The Dreaded Still Life / by J. Logan Carey

I’ve been sketching quite a few still lifes (lives? lifes?) over the past few weeks for practice and I can say that for some simple shapes you’d think shouldn’t be an issue to draw they can be frustrating as hell. It’s hard to stay engaged with a still life and it’s hard to find any energy or meaning in them, at least for me. I think that’s why most art students tend to hate doing them. I personally wasn’t looking forward to doing them, but I’m going through an art instructional book and I don’t want to skip anything.


This was an assignment from a book. I wasn’t into the idea of it. Too plain. I think that’s why it’s fairly obvious I didn’t put much effort into it. It helps to choose the objects or composition of what you’re drawing for a still life that engages you on some level or your piece is truly uninteresting and lacking.


This is a small cross-stitched pillow my wife made and wooden bird. I liked the end result here a lot more than many other still lifes I think in part because I like this little pillow and am always impressed by my wife’s stitching talent.


A great resource for potential subjects for still lifes is Pinterest. This was an “artist’s desk”. I think it was really just some pieces staged, but it worked. Done in Procreate.


This was a still life I drew on my lunch break at work at what was on my desk. Still life subjects are everywhere and anywhere you look, I think that’s part of why they make good subjects and help you build your skill, you start to see potential subjects anywhere. Anything can be a still life and a pleasing arrangement can make ordinary objects engaging to look at. Objects that look as though they were just put down and not posed are inherently more interesting to the viewer.


This was from a photograph. Again, since the objects were photographed just as they were and not posed, the resulting composition was very engaging to me and I, in turn, took my time with the sketch. Yes, I know the perspective is totally wrecked.

This is a YouTube video that’s a great introduction to how to draw still lifes and why they may be important to developing your drawing skill. Plus there’s a Pusheen coffee cup.