This idea came from: http://arteascuola.com/2013/10/still-life-over-abstract-background/
Such a beautiful idea resulting in amazing work! The learners were told that they should draw a still life using pencil with all the shading done as realistically as they could. The learners tend not to use much contrast of tone when shading so this was emphasised. The class did a tonal scale before the actual shading began.
Then to the background. The background was an abstract design of the learners choice. AS you can see from the selection given here, the learners all had very different ideas of what a beautiful background would look like!