10 Tips to Perfectly Paint a Still Life – How To Master the Art of Painting

The still life is an excellent choice for learning the basics of drawing and painting. There are several important rules which you should know and consider when painting still life. These rules are simple and quite easy-to-follow. However, these rules can be rarely found and are rarely spoken about. Experienced artists use these rules intuitively. The beginners guess and enjoy the successfully created painting or on the contrary go through the bad experience in the creation of a simple picture.

The following tips of still life art lesson will help you create various harmonious still lives almost in every technique avoiding the sad mistakes.

Certainly, the still lives are very different and they have different goals. The stills lives are performed in different styles. But today we will talk about the basic rules of painting inanimate objects on the canvas or paper.

To create a harmonious painting, you should know at least the basics of composition and colorists.

What should the beginners do if they want to create something beautiful with their own hands? Should they delve into reading books about painting and drawing?

It will be enough for you to know several important rules in order not to make mistakes and to create the harmonious painting. And our art lesson will help you with it.

The Location of Objects on the Still Life

The still life will always look more beautiful, harmonious, interesting and volumetric:

  • If the objects lap over each other somehow. For example, look at the photo below «Merry pears».
  • Digital painting «Accessories».
  • You should better combine these two types of location: overlapping and distance.

The Examples of Objects Location on a Still Life

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Gold on the blue. All the objects overlap each other and are located at a great distance from each other.
Fruit and sunflower. Harvest of apple pear peach grapes watermel
Illustration: the still life with fruits. Here all the objects also intersect, superpose and are located at a great distance.

Boring and Funny Location of Objects

  • If you locate the objects which are equal in shape and size at the same distance, you will receive quite boring picture.

If you locate the objects in a row as if it is made with a ruler will look quite boring and uninteresting on this still life. And the viewer will not be able to get into it while looking at your work. I hope this free art lesson online will be really useful to you.

  • If you move these same objects a bit, you can get the more interesting picture. The interesting composition scheme of a still life.
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Even the rectangles can be located in more interesting way

When you locate one object after another overlapping the part of it, you create a certain depth in your work. The more shapes overlap with each other – the more profound and volume your still life seems to be.

The Space in a Still Life

If you paint just a vase with flowers and it seems that there is nothing to overlap with, you should think well!

  • Perhaps, some leaf or flower has fallen down in front of a vase, in this case you can draw a napkin or tablecloth or sprinkle the berries on the table.
how to paint, how to draw, art lesson, still life with flowers
The still life by Alexander Sergeev. The flowers in a glass.

There are the leaves and flower on the foreground. These elements, which may seem to be insignificant at the first gaze, capture the viewer`s view from the front edge of the plan to the flower, which has fallen down, and then the glass and the vase, thus creating the space and making the work more interesting.


When creating a still life, it is important not to overdo with a quantity of the colors used.

On this stage of our fine art lesson you should choose 2-3 basic colors. You can use the shades, which are close to them, and you should not worry about the problems with color. I usually use 2 main colors and a bit of additional paints.

The Examples of Color Scores

How can the beginner learn to paint a still life?

pear, how to draw, how to paint, art lesson for beginner
The color in a still life. Here I have used only yellow-orange (warm) and blue (cold) shades. The green color is the additional one.
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Here are the tips according to the example of the painting by Vincent Van Gogh «The boots» by Van Gogh. The two colors dominated here.
still life with flowers, how to paint, how to draw, art lesson
The green shades in a still life with the wildflowers. Here the green and white colors are dominant and the brushstrokes of blue and pink colors supplement the work.

The green shades in a still life with the wildflowers
Here the green and white colors are dominant and the brushstrokes of blue and pink colors supplement the work.

how to draw, how to paint fish, art lesson, still life
How to select the colors for a still life? The fish on a board The still life with fish. The main shades are the red-brown shades (warm) and blue (cold).

The rule of 2-3 colors does not always help. The frequent heroes of a still life are the flowers and fruits of various colors and shades. In these cases you should use the following tip:

There should not be the equal proportions of colors in a still life

There are Two Dominant Flowers Even in the Variegated Picture

For example, if there are the flowers of red, blue, white and yellow colors and the green leaves, some flowers and colors should be dominant and some should be in the minority.

Here are the examples:

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The painting by Alexander Sergeyev. The white and red colors are dominant in the bouquet. The blue, green and yellow are the additional shades.

On this stage of our lesson we should

To Select the Main Things

Having certain idea and painting a still life from nature or from the representation ( from head), you should:

  • emphasize the main thing in this picture and the dominant subject.

This rule is not always used, but it will bring good use to your.
At this stage of our free drawing lesson you should ask yourself the following question:

  • what subject you would like to keep the viewer’s attention focused on?

The main object should stand out with some feature: the shape, size, color, position according to the other objects.

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The work by Sergeyev. The “major” flowers are determined accurately.

When you look at the sketch at the initial stage, you need to determine exactly the main thing in your work.

  • If you manage to determine the main thing intuitively, it is fine.
  • If your glance is running from one object to another and you don’t know what to get into, it means that you need to work more on your composition: reduce, enlarge, rotate or reposition something. Choose what suits in the best way.

Probably, many of you may have a question now: What if I draw only a vase of flowers?
Should I use this rule in this case? After all, the vase of flowers is our main and the most important object?
And here it is necessary and it is possible to apply this rule.

The bouquet of flowers always has a main flower.

If it is a bouquet of a variety of flowers, you should emphasize the small group of flowers, which are enlightened in the most successful way, look at the viewer in the most impressive way and differ in color, size or shape.

A. Sergeyev. The view is focused on a group of white flowers in the center, they are the brightest, the most enlightened and look straight at us.

I am sure that the there a lot of to speak about on a subject of a still life. Still the simple rules, which I have told you today, will help you create the harmonious compositions in different styles and techniques.

By the way, these simple recommendations can be used not only in paining. You can use these tips when you want to take photo of a still life or to embroider the bouquet of flowers with threads or ribbons.





2 responses to “10 Tips to Perfectly Paint a Still Life – How To Master the Art of Painting”

  1. John Avatar

    What kind of brush is best for painting still life?

    1. admin Avatar

      For painting still life, it is recommended to use a round brush which helps to create smooth and precise strokes.