Digital Still Life

Basket of Apples by Paul Cezanne, 1895.
Basket of Apples by Paul Cezanne, 1895.

What is a Still Life?

It is a painting or drawing of an arrangement of non- moving objects.  Usually, it includes Fruit and Flowers but it can be any object from glassware to electronics.  Still, life artwork often is not about the object but what the object symbolizes or reflects.

For example, in Roman times is the tradition of the use of the skull in paintings as a symbol of mortality and earthly remains.  By the 16th century, food and flowers would again appear as symbols of the seasons and of the five senses. In Dutch and Flemish painting, the symbolism of flowers had evolved since early Christian days. The most common flowers and their symbolic meanings include: rose (Virgin Mary, transience, Venus, love); Lily (Virgin Mary, virginity, female breast, purity of mind or justice); tulip (showiness, nobility); sunflower (faithfulness, divine love, devotion); violet (modesty, reserve, humility); Columbine (melancholy); poppy (power, sleep, death). As for insects, the butterfly represents transformation and resurrection while the dragonfly symbolizes transience and the ant hard work and attention to the harvest.

-Referenced from Wikipedia

Today, much still life painting and drawings visual discuss our pop culture or express the formal qualities of the everyday.  Like, Janet Fish’s painting of Kraft Salad Dressing bottles in the sun.

Kraft Bottles, Janet Fish, watercolors,1973.
Kraft Bottles, Janet Fish, watercolors,1973.

In the contemporary art world, many digital artists are using the computer to create paintings.  These painting and drawings are blended and painted on software like Photoshop.

Check out some of the digital painters on the DeviantArt website.

i_love_grape_fruit, by beastysakura on
i_love_grape_fruit, by beastysakura on

Or, visit Behance website to see some current artist that takes on issues like gun “culture” in their still life artwork.

Art of Innovation on Behance by Geliografic.
Art of Innovation on Behance by Geliografic.

Other artist references:

Student Examples

What do you need to do for this project? 

  1. You will research artists and their styles.  Art styles ways that artist portrays their subject matter. Choose one of the following art styles: Expressionism, Impressionism, Pointillism, Realism, Photo-Realism, Pop Art, Abstraction, Cubism.
  2. Then, find an artist that inspires you.

Art Movements image

Here are some links to get you inspired.


Include the following:

  • Artist’s Name,  person’s lifespan, education, the location of the artist.
  • Something you found interesting about the artist.
  • What is the art movement or style?
  • What inspires you about the art style?
  • What makes are the characteristics of the art style?
  • Find three examples of the artist’s work (size 2x3inches).
Van Gogh, Oleanders, 1888, Post-Impressionism.

Your homework:

3. With your iPad or phone camera, make an arrangement of items that are based on a theme.  It can be personal, based on an issue in the contemporary world, or natural. Before you take the photo of your object.

Think about the following:

  • Background
  • Color scheme
  • Environment lighting
Digital Still Life by Charlie Bowater
Digital Still Life by Charlie Bowater

In class:

4. You will download the photo to your server folder.  Digital Arts 2, you will have to draw the still life in your sketchbook.  Digital Arts 1, you have the choice to free draw it in your sketchbook, or you will draw it in Photoshop using the drawing tablets.  Everyone must draw with the tablets.

5. Once the still life is drawn, Digital Art 2 students will scan their draws in Photoshop.  Digital Art 1 students, will make sure that they are drawing on a new layer in Photoshop.  The canvas size will be 11×17 inches, 300 ppi, and file will be titled yourname_stilllife.psd

6.  We will discuss using paintbrush tools as well as smudge and eraser tool to create the painting.

Still Life Digital Painting Critique

Please type your answers for the following questions.  You can type it in question format or essay style.  Make sure your Name and date is on the paper either on the top or bottom.

  1. Describe your artwork: What is the viewer actually seeing?
  1. Describe your art style: What is the style that you painted in?  Explain the art style and give some details about the style.  What do you like about this style that inspired you? Who were the artists that inspired you?
  1. Analyze: What tools did you use to create the style effect?  What elements of art and principles of art were applied to the artwork? How did you use the tools to create the applied formal elements?
  1. Interpret: What is the meaning of your artwork? Or, what is your concept for this artwork? What does the still life represent?  Why did you choose the items to paint?
  1. Judgment:  How is this artwork successful or not?  What did you enjoy or dislike about this process?  How did you handle the challenges in this project?  What are you excited about in the artwork?  Explain why you feel this way about your artwork?