The Still Life Sketchbook (The Ilex Sketchbook)

Image of The Still Life Sketchbook
Release Date: 
September 3, 2018
Ilex Press
Reviewed by: 

The Still Life Sketchbook is essentially a blank sketchbook with outstanding illustrations designed to inspire and stimulate productivity in the budding artist. It includes many examples of sketches and artworks by renowned artists such as Georgia O’Keefe, Fernande Léger, Henri Matisse, René Magritte, Picasso, and many others whose work spans the gamut from watercolors to pen-and-ink, to pastels or chalks, to the common pencil or any combination of those.

The beauty and seeming simplicity of still-life art—the rendering of inanimate objects in interesting arrangements—is that it can be employed with unique or everyday objects, in prosaic or exotic locales. It all depends on the vision or inspiration of the artist and how they choose to depict what they view in real life.

Still-life drawings and paintings have been flourishing in Western Art since the 1500s when it emerged as its own specialized genre, notwithstanding, that there are clear examples of still-life’s in ancient Roman wall paintings and mosaics dating mere decades after the birth of Christ.

For most of us it is tempting to assume that simply because still-life deals with inanimate objects it is the least challenging genre of painting. That would be false, and all one needs to see are the wide variety of examples available such as Salvador Dalí’s Eucharistic Still Life, James Wyeth’s Runners, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, or Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin’s The Ray.

The medley of book illustrations, which are printed in full-color and accompanied by insightful quotes by the artists, also happens to include Horst Janssen’s Amaryllis, and Odilon Redon’s Coquillage (Shell).

This softcover book published by ILEX is ambitious in that within its two-page spreads it combines an illustration of famous artwork on the left page, along with a blank page on the right. The intention is that the artist will fill the right-hand page with their own sketch.

Some blank pages have large or small fine-line grids printed on them to facilitate copying of illustrations. It is designed to be a book that you, the reader, completes with his or her own artwork. While the paper is of a decent matte quality for markers, pencils and inks, it is less than suitable for high absorbency watercolors, although with today’s dual-tip flexible brush tip markers it might make a good combination.

Given the quality of paper for actual media and the range of illustrations printed in this sketchbook, it seems that the book is aimed at beginners and budding artists. One would assume that experienced artists would want a thicker grade of paper with some “tooth” (slight texture), or one that is more receptive to watercolor or more demanding media.