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Where there’s still life

Winter is a good time to set up still lifes, practising techniques and working out compositional ideas that will serve you well for the summer, by Amanda Cooper



How to compose a still life

Work on ellipses and planes

People often ask me how my art group occupies itself in darkest winter; you should see their look of surprise when the answer is always still life. In its defence, still life or naturemorte, forms the basis for all drawing and composition. The sheer unpredictability of shapes means that they can be interpreted in a multitude of styles and media.

The art of converting three-dimensional shapes onto a two-dimensional surface is all part of the challenge and translates directly into landscape painting as well. It does not matter how simple the subject – anything goes – from the contents of your kitchen to an old pair of trainers. Van Gogh painted his boots in search of reality, to find the essence of a comparatively mundane object and make it visually interesting.

I once mentioned that still life was about making an inanimate object look alive, and one lady of a certain age quipped: I do that every morning when I look in the mirror!

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Leisure Painter - Apr-18
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About Leisure Painter

Welcome to the April issue of Leisure Painter. Aimed at beginners and amateur painters, it is packed with practical advice, step-by-step demonstrations, illustrated techniques and tutorials to help you draw and paint successfully. David Bellamy introduces his sketchbook secrets and launches the first of two new painting competitions: Your sketchbook challenge. For watercolourists, we continue our year-long back-to-basics series – this month the wet-in-wet technique – along with watercolour still lifes, a rainy day crowd scene and tonal painting. Learn a five-stage acrylic painting process for landscapes, practise line and wash techniques, mix watercolour with pastels, and put down your brushes to try the 'pour' technique for acrylics. Enjoy another creative month with the UK's best-selling learn-to-paint magazine.