Visual Arts Planning: Still Life

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Drawing a still life is a great opportunity to introduce children to challenging drawing concepts such as composition and negative space, as well as colour.

This selection of resources helps children tackle these ideas in an imaginative way while increasing their knowledge and experience of drawing materials.  The projects offer ways to explore a still life through expressive mark making using a range of exciting media such as ink, carbon paper, pastels and collage and include two resources that show how drawing can be taken through into a final painting in either acrylic or gouache.

Please feel free to add links to other resources, or share your experiences and ideas, via the comments box below.

Ages 6-12

Layered Colour Gestural Drawing

Gestural drawing helps students make free, intuitive sketches. This quick and easy exercise uses four colours of ink to help develop awareness of the stages of a gestural drawing and to add an energy to the finished sketches. Gestural drawing helps students make free, intuitive sketches. This quick and easy exercise uses four colours of ink to help develop awareness of the stages of a gestural drawing and to add an energy to the finished sketches.

Drawing Glass: Exploring a Still Life with Tracing Paper

This resource encourages children to tackle foreshortening and aerial perspective by drawing from a still life of translucent glass. The drawings are made on tracing paper and overlaid to explore small compositions before the class brings all their drawings together to make a large, communal still life. This resource encourages children to tackle foreshortening and aerial perspective by drawing from a still life of translucent glass. The drawings are made on tracing paper and overlaid to explore small compositions before the class brings all their drawings together to make a large, communal still life.

Tackling Still Life for Children Part 1 – Continuous Line Drawing

The first part of this project is a warm up exercise to encourage children to tune into their subject matter and begin to consider the placement of objects on their page. Drawing with continuous line also helps them record the spaces between the objects positively and accurately - an important element in still life drawing! The first part of this project is a warm up exercise to encourage children to tune into their subject matter and begin to consider the placement of objects on their page. Drawing with continuous line also helps them record the spaces between the objects positively and accurately – an important element in still life drawing!

Tackling Still Life for Children Part 2 – Building a Drawing from the Ground Up

Part two of this resource helps children get to grips with the tricky concepts of composition and visual relationships. They learn to appreciate the spaces between objects, grounding their objects on the paper by drawing the shape and relationships of shadows rather than the objects themselves. Part two of this resource helps children get to grips with the tricky concepts of composition and visual relationships. They learn to appreciate the spaces between objects, grounding their objects on the paper by drawing the shape and relationships of shadows rather than the objects themselves.

Tackling Still Life for Children Part 3 – Acrylic Painting

The final part of this still life project - taking drawing into painting! Drawings are made on canvas and then acrylic paint applied using a variety of mark making tools to create lively and exciting still life images. The final part of this still life project – taking drawing into painting! Drawings are made on canvas and then acrylic paint applied using a variety of mark making tools to create lively and exciting still life images.

Painting on Plaster, inspired by Vincent Van Gogh

This resource shares a method for painting on plaster using oil pastel, linseed oil and graphite (card could be used as an alternative to plaster). It includes drawing exercises to explore composition and learn how to use a viewfinder, and enables an open-ended exploration of painting. This resource shares a method for painting on plaster using oil pastel, linseed oil and graphite (card could be used as an alternative to plaster). It includes drawing exercises to explore composition and learn how to use a viewfinder, and enables an open-ended exploration of painting.

Acrylic Painting: ‘Food, Glorious Food’

A simple painting workshop with no teaching involved! In a supportive atmosphere, childen are guided and encouraged to explore their latent creative skills to produce a colourful still life in acrylic paint. A simple painting workshop with no teaching involved! In a supportive atmosphere, childen are guided and encouraged to explore their latent creative skills to produce a colourful still life in acrylic paint.

Cut Paper Collage Still Life

This exciting resource from educator Maureen Crosbie explores still life composition using collage. Papers are decorated by hand using colours, patterns and textures taken from objects in a still life set up. These are torn into simple shapes to compose a beautiful still life picture, with finer details added in paint. This exciting resource from educator Maureen Crosbie explores still life composition using collage. Papers are decorated by hand using colours, patterns and textures taken from objects in a still life set up. These are torn into simple shapes to compose a beautiful still life picture, with finer details added in paint.

Making Mini Food

A fun resource to inspire you to create your own miniature scuptural still life on a plate! A fun resource to inspire you to create your own miniature scuptural still life on a plate!

Age 12 Upwards

Winter Still Life

An ideal project for dark winter days! Construct a layered drawing of a winter still life using a combination of drawing, collage, mixed media and simple print-making to create a drawing or seasonal greeting card. An ideal project for dark winter days! Construct a layered drawing of a winter still life using a combination of drawing, collage, mixed media and simple print-making to create a drawing or seasonal greeting card.

Bold Autumn Still Life

This session was about giving teenagers at AccessArt’s Experimental Drawing Class at Cambridge ArtWorks the opportunity to engage with still life drawing working large (A1). Students worked with soft graphite to create strong, bold and gestural work. This session was about giving teenagers at AccessArt’s Experimental Drawing Class at Cambridge ArtWorks the opportunity to engage with still life drawing working large (A1). Students worked with soft graphite to create strong, bold and gestural work.

Still Life Drawing in a Cubist Style Using Carbon Paper

A fun workshop and a great way to study still life and explore Cubist ideas of ‘temporal frames' and drawing ‘time and space’. Different views of the same glass objects are captured through drawings made with carbon paper, to produce a composite drawing of a still life. A fun workshop and a great way to study still life and explore Cubist ideas of ‘temporal frames’ and drawing ‘time and space’. Different views of the same glass objects are captured through drawings made with carbon paper, to produce a composite drawing of a still life.

Halloween Still Life Using Acrylic Paint

This resource includes a warm up exercise using continuous line to create drawings on a large scale. A theatrical Halloween still life enables students to experiment with composition, mass, line and colour, combining mark making using acrylic paint and graphite to create lively drawings. This resource includes a warm up exercise using continuous line to create drawings on a large scale. A theatrical Halloween still life enables students to experiment with composition, mass, line and colour, combining mark making using acrylic paint and graphite to create lively drawings.

Introduction to Ink via Still Life

This warm up drawing exercise encourages students to look broadly and quickly at a still life, examining the relationships between objects. It is designed to introduce participants to varied mark making, combining the soft lines of oil pastel with the beautiful, translucent effects that can be created from ink washes. This warm up drawing exercise encourages students to look broadly and quickly at a still life, examining the relationships between objects. It is designed to introduce participants to varied mark making, combining the soft lines of oil pastel with the beautiful, translucent effects that can be created from ink washes.

Gothic Still Life – Drawing Skulls and Candles

Students analyse the relationships between objects in a Gothic still life inspired by autumn, death and decay. This drawing project builds on skills gained in the previous warm up exercise, encourging students to develop their own creative process and experiment freely with pastels and inks to produce individual interpretations of the still life. Students analyse the relationships between objects in a Gothic still life inspired by autumn, death and decay. This drawing project builds on skills gained in the previous warm up exercise, encourging students to develop their own creative process and experiment freely with pastels and inks to produce individual interpretations of the still life.

Drawing Cloth with Water Soluble Graphite

A drawing resource that helps students explore how water soluble graphite can be used to create tonal contrast and portray soft texture, shape and form. A drawing resource that helps students explore how water soluble graphite can be used to create tonal contrast and portray soft texture, shape and form.

Drawing Negative Space

Learning to draw the spaces in between things, the ‘negative space’, lets drawings breath and tensions between objects resonate. In this drawing activity, graphite washes are used to emphasise negative spaces. Learning to draw the spaces in between things, the ‘negative space’, lets drawings breath and tensions between objects resonate. In this drawing activity, graphite washes are used to emphasise negative spaces.

Soft Pastel Drawing for Beginners

A project to introduce children to soft pastels and encourage drawings with bold, energetic mark making inspired by the rich colours and textures found in a still life of Dahlias. A project to introduce children to soft pastels and encourage drawings with bold, energetic mark making inspired by the rich colours and textures found in a still life of Dahlias.

Graphic Inky Still Life!

In this hour long session, the AccessArt Art Lab for ages 10, 11 and 12 explored still life through drawing and construction. This resource shares how students developed their observation and mark making skills to create charming and powerful 3d graphic images. This activity has lots of potential for development for all ages.

Emma Copley – Painting a Still Life and Seeing Colour

An artist, Emma Copley, shares a step by step process for producing a painting in gouache. This exciting resource can be adapted for any learner age or ability to help them understand how to find colour in objects that seemingly don’t have any, how to work in a limited palette and how to inject their own personality into those choices. An artist, Emma Copley, shares a step by step process for producing a painting in gouache. This exciting resource can be adapted for any learner age or ability to help them understand how to find colour in objects that seemingly don’t have any, how to work in a limited palette and how to inject their own personality into those choices.