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Digital Subscriptions > Leisure Painter > Nov-19 > Making arrangements

Making arrangements

Part 1 How to plan, arrange and place objects for a successful still-life composition, with David Webb


How to set out and light a still life

Make and use viewfinders

Sketch several compositions from one arrangement

Still life has been a popular subject choice of artists for hundreds of years. The attraction of still life, for me, is that the entire process is under my control. We can place objects wherever we want, in whatever colours we like, and we can control the type and direction of the light source. It is a very creative genre, if we stop to think and do a little planning.


This month I would like to concentrate on the arrangement and placement of items in your composition. Preparation is everything in still life. The more time you spend in thinking about your design, the more satisfying the finished result will be. It’s tempting to open kitchen cupboards and grab what’s there. This can work, of course, but the more choice you have, the easier it becomes.

I have accumulated a collection of objects over the years that are suitable for still-life paintings. Sometimes I’ll have a specific idea in mind. I like to paint glass objects in watercolour, for instance. The highlights, reflections and distortions are most enjoyable to paint. I’ll often choose one glass item then look for something colourful to complement it. This may often be placed behind it so that the distorted image can be viewed through the glass.

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About Leisure Painter

Welcome to the November issue of Leisure Painter. Every month Leisure Painter is packed with practical advice, tutorials and demonstrations aimed at developing the skills and confidence of beginners and amateur painters. We begin this issue with David Bellamy , who talks about travelling and painting – and the inspiration behind some of his iconic scenes. There are painting projects in line and wash, watercolour, pastels, oils and acrylics, from landscapes and still lifes to flowers, animals, buildings and more. Pick up tips on developing successful compositions, working with essential brushes, colour mixing and painting sunsets, and be inspired to use your ideas for producing mugs, cards and and other practical items. Enjoy your month of painting with Leisure Painter.