Here's the number-one thing I've learned about painting a still life: I should stick to landscapes.
In the last Acrylics Exploration class we learned how to apply light and shadow to a painted object to make it appear three-dimensional instead of flat. The instructor gave each of us a still-life picture that demonstrated that concept and asked us to copy it. She explained how the shading should change softly and subtly as it grew darker or lighter. I understood her instructions clearly, but executing them was another matter entirely.
The bottom of these two pictures (as if you couldn't tell) is mine:
Now that it's dry and I can see what's wrong with the shading, I might be able to touch it up and get a better result, but I have neither the skill nor the energy to try to fix that wobbly-looking, pointy-edged saucer. And the spoon? It would be okay for stirring, I suppose, but anyone who tried to use it to transport a sip of hot liquid from cup to mouth would end up with a little spill in the lap region. I've learned that it's a lot easier to paint the imperfect edges of a perfect tree than the precise lines of a man-made dish.
You know what else I've learned about painting? A less-than-stellar end result doesn't diminish the joy of the work itself. It's fun and it's therapeutic. What's even better is that the dogs seem to think it's important. They don't beg for stuff while I'm painting. I like that.