Attached are four of the seven still life paintings I did while I was at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Melody Boggs' still life class. The painting with the little red china piece I started on Thursday of that week intending to finish on Friday before it was time to pack up. Fortunately, I worked hard and had it finished early Friday. With time left, I decided to do one more, which then developed into two more: the two little vases each on a 6" X 8" canvas.
I decided to use my pochade box instead of an easel because I was working small. The painting with the red vase is a 9" X 12" and the other with the white pitcher is an 11" X 14". The most important thing I learned was in setting them up: look for interesting color and size combinations and also textures. Textures, meaning, things like surface quality --- will it shine?, will it reflect colors from the other objects? can I paint the grapes so they have a transparent quality? can I paint an orange so that it shows the type of surface that it has? Pick an apple that has some green on it and paint the quality of that green as it moves on into the dominant red color. Or the painting with the garlic -- can I paint it so that it shows all the deep colors in it in an object that is "white", can I paint that piece of garlic "skin" so it looks paper thin? Most of all can I paint this without it looking drawn, but painted. Being accurate in your drawing can sometimes take away the "painterly" quality you are after. You are painting, sculpting and drawing with your brush all at the same time. Right now I am working on a drawing of an old building and the challenge in my drawing is to make it look "painterly", make it look like it's not an architectural rendering, like you are doing a tracing and staying within the lines. That kind of drawing and painting that is accurate to a fault just kills any painterly and lively quality that I am after.