Using Still Life Objects to Capture Memories and Emotion

When we think of drawing a still life, our minds often conjure images of fruit bowls, flowers, or maybe a classic vase. But what if I told you that there's so much more to this art form than meets the eye?

Let's challenge the notion that a still life can only be a pretty arrangement of objects.

A still life drawing has the power to evoke just as much emotion as a cute baby animal portrait, and perhaps even more. How, you ask? Well, it all comes down to the objects you choose to draw.

Before you grab the fruit or flowers, imagine selecting items that hold personal significance to you.

Mind gone blank? Take a moment to reflect.

  • Think about the objects in your life that hold a special place in your heart.
  • What memories do they evoke.
  • What emotions do they stir within you?
  • And most importantly, how can you translate those emotions onto paper using your colored pencils?

Perhaps you need some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing?

This page started life as a list, but then evolved into a brainstorming session. Maybe it will spark some ideas for you too.

traditional still lifeSay goodbye to your grandma's still life!

The Emotional Impact of Still Life Objects

When it comes to drawing a still life, the emotions it can evoke are as diverse as the objects you choose. And no, they are not all pleasurable. In fact, the beauty of picking more unusual still life objects lies in its ability to capture a range of emotions, both positive and negative.

Let's reminisce...

Childhood toys: Imagine drawing a worn-out teddy bear that you've had since childhood. As you carefully sketch its tattered fur and faded colors, you may find yourself flooded with a sense of nostalgia and warmth. This object holds memories of comfort and companionship, evoking feelings of happiness and contentment.

old-teddy-bear-in-trunkInclude your childhood toys in your still life drawings

Keepsake: On the other hand, let's say you decide to draw a broken ornament, a remnant of a past relationship. As you bring out the cracks and chipped edges with your colored pencils, a different set of emotions may surface. Sadness, loss, and even anger might come to the forefront, reminding you of the pain and heartbreak associated with that object.

Ephemera: Some objects instantly bring back memories of a particular time, or event. For example, a ticket stub from a concert may bring back vivid memories of the music, atmosphere, and the people you were with. Your emotions may well start tap-dancing like Fred Astaire at the mere sight of that little piece of paper.

Souvenirs: How about souvenirs, maps and guidebooks? They remind you of fun and relaxation, of once unfamiliar places that you explored and made your own. Every time you glance at them, you can almost hear the sound of waves crashing on the beach or the bustling city streets. Drawing such items can take you on a journey down memory lane, bringing a smile to your face.

a boys dream"A boy's dream" by Ed Kramer. Ed drew these special items belonging to a friend as a gift (pastel pencils)

Seasonal: But hey, who needs a time machine? Let's just rewind to last summer, shall we?

Imagine this - a pair of well-loved flip flops beside a pebble you picked up on one of your walks along the shore. Add a pair of funky sunglasses and a floppy straw hat, maybe even a dog-eared paperback that you couldn't put down all summer.

Don’t overlook the humble picnic basket. It's not just an object; it's a whole story just waiting to be told! The sandwiches, the fruit, the lemonade, the ants - okay, maybe not the ants. But you get the picture, right?

And there you have it! A whole array of summer-inspired still life objects to draw. Each one holding a special memory, a moment frozen in time, waiting for your colored pencils to bring them to life for you to enjoy year round.

Then there are the other seasons... but lets get back on track here. 

How Personal Items Reflect Our Interests and Values

Personal items reflect our current interests and values, as well as our experiences and memories; serving as a physical representation of who we are.

When choosing still life objects to draw, it's not about how old, rare or expensive they are. It's about the stories they tell, the memories they hold, and the values they represent.

Cooking: Now, here's a fun thought - have you ever considered drawing your favorite cooking utensils? A wooden spoon, an old-fashioned balance scale, or a cherished cookbook, perhaps? These items could tell a story of your love for cooking and the joy you find in feeding your loved ones. They are simple objects, but they're also a reflection of your passion and your values.

Music: If you're a music lover, your still life composition could feature headphones, sheet music, vinyl records, or even a violin, guitar or flute. Each playing a silent symphony full of joy, sorrow and every emotion in between.

Gardening: And for the green thumbs out there, why not sketch your gardening tools? A watering can, a pair of gardening gloves, or a pot of your favorite flowers. These objects not only capture your love for nature but also remind you of the peaceful moments spent in your garden.

Books: Then, of course, there are books. Ah, books. Can we talk about books for a moment?

They're not just still life objects to draw, but a doorway to another world, a world full of characters, adventures, and knowledge.

Whether it's a tear-stained romance novel, a well-thumbed mystery, or a dog-eared biography, each book holds a unique story - not just within its pages, but also in your life.

The joy of a plot twist that took your breath away, the wisdom gained from a thought-provoking non-fiction, or the comfort of a favorite childhood fairy tale - these are the stories that your books could tell when you draw them.

Pets: Don’t forget your furry friends. No I don’t me drawing the whole pet in a still life, but objects connected to them. A puppy collar, name tag, a favorite toy, or even grooming equipment Oh, the tales those items could tell of countless happy moments you have shared.

Sport: For the sporty ones among us, drawing your running shoes, your tennis racquet, or your worn-out baseball mitt could be a fun and meaningful project. These items could illustrate your dedication, your hard work, and your passion for staying fit and healthy. And hey, if you're a fan of a particular team, why not sketch your team jersey or scarf? Each game, each cheer, each victory (and defeat) - they all come rushing back every time you look at these objects.

Making Your Artwork a Reflection of You

Now, as we've been chatting, I bet you've been thinking about the special objects in your life that you could draw.

The ones that have meaning, that tell a story, that evoke emotions. And isn't that what art is all about? It's not just about creating something beautiful; it's about expressing something meaningful. 

So, there you have it, folks.  A crash course on how to infuse personality into your still life compositions by choosing objects that hold personal significance.

No more random fruit bowls or flower vases (unless they hold special meaning for you, of course). It's time to make your artwork a true reflection of you - your memories, your emotions, and your values.

And remember, it's not about perfecting the technique, but about capturing the essence of the objects and the emotions they evoke.

So, break the rules, experiment, and most importantly, have fun!

After all, art is all about self-expression and creativity. Happy drawing!

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