Still Lifes

Still life paintings by William (Bill) E. Shumway.

I started painting still life subjects as soon as I realized I could make images with pigments and brush. They can be highly controlled with regard to object placement, setting, lighting direction and intensity. Unlike animals, humans, water and landscapes, all of which are in constant motion, still life subjects are stationary and make great situations for long term viewing. That’s very helpful to students learning to see with an artist’s eye and render meaningful images from that experience. In my student days, I often spent hours and hours rendering every detail of still life subjects, not trying to say anything about the subject other than “This is what I see.” With artistic evolution comes content. I may also try to say something about my response to the subject by guiding the viewer to selective colors, forms and relationships in the painting.