Getting Started

So, I finally finished a recent drawing that I have been working on for over two months. I lost count of how many hours that I put into the drawing, but let’s just say it was A LOT of hours! When I finish a drawing I immediately start planning for the next drawing. It is a very exciting time because I always have so many ideas bouncing around in my head. There is always something new that I want to try out.

My first step is to go into my still life storage closet and start pulling some objects and fabrics together. I started collecting interesting objects about five years ago. I pick up things here and there at rummage sales, thrift stores, and antique shops. I have found many beautiful and inexpensive fabric remnants, table cloths and napkins in clearance piles at JoAnns, HomeGoods and Pier One. I have recently put some shelves up in my closet so that I can now see everything clearly so I don’t have to rummage around looking through boxes. It has been a big time-saver!

I always try and put many different textures in my compositions. If I pick out a crystal glass, I will try and find a silver bowl for fruit or a wicker basket for bread and then maybe place it on a wood carving board, and place it in front of a stone background etc. The more textures, the more interesting the final drawing will be.

Color schemes are very important. They set the mood of the drawing. Since I use fabric in most of my drawings, I will often use the colors within that fabric to pick out the supporting objects of the still life. If I pick out a fabric with gold in it I may choose to buy yellow roses and Bosc pears. If my fabric has red in it I may choose to use a red fruit like cherries or strawberries with a vase of red roses. I will also use complementary colors (opposite each other on a color wheel), and analogous colors (next to each other on a color wheel) to set up a still life. Oranges are vibrant against a royal blue tablecloth!

To make the composition even more interesting I put objects at different heights. I may put a box under a vase to make it taller or put one of the wine glasses on a pile of books. By staggering the objects you will make the composition more appealing to the viewer.

As I am collecting the objects I lay them out on a large cutting board on my kitchen counter. I continually move things around, adding objects and taking them away until I am completely satisfied with the final composition from all angles. It usually takes me about a week to find the perfect composition. I then move the board to a bright spot near the window and wait for the perfect lighting. I prefer to shoot my photos in the early morning and in late afternoon. I use my iphone to take the photos and will generally shoot around 40 to 50 photos until I have one photo that I really like and want to draw. I print the photo in color making sure that I can see all of the details. Then it is officially time to grab a pencil and to get to work!

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