So, we’ve been given our new project next term and as always, its an interesting one.

Task 1  – Build and photograph a still life set-up that will be inspired by a classical painting

Task 2 – Portrait – using classical painting as inspiration

Both these tasks will potentially be a challenge for me as I am not a big fan of paintings. That being said the one thing I have already taken from pictures of this era of course is the chiaroscuro lighting – black background, striking lighting and colours. I used this style of lighting for my project last year, both in terms of research and for part of the  final product.

Having done some initial cursory research I have come across a number of artists for both the portraiture and still life that will provide me with some ideas.

This first set is from Jan Davidsz de Heem, a Dutch still life painter from the 17th century. So we have the traditional fruit and flowers, but I am more attracted to the less conventional books on the table. Interestingly, the lighting and background scheme for that painting is very different to the other two… not a black background with “direct light” on the subject, but light coming in from the side, possibly a window and a light background.

I also found some work by Willems Kalf, another  Dutch 17th century still life artist, which is the tradition of still life work.

For the portraiture, we have three different styles – (i) Francisco de Zurbaran; (ii) Jean-Simeon Chardin; and (iii) Michelangelo. Now although the cherubs are quite famous, I am attracted to their expressions which seem to have an element of bored anticipation about them. I also find the self-portrait by Chardin to be quite amusing…. looking like a washer woman. But all three portraits have a focus on the eyes you are drawn to where they are looking – either directly back at the viewer or away from you.

Task 3 – Cruel and Tender

Here we have some free reign to get creative. In class I was asked how I might interpret this theme. My initial thought was about care homes, carers and patients. How you could demonstrate tenderness and cruelty in that context. My thoughts in class were about including people in the pictures, but having discussed this project with a friend yesterday, I am drawn to possibly producing a body of work, using things as the subjects instead of people… lets see where it takes me!



  1. – good summaries of art across the ages  – both movements and artists
  7. – This is a good to obtain high quality downloads of classical paintings as well as succinct information about artists
  8. – another great resource for perusing art

Assignment criteria: 1 & 3