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Distance from still life setup?

This is a question for those who are painting directly from still life.

How far do you setup your easel from the still life?

Mark suggests 1 1/2 meters (he actually said 4 1/2 feet) ?

That’s what I’ve been doing but I am thinking about getting closer.  

Jos Van Reswick sets his easel next to the still life so it is easy to compare the painting to the setup.  He also steps back and forth about ten feet during the painting process.
That process is the same that Sargent, as in John Singer Sargent, used.  

I’m interested in hearing what others are doing and how they is working.


  • 4 feet more or less is ok for normal size objects but I like to be closer. I think mark's recommendation is based partially on the fact that it is easier to control the studio light when it's farther away. when I paint small scale I have to get real close for those.
  • I haven't actually done this but I have seriously wanted to completely enclose the still life and have a small window to look through that won't affect the lighting within the box.  I can't do it yet because I still have to depend on color checking too much and the window I envision would be too small.
    [Deleted User]
  • TedBTedB -
    edited August 2020
    I tend to follow the principles of "same size" when setting up for a still life where practical.   The "apparent visual size" of the tableaux should match the size of the canvas, or the reverse.  For a landscape this can be impractical, you might have to step back for reference.
  • Minimum 4 feet...otherwise it would be difficult to grasp anything...but like me if you have an eyesight issue then specs are needed though.
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