Painting still life is a way of telling a story through images and objects. There’s endless potential for how you can convey the same subjects in different ways to suggest different settings and stories.
In Tomás Reis’s 30-minute art class, he draws a bottle of wine and some pomegranates three times, changing the colours and method slightly each time to show the differences between different paintings of the same subject.
Step 1: Object Outlines
Tomás starts the first image with simple, structured outlines.Decide how much space you want the picture to take up on the paper, and size the objects accordingly.
The shape of the wine bottle is a cylinder, so if you draw some geometric
guidelines to help make it symmetrical, that might help the process go smoothly
The pomegranates do not have to be fancy. If they’re imprecise and
different from one another, the image is more interesting!
Adding the labels to the wine bottle will make it more identifiable and specific. It also helps create the setting of the picture.
Step 2: The First Colour
Add some colour with a subdued yet warm yellow. I used yellow ochre, but you can mix anything you like! Notice how by leaving certain areas white. This helps show the lighting and create dimension.
Step 3: The Second Colour
The second colour here will be a bold red. Once you layer it over the yellow, you’ll see light value gradation right away! The pomegranates will look realistic and full of life.
Step 4: Finishing the Bottle
Wrap up the first image with some Prussian blue, or another similar colour you might prefer. This first painting is about bold colours and lines, no blending, and more precision in the construction of the sketch. The result is an image that stands out a lot.
For this painting, we’ll be using more subdued colours and leaving the
construction lines off the bottle to make the image softer and more immersive. Let’s begin!
Step 1: The First Colour
Once you finish the sketch-like you did in the first painting, it’s time to add the first colour just like before. Except for this time, instead of a bold yellow, we’re going with a subdued mixture of yellowish-green. You can apply it in a more splotchy manner if you like for some texture.
Step 2: A Cooler Red
The red we’re using in this version of the image is a cool shade instead of a warm shade. It blends in better with the cool colour we started with, and it adds to the more subdued nature of this picture.
Step 3: Cool Blue
Take some Prussian blue and make the bottle nice and dark with it. The second
painting is now complete! See how different it is from the bold and geometric first one?
This painting is done in much the same way as the first two, with a limited colour
palette and simple sketching. Since there is so much technique overlap, I am going to focus here on the differences rather than the step-by-step construction.
For the sketch in this image, leave some broken lines and blank spaces. This adds softness and visual interest to the finished product. A lot of differences between art styles come from how the artist handles lines, so experiment until you find a style of line work that you enjoy.
For this painting, the different result comes from the warm earthiness of the
colours, as well as from the softer blending. As you can see, the cast shadows under the objects are a blend of green and red, and the pomegranates are all quite softly blended in the coloured areas.
The bottle of wine is the most exciting part of this third composition because it’s
a blend of the green mixture, the red, Prussian blue, and even royal purple. Just apply new colours while the others are still wet, and see what gradients and mixtures spontaneously appear.
By the end of this experiment, you will see how there are limitless ways to draw
the same subject over and over! If you are struggling with art block, try filling a
sketchbook page with different interpretations of an interesting object in your home.