Still life is a genre of art that has been prevalent in the art world since the Middle Ages and Ancient Graeco-Roman era. While styles may change with each era, the simplicity of the still life has brought it through the centuries.
But with a genre that has survived through so much time, still life artists must be able to bring something new into each of their works. Within the simplicity of the genre lies the opportunity to create fresh, invigorating art.
Here are some ways for contemporary still life artists to breathe the most of their life into their still life...
Embrace Your Own Perspective
Still life is the preservation of an object or image, capturing it and making it your own. No two people will have the same experience when looking at an object. The viewer brings their own unique emotions and history into the experience.
When painting or drawing a still life, it is important that you do not lose what makes your experience unique when viewing the object. If you are painting sunflowers, for example, do not just paint the sunflower, but the way you feel when you see the sunflower. You can do this in different ways, through color, brushstroke, intensity, whatever method feels the most right to you.
In other words: trust your instincts. (This may seem obvious, but many artists can get wrapped up in overthinking technique.)
Figure Out the Deeper Meaning
When creating a new work, choose a subject that has meaning to you -- or, barring that, imbue your subject with meaning of your own design.
You should aim to take your viewer where you go when you created your art. You want them to feel the feelings that you were feeling: sadness, hope, despair, whatever they may be. You could be painting a still life of the bottle of wine that you just finished, after saving for years since your wedding day. You should convey to your viewer the taste of the wine on your lips, the feel of the bottle when it was in your hand, and the memory of the wedding night, be it joy or sadness.
Whatever the subject brings to your mind, let that lead the effort of communicating your meaning to your viewers.
Always Be You
If you take your life and your history and put it into your work, your art will always be unique. Two different apples drawn from two different people will look similar if all the artist draw is the apple, the skin and the stem.
However, if the artists put their memories into the apples, through tone, layering, the colors they use, and the shadows, the apples will look differently. The finished fruit will convey the artist's experience will the apple, if it is their favorite fruit or if they think of the apple only as something destined to rot.