A Guide to Still Life Artwork

Still life artwork usually features inanimate objects that have been pre-arranged by the artist e.g. fruit, flowers and food. This art form has been around for many centuries, but still remains very popular with both artists and collectors today.


Origins of Still Life as an art form

The still life art form dates all the way back to the ancient Egyptian times, when people would adorn the interior of tombs with paintings of food and other objects. It was believed that the food and objects they painted on the tombs would become real and available for the deceased to use.


Still life artwork was also popular with the Ancient Greeks, who would take great care in depicting everyday objects and animals in their vase paintings. Still life imagery has also been found in the Roman wall paintings and floor mosaics at Pompeii Herculaneum and the Villa Boscoreale.


 Still Life by Lynne- Cartlidge

Dahlias and a Teacup by Lynne Cartlidge


Famous still life artists

Still life art didn’t become popular in Western painting until the 16th century. Even though it wasn’t always the most popular of genres, many famous artists went on to depict inanimate objects such as bowls of fruit and vases of flowers that have gone on to become some of the most iconic paintings of all time. Two of these famous paintings include Still Life with Apples by Cezanne and Still Life with Sunflowers by Van Gogh.


Popular subjects of still life art

Although still life artwork can technically feature any inanimate objects, over the centuries the most popular subjects of still life artwork have included:

  • Flowers in vases
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Bottles and glasses


Still life art techniques

Still life artists can use a wide range of techniques to create their paintings and artwork, but the most popular and traditional techniques include oil and acrylic painting. More recently we have however seen an increase in the number of artists using computer graphics and mixed media to create contemporary still life art forms.


One of the key differences between still life artwork and other art forms like portraits and landscapes is that still life gives artists a lot more freedom and choice over how their subjects are arranged and composed.


Still life inspiration

Many still life artists including popular Art2Arts artist Paula Oakley draw inspiration from the objects around them and use them to tell a story through their artwork.


Paint Ted by Paula Oakley 

Paint-Ted by Paula Oakley


Today’s still life artworks are majorly different from the still life paintings created in decades gone by. One of the reasons for this is the advancement in technology we have witnessed over the past couple of decades. The contemporary still life artists of today have vastly different objects to feature in their work than those in the past and can also use a wide range of modern techniques such as photography and computer graphics to create their artwork.


What makes still life art so popular?

Whilst you would not necessarily think a painting or photograph of a still life object like a bowl of fruit or vase of flowers would make the most exciting of photographs, just look at our collection of still life artwork and you will be pleasantly surprised.


One of the most appealing things about still life art is that people can actually relate to and understand the imagery. It is one of those art forms that is accessible to all and doesn’t require a lot of hard work in order to interpret its meaning.


Many people collect different styles of still life artwork painted by different artists as a hobby. If you are looking to add to your collection, be sure to check out the stunning range of original, contemporary still life paintings here on the Art2Arts website.