As you can see, my drawing is very precise and detailed! It can be frustrating to see and draw all of these details now, but it’s even harder to do it in paint later, without any guide underneath. Even thought they are drawn, I certainly won’t show all of these details in the painting. Details are obscured both in shadows and bright light, so in those areas I will only subtlety suggest a few of the important spots. I’ll show much more detail in the mid-tones, though I won’t show every weave! I draw most of them now, so that when I’m deciding what to show, I’ll have a guide to help me be convincing.
Realistic still life demands a high level of detail in order to be satisfying. The objects are presented up-close, for the viewer to study, so they must appear realistic. However, the painter is not a photographer. He must stylize his subject, choosing only the most important parts and eliminating or muting the unimportant. It is tricky to decide how much to show!
I constructed an ellipse for the base of the basket and transferred it to my drawing. You can see this is in picture above. I noticed that it wasn’t quite lining up with my measurements of the other parts of the basket. It finally occurred to me that the basket is very irregular in shape. For once, a perfect ellipse was not called for! It’s hard for me to just draw what I see in all of it’s asymmetry. Trust your eyes!
Perfect ellipses are called for in the decanter, though! I calculated these and transferred them to the drawing. I indicated some of the other reflections, but not many of them. The two small ellipses seen inside the decanter are not perfect ellipses, but are distorted. The top one is a reflection of the base, and the lower is the base seen through a layer of glass. I didn’t try to be too exact here. Unlike the weave of the basket, reflections don’t need to line up exactly, so I can paint them without a drawing to guide me. Also, since reflections are so subtle, I end up painting and repainting them. A detailed drawing would just end up being lost under layers of paint.
Here’s the drawing just about finished. I have just a bit more to do on the basket.
Usually when I’m drawing objects such as these, I think that it really doesn’t matter if they’re exact or not. Unlike in a portrait, where an eye being off by 1/4″ would ruin the likeness, in a still life, who really would know or care that a vase was a bit thinner or wider than in reality? The important thing is that it looks good in the context of the painting. I’m not trying to create an exact rendering of an object, like in a botanical illustration. I’m trying to create a beautiful composition.