Last class he broke down still life drawings to the bare bones and had us quick sketching and playing around with it in no time. Here's what he had us do digitally (also possible to do traditionally, just slightly different methods) using my pieces as examples.
1) Find a still life image that you like.
(Photo courtesy of my professor. If this is your photo, let me know and I will credit you.)
2) Bring it into Photoshop, make it opaque (see-through, probably to 30% or so) enough to see basic shapes and little saturation, and bring a white background into the layer below it after unlocking this layer. It will look like this:
3) Make a new layer and divide the image into quick, basic shapes. I recommend making this layer opaque (50-60%) before starting. That way it's easier to see what you're drawing over. Don't spend more than a few minutes doing this. If it takes longer than that, you're thinking too hard. Loose and quick lines and shapes are the key.
4) Now add a layer on top for the sketch. You won't want this one as opaque, probably only 80%. Do a quick sketch using the visual points you gave yourself with the image.
5) Make the sketch layer full opacity so it's no longer see-through. Make the shapes layer invisible.
6) Make a new layer to go under the sketch layer but above the shapes layer. This will be your value layer. Now pick a few values and a fun brush and spend no longer than a minute or two doing a quick once-over.
7) Now make the reference image layer invisible and you have a fun quick-study still life piece.
Bonus: See if you can do steps 3-7 without the reference image. The values you can make up or remember. It would be on the same piece. This tests out just how well you did breaking the piece up with memorable shapes and visual guides for yourself. They don't have to be perfect, that's the beauty of it. Just loosen up and have fun.
This same exercise can also be done really well with landscapes. Do the same steps and you'll be good.
Best of luck! Try this out and let me know how it goes. Night all!