Symbols of Autumn

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Still life with Hedge Apples, acrylic, 18″ x 14″.

What do you think of when you think of autumn? As a painter I have tended to think of the beautiful colors of the trees as they turn from green to yellow, gold, orange and red. I have painted them many times. Since rural areas are not far from where I live I have also painted pumpkins, cornstalks, and soybean fields at this time of year. But a problem with living in the same area for a long time and also being a painter during those years is that it can become difficult to find subjects for painting that I have not done many times before.

Last month I was at a friend’s house where I had often painted before. The weather was just too good to paint inside and I would rather look at what I am painting than paint from a photograph. I went out on the deck to look at the view, which wasn’t particularly inspiring, but on a table sat a pot of yellow mums along with some green hedge apples. I don’t remember seeing hedge apples before I moved to Kansas. When my kids were young they used to pick some up in the neighborhood and bring them home. I liked the looks of those bumpy green balls and would set them in a bowl on the table.

But I don’t remember ever seeing a painting featuring hedge apples. I like to paint with a palette knife and both the mums and the texture of the hedge apples seemed to lend themselves to that kind of painting so I set up my easel on the deck and got busy. As painters we need to be especially aware of our surroundings. Who knows when the next unlikely object will strike our fancy. Hedge apples and mums, at least here in Kansas, will remind me of the beauty of autumn.

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