Art-Making Activity: Still-Life Stories

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Still Life with Candle, 1937, Oil on canvas

Tell a story through every-day objects in your home in this activity, inspired by Picasso’s Still Life With Candles.

A still life is a work of art that captures still objects like fruit, vases, and fabric, carefully arranged and observed by an artist. Artists often create still lifes of ordinary objects from their home or studio, offering us a glimpse into the events of their every-day life. In this painting by artist Pablo Picasso, we see household objects like a vase, plant, candle holder, and glowing candle. Behind, we see a cozy floral wallpaper. Can you imagine a story that involves these objects and this room?


In this activity, arrange your own still life using objects around the house like toys, bowls, plants, pillowcases, or bottles. Use your imagination to tell a story through the objects you choose and arrange.



  • Paper
  • Drawing utensils (pencils, crayons, markers)
  • Household objects and toys
  • An open surface: a tabletop, bench, or rug




  • Gather objects from around the house that can become a part of your story.
  • Sort your objects into three categories. Use your imagination! Begin to think about the story you’d like to tell:
    People > Characters in your story
    Places > Settings where your story takes place
    Things > Objects, Obstacles or Events that are a part of your story
  • Arrange your objects onto your open surface, taking inspiration from Picasso’s Still Life with Candles. Place and pose your objects to tell your story.
  • Make a drawing of the objects you’ve arranged. You made your very own still life!




Want to take your story a step further? Take a look at Story Mountain* to learn about the parts of a story:

Background: Introduction of characters, setting, and problem.
Uh-Oh!: There is a first attempt at solving the problem.
Oh No!: There is a second attempt at solving the problem.
Phew!: There is a resolution to the problem.


Can you turn your still life into your very own story? Write it down & read it to a friend.



*Story Mountain is a resource generously provided by our friends at 826 New Orleans, a local non-profit that cultivates and supports the voices of young writers ages 6 through 18 through creative collaborations with schools and communities.