Tag Archives: still life

Abstract Like The Best Of Them



This week’s piece comes from the mind of Kirstie G (S3,OLSP). At first you may not understand it, but continue to look at it… You will soon start to see the fractured image of still life objects. Bottles and vases, jugs and bowls. These are rendered in a variety of media from acrylic and watercolour paints to pencil and charcoal. Some are rushed, some are painstakingly worked on. Each of these works have been completed in full and then sliced apart; artistic vandalism. It was tough for Kirstie to make the decision to do it and to then actually do it, but I think it was the right decision.

Her work reminds me of the likes of Braque (Picasso’s underestimated co-creator of cubism). Your eye is forced around the work to make sense of it. Little sections are painted well to prove that she can paint. Though that’s not the point. Painting has become snobbish in schools. It’s all about realism and copying. There is little time given to expression and experimentation. It is for this very reason that I feel that this piece is extremely strong. It’s taking chances. It’s not a piece created to pass an exam. It’s created to be a good piece of art and that’s what counts isn’t it?

There’s also great aspects of Leger in her work. The lines that dissect the work into a living three dimensional jigsaw. Kirstie’s work is relief, it sits on many levels and the observer is able to lean around foreground objects to view more of the background objects. It’s like four or five paintings in one. It is just so refreshing to see pupils take on something as hard to understand as abstraction and cubism and learn about it practically instead of remembering about it critically. A well deserved ‘Artwork of the Week’.

IMG_1046Kirstie’s relief piece before the dissection lines were painted in

S4 Pupil Of The Year



Monica L’s (S4/OLSP) Standard Grade Exam image is such a beautiful image. The warm luxurious purples in the red onions draw your eyes to the right of the image, then after being awed by the detail of the skin and the flesh, the viewer can cast their eye around the muted colours of the garlics, cloth and cardboard background. Monica worked none stop during her class time and put a lot of after school time in to fine tune this image to look its absolute best. It’s what art is about… mastery, skill and beauty. Monica was awarded my S4 Art Pupil of the Year award.

Mrs Hull’s Young Apprentices

I’ve been posting some submissions from my school’s Art Department to TESS (Teaching Supplement), to feature in their Art Section. I couldn’t give up the chance of letting you see some of the pupil work my colleague, Mrs Hull (OLSP), has been supervising across the corridor. These submissions were pre-lim examples for the S4 Standard Grade expressive exam last year. Pupils usually sit the exam with objects in front of them, or a photo along with a pre-trial version of their exam composition. This gives them the biggest chance to succeed, as it is asking a lot for a pupil to be at their artistic best on the day. Lots of things can go wrong and the pupil could have artistic block or an ‘off day’.

At the very top Emma H and Patrick McC (S4, OLSP) show off their painting skills with beautiful studies of fruit, bottles and a basket. Mrs Hull’s still life resources are very luxurious, it makes the pupils’ work look a lot more mature, even professional. Her teaching methods help the pupils focus on capturing pockets of colour in an expressive, yet controlled manner. If you can observe and record the right reflections and perfect your eclipses in your work, like Holly McP‘s (S4, OLSP) pastel study below, you can produce impressive work, though this would be a lot easier if you have a great mentor like Mrs Hull.

Breakfast, Breakfaster

Emily G (S3, OLSP) sat her Standard Grade Expressive Exam a few weeks ago and I have only gotten ’round to taking the images off my phone. Here is the best photo I’ve taken of her pastel piece based on the ‘Breakfast’ theme, it had to be taken in a hurry as the pieces were sent for marking right after the exam finished. I love her use of vivid colours along with that great capturing of the breakfast spoon and its reflections.

Like Chalk And Charcoal



I created this exemplar for S4’s introduction to Chalk and Charcoal techniques. The exemplar contains how to layout your drawing in charcoal (either compacted or vine), as well as the three main techniques of applying pastels; Scribbling, Smudging and Dashing. I didn’t use Scubbing, because I hate the technique and think that it ruins work rather than adds to it. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, why don’t you search ‘charcoal techniques’ on youtube.

Still Life… Still Important.

S3 (St Benedicts) have been working towards finishing their investigation sheet of their expressive intermediate exam. The investigation sheet requires pupils to draw analytical studies of their chosen area; still life.

Peppers are often used as an introduction to still life drawing. This is because the pepper is an interesting natural shape, it’s surface is shiny, it’s insides are filled with detail and crevices, it is colourful and varied. The Pepper is the perfect object to learn observations skills from.

Below Robert shows good use of contrast, he has a great personal style to his drawing, it is free and scribbled. It has character and with practice, Robert should be able to fine tune his scribbles to get a controlled, stylised style.



Above Antonia adds more detail and tone to her flower study. She uses cross-hatching to add darker tones, as well as hatching to the contours of the petals to give her drawing form and substance. While below Heather uses her clean and patient tonal skills to bring volume to her Pepper.


Below Robyn works her scratchy style into her pepper. It is such a great expressive style that will also be useful when using pastels or paints, her use of multiple lines to cover the surfaces of her objects helps draw the viewers eye into the object. It’s like staring into the framework of how the objects are made.



And finally, above, Edward uses a similar style to help raise his flat objects from the page. By shading along the contours of an object, you can help to show the viewer the form and dimensions of the object. It’s a simple trick, though it has helped Edward make his pepper more realistic and make his drawing more interesting to to look at.