Another Still Life Painting, Another Gumball Machine


Sometimes you just can’t get enough, even when it comes to still life painting. Having recently completed still life painting of an old gumball machine, I decided to paint another. I admit to having a certain affection for these older machines. They are fun, interesting, and embody a certain amount of Americana. This new still life painting is to be a compliment to and part of a set with the previous yellow gumball machine painting…



"A Sweet Smile" Craig Shillam 16" x 20", oil/canvas

“A Sweet Smile” Craig Shillam 16″ x 20″, oil/canvas

Another Still Life Painting, Another Gumball Machine


Have you ever painted a series of paintings? How about a set? I just thought that these gumball machines might be good material for a series; or at least a pair. I have tried to paint a series before and only got to the second before moving on to something else. This time it might just turn out to be the same…we will see.

In any event, this particular still life painting was fun, although I have painted this same machine before, about a year ago. The first attempt was a smaller, quick, “study/demonstration” piece for an auction. The painting was well received, but my vision of what the painting should look like was not fulfilled. Painting the same subject matter twice is not ideal in my world, but I felt like there was some unfinished business to be taken care of.


 This Still Life Painting is about Fun


Oil painting is a lot of things right? Challenging, even daunting at times. There is so much to learn. But painting should be fun too. Whether it is the act of painting, and/or in this case, the subject matter itself. While this painting was fun, it was not without some challenges. Here are some personal notes about this painting:

  • This still life painting began with a simple pencil drawing of the outline of the machine, the table, and the foreground letters. Getting the machine symmetrical did not happen on the first try.
  • The next step was to apply a light wash over the whole surface and lay in some values.
  • I tried to leave parts of each letter in the foreground showing through as I painted the table before painting the letters
  • The gumballs were painted from right to left instead of sporadically, getting lighter as I went.
  • The background has to be dark to get the effect I am after. I did incorporated blues, reds, and purples through out the background to add some interest. Too much of that would have been distracting in my opinion.
  • Because this painting was meant to be part of a set, I kept referring to the painting of the yellow gumball machine painting to keep some similarities between the two. Having said that, this still life painting had to stand on its own too.
  • As I painted, I kept remembering some of those good quotes about composition in my previous article. Especially the one about leaving stuff out of the painting if it doesn’t fit.
  • I left the canvas surface somewhat rough as I normally do, to help keep me from trying to be too perfect. When painting these old gumball machines, it just doesn’t seem to work. A character defect I suppose.
  • The 1970’s happy face sticker on the table was the last little bit to be added. Now that was fun.



detail from "A Sweet Smile", Craig Shillam, oil/canvas

Thank You for reading CashArtBlog…This is my other ongoing art project and I really  appreciate you stopping by and having a look.

If you think it’s worthy, would you please consider sharing this or other articles? If you would like to get articles delivered to your inbox for free, just type in your email address in the box at the top right of this page. It’s easy, free, and confidential



Leave a Reply