrangements to work from. Maybe I'll do a little better with the turntable idea.

Thanks,

Calvo

If you have never set up a still life that you have liked, I would suggest that you aren't using a) enough imagination in your arrangements and b) objects that you love.

If you LOVE your objects, or one main object, it usually helps a lot, because then, you can use that object as a starting point, and build a still life around it.

Sometimes, the simplest of objects, makes the nicest of still life arrangements. 3 pears, for example, lit from one side, one perhaps lying down, and the other two more upright, with their stalks bending slightly in different directions....perhaps two of the pears overlapping, one on its own..so simple, and yet so lovely to paint.

Why not go to the library, and have a look at LOADS of still life paintings. Select some you DO like. Ask yourself why you like them. Whenyou know why you like them, settle on your favourite, go home and set up something similar. This should do it.

J
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