Still life scenes are perfect for learning how light works and how to design an interesting composition. The controlled environment means you do not need to worry about the changing environment, the wind blowing your canvas or your subject moving. You can have as much control as you need with a still life scene so you can focus on actually drawing or painting it.
You do not need your still life to have any hidden meaning. You could use a milk jug, a chair, a cup, a coffee pot – it does not matter.
If you are struggling with creative still life ideas to draw or paint, then here are 25 of them to spark your inspiration:
- Idea 1 – Crabs
- Idea 2 – A Lobster
- Idea 3 – A Skull
- Idea 4 – Your Art Supplies
- Idea 5 – A Leg of Ham
- Idea 6 – A Flower Vace
- Idea 7 – Apples
- Idea 8 – A Fish
- Idea 9 – A Coffee Pot
- Idea 10 – Red Peppers
- Idea 11 – A Basket of Cherries
- Idea 12 – A Fish Tank
- Idea 13 – A Shell
- Idea 14 – A Branch With Leaves
- Idea 15 – A Chair
- Idea 16 – Chops
- Idea 17 – A Pot Plant
- Idea 18 – A Billiard Room
- Idea 19 – Your Living Room
- Idea 20 – An Open Book
- Idea 21 – A Bowl and Milk Jug
- Idea 22 – A Piano
- Idea 23 – Your Art Studio
- Idea 24 – A Bird’s Nest
- Idea 25 – A Statuette
- Want to Learn More?
- Thanks for Reading!
(Before diving into this post, make sure to download a free copy of my Beginner's Guide to Painting.)
Idea 1 – Crabs
These paintings of crabs by Vincent van Gogh are a stunning demonstration of color. The intense greens contrast nicely against the reds and oranges. The crabs also comprise of many varied shapes which create interesting light effects.
Idea 2 – A Lobster
Much like the crabs by Vincent van Gogh above, the lobster also has many varied shapes which can be interesting to draw or paint. The vibrant orange is also a great color to contrast against a cooler background.
Idea 3 – A Skull
The skull is a classic still life scene which everyone should have an attempt at drawing or painting. You do not need an actual skull of course – you could use a photo or a plastic model.
You are also not limited to a human skull. Animal skulls would also work fine.
Idea 4 – Your Art Supplies
What better to draw or paint than your own art supplies. This can make for a very personal and unique artwork.
Idea 5 – A Leg of Ham
A leg of ham can be an interesting subject with many varied shapes and flesh tones. If you are struggling with the flesh tones in portrait painting, then try painting a leg of ham still life.
Idea 6 – A Flower Vace
The classic flower vase is a perfect demonstration of color and light. Flower vase paintings can vary significantly based on the type of flowers you decide to use.
Idea 7 – Apples
The circular shape of apples makes them perfect for studying light.
Idea 8 – A Fish
If you are having fish for dinner, then take a photo before you dig in as it can be a great still life to draw or paint. Felix Vallotton creates an interesting composition using a fish, lemon, and herbs on top of a light background.
Idea 9 – A Coffee Pot
Everyone has a coffee pot lying around. The silver or brass makes for interesting reflections which can be a great challenge for beginners.
Idea 10 – Red Peppers
If you want something more challenging than an apple, then try painting peppers. Their shapes are more varied, making them more difficult to draw or paint.
Idea 11 – A Basket of Cherries
If you want to challenge yourself by painting a large number of small subjects, then try painting a basket of cherries.
Idea 12 – A Fish Tank
A fish tank, either empty or full, can make for an interesting composition. You do not need to include the fish in your artwork.
Idea 13 – A Shell
If you plan on going to the beach, then keep an eye out for whole shells as they make for fantastic subjects to draw or paint.
Idea 14 – A Branch With Leaves
This is one of the more simple and more accessible still life ideas. Just venture outside and grab a branch with leaves. Each branch will be different, so you can paint this subject over and over.
Idea 15 – A Chair
Whilst not the most interesting subject, it is easy to set up and many of the famous artists seem to have painted a chair.
Idea 16 – Chops
Much the same as the leg of ham. The unique shapes of chops can make for an interesting subject to draw or paint.
Idea 17 – A Pot Plant
If you do not have any vibrant flower vases around, then you could try using a simple pot plant.
Idea 18 – A Billiard Room
A billiard room makes for an interesting composition. However this is a complex scene to draw or paint, so this is reserved for more advanced artists.
Idea 19 – Your Living Room
If you are lacking inspiration, then get out your sketchbook and start drawing your living room. It does not need to be a masterpiece.
Idea 20 – An Open Book
An easy still life scene for beginners is an open book. It does present some challenges in perspective and light.
Idea 21 – A Bowl and Milk Jug
Another easy still-life scene for beginners is a bowl and milk jug.
Idea 22 – A Piano
If you have a piano, it can make for an interesting still life subject, with varied shapes and subtle reflections.
Idea 23 – Your Art Studio
What better place for inspiration than your own art studio (if you have one). Depending on how much you include in the scene, this could be as simple or complex as you like.
Idea 24 – A Bird’s Nest
A bird’s nest makes for an interesting subject if you can find and photograph one like Vincent van Gogh was able to. Or you could find a photograph on the internet or a book of a bird’s nest.
Idea 25 – A Statuette
If you want to venture into any kind of portrait work, then you should draw or paint a statuette. They are perfect for studying the human anatomy and how light interacts with it.
I hope you enjoyed these creative still-life ideas to draw or paint. Some of these ideas are perfect for beginners and some should be reserved for more advanced artists.
What I want you to learn from this post is that you can use anything as inspiration. The main thing you need to consider with still life scenes is light and composition.
If you have any creative still-life ideas you would like to add, please share them in the comment section below.
Want to Learn More?
You might be interested in my Painting Academy course. I’ll walk you through the time-tested fundamentals of painting. It’s perfect for absolute beginner to intermediate painters.
Thanks for Reading!
I appreciate you taking the time to read this post and I hope you found it helpful. Feel free to share it with friends.
Draw Paint Academy