See the Light! In a Still Life Painting, That Is

Creativity is a blessing and a curse: if you’re anything like me, you crave new projects, and always want to have something to be working on. Or your ideas come to you too quickly to respond to them all, and you have a laundry list of projects you want to do. I want to do it all, and sometimes it’s hard to focus on just the creative endeavors I’m best at, rather than spreading myself too thin just because I want to make something that’s beautiful, or huge, or challenging. It can be overwhelming, but I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Still life painting lesson with Richard Robinson | ArtistsNetwork.com

Practice (and experimentation) makes perfect. Art by Richard Robinson

When I was high school, my art-of-choice was playing the guitar. I practiced the scales by picking the strings one note at a time, up and down the neck of my acoustic-electric until my fingers were nice and blistered.

When I was in college and my life was filled with the study of dance, I spent hours at the barre, spotted the wall in countless pirouettes and plied until my legs were weak.

It’s all for the love of the craft, and painting is no different. “Every great artist has spent hours staring at the apple,” says instructor Richard Robinson. “Now it’s your turn.” Richard goes on to explain how setting up a still life and experimenting with light can be a rewarding exercise in painting.

Still Life Painting Setup

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“Set up a still life of a green/yellow pear so that it resembles my photo as closely as possible, paying close attention to the position of the light and shadows,” Richard says. “Get a pear and slice the roundness from it with a sharp knife, so that it’s not much smaller, and is made up of straight edges rather than curves.”

Still life painting lesson with Richard Robinson | ArtistsNetwork.com

Understanding shadows for a still life painting

“Replace the pear in your still life with this planed pear,” advises Richard. “Using a black marker, draw the pear on paper in just black and white areas, separating the light from the dark. Remember that the half-tone (the area between light and shadow) belongs to the light. Include the cast shadow in your drawing. Squint at your pear to help you see the large masses. You’ll notice that the black base is part of the light family except where a shadow is cast upon it. The brown background is in shadow so it, too, becomes part of the shadow family.”

Richard breaks down concepts such as this in his instructional videos. North Light Shop is proud to connect you with Richard’s following video workshops:
4 Landscape Projects from Photographs
4 Still Life Projects from Life

Use this expert guidance to learn the best ways to practice painting still lifes and landscapes, and remember that practice makes perfect.

Stay creative,
Cherie
Cherie Haas, online editor
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