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objects to draw for still life

10 Best Objects to Draw for Still Life

What is still life, and what are the objects to draw for still life?

Moreover, why should you want to learn it? 

Still life art is creating art from objects you see in real life.

Perhaps you’re wondering how it applies to your style.

Even if your art style isn’t realistic, still life can benefit you.

It will help you improve on sketching skills.

Is there anything more rewarding than learning new ways to excel in your art? 

Objects to Draw for Still Life

1. Fruits 

objects to draw for still life

Most art classes start you off with fruit studies. 

What better way to practice than to start where everyone begins?

For beginners, it’s manageable to use basic shapes.

The colors are simple and not overwhelming.

Simple fruits, such as the cherry (above), are often smooth.

Meaning there is a consistent, velvety texture.

This provides an excellent way to learn about tones.

Tones are the lightness and darkness of a color.

Drawing food might not be thrilling for everyone to do.

Great artists have used fruits for still life, such as Michelangelo.

His “Basket of Fruit” painting is currently hanging in Milan.

If he took the time to do still life, you could also be the next artist whose art is featured in the Sistine Chapel, like “The Creation of Adam.” Professional artists who haven’t done fruit studies can also learn from this. 

2. A Rose 

objects to draw for still life

Roses make practicing worth your effort.

This brings the softer side out of your work.

You use both rounded and pointed shapes.

The petals curl outward, and they swirl inward.

If the vase you use is clear, you can also draw reflections on the vase’s surface. 

Creating reflections on the vase will help you notice the proper placement of lighting from a direct light source.

Pablo Picasso has a lesser-known painting called “Basket of Flowers’ that looks commonly beautiful.

However, no one will dare call his art common in the slightest.

He is best known for his bold colors and surreal works.

His style was two-dimensional and made him one of the most famous artists. 

3. Cactus 

objects to draw for still life

Cacti have unique details.

The spines are lighter than the green.

This means that more color planning is needed.

Spines are rows with tiny clusters in this image.

Once you develop the colors, the spines need delicate detail.

It’s almost a pattern that can help you grow a technique from repetition. 

It’s better if you can catch the cactus while the flowers bloom.

The contrast can help you create more accurate tones. 

4. Vegetables 

objects to draw for still life

Notice how most vegetables are different variants of the same color?

It’s a great way to practice textures because of the shadows from the broccoli crowns.

Broccoli is a simplified tree that can allow easy fixes to many errors.

This uses repetitive texture techniques to train your hand to use light and heavy pressure.

The art medium you use will determine when to use what pressure.

For example, if you use colored pencils, you need to build up the layers with light pressure and gradually move to heavier pressure.

If you use watercolor pencils, heavier pressure for the lines will add more pigment, and then use light pressure to distribute color. 

5. Jewelry 

objects to draw for still life

Jewelry comes in all shapes, colors, and sizes.

In this image, you can see an assortment of colors.

Working on one page or canvas with a combination of colors lets you see which color you work with sufficiently.

When comparing the style differences, the room for improvement will be easy to see.

Light hits each stone from unusual angles.

Shadows are prominent in comparison.

You will get good practice in using color theory.

A color wheel is a great tool to help you decide which colors to shade with to add more depth and see which colors contrast or complement each other the best.

Learning to draw metals and stones will ensure better quality details.

This picture, in particular, is like a spreadsheet of your capabilities and limitations.

Besides these benefits, jewelry is in portraits often.

If you do portraits, you need to practice jewelry.

It can set the mood of a picture or add more to the story.

Johannesburg Vermeer’s painting of “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is known for its exquisite beauty. The pearl is a tiny detail that pulls the entire piece together. 

6. Vases 

objects to draw for still life

Vases are often in the scenes of a painting, so it is helpful to learn how to draw them.

They’re on dining tables, in rain-streaked windows, holding fresh lavender or anything you want them to.

The best part about art is that it is subjective.

What do you hope others would feel or see from your picture?

In addition, what story do you want to tell?

What mistake can you make?

Every art project has a purpose, even if it’s about how not to create an art project.

Your art is constantly evolving, and it helps to keep in mind that Thomas Edison viewed his failures as successes.

When he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” it shows that he learned from the ways that didn’t work that led him to a path that did.

As you continue improving your art, keep that in mind. 

The still-life reference photo of the vase can help build upon your skills or create the skills you desire from mistakes.

For example, symmetry can be tricky but highly useful.

You can use vases for several exercises that will improve your art. 

The “Face and Vase” exercise, for instance, is essential to building the right side of your brain. 

The right side of your brain is crucial because it is more visual.

The left side is highly analytical; both work together to create art.

The idea is that drawing an image where you mirror half of it helps stimulate more intuitive creativity. 

Portraits, vehicles, even cartoons are just a few examples of when you would use them. 

Once you get the basics of this down, advanced symmetry will go smoothly. 

7. Coffee Cup 

Much like the vase, you get to work on symmetry too. However, this is ideal for developing perspective. Whichever way you turn it, the handle proportion changes. 

Ultimately that means you can draw the handle closer, further, top view, or side view.

The angle helps to understand the fundamentals of perspective.

You can try different perspectives: one, two, and three-point views.

The number in the perspective name determines how many vanishing points are in the picture. Vanishing points are essentially where items all meet in a precise linear way. 

This skill helps show the distance in art, building, and room designs.

 Leonardo da Vinci, who created the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, used the perspective process. 

8. Shoes 

Materials used for shoes have several types of textures. Shiny shoes teach the glossy effect.

The same technique can apply to lips, eyes, hair, etc. Tennis shoes often have logos and stitch work. 

Drawing stitches works on controlling line length, repetition, and patterns.

Logos on the shoe teach proportions as well as precision.

Note how the red shoes above have a pattern with studs.

The material has a matte appearance, with no light reflecting the fabric.

Drawing a pair of shoes next to each other at varied angles allows for a better understanding of their structure, size, and shapes. 

This idea may not sound riveting until you hear about another brilliant artist.

Van Gogh poured his soul into every ounce of his art.

He planned and prepared every detail and often used shoes for still life.

His art had a beautiful and psychological meaning that opened a lot of thought and conversations. 

His painting “Shoes” was of muddy boots taken off by a highly overworked person.

He wore some old boots he purchased in rain puddles before creating the painting. 

The boots were muddy and looked like they had seen better days.

Van Gogh created one of the most distinguished paintings.

“The Starry Night” painting is on merchandise, and the replicas are still created today. 

Looking at his most famous work, you wouldn’t guess he created a painting of old boots. 

Sometimes your art style doesn’t fit into the mold of the subject or project you’re doing.

However, the more skills you can train yourself on, your art will improve. 

9. Sweets 

Sweets are fun to draw.

Something about coloring sprinkles and frosting brings out the kid in you.

This project can be as simple as you want to make it.

If you have multiple variants of the same desserts, you learn different ways to design the same thing, which can help if, later on, you need to recall it from memory.

You can get creative with where you place the treats.

Is it near a coffee cup because someone has a sweet tooth at breakfast? 

Or perhaps near a window to cool off like they used to do in old cartoons before a random animal showed up and snagged it.

Drawing this type of reference will show you the different types of textures and how they need other techniques to create those textures. 

Use this to experiment with different art mediums like mixed media.

Try using a wet medium to fill most of the colors on the picture, then use colored pencils or pens to add fine details.

Pushing into other mediums you usually wouldn’t do can be fun or intimidating.

However, it might broaden your creativity or get you out of the horrors of having an art block.

At the very least, you can use it as an excuse to have sugar. 

10. Makeup 

Lipstick is an everyday item for most women.

Guys can draw this too!

Makeup is often overlooked as a possibility for artwork, but it can tell a story, and you can use them to create an intriguing scene. 

A few ideas for a scene could be a broken lipstick smeared on a counter. (Yes, it’s messy, but sometimes so is art!)

Did a young child get into mommy’s makeup again?

Place a lipstick stain from a kiss on a fabric like cotton or silk.

If that sounds like a lot of dedication, remember Van Gogh walked in mud for his art, and it paid off! 

Even keeping it plain can have its perks.

You can always start with smaller project ideas and let them expand later.

Just draw how it looks opened or closed, and pay attention to the simple shapes and shadows.

The more projects you complete, the more it will boost your confidence as you compare your progress from the first picture.

Art is a talent developed through practice.

This can be super valuable on days that you are busy because practice is key to maintaining talent and developing your skills. 

How to Draw Still Art: 

If these images or stories inspired you to give these items a try and you need help starting, here are some easy steps to help you get started. 

Materials: 

  • HB pencil 
  • Paper (made for the type of art you want to do is preferable, however, practice in a 
  • Notebook if you must!) 
  • Object of interest 
  • Kneaded eraser 
  • Normal eraser 
  • Trace paper(optional) 
  • Transfer paper (If tracing) 
  • Washi tape (if tracing) 
  • Light source (can be a window or lamp) 
  • Ruler 
  • Empty pen(if tracing) 

1. Ruler 

Use the ruler to draw vertical and horizontal lines.

Four rows vertically and horizontally is a good place to begin. 

Make sure the lines are visible but use a light touch. 

You will need to erase these lines later, and it will be easier to do so with light lines. 

2. Set Up The Scene 

Gather all the supplies for your scene.

It can also be as bare or detailed as you want, so use tablecloths, trinkets, or background items. 

Decide where your object or objects will best look and place them in any arrangement that you think is interesting.

Test lighting types as well as light placement.

The closer the object is to the light source, the fewer shadows there will be, and the further it is from the light source, the more highlights it will be.

 Use your judgment and preference to decide the distance. 

3. Sketch The Outline 

Using a light hand, draw the basic shapes of your object. 

It is okay if lines of object shapes overlap each other. 

This step is just about getting the structure set up. 

4. Highlights and Shadows 

Mark the highlights by drawing their basic shape.

Then lightly shade where the shadows are. 

This part will help you avoid accidentally coloring over it and making it too dark.

If using more than one object, make sure to shade where one item may cast a minor shadow onto another.

The more you observe, the more detailed your picture will be. 

5. Trace 

(If not using trace paper, skip to the 7th step after you erase the structure lines)

Trace paper can help transfer the image to a clean sheet.

And you can reuse the traced image to transfer the outline if you want to use it later. 

Using the washi tape, tape your paper onto the table, just on the corners.

It will be just enough to prevent movement and not enough to damage your original if you need it for reference.

Place the Trace paper over the sketch and tape the edges down.

Trace the lines you do want to use.

Remove tape and get ready for the next step. 

6. Transfer 

Place a new piece of paper on the table and tape the corners as you did in step five. 

You can make your reusable transfer paper by gently coloring a piece of trace paper with a pencil.

Then smooth it out and remove the excess with a tissue while blending in a circular motion. 

The store-bought is excellent too. 

Tape the transfer paper over the edges.

Place the fresh sketch on top of it and tape the edges.

If you intend to use this rough draft at a later time for something, you can use a dried-out pen, an empty mechanical pencil, or the back of a thin paintbrush to trace the lines.

You can use a pencil if you intend to keep it; using a different color can help you keep track of which parts you haven’t traced.

After this, you can remove all the tapes and reveal your clean sketch. 

7. Different Art Media

Depending on your medium will depend on how you approach this.

Watercolors you work light to dark, graphite you work left to right, paint is dark to light, and it goes on.

 Let’s focus on graphite. 

8. Shadows and Highlights 

Lightly shade every part that has a shadow.

Be careful to avoid any places the light shines on. 

Build up the layers to help add contrast and depth.

Don’t fear making the shadows too dark; they are supposed to be!

Add details once the shadows are complete. 

Use the kneaded eraser to lighten any spots that are too dark. 

Use a regular eraser to create bright highlights. 

9. Celebrate Your Art! 

Practice! 

Learn! 

Be Excellent! 

These objects to draw for still life are your the impetus for inspiration.

There is so much to learn from just these few objects. 

Final Thoughts

A great artist never stops learning. 

Michelangelo’s last words were “Ancora imparo,” which means “I’m still learning.” 

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