Lessons from an Introverted Pumpkin

Last week I painted a pumpkin and when I finished it, I didn’t feel satisfaction so much as relief.

Perhaps it was the adjustment to painting something larger than 10cm x 10cm that fatigued me. I began optimistically enough, but the process was very interrupted and the painting carried on sporadically over a few days. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, this is not the way I like to work.

There were the usual hurdles of colour mixing and determining hues and tones, and of course, no still life of mine would be complete without a teeth-grinding session over how to manage a background.


In the end simplicity won out – to the relief of my molars.

Surveying the end result, I think what frustrates me is the lack of real character I’ve brought to the painting. I understand that pumpkins aren’t really known for having memorable personalities, but wouldn’t it be great if rather than this being a regular painting of an ordinary vegetable, I’d managed to make an ordinary vegetable look at least a bit extraordinary in some painterly sort of way?

Don’t misunderstand me; I still quite like the painting (introverted but dependable subject matter notwithstanding), but I’d like to see a whole lot more energy in my painting style. Essentially, I got too bogged down in detail at the expense of the whole.

To this end, I’m currently taking a break from turning out these finished still life studies and doing some exercises to improve my brush technique and pace instead. I’m aiming to really loosen my style and hopefully reduce the hours a painting sits on my easel before completion.  Here’s one I prepared earlier, but which I’ll explain more fully in my next post.

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I dare say my still-life subjects will appreciate this, because there’s only so long a pumpkin will pose before conversation (and the pumpkin) really dries up and it starts to shrink into itself. Like I said, they’re introverts.

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