Saturday, May 01, 2010

Daily Painting Practice - Why do they call it "Still Life"

Why do they call it "Still Life"? Who came up with that particular phrase? I'm not criticizing, just curious, because I enjoy "still life" painting that has some tension or reference to movement. It might be movement of the viewer's eye through the composition, or perhaps it's the tension of abstract forms of light and dark, or movement indicated by light passing over objects.

When I started with this arrangement I wasn't pleased. No movement for the viewer. No movement translates into no interest.
I thought adding a branch from a flowering quince might help. Also, I like the stronger abstract forms in the painting if I strengthen the band of shadow at the top of the painting.

 Look at this detail. There is also movement during the painting process. I am moving between cool colors and warm colors, between thin washes of muted color and thicker paint  and more intense color.

click on the painting to enlarge the image

Studio Still Life - Work in Progress
oil on canvas

Speaking of moving. I am going to remove the design on the outside of the plate. That white patch is too distracting to the "Still" part of the still life.


Julie said...

Hmmmm. I agree. I like the design on the middle of the plate better than all over it. The branch coming down on a diagonal gives the composition some movement and leads the eye into the main subject area and links it to the orange-which, in turn, connects and contrasts with the complimentary blue in the plate. Nice. Very nice.

Anonymous said...

beautiful work Peter. and interesting thoughts, worth pondering over.

jimserrettstudio said...

If you poke it and it doesn't move, it's a still life. LOL
I've always wondered about the term, is it referring to working from life or working from things not alive.

Anyway wonderful work, great composition, I actually like the pattern on the plate.

Thanks for sharing your work.

Celeste Bergin said...

Well, isn't it "still life" because like in those dead rabbit paintings we see in museums...nothing physically moves...but the objects are about life. That's a wild guess. I love this painting and oddly enough I enjoy that bold chunk of white in the plate. it is an interesting design element. It's probably gone now..but I liked it...along with everything else in the painting. Beautifully done!

Boosters said...

Hi Peter,

I love this painting! I know you have to polish it up but I like the look of the first photo because it looks like a watercolor. :) K

Kathy Jurek said...

LOL Peter. That was me "Boosters". I didn't realize my husband was signed in on my computer.

passing by said...

A "still life" is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate object with often a natural one (flower,fruit,meat, critters) which where living during the painting or just before. In french it is "Nature morte" which means "dead nature".

Unknown said...

Beautiful painting! I completely agree with your decision as far as the pattern on the outside of the plate. It made a big difference. Its amazing how such a seemingly minor detail can alter the piece.

Anonymous said...

It feels pretty dynamic to my eye, and I think you were right to change the outside edge of the plate. Looking pretty good in the last pic here.

My 2c on "still life": I think it refers to the contrast with "life drawing," or "figurative," the other major thing you can do directly in a studio. Those subjects can move; the still life just...stays still. But I don't know. Sounds like a good topic for a bit of research. said...

Whatever it is called the painting is wonderful.

Rodrigo CorrĂȘa said...

lindo trabalho tem levesa ,suave!