Still Life Linked to a Landscape or Cityscape

This is a compositional approach that allows you to create stories with deeper context by looking for the linkages between foreground still life and it’s surrounding background scene.

The definition of still-life for this purpose is simply “man-made objects”. There is no need to get all technical about this.

This idea is best described by an example.

I found these two chairs going sitting in the beautiful morning light coming through the window with the subtle and delicate autumn scene in the background. The chairs alone would be a bit dry. The autumn scene alone would be pretty, but perhaps not all that compelling to look at for a long time. By composing the two together, the viewer can now imagine a greater story. In their imagination, they can fill the chairs with characters and watch the light come and go, the seasons change. The linkage works because of the color linkages as well as the contrast of the delicate trucks against the man-made wooden walls and chairs.

In these compositions, the still-life is placed in the foreground and should be the focus. The background adds the context and may, potentially, be out of focus. But both must be interesting, well composed, and well composed together.


How to Link a Still Life to a Scene

Step1: Find a compelling still file subject in the foreground

  • Look for light
  • Color harmonies
  • Unusual objects
  • Poetic organizations

Step 2: Organize the still life into its background

  • Move around (left-to-right, up-and-down)
  • Observe the relationships between the foreground (still-life) and the background


Simple Examples


Provocative Examples



Visual Puzzles


Waiting for the scene to develop


Recipe for Success

  • Look for inside-to-outside situations
  • Static items in the street connected to their environment
  • Your still-life should be in the foreground and dominant (and in focus)
  • Pay attention to the relationships between the still-life and the scene.



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