Saturday, March 18, 2017

Eeny Meeny Miny Moe – Shadow Box / Still life Stand

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers, let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.
My mother told me to pick the very best one,
and that is Y-O-U

There are several advantages to having a designated still life stand. The obvious is the control over your work space and environment. Add to that a shadow box and you gain complete power over light and composition. The still life provides a unlimited opportunity for the study of form. How light moves across an object can be thoroughly analyzed and painted in a controlled situation and under regulated lighting.

My stand is simply a heavy duty shelving unit I purchased from a hardware store that measures 2’ x 4’ x 6’ tall, I wanted one deep enough to hold a large set up and adjustable so that I could set the still life shelf at a standing height to work from. This one adjusts by inches so I could pick exactly where I wanted the shelf to be. I did add a plywood back to the still life shelf and painted it with a neutral tone, this gave me a means to change background by either taping up colored paper or pinning a cloth.  I use a clamp light with a natural daylight bulb inside the frame, and draped the entire shelf unit with black fabric creating the shadow box.

I frame the opening on both sides like curtains so that I can draw them closed leaving just enough space to view the composition. I use the other shelves for storage of canvas, frames and palettes. It may not be the most attractive furniture in the room but it functions well and does solve a lot of problems.

One bonus with your designated still life space is storage space for your collection of artifacts, curios and studio oddities. Funny how you can buy the weirdest stuff at yard sales and junk shops and just tell people (-my wife-) you need it for a still life painting and they're fine with it. That’s how I got my great human anatomy skull.

Once you have a work space like this you can start to explore compositions and discover what objects work together. Play with shapes and textures and look at how shadows fall and leading lines can create eye movement. Take some time and work through several arrangements, make it as simple or complex as you like, work out some profound narrative or make a contemplative moment of observation.

Either way, compose something you really want to paint and spend some time with -- remember it’s not going anywhere it’s a still life. So by the "eeny, meeny, miney, mo" method, pick out some objects and play with the arrangement. Don’t forget it is a process of discovery so have fun with it.

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe, oil on panel, 8 x 10 inches ©jimserrett

Eeny, meeny, miny moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers make him pay,

Fifty dollars every day.

Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim 

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