Painter’s Struggle

I committed to painting a series of squash. My original idea was to paint a rather realistic pumpkin or other winter squash set against a neutral, flat background. I want the squash to pop off the background because of how differently they are painted, and by careful choice of color. The model has been the Grey Pumpkin. What makes that one work so well?

The backgrounds have been stumping me. I am having trouble choosing the color for the backgrounds. I am drawn to working the complement, orange pumpkin, blue background. Simple, right? But what value? Should the background be two colors? Do I need a “horizon line” in all of them, like the grey pumpkin? I keep changing my mind, changing the color, the horizon, everything. I’ve left some of the changes to show through, not painted it over entirely. And seeing the struggle seems pertinent and is visually compelling. But am I straying from the original idea and creating individual paintings rather than a series?

My teacher, Sandra Spiedel suggested that my perimeters may be too narrow. Just redefine the series: The background is abstract, the subject is realistic. That gives me much more room to explore this direction that keeps teasing me.

I spoke with another successful, local painter Brigitte McReynolds, about this issue. She said she faces this almost daily and often will start another painting, just to see where the new direction leads.


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