Still life painting class


Photo taken by course organiser showing the table I was working on. You can see the start of my painted carrots on the left-hand side.

To increase confidence and awareness of colour, drawing and painting I attended my first ever acrylic painting class, entitled ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS – Still Life Painting.  It felt about my level, and was.

Don’t you hate it when you attend something aimed at a certain level (usually an introductory course) and find half the people have been doing it for some time and are way above the level intended?  It just makes the rest of the class feel totally inadequate.  Anyway, that wasn’t the case here, everyone was very much at the beginning of their painting journey.

Print1-Sketch38We started with a table full of fruit and vegetables where we chose a few, put them into what we thought to be a decent arrangement – considering positive and negative space – and then proceeded to draw them as quick thumbnail sketches.  Well, not that quick in my case!!

We were told to make simple outlines but pay particular attention to the shadows.  I confess to having gone for fairly easy shapes in carrots and a radish, with a tentative look at a cut purple cabbage.Print1-Sketch39

From here we moved to brown paper, drawing out our prefered design.

We were given huge flat brushes and were supposed to be free and flowing, non-precise and only trying to get a loosely worked approximation of the actual objects, simplifying them into blocks.

Working only with a mix of black and white we concentrated on high, mid and low tones.  Brenda was showing us how to look at an object and not just see the item as a whole but rather how to break it down into components of light and shadow, and the gradations within those.

I was still a bit slow and didn’t get the radish leaves done before moving on.  I felt that I just had to work at my own pace and not look at the work around me and the progress others were making.

We were then given a piece of wood, marine ply I think, and told to sketch our composition.  Some people chose to paint their wood first, luckily I did not.  My brain told me that as soon as the paint hit the wood it would soak in, making it difficult to get an even coverage and spread the diluted paint around.  Phew, how right I was!  Brenda managed to ‘rescue’ a few painted backgrounds and they ended up looking fine but I liked the wood look anyway.

Print1-Sketch40So here is my finished piece, from a 3 hour class, and I’m pretty happy with it as a learning experience.  Obviously, not having a painted background, they look a bit like they are floating but I can live with that at this stage.

All the pieces came out well, with many different interpretations.  Brenda was very complementary about them all but did add that mine was the most precise, accurate rendition she had come across in her ‘scumbling’ classes.  And here was I thinking I’d been particularly loose and approximate in my painting!!  It’s that personality thing that always sneaks in.


About Claire B

I am a passionate printmaker, paper maker and book artist. I'm a 'forever' student and frequently attend courses and workshops to extend and improve my creative skills.
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