Who knew still life could be so much fun? 

Kim and I have continued to work on still life studies and as you can tell we have really been having fun.  Below are are few of the pieces we have been working on,  along with our thoughts on each piece.

If you have never drawn from life and would like some tips on setting up a still life, there is a great article here on Craftsy.com.  Although there is nothing wrong with drawing from photos if you have never drawn from life before you might want to give it a try.  Setting up the still life, selecting what objects to include and lighting the still life in itself was a fun project. Oh, and if you are looking for an inexpensive way to light your still life, I found this really great clip on light at Lowes. It works really well and I now do not know how I ever lived without it. It certainly is better than having to drag around a giant floor lamp 🙂

If you missed our first still life post you can find it here.

Kim Rene' - Still Life II


Kim's Studio

Hello, Creative Ones!

My second still life! This time I selected a few things from around the house. An old book I bought at a flea market for collage, old bottles found while in the mountain, a brown jar purchased at a garage sale and a paper sack. I wanted a setting that had that “old world” feeling you get when viewing the work of many of the masters (Gone But Not Forgotten) we feature here on Elusive Muse.

To start I rearranged my setting several times. Looking for height and balance I stood back with a ruler in hand and held it out at arm’s-length – holding the ruler horizontally I started at the top and worked my way down. I wanted my items to be at different heights and equally spaced using the power of thirds. Once pleased with my setting I relocated my desk lamp – the light from the window did not give me the shadows and lighting (contrast) I desired for my piece.

I would not say this is one of best pieces, but not my worst. My proportions and angle are way off along with my sizes. I have decided being new and all to drawing still lifes that I will start with one item and work my way up.  So my next one was the bottle you see (photo from our still life collection on Flickr). Having only one item to focus on I was able to keep the portions and work more on my dark and lights – soft and hard edges. Both of my pieces were created using charcoal.

Thomas - Still Life Continued


Can you believe I actually remembered to take photos of my set up this time? I really enjoyed working on setting up my still life, moving the objects around and moving the lighting from side to side. In saying that I really had a hard time deciding what to put in my still life. At one point I had at least 10 different things scattered. Kim suggested that a good composition consisted of just 3 objects of different heights so I finally settled on the composition you see at the right.

I felt a bit more confident this time than the last and really enjoyed the process. When I finished I realized I had the birds head in the wrong place.  As you know seeing is half the battle.

Although my drawing is nothing epic –  I did learn a lot. I will say it looked a tad bit better than what you are seeing here in the photo before I scanned it.  I learned that ONE coating of spray fixative is not enough. When I put this on my scanner it smeared all over. It actually looked a tad bit better before the smearing. Note to self – next time use three coats of fixative and take a photo instead of scanning.

I know that many artists use charcoal in their mixed media art journals. I have no idea how they are able to avoid having it smear all over (other than maybe several coats of fixative.)

About 6 months ago I did a charcoal portrait in my journal and I was very pleased with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t use any fixative and it is now just an abstract blur that vaguely looks like a portrait.


OK, so maybe attempting a skull for my third still life drawing and limited experience with charcoal was just a tad bit ambitious – but at least I tried. 🙂

As they say, practice makes perfect. Maybe next time my skull will look more like a human and less like a being from another planet.

There are parts of the drawing I really like, though. I think there is a lot of contrast, something I was not able to accomplish previously.

I will say that I had a huge argument with the inner critic after completing this particular piece. The next day I decided I needed a break from drawing from life and charcoal and decided to do a sketch from a photograph in my journal. Although I am not super experienced in drawing either, I have way more experience drawing with a pencil and felt I needed a project that was more familiar. I guess this was my way of balancing the ‘OMG I suck, thoughts going on in my head.’

I picked this image of a paint tube from the Elusive Muse Flickr Gallery and went for it. I am pretty happy with the result.


I really loved working on this. I incorporated some pastel this time. Although I have used pastel in the past, this is still pretty new to me. I think maybe I am in love.

I feel like I am making progress and overall am pretty happy with this. I felt like my shading and highlights worked out really well and the objects look to have a lot of dimension. I can really see how working on these still life drawings will help me to develop skills I can then use later on in my portrait drawings (my real passion.)

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