Still-Life Painting and Stress-Relief

My grandma’s silver champagne bucket; this was a homework assignment. Still kicking myself for not getting an actual bottle of champagne. I would’ve enjoyed sharing it with Grandma.

My grandma’s silver champagne bucket; this was a homework assignment. Still kicking myself for not getting an actual bottle of champagne. I would’ve enjoyed sharing it with Grandma.

When I was in college, even though I was majoring in animation (yeah, that changed), a still-life painting class was a required course in my first year. It met once a week for six hours and before it even started, I dreaded it. I loved painting landscapes, but I’d never painted a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers. The idea seemed daunting to my twenty-something self and I had zero interest in a subject matter that I considered boring.

Little did I know that still-life painting class would turn out to be one of my favorite classes ever. Not only did I learn more about what makes good composition and how to use light and color in different ways, but I also learned how to paint reflective surfaces, how to paint transparent glass, how to paint folds in fabric, and how to really handle oil paints (I’d only ever painted with acrylics). But mostly, it was just a fun class. We’d crank up some music (usually Pink Floyd or Bjork) and just paint. That class became a source of stress-relief when other classes, a long commute, and work had me frazzled and feeling overwhelmed.

My second or third attempt at painting wine glasses. I loved how they turned out but didn’t love the pink fabric. I’m pretty sure this painting is sitting in a box somewhere in my house.

My second or third attempt at painting wine glasses. I loved how they turned out but didn’t love the pink fabric. I’m pretty sure this painting is sitting in a box somewhere in my house.

A couple of canvases went to my grandma (whom I lived with when finishing college and would often call dibs on canvases before I was even finished with them), one painting of fruit and a silver kettle went to my future-mother-in-law (I should take a photo of it), and I even managed to sell two 5x7 canvases from my job at a picture framing store.

One of the 5x7 paintings I actually sold, eggplant, Bosch pear, and grapes in an extravagant frame. Sometimes it was fun to get to play with scrap pieces of moulding.

One of the 5x7 paintings I actually sold, eggplant, Bosch pear, and grapes in an extravagant frame. Sometimes it was fun to get to play with scrap pieces of moulding.

The other little canvas I sold, this one was my favorite with the little silver pitcher and pomegranate. I’m a little sad I don’t have them anymore, or at least have a higher quality photo, but I needed the money at the time.

The other little canvas I sold, this one was my favorite with the little silver pitcher and pomegranate. I’m a little sad I don’t have them anymore, or at least have a higher quality photo, but I needed the money at the time.

Quite a few canvases were garbage too and I will eventually paint over them, or let my son paint over them. But this painting was my favorite with the copper kettle and brass bowl. It currently sits on my dresser and though I don’t love the frame, looking at it brings me back to that still-life class and the peace it brought me each week.

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It’s been probably fifteen years since I painted with oils and the idea of starting up again with small children just seemed daunting. My 3rd grader has recently shown some interest, so I ordered some student-grade oil paints. Thankfully, I have a few unfinished canvases that we can doodle on and we’ll see what sparks us to put on canvas.