I really enjoyed working on this orange and blue still life. My classes have been painting acrylic still life for the last couple of weeks and I was inspired to have a go myself. I haven’t painted much still life since school really, where I got a bit put off by being made to paint the same old things endlessly. Mainly skulls, as I recall. No idea why. Also, I remember being infuriated by my art teacher telling us ‘See how this shadow has purple/green/orange in it?’ and thinking, no, actually – it’s all a dull grey….
Weirdly, now that I teach art I see colours in shadows, and annoy people by pointing this out to them, and I think that still life might not be dull after all. Or doesn’t have to be anyway – as you set it up you have complete control over the composition; the light, shape, and colour. It’s kind of the other way round from something like a landscape, where you almost always need to edit things out as you paint.
Speaking from experience as a student I also think its very helpful to observe others painting, and to see the finished work. I’m really lucky in this respect because I’ve always had lots of inspiring paintings to look at. My whole family is arty but my grandmother Mary Robinson was a really great painter. I really do not know how she found time to paint alongside raising eight children*, but she certainly did. Her still life of Bramley apples and Tate & Lyle sugar has always been one of my favourites.
* According to one of my uncles she painted between midnight and 4am.