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Why Still Life Painting Backgrounds Are Important

Still Life Painting Exercise

In their eagerness to paint the objects in his still life painting ar­rangements, students very frequently neglect the back­ground.

They are happy just as long as the background fits into the color scheme.

Actually, the background is just as vital to the success of the painting as the objects being portrayed.

Since drapery affords the most variety and its arrange­ment as well as its color can be controlled by the painter, some time should be spent in studying it as background material.

Place a few tacks in the upper edge of a piece of mate­rial and let it hang freely, assuming its own folds.

Notice where the folds are straight and others are V-shaped.

Experiment with various types of material, learning how soft heavy cloth hangs in contrast to stiff, shiny material.

Try various arrangements of light objects against dark drapery and reverse combinations.

Compositional Notes in Still Life Painting

Various compositions of the still-life subject should al­ways precede the actual painting.
Still Life Composition
They can be made with charcoal applied lightly to the canvas, and can be changed by merely dusting the charcoal lines with a rag or a chamois.

The disadvantage of working directly on the canvas, however, is that the composition is lost when changes are made or a fresh one is started.

Instead, you can set up your still life in several arrangements and make a rough pencil or charcoal composition of each in your sketchbook.

They can be made smaller, but proportional to your canvas. Then select the arrangement you think is the most interesting and redraw it on the canvas.

Back to intro to still life painting.

Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez


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