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Portrait Still Life

Extract from One Painting A Day • By Timothy Callaghan • Published by Aurum Press


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One Painting A Day
Using someone else’s objects can be an interesting way to approach a still life, almost like an exercise in portraiture; you can arrange the belongings in a manner that describes an event or your impression of this person. Objects like clothing, chairs, shoes, or hats have qualities that refer to the body and possess sentiment and character that may suggest the attributes of a particular person.

For this painting, I was looking at shoes casually descending a staircase. Whenever my partner and I go out for the evening, the ritual of choosing the right shoes to go with her dress is always a topic of conversation. I didn’t do much in terms of arranging the shoes, but simply added a few more pairs and shifted them to imply movement up or down the staircase. My intent was to
suggest the decision-making process that comes with getting dressed up to go out for the evening.

Posted by Aurum Press Published See Aurum Press's 73 projects » © 2020 Timothy Callaghan / Aurum Press · Reproduced with permission.

You Will Need

  • Step 1

    You can borrow these objects from someone close to you or simply respond to an arrangement of someone’s belongings in your home or workspace.


    An interesting variation on this exercise is to let someone else pick the objects for you. In Libby’s painting, she is responding to her son’s hand-painted cup and the dandelions he arranged in the cup. The painting, while expertly depicted, has a childlike feel to it. You begin to imagine who the child is or what he may look like.

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