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Need help with still life set up

I am working on a still life setup for a painting and would like thoughts on colors, composition, etc. I'm trying to tell the story of taking a break after doing some gardening. I'll do final touch up (like removing the crease in the cloth) in PSE after finalizing the composition and will also put water in the vase and tea cup. Any input is appreciated.



  • thebigskyguy

    Agree with Kingston. Lighting is front on at the moment and flattens the image.
    Try some directional side light.

    You could also play around with an open book and a pair of reading glasses.

  • Mark made us change everything at least 4 times when we did our still life setups in class. We had to change layout, lighting, even items. And we took pictures of each setup so we could compare and choose the one we wanted. Often the 3rd or 4th setup was the one that people chose to paint. Try experimenting with lighting, moving things around, etc. and see what you like best.
  • Great feedback. Thanks!
  • edited June 2014
    These are just random thoughts . . . .

    Since you're trying to portray "A break from gardening", how about moving everything outside to a patio table or next to a window where the garden/exterior might be visible or that at least makes you feel connected to the outdoors. Also try placing a flower or two amongst the items on the table and see if it helps achieve your idea.



    Maybe is just me but I feel that some wear and tear on those gloves will help the storytelling


    To me they say: The hard work is done, the gardener can now relax and enjoy the fruits of her/his labor.

    And like Denis said, perhaps the book should be open

  • Even a little dirt on the table from the gloves would be nice
  • My $.02

    You have too many things that are flat — book, gloves, scissors. The disparity between tall (flowers) and short (flat) is too much. Stair step objects in increments of 25% or 33%. Maybe get rid of the book and add a tea pot, shorten the vase or the flowers. Gloves would be more interesting if the fingers were pointing out. Also, something with pattern would be nice. Either under or behind, maybe.
  • Your gonna have to paint several painting to satisfy all these inputs! :)>-
  • Many thanks for all of the insightful comments! I'll incorporate them into my next attempt at the setup.
  • Hello Doug and DMP Community
    I am finalizing my still life studio setup and wanting to get some feed back.
    See photos attached

    One thing, I noticed is while hanging one string up I apparently was inclined to hang another so as to frame the still life as-well-as set a plane for proportional divider / extended arm.
    Another inclination I have is to set the canvas board up at the exact same elevation as the still life...

    Appreciate any insights & feedback.

    Note: This is more about the setup and not the still life.  That will be next time :=)
    For sure, the defused overhead light is way to bright. 

  • @movealonghome, Still-life painting from life is a good way to learn how to paint realism. you are training your eyes and hand-eye coordination as well as learning values and colors and how they change with light sources/directions. Painting live people comes next. After you learn how to paint you can paint anything you want. In the meantime you don't have to use flowers or teapots; you can paint objects that interest you - musical instruments- game controlers - trophies- stacks of wood planks and tools anything.
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