Week 9: Still life

March 20-26

Welcome to Creative Sparks Week 9, where we pause for a beat or two in our creative journey. In the very opposite of Week 8’s candid shots that may have captured the action in the moment, we are instead deliberately pausing.

Still life! In photography and visual arts, still life is all about the arrangement of items. Everything has a place and is intentionally unmoving. We’re forced to take a breath, or many breaths, to examine the arrangement in front of us. This is an “easy” entry into visual arts if you have a reference in front of you. One could convert a photo into a painting, a flower arrangement into a photo, or a selection of items into a story.

But after doing still life for a while, you’ll find that the challenge is to make it more interesting and give it a different angle than what you’ve been doing in the past. The “from above” angle of a dining table filled with platters of eye-catching food is an incredibly common angle. How do you take this common angle and breathe new life into it? (I am proud of this pun)

Examples & directions to go:

  • Pick an artist who is known for their still-life work and emulate their style
  • Go to the dollar store or equivalent, set a small budget for yourself, and pick up items for a still-life arrangement. Alternative: use only found objects.
  • Think about how still life can make an appearance in a story or video: a museum exhibit may have still-life paintings, a trip to the spa might have a beautiful floral arrangement, or the local botanical garden has paid close attention to how the various plants interact with each other in a certain space
  • Mold your own set of still-life items
  • Imagine how some toys made their way to you à la Toy Story

Mood board & inspiration: