Usually, I paint from reference photos. It is not practical to paint people's pets from life, even assuming we live on the same continent. There is a big part of me that feels this practice is not "proper" and that to be a "proper" artist you should paint from life. It is going to take some practice, though, because all the little tips and tricks I use to get the drawing right are much harder when working from life.
For example, I depend heavily on the negative shapes.
For anyone unsure what I am on about - sorry if this is too basic - here are the negative shapes marked out on a b&w copy of the first painting, to show where the veggies should be placed on the canvas and in relation to each other:
Basically, a series of squidged triangles. The trouble is, every time you move your head even a tiny bit those 'triangles' of negative shape - change shape!!
It drove me nuts but then I had this thought: I wonder if that is what Picasso and the other cubists were on about: every time you move your head a fraction, the "reality" in front of you changes. So how can you ever capture it in 2D?
|Picasso, Still life with fruit, 1930|
Meanwhile, for a complete contrast, here is a painting by a still life artist whose work never ceases to amaze me, Frans Snyders (Dutch, 1579-1657).
|Frans Snyders (1579-1657) Still life with food|