Still Life Painting – Fall Theme with Pumpkins

still life painting

“Autumn Centerpiece” Craig Shillam, oil, 14″ x 24″



 Still Life Painting – Fall Theme

I recently finished the still life painting “Autumn Centerpiece” and I don’t know why, but I took photos of this one as I went along. I don’t think I have ever done this before. I have wanted to, but I usually get so engrossed in the painting that I forget. So…I thought I would share them with you.

I am by no means trying to say that you should paint how I paint. I know that I have a ways to go in painting and in life…I am just putting what I have done out there, and you do what you want with it. 

Still Life Painting – 4 Stages

still life painting

For this still life painting, I carefully drew a simple line drawing on stretched canvas, and covered it with a wash of raw umber.

still life painting

“Autumn Centerpiece” Craig Shillam, Step 2, laying in some color

Laying in some colors and values, I originally wanted to go with a dark blue background. There is something about that orange and blue combination that I really like, but I ended up changing the background to a warm dark brown. I did this because I thought that if I used a blue background, the painting would have been split, half warm and half cool, and that I did not want. So that overcame my desire for the blue background.

still life painting

“Autumn Centerpiece” Craig Shillam, Step 3

With this image you can see that I was really working on trying to get the values right on the table, and starting to work a little more detail into the pumpkins and leaves. I knew one of the challenges for me with this still life painting was going to be the yellow pumpkin. I have never really painted that much yellow in a painting before, and I was not sure if it would turn out the way I wanted it to. But it was either try or cry. So I got out a boatload of cad yellow medium, yellow ochre, titanium white, and a little orange, olive green, cad red medium, and gave it my best shot.

still life painting

“Autumn Centerpiece” Craig Shillam, Step 4

At this point I am working on the foreground elements, along with the yellow pumpkin. One part of this particular still life painting that I was really looking forward to painting was the apple. That apple made a lot of difference in the painting. I added the garlic on the right because I wanted a bit of light value over to the right of the painting to stop those eyeballs from going totally out of the painting.

Wrapping it up – Still Life Painting – Fall Theme with Pumpkins

I really enjoyed this painting. It was challenging and fun. You can probably tell in the background that my paint was a bit much in that one spot, that’s happened before, so I’m working on that for future paintings. I ended up giving the background another coat, so that it would look really dark and rich, and cover that area a little bit. On this painting I was able to somewhat overcome my “fear” of yellow. Yellow is easy to get a little muddy and dirty looking, and by just working through that big yellow pumpkin, I think I have helped myself for future paintings featuring yellow, (which I haven’t used much in the past).

If you would like to check out another still life painting, although without the step by step, but a fun story just the same, go here.

For this painting I chose a simple, dark brown wood frame with gold highlights, and I thought it fit the piece just right. I am really enjoying the genre of still life painting, and  want to do some more, but I want to do other paintings as well. I have invested a lot of time lately in still life painting, so I’m not going to stop, but my next piece just might have to come from the sights I have just seen on my 1700 mile west coast road trip. Stay tuned for some articles on that…

I just found out that this painting, “Autumn Centerpiece” won first place in painting at the Avenue West Gallery juried show in Spokane, Wa. Cool. 

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  1. […] last still life painting I painted with a fall theme, “Autumn Centerpiece,” featured three different pumpkins with three different colors and three different sizes. Cad Yellow […]