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Learn to Draw: Still Life

Lesson 3 of 6

Depth

 

Learn to Draw: Still Life

Lesson 3 of 6

Depth

 

Lesson Info

Depth

Another really important aspect of setting up a still life composition, is how you're going to establish depth. Choices you make with the arrangement of objects, and also your vista. How high or low you are to your subject. That can either create an intense sense of space and depth or something a little bit more shallow. In addition to the whole arrangement of objects and symmetry and creating emphasis, another layer is really about how we can create depth and space in a picture. I'm gonna just show you a couple of examples of that. Some of the things I like to consider when I'm working with aspects of depth. In this image here, it's a really basic image but it's really meant to show you that overlaps are really important. If this yellow pumpkin is in front of that orange picture, and they're overlapping each other, it's very clear that one is in front of the other. Overlap, creating overlaps, in places that will really really help us establish depth. There is one thing you want to avo...

id, and that is called kissing, and I'm gonna show you what that means. If you look at the distance between the yellow pumpkin and the orange picture here, there's a clear negative space that exists in between those two objects. It's clear, because the picture's a little higher in space that maybe it's a little bit further back, but there's definitely a distance between them. However, if you look to the right of the pumpkin and you see its relationship to the blue container there, they're just skirting each other. They're almost touching, or maybe they almost have a space, and however, the blue pitcher isn't actually touching the yellow pumpkin. There's almost like an illusion of the fact they're touching, but they're not, and they call that kissing. It's a bit confusing visually to have that happen. There's like a spatial confusion or a tension. Even though intellectually we know that the blue container is further back, because its higher in space, the fact that they're almost skirting each other in space makes us look there and get a little distracted, and that's probably not the point of your drawing. You want to avoid situations. Either have things overlap, or have a space, but don't have things just skirting each other and kissing. You definitely want to avoid that. Classic way to create depth. Two things here, in particular. Diminishment and scale change, and also where things are placed on the table or the platform, or wherever you're putting things. Let's take a look at this apple up front. Big red apple. Now, if that apple was right next to the orange teapot, then they would be about the same size. Believe it or not, but because it's further up in space, we can actually fit probably, at least one and a half, maybe two, of the heights of that orange teapot in that front apple. That's an illusion and we really need to look at that, because if we don't make the things in the background small enough, or enlarge the things in the foreground big enough, then we're not gonna be emphasizing depth in the way that we want to. Scale change. Things get smaller as they move away from us, and larger as they move towards us, and the other thing that we can look at is where things land on the table. Apple lands pretty low. Orange teapot a little higher. Blue container a little higher. That stepping back in space from this vantage point is also gonna help us establish depth, in terms of where things are horizontally placed on the table. We're gonna compare two potential vantage points. By vantage point I basically mean what is your eye level to the setup? You could have a bird's eye view, where you're looking down at the setup. You could look at it almost like your eyes are the level of the table. You're like really dead on, or from more of a diagonal. In this situation, it's a relatively low vantage point and I just want to point out a couple of the things that will happen from a low vantage point, which you may like or you may prefer something higher, which we'll look at it in a minute. From a low vantage point, we clearly have overlaps happening. Optics are overlapping each other and creating a sense of depth, which we discussed, but the other thing that's happening is that there tends to be smaller or less negative space between objects from a lower vantage point, because we're kind of looking across the ground plane, rather than looking down at it. That changes the tension between the objects. It's not necessarily bad or good, but it's just something that's gonna shift when you look at that. That's a low vantage point, so I really encourage you to play with crouching down at your setup, at eye level. Getting up on a chair and looking down at it, or just standing at an easel and looking at it. Those are all really important variables, really important choices that you'll be making. For contrast, this is the exact, believe it or not this is the exact same setup, but for more of a bird's eye view looking down, and this is maybe not as typical a setup, but I actually kind of enjoy what starts to happen. There are in this case, no overlaps, because you're looking from high up looking down. Almost like looking out of an airplane, and trees are like separated. You can see in between the trees. Rather than walking through the forest and having them all overlapping each other. There's no overlaps. There's more negative space. Bigger negative spaces. This whole blue tablecloth area, is all big negative spaces. It's a bit more spacious from this high vantage point. These are strategies and things to think about. Additional things to think about when you're setting up your still life to draw. How you could create depth when you want it. How you could create more shallow space if you want that, and the choices you make are definitely going to change the attitude and the spatial feel of your drawing.

Class Description

Join instructor and professional painter, Amy Wynne, as she teaches this introduction to still life. She’ll share how to create symbolism and meaning in a still life. Amy will also  share the different genres in still life, such as fertility/decay, vanitas, self portrait with objects, and nature.

In this class, Amy will cover:

  • Still life Composition: working with the Rule of 3rds and strengthening negative space
  • Depth: varying scale
  • Value: transitioning color to monochrome and creating tonal gradient
  • Lighting: Mapping lights and darks and creating tonal rhythm

Amy will end the course with a series of drawing challenges to get you drawing more every day! She’ll challenge you to draw of a motif, developing a creative habit.

Amy has been teaching painting and drawing for over 20 years at colleges across New England including the Rhode Island School of Design.

Reviews

Gina Nieto
 

Great class. Thank you Amy for your insight. The section on value was one of the best I've come upon. Now to start my challenge.