Friday, January 13, 2017

What qualifies as a still life?

"Toxic Still Life" inspiration photo
My fiber art group's challenge this year is to make a still life quilt. When I think of a still life I think of paintings of fruits, vegetables, and dishes. But does it have to be that kind of composition?  So I searched online to get the definition of a still life.

This is what I get from Wikipedia...."A still life is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which may be either natural (food, flowers, dead animals, plants, rocks, or shells) or man-made (drinking glasses, books, vases, jewelry, coins, pipes, and so on)."

So rusted barrels of toxic waste are certainly inanimate objects that are man made. So does this composition qualify as a still life? Thoughts???

"Toxic Still Life" sketch
The sketch of the barrels is one of the sketches that I made in Elizabeth Barton's master class in 2014.The lesson was to create a mood with a color scheme. That month I chose to make a wind turbine quilt instead of the barrels.

"Blown Opportunity"
This is the wind turbine quilt that I made that month. The mood is peaceful and color scheme is green and blue to show that.

What do I want to accomplish with the barrels and the jewel toned color scheme? I wanted it to look "beautiful" from a distance. However, when you look at it up close you see the tags that say poison and danger and then realize that this is not beautiful at all.

My goal this year to make quilts with meaning to add to my energy/environmental series. You can see the rest of the series by clicking on the tab under the header for my blog.

Or click here.

"Still Life with blue cheese and figs"
Or should I make a traditional still life like the one I made back in 2013?

Linking to Nina-Marie.

Thanks for reading.



  1. J'ai bien aimé l'esquisse des barils que j'avais vu dans la classe de Élisabeth alors pour quoi pas !

  2. I like the idea of toxic waste as a still life. Spill life? No life?

  3. I love the picture of the barrels and your idea behind it. I am sure with will be a wonderful quilt

  4. Pushing the boundaries is a good thing, and oil drums pushes 'still life.' And makes an important point.

  5. Chiming in a little late but my overriding thought as I read your post was that you really want to work on these barrels and choosing something else to "conform" to the standard notion of a still life was going to leave you unfulfilled with the resulting work showing it. I think the barrels qualify even if it may be a loose interpretation of the genre, and I think you should go where your interest is strongest. As knitknkwit said, push the boundaries, make your point. Please yourself and don't worry about what the group putting forth the challenge will think.

  6. Conformity is for those who are too afraid to color outside the lines. Trust your gut. Make what calls to you.

  7. What Gwyned and Idaho Beauty said. Go with your heart on this. :-)


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