In this assignment we were asked to find a few objects that trigger a response and place them together to form a still life. We then had to set them up in a space that created interesting shapes and angles and to light them in a way that they make tones obvious. At the same time we were to place the experimental mark making sheets we made for exploring texture and gesture near by. We had to work on A2 or A3 and use a range of drawing tools to create our still life.
Before I started out on this assignment I conducted a lot of research into still life and drawing techniques. I watched an excellent TV documentary on the history of still life and it’s place today. From this I picked up a lot of tips and it made me think a lot about the choice of my objects. One of the most useful tips I got was about composition and so I played around with a lot of objects to create shadows and interesting negative spaces. I also tried to keep in mind the ‘rule of thirds’ and using the grid on my camera I placed objects at the thirds intersections to try and create some interest.
My choice of objects look perhaps a little odd to begin with but they are all linked with the theme of happiness. There is:
- A small sculpture of a mother holding a baby that I was given as a gift when my daughter was born. This reminds me of the happiest day of my life when my daughter was born and aesthetically I have always enjoyed looking at the soft smooth curves on the piece.
- A blue crab ornament. This was given to me by my partner’s Mom the first time I visited them in Virginia so it reminds me of him and his family and also a great vacation in the USA.
- 3 books (although one is deep in the shadows so not clearly seen). There is a New York City guidebook as it reminds me of where I first met my partner. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien as it is my favourite book and one of the few I can reread time over and an old book called ‘The Company’ which was one of the first gifts my partner gave me.
- A metal incense holder as one of my coping mechanisms for my bipolar disorder is meditation. I also like the shape of this particular holder and it gives some interesting reflections.
- A glass jar of paintbrushes as discovering painting and art has been a major source of therapy for me.
- As a background is a suede photo album of pictures from University that bring back happy memories, I also thought a dark textured background could be interesting.
- Scattered throughout the piece are boxes, packets and pills. These are because I have to take a lot of psychiatric medication each day in order to have some happiness.
Going back to the composition for a moment. I tried to view from lots of different angles to get the set up I wanted. The composition I chose in the end was to have the light shining very brightly, with additional lighting from above, at the sculpture and having it sitting on a very white box of medication. This makes it look as if the box almost isn’t there to symbolise that I don’t like people knowing I am a parent who needs psychiatric drugs and I tend to keep the medication hidden from others but I know I need it to ‘hold up’ my parenting role. Similarly the other packets and containers of drugs are hidden in shadows and behind other objects, like they are always there lurking in my life but I try to keep them hidden from view. The very front packet is creeping out into the light just like sometimes I can’t always keep my symptoms hidden from others. I wanted the main focal point to be around the more ‘normal’ happier objects like the ornament and the sculpture but I feel perhaps like I have highlighted the box of medication too much.