Our still life set ups look very different depending on which angle they are seen from. When we set them up, we make sure they look good from four or five different views. We spend time adjusting the light, which is fixed to a boom on a sturdy light stand.
We always start with a thumbnail sketch to block in the basic value relationships. The thumbnail is kept simple, done in five values. In this picture, you can see student Jason Jenkins continually comparing his thumbnail to his larger drawing and his larger drawing to the actual still life in front of him.
Student Jason Jenkins' drawing after two days.
From a slightly different angle, Anna Sang Justice’s drawing after two days.
Student Lynn Snyder's view and composition after two days.
From across the room, and a very different view of the still life, student Dale Longstreth's drawing
after two days.
Our group had a still life life that was completely different, but it looked good from various angles.
One of the biggest decisions is whether the composition will look better vertical or horizontal.
I drew two thumbnails from this angle before I decided I wanted to compose it in a vertical format.
Student Mark Pullen got a rather oblique view of the skull and composed it elegantly. From his angle there was a significant effect of light.
You can see from student Wendy Wagner Campbell’s drawing, that the still life was made up of many elements that were the same in range of values, with only two white and one black.
My favorite was this view of the set up that student Hope La Salle had. Hope has kept her five values consistent throughout the drawing.
I’ll end here with a bit of writing by John Henry Fuseli (1741 - 1825) Swiss, on composition, because it has everything to do with making pictures.
“COMPOSITION, in its stricter sense, is the dresser of invention, it superintends the disposition of materials. Composition has physical and moral elements: those are
perspective - unity
light - propriety
shade - perspecuity
Without unity it cannot span its subject.
Without propriety it cannot tell the story.
Without perspecuity it clouds the fact with confusion, destitute of light and shade it misses the effect, and heedless of perspective it cannot find a place” Fuseli