Paint a Cornucopia Still Life! Activity

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Updated on Jun 20, 2013

This Thanksgiving season celebrate the cornucopia by helping your budding artist create a glowing still life that shows the bounty of nature! Still life painting uses unmoving objects as subject matter. Popularized in the seventeenth century by Dutch painters, this art form typically focuses on food as a theme. There's a chance to look at light, interesting textures, shadows and angles, and even slip in some talk about health and nutrition too.

What You Need:

  • White drawing or construction paper
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Paints
  • Thin and thick bristled paint brushes
  • Table or flat surface
  • Horn shaped basket (if you don't have one, try making one out of rolled construction paper)
  • Fruit and vegetables

What You Do:

  1. Gather fresh seasonal fruits and veggies for your own model cornucopia.
  2. Set up your still life. Arrange the cornucopia on a table or other flat surface. Make sure that there is plenty of light. This can be either artificial, from a lamp, or natural from a window. Ask your child to look for shadows and highlight areas. Reposition the food objects for light and angle.
  3. Have your child draw what he sees with the pencil onto the white paper. If he is having trouble, help him to break what he sees into simple shapes. Combine the shapes into the objects.
  4. Paint the drawing. Keep the real cornucopia in view, and look for specific colors, shadows, and highlights. Try mixing new, unique colors.
  5. Set aside to dry.
  6. Display at a holiday celebration!

Having trouble getting started? Begin with basic shapes such as triangles or ovals, and turn them into the horn of plenty that can be filled with artistic apples, creative cranberries, or perfect pumpkins.

Erica Loop has an MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

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