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Still Life: April Sunday Sketch Club

I checked the forecast for Sunday's session and it was due to bucket down so that meant it was finally time for an indoor SSC session.

The theme for this month was "Vintage Still Life" and I managed to rustle up some vintage teacups, teapots, old spice containers, salt and pepper shakers and even a Spekulaas mold!

I thought what better theme for this blog post than to talk a little bit about the history of still life sketching as well as our mystery supply this month - the iconic rainbow pencil.

Lisa working away!

Still life sketching has a fascinating history that spans centuries and cultures. This artistic genre, focused on drawing inanimate objects, has evolved from ancient times to the present, reflecting the changing tides of art and society.

Ancient Beginnings

Let’s start at the very beginning with ancient Egypt. Artists back then adorned tombs with images of food, flowers, and everyday items. These early still lifes were more than just decoration—they were intended to provide for the deceased in the afterlife, blending art with spirituality.

Renaissance Revival

Fast forward to the Renaissance, when still life made a major comeback. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer took the genre to new heights, focusing on intricate details and the play of light and shadow. Their work celebrated the natural world, showing off everything from simple fruits to complex arrangements with stunning realism.

A collection of negative space sketches

The Dutch Golden Age

The 17th century was a golden age for still life, especially in the Netherlands. Dutch artists like Pieter Claesz and Willem Kalf mastered the art of texture and surface, creating incredibly realistic depictions of flowers, fruits, and luxurious items. Their still lifes often carried deeper meanings, symbolizing wealth, beauty, and the fleeting nature of life.

Modern Interpretations

In the 19th and 20th centuries, still life sketching took on new forms. Impressionists like Édouard Manet and Vincent van Gogh brought fresh perspectives, using bold colors and loose brushwork to capture the essence of their subjects. Modernists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque pushed the boundaries even further, breaking down traditional compositions with their Cubist interpretations.

A collection of sketches!

Contemporary Practice

Today, still life sketching is as vibrant and varied as ever. Contemporary artists experiment with different media and styles, blending traditional techniques with modern innovations. Digital tools have opened up new possibilities, allowing for intricate and imaginative works that merge classical and contemporary elements.

Jorge's Brush Friends

Rainbow Pencil

I chose the magic rainbow pencil as this month's supply because of the lack of control it provides. As artists we usually like to have full control over our work and especially the colours we use. The downside is sometimes we don't feel ready or confident in taking risks in stepping outside of our comfortable style (I know I do!).

So the idea of a pencil which takes colour completely out of our hands might be a little scary.

I was absolutely blown away by what everyone came up with - their work was absolutely incredible. It was also such a joy to have some new faces!


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