Learning from Still-Life

It is widely recognized that creating a good painting requires practice and a deep understanding of the three-dimensional world around us. Artists sometimes struggle with translating what they see in front of them into a two-dimensional form, as it is not a simple task.

First, an artist must possess strong drawing skills to understand the object’s outlines and form, a good example of this would be Ingres drawings.

Equally important is the placement and composition of the objects.

Once this is figured out, shading and rendering come into play to accurately depict the object in front of you. An artist does have some degree of freedom to portray the object in a way that resonates with their personal vision. Nevertheless, a good painting should have structure, a strong composition, and a wide range of values.

As an example, I have included a recent 9x12-inch charcoal drawing of an owl with two eggs. I first did a charcoal study and then moved on to the painting, providing a sense of comfort and confidence throughout the process. I usually begin a painting with a burnt umber underpainting and gradually introduce color and glazes. 

And that’s all to it,  no secrets beyond these steps.

In summary, key considerations to remember are:  creating a sketch, carefully placing objects into the composition, establishing the background, adding shadows, and finishing off with the lights.

Asem Ahmed Blog
Charcoal drawing Asem Ahmed Blog
underpainting Asem Ahmed Blog
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