01. Still Life – B&W


1. Three still life objects that have a variety of surface qualities/textures (shiny, rough, soft, etc), and represent you as a person.  These objects should be different sizes.  Make sure the objects are NOT flat (a cut-out of a letter, or a flat wooden ornament – we want fully 3-dimensional objects).
2.  Bring a box that will elevate your objects to eye-level.
3.  A fabric back drop (no smaller than a pillow case, and cannot be black or white colored)
4.  A strong light source (a clip light or a small desk lamp) to create highlights and shadows
5.  A 12″x16″ gesso-ed board
6.  palette cup filled with linseed oil
7.  brush cleaning jar filled with odorless mineral spirits
8.  rag
9.  black & white paint
— As you set up your still life, make sure the light source is illuminating the ground/surface your objects are sitting on. Also, make sure the light source is coming from a different direction than your point of view.
— As you set up your still life, select a point of view/eye level, and stick with it. Remember to always take note of your horizon line. Avoid selecting a point of view from above the still life; instead, select a more frontal point of view/eye level. Your point of view should include the front edge of the ground the objects sit on.
— If you cannot take an eye-level point of view, work on arranging the objects to recede back into space.
— When arranging the objects, make sure that they are overlapping/touching in your still life. While painting, allow objects to leak into each other and into shadows.
— Mix a light gray and a dark gray to go with your black and white paint. You’ll make more shades as you go along, but this is enough to get you started.
The DRAWING is the most important part.  
The 2nd most important part is the CONTRAST.  
— Begin by taking your largest brush and dipping it in some mineral spirits and light gray paint, and smear it around to eliminate the strong whiteness of the surface as illustrated in this brief youtube video. This is called toning your canvas.

— Next, make a sketch of the still life using your dark gray paint and a small round brush.  Make sure to put in your darks. (THIS is the most important and hardest step).  You can use your rag dipped in turp to erase if necessary.  If you’re struggling, you can start with the darkest dark.
— As you are executing your drawing and moving into contrast, remember to avoid making the background black or white.  Instead, put your darkest dark and whitest white in the foreground. complete the background at the same time as the objects in the still life.
— Remember to differentiate between background and the surface your objects are sitting on as you paint.
— Figure out which object will be your focus, and work on that to keep yourself motivated.  This object should have higher contrast, and crisper lines.
— Secondary objects can be less defined.  Less defined means less highlight/contrast, they can fade into the background, and the edges can be blurred).  Squint at your objects to see where you do and don’t need detail.
— Wash out your brush when going from a dark color to a lighter color.
— Regarding the background of your painting: gradate the light by keeping it darker around the edges of your panel.
— Remember to anchor all the still life objects with shadow.
— As you are painting, be sure to depict reflected/indirect light (light reflecting off other objects rather than just from the direct light source).
— When applying highlight, apply and then work it in, THEN apply the white smudge (stark white).
— Avoid over working (put paint on the brush, stroke 2-3 times, then repeat).
(Note: the color part of the grade sheet will be omitted on the Black & White Still life