Still Life Painting Lessons & Techniques
(Scroll down to see the full list of lessons in this
As a painter setting up a still life, you need to look at the display of the objects critically at the height
from which you will be painting the objects.
If you will be standing, then critically look at them in a standing position and if you are painting in a
sitting position, then look at them from a sitting position.
The easel and still life’s position
The best arrangement is for you to set up the still life is in a position that you can see easily to avoid
turning the head too much when painting. It must be at the right height for the painting viewpoint.
You must be able to confirm the angles and the perspective in the painting from the same spot you are viewing
the setup. Ideally, you want to avoid looking over the arm you are using to hold the brush. Hence, if you use the
left hand, set up the easel to the right and vice versa. On the other hand, if you use both hands well, position
the easel where there is the best light.
Occasionally, the studio space is limited and you may need to move the still life object in between the painting
sessions. In this case, set up the object on a board then use a piece of chalk or masking tape to mark the
positions before moving to the next.
Layout of your painting
When you are setting up the still life, ensure that you keep the set-up of the painting you had in mind. The
format you will be using whether it is a landscape square or a portrait will largely influence the way you arrange
the objects. Gauging from the way the still life looks in the photo, this will determine the best layout, which may
be tall thin or wide.
Shadows in Still Life
When you do not have sufficient sunlight, you can use a lamp to cast a shadow from the object. Remember that
strong shadows create negative spaces and interesting shapes. On the other hand, if you are using the sun to cast
shadows, watch out because the shadow changes position as the sun moves from one end of the sky to the next. When
using a lamp, position it on one side that will create long and lovely shadows, and watch out for other shadows
thrown by the lights in the studio.
Viewpoint & Kissing in Still Life Paintings
When you are taking photos for reference for your still life, ensure that you position the camera at the eye
level. This will give the same imagery when you are doing the actual painting. The position in which you set up the
still life will determine if the perspective will be complex or easy. You can transform ordinary objects by the
setting and perspective of choice.
How to avoid kissing objects
Kissing in still life painting is a distractive practice that you need to avoid. By kissing, this means that the
objects are touching each other rather than having an unambiguous space in between, or overlapping them. What
happens is that the viewer’s eye will not know when to move from one object to the next, and this causes
You should also take note that the perspective set will influence the final composition and may end up looking
weird when hung on a wall. On the other hand, extreme variations will give the painting impact and tension and they
may put off an observer.
Without having the right start with painting, you may find it hard to paint still life. The lessons
here will enlighten you with so various things about still life painting, starting from the basics down
to the most complicated oil painting tips.
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List of Still Life Oil Painting
Lessons & Instructions:
- Setting Up A Still Life
You would think that setting up a still life would be a relatively simple thing to do – certainly the easiest step you need to take when planning to create a painting.
- Still Life Painting - Apple | Looking at Shadows And Shapes
When you look at a conventional still life painting, you see a picture. When you create a still life painting, you need to see the shapes, colors, shadows and highlights in the subject that you are portraying.
- Still Life Painting - Fruits | How to Paint Fruits in Still Life
Painting fruit may not be the most appealing idea in the world, but it’s something that every artist should try at least once when they take up oil painting instructions.
- Still Life Painting Composition | How to Compose a Still Life Painting
The composition of a painting can convey a lot of meaning. Colors, patterns and textures can create rhythms when repeated and can convey emotion and mood.
- Tips to Improve Still Life Painting | Improve on Still Life Painting
You might think that it is easier said than done. But if you get a hand of it, you will surely find it easy to do away with still life painting. Here are some important tips to improve still life painting.
- Variations of Lightings in Still Life
There are different lighting options available. You can play around with lighting angles and where possible, use a lamp in a still life’s set up, and settle on the direction of the shadows and light.
Still Life Painting Lessons | Learn Still Life Painting Techniques