Still.Life.October: De(composition)

30 Oct

This month’s takeaway – the importance of COMPOSITION.

I CANNOT stress this enough.

It is important, not just in the translation of the Still Life subject onto the canvas (i.e. composition of the painting), but also very much on the Still Life arrangement itself.  This was a matter of some controversy over at the Art Association. People get pissed with a bad arrangement. And I’m beginning to understand why.

Arranging a Still Life is ART in itself. There has to be thought behind it – a thematic statement, a conscious spatial arrangement.  Just like how throwing together some twigs do not ikebana make, simply throwing a few things together rojak style does not make for a good Still Life arrangement.

And it really affects the mood to paint…

On the other hand, as a beginner, I grin and do it, and consider it practice. Though it feels more shiok when the subject matter and arrangement is interesting to begin with.

ANYWAY… case in point, observe the arrangements for this month and tell me, which one interests you most?

Still.Life in Real Life

The top 2 and bottom 2 are done by different people. Can you tell?

A little about composition

Wikipedia has a comprehensive article on the “principles of design” which can be applied to Still Life composition. I thought it was rather useful in understanding why certain arrangements work, or not work. This is a worthwhile topic to pursue at a later time.

I am curious if I would be able to do better if I was ever tasked with setting up a Still Life.  Till I think I can, I cannot complain nor change anything.

So, anyway…

Presenting…. Still.Life.October!

Here’s the link to my picasa web album for viewing all the Work-in-progress pictures.

Oct 2: Back to School

From Still.Life.October

I thought the arrangement had potential. But as I worked on it, I realised that there was insufficient colour contrast in the set up. Everything was green, or black, with a smattering of red.  Initially, I didn’t want to put in the flowers, because it didn’t feel like it fit with the “Back to School” feel.

I mean, who goes to school with flowers right?!?  Ok, maybe anime characters are at times depicted appearing in a sea of flowers… but that’s not my point!

Picture from Vampire Knight.

(Hahhah…. Imagining Kaname senpai carrying the obiang backpack is just hilarious…..)

Ok, I digress…

I didn’t want to paint the flowers but Teacher tells me that the red flowers are necessary in order to bring the separate items – bag, shoes, cap – in together. And that the red (complementary colour to the green tones) will give it more colour contrast.

But thematically… it simply does not fit!  It irritated me.

BUT, I still get the practice I need.

So can’t complain.

Oct 9: An Unhealthy Lunch

From Still.Life.October

I didn’t like this arrangement at all! It bothered me that I could not ascertain a thematic congruence in the seemingly sporadic juxtaposition of items.

Whoa… some big words I just used… HAHAH.

But yeah! How does Coke link to Teh-O? And green apples with Korean cup noodle? C’mon…

(ok fine, so you could say it’s a poor University student’s pantry raid but still!).

I grumbled a bit and then sat down to work. Taking the chance to practise painting plastic (coke bottle, cup noodle packaging), glass (tea cup, saucer) and the apples.

In the end, I could not bring myself to carry on to work out the refinements required. I felt that even if I do put in effort to refine the individual items well, it would still, on the whole, not be a painting that I would find very attractive.

Hence, I gave up after a relatively short day.


Oct 16: Wine & Grapes in basket

From Still.Life.October

Now THIS I like! =D

It really was a challenge to paint the grapes properly.  Right now, it all looks like a huge purple green mass (mess).

I can barely do fruits still!!! But it was good practice, as usual. My grapes look a bit clumpy. I think it’s the lack of contrast. Needs more work, I KNOW.

The cloth was also difficult to render realistically. I guess it will take a lot more observation and time in order for me to grasp the finer points in painting cloth.

Oct 30: Flowers in glass jug

From Still.Life.October

This has to be my favourite BY FAR!

I dread flowers.. and my frustration with painting floral arrangements had always dampened my spirits.  BUT BUT BUT, I actually had fun with today’s floral arrangement! And it has to be credited to the Still Life arranger who put up such an engaging set up that I immediately got to work once I settled on a “prime” spot.

I don’t really KNOW how I did it. If you ask me, at this beginner stage of learning, a lot of what I am able to do is rather hit-or-miss. I do hope I’ll be able to re-create my success further down the line. 🙂

Friends at the Association came up to offer their tips and kind words.  I think it is really important for beginners to get encouragement. On days like this, I feel so blessed.


Next week, I am told to bring my heels. Not to wear silly… as a prop!


I am curious what kind of Still Life arrangement to expect from that.

A part of me went “Oh no.. what now… first Back to School, now Gone Shopping??”


Stay tuned to find out! 😉

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