Still Life Painting with Grapes and Cantaloupe


still life painting

Still Life with Grapes and Cantaloupe, Craig Shillam, 12″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas,

In getting ready for an upcoming  art auction, I chose to do a still life painting with grapes and cantaloupe. For five years in a row I have been fortunate enough to have participated in an art auction that is a fund-raiser for my local art council, and this painting will be my “Quick Finish/”Demonstration” project.


Still  life Painting with Grapes & Cantaloupe

For this particular still life painting and this particular venue, I chose to make the cantaloupe the main focus of the painting, even though I have never painted this fruit before.  I thought it might be a little risky in terms of subject matter, as most paintings in this particular show would most likely be traditional landscapes. I went with the cantaloupe and grapes also because for some odd reason, I have been wanting to paint a cantaloupe! Don’t ask me why…

still life painting

Still Life with Grapes and Cantaloupe, step 1


I hate a white canvas, so I get the ball rolling on this still life painting with a wash drawing of raw umber. I actually like it the way it is at this point. It took all of about five minutes, and was fun.

still life painting

Still Life with Grapes and Cantaloupe, step 2


I wanted to do the background in a looser fashion and with more color than I usually do. I like a still life painting with a dark background. As I painted the background for this painting, I went a little lighter, and incorporated some of the colors that would be used in the rest of the painting.

The color of the cantaloupe was fun and challenging. I was shooting for more of a deeper orange color, but not too orange, but not to pastel orange either. I’m not convinced it’s exactly what I wanted, although it was close. I used Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Light, and White. I was careful not to have a hard edge where the fruit met the skin.

Still Life Painting and a little improv

still life painting

After roughing in some grapes, it became clear that this still life painting had a bit too much cantaloupe goin’ on. Having realized this after checking the painting in the mirror a few times, I promptly went outside and picked a leaf from our maple tree and placed it in the painting. I didn’t think that when I started this piece that it would be an issue, but it was. I wish I would have realized it sooner.

still life painting

Still Life with Grapes and Cantaloupe, step 4

I have found that painting the grape stems is really fun, and really starts to make the painting come alive. I really have to hold myself back as long as possible before I paint the stems. At this point in the still life painting, I am adding more red to the grapes on the right, as I feel the painting needs more red. I also feel the painting needs more color on the table top and in the leaf. After that, it will be time to highlight the grapes, cantaloupe, and the lime.

Still Life Painting with Grapes and Cantaloupe – Finish

As mentioned, this still life painting is a little looser than what I usually do, (pumpkins, for example) so I didn’t get hung up on being too exact with the details. The shape of the fruit I was particular with, but not every little highlight. Part of the reason for being a little looser with the painting was the venue, and part of it was challenging myself to be a little faster and a little more expressive.  We all have to challenge ourselves, don’t we?

What I learned from this still life painting  I learned that there is a lot more yellow in an orange cantaloupe than one might think. I also have realized that I need to work on the tables that I put in my still life paintings, as I seem to struggle with them. (on this one I was going for more texture, and I like that).  I learned I can go a little faster if I need to. Although speed isn’t the ultimate, it is good.

I also learned that cantaloupe originated in India and Africa, and was first cultivated by the Egyptians, then the Greeks, and then the Romans. (Wikipedia)

still life painting

The Fruit of My Labor

Thanks for reading about this still life painting…and best of luck to you in your own painting. How about leaving a comment?  

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2013 Craig Shillam


  1. Barb Sawyer says:

    Nice Still life And you ate the evidence? Did you finish both of Dan Edmondsons series?

    • Hi Barb, yes, I ate the evidence! I did not finish the still life course. I paid for the whole thing, but didn’t quite make it to the end. I had other comitments, and had to honor them. I have not taken the landscape course, I’ll bet it is as good as the still life course though. what about you? Have you taken any of Dan’s courses? Thanks for the comment…CS


  1. […] need to be done before the auction starts. That’s just me, others feel differently.   The still life painting I did at the last auction I paricipated in turned out pretty well I thought, and I did a lot more painting on it at the event […]