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The Fundamentals of Drawing Still Life : A Practical and Inspirational Course


Author: Barrington Barber

Publisher: Foulsham


Publish Date: October 31, 2004

ISBN-10: 572030215

Pages: 352

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

TILL LIFE IS A VERY WELL-PRACTISED AREA of drawing and painting and has been the route by which many artists have learnt about techniques and style. This is because it is the most easily available of art’s themes and doesn’t require a model or a fine day. The artist has only to look around his home to find all he needs for an enjoyable drawing session to keep his hand and eye in.

Perhaps because of its comparatively small scale or domestic nature, it has taken time for still life to be appreciated, and from about 1600 onwards until the 20th century it sat firmly at the bottom of the ladder in the hierarchy of artistic themes. Then still life, or nature morte, as the French call it, began to be recognized as having just as much significance in the art of drawing and painting as portraiture, history painting, figure painting, or landscape. It began to be seen that a brilliant Chardin still life was as good if not better than any painting by a lesser artist, however elevated the theme.

In one sense it is an easy option: all of it can be produced in the studio and it has none of the problems associated with other types of art. Unlike people, the objects of a still life don’t move and they don’t need rests. As a subject for novice artists still life is ideal because any objects can be used and you can take all the time you need in order to draw them correctly.

Drawing still life opens your eyes to the possibilities of quite ordinary items becoming part of a piece of art. Around any house there are simple everyday groups of objects that can be used to produce very interesting compositions. If you follow my suggestions you will quickly learn how to choose objects and put them together in ways that exploit their shape, contrasting tones and sizes, and also the materials that they are made of.

I have not assumed that all readers of this book will come to it with a great deal of experience of drawing, and so we start at a very basic level. The exercises set out are intended to ease into the subject someone who has never really drawn before, yet also provide useful refreshers for those of you who are already practised in drawing. Primarily we deal first with drawing objects, building up from simple shapes to complex, before moving on to tackle the drawing of still-life arrangements.

With these too we start very simply and gradually bring in more and more objects to create themes; you will have no shortage of themes to choose from. Conversely, you will also discover that arrangements involving few objects can be as, if not more, effective. Some of the most famous still-life artists have restricted their arrangements quite drastically and still become masters of the genre.

I do hope you enjoy exploring this area of drawing with me, and that by the end of the book you will be looking at the objects around you with a keen awareness of the possibilities they offer you for self-expression.

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