Still-life paintings provide artists with foundational art training in areas such as shading, proportions, and perspective. Here are five tips for artists to consider when completing their next still-life painting.

Take Time to Compose the Scene

When setting up a still-life painting scene, artists should consider how the painting “reads.” The still-life scene should follow a natural left-to-right progression. Artists should therefore avoid placing the main elements of the still-life scene to the left of the painting. Artists should also consider the distance of various objects from the viewer. Placing some things closer or further from the viewer creates a greater sense of depth and dimension.

Consider the Primary Light Source

Light can hit objects from various sources and angles. Therefore, having a primary light source for the still-life scene creates greater contrast between lights and shadows. Furthermore, experimenting with the angles of the light source creates variety in the contrasts and shading.

Photograph the Scene

A photograph of the still-life scene allows artists to analyze the scene before painting. Photographs also serve as a backup in the event of changes. The amount and angle of natural sunlight, for example, can change throughout the day. Artists may also have to relocate the still-life scene. In both cases, having a photograph reference saves artists the effort of setting up the still-life scene again.

Do a Preliminary Sketch

A preliminary sketch of the still-life scene gives artists a sense of both the proportions and perspective of a still-life painting. During the sketch, artists should focus on the basic shapes of the objects that compose the still-life scene.

Use a Mixture of Soft and Hard Edges

Edges create depth and space in paintings. Without hard and soft edges, however, a painting can appear one-dimensional and dull. Artists should therefore use a combination of both hard and soft edges in their still-life paintings. Hard edges are ideal for flatter objects such as leaves, while softer edges are ideal for items such as fruit.

Still-life paintings allow artists to express their uniqueness and develop key art skills. Keeping these five tips in mind can help artists make the most out of their next still-life painting session.