Watercolor Still Life Painting Subjects from Your Own Things
Pretend you’ve been given a watercolor painting assignment to paint two small still life arrangements.
For the first painting, the subject is a trinket from a gift shop. It’s cute and you like it, but you’ve never seen it before.
In the second still life, you’ll painting something you already own – a small item given to you by a treasured family member or friend.
The Impact of Mindset While Making Art
What do you suppose you’ll think about while making each of those paintings? Beyond the usual decisions related to shape, color blending and watercolor treatments….
I bet you a penny that the first watercolor will be appropriate to your skill-level, and perfectly fine, but not as special as your familiar subject painting.
Your brain’s meandering while painting a borrowed item has no other place to go, beyond technique, and color, etc. (This is true for borrowed photos of places we’ve never visited, or people we don’t know), and that will show.
You’ll naturally ponder those same watercolor painting strategies on the second, familiar still life too, but the direction-based thoughts will be buffered and shined by memories of the origins of your trinket. Thinking about the person who gave it to you, why you bought it all those years ago, or the memories it conjures slip surreptitiously into your work.
I bet the watercolor painting of your own little treasure will outshine the newly introduced gift shop item painting by far.
Put Yourself Inside Your Paintings
Whether we mean to include ourselves in a painting (like these artists did), or we are unaware of our insertion of self, every artist paints a little bit of themselves in each painting.
Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.Henry Ward Beecher
If you paint the objects in your own home that are well-worn, precious to you, or handed down through family, you’re painting more of yourself into the art, and imbuing each brush stroke with thoughts beyond just the technical considerations.
Paint, Draw and Print Your Own Items in Your Still Life Art
If you are one of the folks reading this who has no beloved trinkets, not a scrap of familial heirloom, and nothing precious in your still life stash, may I suggest a thrift store run? (That’s where I found the tin horse a few decades ago.)
If you’d rather shop online, have a look at this Etsy Shop, or this one for some potential still life treasures. Make them yours, love them well, and then try putting a few of them in your art. Let me know how that goes, okay?
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you in the next post –
P.S. Speaking of still life, have you seen the completely normal household items in these watercolors by Nono Garcia?
I see the still lifes as very related to the figure paintings. Often many of the same objects exist in both. In my most recent still lifes I have been thinking about possessions and their legacy (having recently lost a parent). As in the figure paintings I would like the still lifes to be able to hold several levels of meaning. There is often a sense of pun to them and also a literary quality—I am seeking a painting equivalent for the way in which, in a novel, a characterization can be conveyed by how the surface of things is presented.Eve Mansdorf