Today I attended a workshop, "The Un-Still Life," taught by and amazing artist and instructor, Bobbi Pratte. I must admit I was more than a little intimidated by the idea of staging, drawing, and painting a "still life" in a class setting. Though I have drawn countless paintings, I usually labor over this part of the process alone at home where there is no judgement, except from my cats, husband, and children. But I believe growth comes from putting yourself in sometimes unsettling situations. And this class was just what I needed this week to get out of a rut.
During the class, Bobbi showed examples of the many avenues for a "still life" painting, including as a personal commentary. So, our assignment, choose a single item that is personal for you and sketch ideas of how to break up the space of the painting and incorporate compelling design elements. In the event we weren't able to come up with a personal item, we could use "the dreaded apple," an object that has been painted so many times throughout history, no one could ever paint it differently than it had been done before. Well, I love apples... so I chose to rest an apple on a cinder block outside against the purple wall at LibertyTown. My 10 minute design plan... have a balance of contrast in shape (organic round shape of the apple vs the geometric shape of the block), contrast in value, contrast in texture (smoothness of apple peel and rough texture of the block), and finally a contrast of secondary colors (purple, orange, and green), contrast in intensity and color saturation. We had about 1 1/2 hrs to work on our sketch; and some things worked, and some didn't. But it was a great day to be outside painting, I overcame my fear of judgement (at least for now) and I have new insight into constructing and recognizing "un-still life".