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Memento Mori Telling a story through still life

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Memento Mori

Telling a story through still life

Page 2: Memento Mori - Weeblycenturyart.weebly.com/uploads/8/5/9/3/8593880/story_still_life.pdf · Memento Mori •Popular belief says the phrase originated in ancient Rome: As a Roman general

Memento Mori

• Popular belief says the phrase originated in ancient Rome: As a Roman general was parading through the streets during a victory triumph, standing behind him was his slave, tasked with reminding the general that, although at his peak today, tomorrow he could fall, or — more likely — be brought down. The servant is thought to have conveyed this with the warning, "Memento mori".

• It is further possible that the servant may have instead advised, "Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori!": "Look behind you! Remember that you are but a man! Remember that you'll die!", as noted by Tertullian in his Apologeticus.[3]

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Telling a story in still life…

• Narrative or Illustration • There is a strong narrative tradition in many forms of art. The artist arranges the

subject so that the viewer has the feeling of walking in on a story - one that is in progress, has just happened, or is about to happen. A bloody knife, a broken object, historical items and photographs, clothes on a chair - objects can be loaded with meaning. A traditional narrative painting will usually be full of figures with dramatic gestures and action. In still life, the objects need to communicate for you. Imagine the protagonist in your 'story' has just left the room - perhaps in a great hurry! What is left behind? The most successful examples are when you manage to hint to the viewer without being too obvious or illustrative.

• Major Project - Telling a Story • Tell the story of an object's life through a series of drawings. For example: a mug in

brown wrapping tied with string; Steaming on a cosy table with a beloved's teacup alongside; sitting alone on a draining board; sitting on a desk full of pencils, with a torn photograph; broken in pieces in the wastebasket. You might tell the story of a beloved teddy, a bunch of flowers, a bottle of wine, or a dollar bill. Need a challenge? Look for the most mundane object you can think of! Contemporary objects - such as a mobile phone - can be difficult, because we have no artistic tradition to refer to when representing them.

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A beginning assignment at Otis…

• Homework (HW due the following class)- Create a still life at home using three of more objects. Make sure they vary in size, from large to small. Do not line things up in a straight line. Make 6 thumbnail sketches of different compositions on half of the paper. Choose the one that best works for you and make a complete drawing on the rest of the paper. Think of the view that you are choosing as best telling your story. What is the first thing that your want your viewer to see? How do you want to guide the eye? Light your objects with a single light source. Show the relative degree of light to dark (value), transition by blending with the pencil, not smearing, make sure objects are sitting on something, not floating. Use an HB- 6B pencil