Find your objects eg. jugs, bowls, bottles, vases, cups etc.
Try to use white or very light coloured objects.
Set up your still life in a way that makes you happy.
You might want to use one single object or create a display with a few pieces.
It helps to be in a darkish room, illuminate your set up from one side with a single light source. This could be a desk light or sunlight shining onto one side.
It will help your painting if you set up beautiful and simple light & shadows now.
Let's set up the paint
Start by exploring a bit with this colour palette.
On your palette you will have white, burnt sienna & blue.
Get some white and mix in a teeny tiny bit of blue and a tiny little bit of burnt sienna.
You will start to be able to make various shades of grey.
Try to keep it light (it's easy to get dark without realising).
Now, let's paint ! We want to feel the form, watch the light gently curve into the shadows. This is an exercise in tonal variation, mixing and blending paint.
Loosely with a big brush start to map out your still life in a light colour.
Paint the whole shapes of the objects NOT the outline.
Notice the placement levels along the bottoms of your objects.
Are they in a straight line or are some things higher and others lower?
Use your whole page or canvas in an interesting way.
Now start looking for some darker areas on the objects, the side in shadow.
Whenever you like you can paint darker or lighter into the background.
Carefully notice if you can see the table edge behind the objects.
Experiment with making the greys more blueish (cooler) or more brownish (warmer).
Once you have loosely painted the whole page with a biggish brush you might like to refine some area using a smaller brush and looking for the curvature, the gentle gradation from light to dark.
Your final touches will be the darkest corners and the whitest brightest areas.
A note on Still Life I sometimes find it a challenge to stay interested in painting inanimate objects but I have learnt so much from it. And they don't move or get uncomfortable. I believe it's a valuable exercise for painting anything... a head, body or even abstracts.
For still life inspiration there is the Australian artist, the one and only Margaret Olley 🌼 This is taken from an interview: MARIUS BENSON: In terms of the subject matter you're dealing with you were saying that you like landscapes and you have done portraits but for quite logical reasons still lifes are the easiest and most accessible… MARGARET OLLEY: It doesn't really matter what you paint. I have no message. You can say I celebrate life.
And I can't resist sharing my favourite quote from her as well "I’ve never liked housework. I get by doing little chores when I feel like them, in between paintings. Who wants to chase dust all their life? You can spend your whole lifetime cleaning the house. I like watching the patina grow. If the house looks dirty, buy another bunch of flowers, is my advice."
Incase you are interested, I will be in the Art of Flow at home FB on Wednesday at 11am for 30 mins, intuitively painting a big canvas.