BROOKS STILL LIFE CHALLENGE
The Brooks Museum is challenging you to create a still life using the objects that you have at home! Create and share your still life on social media, and then challenge a friend to make one too! Don't forget to tag us @brooksmuseum.
ABOUT STILL LIFES
One of the principal genres of Western art, the still life can include all sorts of man-made and natural objects, such as cut flowers and plants, fruit, vegetables, glassware, metal objects, ceramics and so on. The still life is a celebration of the beauty and abundance of life. It can also be a reminder that these pleasures are fleeting and that life is short.
Harriet Cany Peale (American, 1800 - 1869), Still Life with Lowestoft Bowl, 1857, Oil on canvas,
Gift of Mr. Walter Nelson Pharr in honor of his mother, Mrs. Blanche R. Pharr 75.12
TIPS FOR CREATING YOUR OWN STILL LIFE
Choose objects with a variety of textures that you can overlap (plants, draped fabric, shiny metals and glasses)
Choose objects that have significance (clocks can refer to time, lemons to the bittersweet nature of life. Choose objects that you value and that mean a lot to you!)
Find a flat surface where you can set up that has interesting natural light and shadows
Where is your horizon line? Are you looking straight at the arrangement, down on it, or somewhere in between?
Think about rhythm and focal points. Include items of different heights. Do you want the eye to keep moving across the composition or stop abruptly in certain places?
Try to get a balance of colors across the composition
Use candles and lighting to bring out the reflections in shiny objects and dark shadows
Here's a still life created by our Associate Curator of European & Decorative Arts, Dr. Rosamund Garrett, and her wife Lucy
“We’re British so of course we had to include the Newgate clock, the old Victorian copper jug, and the bottle of Pimms! Lucy’s a photographer so there is a vintage camera in there. There’s a Chinese import ceramic to give a sense of global connectivity – it has a carp on it but I think it looks like a catfish. I also like it when things look rather serious but they aren’t, so we included a small dinosaur, a topical bottle of hand sanitizer and a wine bottle with a risqué label complemented by three glasses.”
You can also check out the museum's collection online to get inspiration for your still life! Click HERE and search "Still Life" to see a the still lifes in the Brooks collection.
Here's a favorite Dutch still life from the Brooks Collection
Roelof Koets, Still Life on a Draped Table, 1635, oil on panel, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art purchase; Morrie A. Moss Acquisition Fund. 2002.2
Roelof Koets was a Dutch painter from the town of Zwolle, north-east of Amsterdam, who specialized in still life paintings. Here, he has depicted a herring covered in butter and capers, a bread roll, a peeled lemon, and some cracked nuts. The glass has a textured stem to stop it from slipping through greasy fingers, and the salt is on an elaborate stand because at that time it was a precious and costly commodity.
Now, go create your own still life! Take a photo, share it on social media using the hashtag #StillLifeIRL + tag us @BrooksMuseum on Instagram and Facebook. Then follow along for a chance to see your still life featured!