Talking Points: Contemporary Still Life

A collection of sources to explore contemporary artists who study still life.

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ages 5-8
ages 9-11
ages 11-14
ages 14-16

Hilary Pecis

The imagery in Pecis’ work comes from snapshots taken from trips, visits with friends in their homes or restaurants, and the artist’s surroundings. Pecis focuses on specific details that evoke the feeling of the moment. Pecis then uses texture and brushstroke, colour and pattern, and perspective as tools to create a sense of place. 

Pecis often includes stacks of monographs, exhibition posters, and works by other artists within her compositions, allowing Pecis the opportunity to include different styles of painting in one composition. Cultural art and historical references within her paintings allow the viewer to understand the time and place. – Rachel Offer Gallery

Hilary Pecis Painting Sleeping Dog, 2020

Sleeping Dog, Hilary Pecis, Painting, 2020

Watch the video above as teacher, so you have an understanding of Hilary’s work. Then pause the video at set places to introduce the pupil’s to Hilary’s paintings.

Questions to Ask Children

When you look at one of Hilary’s paintings, what words come to mind? How would you describe it to someone who couldn’t see it?

How do Hilary’s paintings make you feel?

Do you have favourite parts of the paintings? Do you recognise anything you have at home? 

Think about your interests and hobbies- what objects might you include in a still life that reflects snapshots of your life and memories? Could you write/draw them in your sketchbook.

Nicole Dyer

Nicole Dyer creates vibrant paints, drawings and mixed-media assemblages and sculptures that explore contemporary life and everyday objects.

Dyers creates playful still lifes using materials such as paper-mache, collage techniques and impasto, putting a twist on traditional still lifes. 

Find more of Nicole’s work at “Talking Points: Nicole Dyer“.

Nicole Dyer San Pellegrino Bottle

Palegrino, Nicole Dyer, 2019, Acrylic, flashe, and insulation foam on canvas, 10” x 8”

Questions to Ask Children

Is this a painting or a sculpture?

How would you describe it to someone who couldn’t see it?

What do you think the artist was trying to say with this painting?

What do you like/dislike about this painting?

How does this painting make you think differently about still life paintings?

Bas Meeuws

Bas Meeuws is a digital florist artist. His work inspired by the still life paintings of dutch and Flemish artists in the 18th Century.

“The bouquets actually were impossible constructions, with flowers from different seasons, all in full bloom. I like to emulate this in my work, and to transcend time. The consolation of photography, that is how I see these timeless works.” – Bas Meeuws

Questions to Ask Children

Meeuw’s takes lots of photographs of flowers and other objects and then manipulates the images into one still life. What does this enable him to do, which he couldn’t do if he just took a photograph of an arrangement of flowers? 

In the video he uses a dark background for the photographs. Why do you think he does that?

In the video he mentions 17th century still lives. Take a look at “Talking Points: Flemish & Dutch Still Life” and see if you can see the links between the work of the old painters and that of Meeuw.

What do you like about Meeuws’ photographs?

“I just start and work until I get stuck, then I’ll start something new and go back to it later on,” says Bas Meeuws in the film. Why do you think working like that helps him?

Hirasho Sato

Hiroshi Sato is focused on contemporary realist oil painting. He draws influence from past and present artists including Vermeer, Andrew Wyeth, Euan Uglow and Chuck Close. Sato explores the illusion of form and flatness in space.

Explore more of Sato’s work here.

Questions to Ask Children

Pause on one of the still life paintings in the film (or visit his website) and discuss it with the class.

What words would you use to describe the painting?

Look at the way the shapes and colours are arranged on the canvas in relation to each other (the composition). Where does your eye want to look? 

Can you see a foreground? A background? Is there a difference in the way the artist has painted the foregound and background? 

Can you see any negative space?

What do you like/dislike about this painting?

How does this painting make you feel?

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