Studio Practice – Task 1: Still Life Pt 6

After my recent research & seeing what my classmates were starting to produce, it was time to start planning my Still Life shot.

I had already thought of using my glass rose lamp for this purpose, but I wanted to try something else. I’d been for a walk earlier that day in Bushy Park & had seen the start of Spring. So that evening I bought a bunch of plain pink tulips from the supermarket with a view to using these as well.

As I’ve discovered while researching for this project, the tulip is a major component of classic still life, so I thought it the most appropriate. I like the simple shape, plus the connotations of this flower.

“According to an ancient Persian legend, the tulip was born of the blood & tears of a girl who had ventured into the desert in search of her lover. It thereafter became a symbol of love.” (1)

Other meanings mentioned in the book is that the tulip is ‘a symbol of the vanity of earthly things’ & ‘according to some scholars, the tulip can be understood as a symbol of divine love, because it dies if kept away from the sun.’

Also, as mentioned in the book, Peter Paul Rubens The Four Philosophers (1611-12) the tulips in the vase ‘allude to the transience of life.’


The following is the sequence of images illustrating what I did to prepare in order to (hopefully) get my final shot in a studio section. I took them with my mobile phone – unfortunately I don’t have any studio style lighting at home, but should be enough to give me an idea of composition & light direction to get the effect that I want.

First, I put the tulips in the vase on my trusty trunk with what’s on there normally. I decided to use this surface as it’s similar to the wooden surfaces pictured in classic still life paintings. I then cleared everything off except the tulips & glass vase. I had to use sellotape to straighten out the unruly curtain behind. Crude, but did the job.

What did strike me was how nice the tulips looked while in the glass with no additional items. I was taken by the natural beauty – maybe I just got caught up with making things too complicated. Or maybe I just need to appreciate the simple things in life. Maybe…

Next, I arranged the shells & stones in similar pattern to how I’d done before. Looking at the vase & other items together it did look very cluttered. Again, time to simplify?

I then replaced the flowers & vase with the glass rose lamp. Interesting combination. I also added a fake butterfly. The reason I wanted to add this item is to be a symbol of spiritual transformation & life’s journey.

Not sure if the light quite works as I’d like, but it was still interesting taking images of the composition. I also quite liked the close up & abstract shots of the light. One to play with in the studio, too.

My next change was to put back the flowers & vase. I also put a blanket on top of the wooden trunk. As much as would love to use this item, it just wouldn’t be practical to get it to college. I’ll need to bring it to the studio session to see if it will give the right base for the shot. Or I could just use the plain black paper which is already at college.

Finally, I just added the butterfly then took some further shots with one of each of the larger shell items.

This was a useful exercise that gave me a better idea of what I’d like to produce in the studio setting. Whether I can reproduce it or I have a complete change of ideas, we shall see. Will be fun finding out!

  1. Nature and Its Symbols by Lucia Impelluso page 84

Criteria Ref: P1 & P4.


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