Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ideas for still life painting

In preparation for our upcoming Still Life class at ARThouse, I have been going through the photos of possible still life arrangements that I already have on my computer.  We will also discuss taking photos in class and create some of our own arrangements to photograph and paint from.  But to help get you started, I am posting some ideas below.  Please leave a comment at the bottom about which of these inspires you most for painting!


  1. Wow, those pictures look nice, Sue! I can't wait to get started painting!

  2. Susan, I didn't see any place to reply at the bottom, so I'm just coming back to you via return email. The three photos that I like best are the bulbs in the glass container, the bowl of apples and the white coffee set. Next would be the containers of paint brushes.

  3. OK, thanks, Sally! That's interesting to know. I also like the bulbs a lot, but we will have to do something to break up that horizontal stripe going across the middle! By the way, those who are receiving the blog postings by email may not see these comments. You will have to click on the words ARThouse Studio School at the bottom of the email to get to the actual blog and leave a comment. Thanks for your patience while we try this out!

  4. I agree with Sallly. I love the bulbs. The cup of coffe would offer the opportunity to try "silver". And the glass ball provides incredibly interesting shadows.

  5. I like the flowers with teapot, the apples/oranges/onions quartet, and the paint brushes the best, although any of the rest would be fun and challenging!

  6. Thanks for your comments, you guys! Personally I have always wanted to paint those paint brushes, since they are the ones I paint with!... Actually, I just scanned a bunch of old photos into my computer, of still life set-ups I had photographed 10-20 years ago. Still perfectly good for painting though. I don't want to confuse matters, but I may post some of those too. Stay tuned...

  7. I couldn't figure out how to leave a comment at the bottom. I like the Twinings tea, paint brushes, bulbs, apples, white pitcher with mugs, gardenia, and pencils in mug.

  8. The photo that most appeals to me is of the bulbs and roots? Are they narcissis?

  9. Hi Beth-- Thanks for your input. Several people really like the bulbs and I do too. They were actually a vase of forced pink tulips I got at Costco. Painting the roots would be a fun exercise in negative painting.

  10. Hi, Sue!
    Happy New Year! to you and your family.
    What a great idea, posting this for comment. So, here goes. . .
    1. Simplicity, high contrast, focal point, non-irritating shadowing--the eggs. My very favorite.
    2. Any and all with crystal are too busy.
    3. The heart in the foam of the coffee is nice, despite the distortion of the photo.
    4. Decapitated bulbs with roots in water is, also, a favorite. Backlighting is disturbing, visually.

    Now, Sue, you've got me thinking. I have already begun shooting some reference photos.
    Looking forward to a great course! Thanks!


  11. I like the first one for the opportunity to paint silver, the magnolia blossom for the opportunity to paint glass and I like the bulbs also. Thumbs down on the eggs...


  12. OK, so this is getting increasingly interesting... Here is how we stand so far, but let's keep voting and I will change this tally as we get more input:

    6--rooting tulip bulbs
    2--white Melitta pitcher with Ikea cups
    2--cappuchino with heart
    2--watercolor brushes
    2--Twinings tea
    2--gardenia in glass vase
    2--apples in bowl
    1--glass ball
    1--roses and pink teapot
    1--quartet of veggie still lifes
    1--pencils in a mug
    1--egg shells
    0--Chinese food
    0--coneflowers on a table with salt and pepper
    0--wineglasses and candles
    0--black-eyed Susans in a round vase
    0--coneflowers on a table with orange juice

  13. Photo # 10 of 17...

    This photo presents best exercise for me to learn about reflections, fine lines, details etc.

  14. OK, thanks, Cecile! #10 is the rooting bulbs, so is that the one you mean? The next one (the wine glasses and candles) has many more reflections, making me wonder if you miscounted. I miscounted too, and now realize there are 17 photos...

  15. Hi Susan-- A Happy New, Healthy and Creative Year to you and us all. My preferences go to The crystal bowl, Orchid in a bowl, Apples in a bowl. I think that these three pictures would be challenging and fun to paint because I could mix abstract with still life. No more eggs please, grazie.
    See you soon.
    Gloria Tanton

  16. Susan,
    I am a bit noveau-blog. But here is what I liked: the bulbs, paint brushes, white flower in water and apple. I was blown away by the ones you did in your last blog-perhaps the one with the registration.

  17. Hi Susan, Happy New Year! I like the brushes, rooting bulbs, apples in a bowl, and pencils in a mug...anything would be fun and challenging to paint for me.

  18. Hi Sue, Thanks for offering a wide variety of suggestions. I like the paint brushes, the bulbs, the tea pot and cups and the gardinia (?) in the silver bowl. I really, really like the marble or sphere but feel that I could NEVER create anything that even resembles it in watercolors. The others seem a bit too busy or intimidating. Remember, I am still just a STUDENT, not an accomplished w.c.painter! Any of these subjects will present a major challenge for me.

  19. I like the photo of the pink tea pot with flowers and a plate. I also like the wine glasses. I agree with Gloria, no more eggs. I am looking forward to the class. I also liked the apples.

  20. Happy New Year, Susan! I love your collection of still life photos. #1 - rooting bulbs #2 - Tea (Lady Grey tea bag) #3 - I love wine glasses but want to crop the photo to show only a few glasses. Cannot wait until the class starts!

  21. Hi Susan - I posted a comment yesterday but I don't see it. Must be in cyberspace somewhere. I had said that as long as I had a paintbrush in my hand, I didn't really care what we painted. However, in looking through your photos again, I really like the colors in the reddish teapot with the pale roses in a vase behind it. I think it is a teaball on a saucer also. Gee, would you have guessed that I would like those colors? Anyway, I will attempt to post this comment and see what happens.

  22. PS - I think the photo I like is the same one that Donna likes.

  23. Thanks fo much to Gloria, Betsy, Soo, Ruth, Donna, Angie, and Jean, all who commented most recently! I have recorded your input and will update the new post soon with the changes.

  24. I would pick the gardenia in a glass vase. It looks simple, but very challenging for me. I also like the rooting bulbs and the paint brushes.

  25. Happy New Year! Looking forward to getting back to paints on my kitchen counter instead of wrapping paper, and left over Christmas cookies.
    I like the Gardenia and the bulbs as subjects.
    See you in a couple weeks, Patty

  26. #1 Bulbs: best, but move the rim for better composition
    #2 White gardenia: stunning!
    #3 Chinese food: very challenging! would love to learn how to do that, but I doubt I can.
    #4 paintbrushes: great composition, and I like it!
    #5 Wine: simplify the composition
    #6 Glass ball: like it
    #7 Flowers and lace: challenging

  27. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Toni, Patty, and Barbara. I have registered your votes on the final tally in the next blog article-- Sue

  28. Beautiful inspiring ideas.

  29. Hi Susan, I amlooking forward to the class. My favorites included the marble, paint brushes (but maybe fewer), the bulbs and the bowl of apples in that order.