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How Beginners Can Compose & Paint A “Non-Boring” Still-Life

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Step 1: Compositional And Value Sketch


Set up a still-life scene using the glass of wine and the lemon, arranging them in a position that you find interesting. Then, do a thumbnail compositional sketch of the objects, using a viewfinder if necessary. You can play around with the placement and vary the positions to find what works and what doesn’t. Pay attention to the proportions and perspective of the glass and lemon, working on the shapes and patterns you see rather than working off a preconceived idea of what a glass of wine or a lemon should look like.

When you’re finished with the outlines, do a quick shading of the main values (i.e. light and shadow) to make them clearer.

Below is a close-up of Steve’s value sketch: