Process: Watercolor 21st Century Still Life

For my second watercolor class our first assignment was to do a 21st Century still life.Idea:

“Getting inspiration from the objects & materials you have brought to class, consider what type of 21st Century environment, context, or setting supports your 21st century idea. You may choose to be quite personal with your idea or deal with a contemporary and current issue using still life as a vehicle.”

We had the option to do part of it in collage as well. As what usually happens with me in the first few weeks of class, I had no idea what to do and had a hard time coming up with ideas. I thought of old computers and electronic equipment at the thrift store and thought that might be a neat idea to incorporate that, but I didn’t want to actually buy any of that stuff. Coming up with a theme was difficult, because I didn’t want to do the typical still life with fruit and a laptop and cell phone.

Eventually I came up with the idea of how technology changes. My parents own a player piano- the kind that takes rolls of paper with punctured holes cut out for each note. These pianos are now an obsolete form of technology just like the cell phones and laptops we discard every few years when they become outdated. I thought that the rolls of paper would be a great collage background and then I would combine that with amalgamated balls of tech devices like laptops and cell phones.

After more planning I refined the idea a bit. I decided that instead of doing a static still life, I would combine that with amalgamated balls of tech devices like laptops and cell phones and then use those in a repeated pattern all across the paper (I love patterns!) I ditched the idea of the collage background because not only would it be a lot of work, but if I had a busy pattern then it wouldn’t be a good idea to have a distracting collage in the background. I decided to have clusters of piano keys with cell phones and laptops.

I began to sketch everything out. I do apologize for the darkness of the photos but it’s hard to capture 5H pencil at night.


I then went on to coloring when that was finished. This project took me a very long time to do, mostly because I am so exacting. For angular designs like this, flat brushes work great. The paper is 300lb cold press, I think. It’s very heavy and resists curling.






At the end, I was left with a great pattern, but also a white background. I decided to fill the background with a soft blue, leaving white edges around the clusters. This emphasizes the clusters but keeps the background calm. All in all, it turned out great and I would love to recreate a digital version of this pattern!