Creative exercises for every month

The Meaning of Still-Life

Make the most of your home environment, appreciate your beautiful possessions and be inspired to create.

Exercises will be posted to our Facebook group in June from the 1st of the month as well as to our Instagram page.

We hope you will enjoy the exercises. There will be approximately 12 exercises posted over the month. Join our Facebook group to take part and share your work. Our group is open to all skill levels and is very friendly and encouraging.

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No expensive supplies needed. Use what you have at home or buy kids craft supplies. These are experimental exercises 👉 pencils, acrylic paints, charcoal, paper, pen and glue.

EXERCISE 1: Beginning a simplified still-life

For this exercise we are focusing on putting together a still-life and getting a nice photo to work with. The next exercise we’ll work with some colour.
👉 I gathered up some objects from my home. The aim was nice and bright with a variety of shapes.
👉 I played around with different arrangements and started taking photos.
👉 I changed up the angles and moved my objects around as I went until I had a picture I was happy with.
👉 I cropped a few of my photos until I was sure I had a stand-out favourite 🤩
👉 lastly I did a quick contour drawing using my photo so I could get familiar with the lines and shapes.
🌈 we’ll use colour for the next exercise.
Still-life arrangement for June course
Simplified still-life exercise for June

EXERCISE 2: Simplified Still-Life in pastel

This exercise helps you play around with colour and composition without investing much time. 10 minutes is all you need ⏰
👉 I’ve used my image from exercise #1
👉 Using chalk pastels I coloured the basic areas. I left out the little ornamental shoe as I didn’t think it would work that well
👉 I avoided getting into details and just did a bit of line work using the red pastel.

simplified still-life in oil pastel

EXERCISE 3: Collage of Berthe Morisot’s still-life

@thegreatwomenartists (Instagram) is one my favourite resources when I’m after some art inspiration. Episode #62 is all about Morisot. As always the podcast makes great listening— an easy and entertaining way to expand your art knowledge. You’ll find the images to accompany the podcast in the Instagram post. Saves you searching for them ☺️
👉 for this exercise find some magazines and do your best to replicate ‘Peonies’ (1869).
👉 I find it’s best to avoid using magazine images of flowers or leaves.
👉 Clothing works well and text offers depth rather than a flat colour.
Berthe Morisot, Peonies, oil on canvas, 1869.
Berthe Morisot, Peonies, oil on canvas, 1869.

 Collage after Berthe Morisot, Peonies

EXERCISE 4: All about perspective

👉 I put together a still life using plants, fruit and a jug. I used a patterned cushion case and draped it over a large book to create a tier effect.
👉 I sat to draw my still life with soft charcoal. I focused on the closest objects first. I didn't sit too far away either.
👉 I then stood and drew the rest of the objects from a higher point of view to create two perspectives in the one drawing.
👉 This is inspired by Cezanne's still life where often the objects and table are drawn from different perspectives.
🎬 Here's the link to the video 👉

EXERCISE  5: Two-colour still-life sketches

I chose a favourite little potted plant for this. It’s an exercise in playing with colour and some drawing practice. I am using oil pastels here.
👉 choose a subject.
👉 choose two sets of colours.
👉 use the lighter colour as the background then do your sketch over the top with the other colour.
🎬 here’s a short demo

EXERCISE 6: Continuous line drawing of three objects

Using a continuous line means you create more lines on the paper than usual as you move from one point to another. It’s a playful exercise where you can alter your drawing to fit the space you have.
👉 Choose three objects to draw
👉 A fine pen works best.
👉 Keep your pen on the paper as you move from one item to the next.
👉 Rotate your page as you go.
continuous line drawing of three objects

EXERCISE 7: Semi-abstract still-life collage

I really love collage these days. It never used to interest me but I think the speed with which you can put something together as well as the limitations mean you create something unique each time.
👉 use a still-life photo as your reference. Feel free to use mine if you want.
👉 look through magazines for the colours that match your photo, or close enough 😊
👉 cut out the basic shapes and stick them down to recreate your image. A glue stick works nicely and isn’t too messy.
👉 Enjoy!
🎬 here’s my short video

EXERCISE 8: Half-eaten still life

To set up this still life, I arranged fruit that was half eaten and peeled.

👉 I fiddled around until I came up with an arrangement I liked.
👉 Using charcoal I drew my still life.
👉 There were some interesting shapes created by the peel and half eaten apple.


Still-life inspired by Matisse
This exercise involves putting your own painting into your drawing. If you don't have one you could put Matisse's "Dance" in instead.
👉Set up a still-life using a painting and table.
👉Do a line drawing of your still-life. You could use colour if you like.
Still life with “Dance”, Henri Matisse 1909
Still life with “Dance”, Henri Matisse 1909

Still-life reference including artwork

Still-life continuous line drawing by Emily Booth

EXERCISE  10: Distorted still life

👉 For this I chose objects that varied in size.
👉 I then created a contour drawing, placing the objects in different positions and drawing them at different sizes.
👉 I allowed the objects to float on the page and just drew whatever came to me.
🎬 Here's the video 👉

EXERCISE  11: Still-life with found patterns

A google search for natural patterns will help with this exercise or you could use patterns from around your home.
👉 choose a simple subject and use a pen to draw the outlines of the main shapes
👉 find patterns to fill in the shapes. I looked used patterns from an Instagram account @naturalpatterns, lichen and frog spawn.
👉 use one pattern for each section of your drawing.
👉 I used with oil pastels and worked into it with baby oil.
Alocasia, still-life reference
Basic outline drawing of Alocasia plant
Still-life with natural patterns by Emily Booth

EXERCISE 12: Still-life with soft colours and hard outlines

 👉I put together a still-life from some of the things I'd created, a sculpture, a painting etc.👉 I chose chalk pastels to use as they they smudge easily.

👉 I put down the basic colours, not going into the details and then wiped over them with a tissue.
👉 I chose three of the darkest colours I had to draw the outlines. I didn't draw my outlines perfectly over the colours for a more interesting effect.
🎬 Here's the video 👉