Fall Painting Ideas and How to Paint with Fall Colors

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The fall season is replete with painting ideas and inspiration. Leaves change color and the deep warm autumnal colors make their appearance all around us. Not to mention we get pumpkins and squash!

Often, thinking of good ideas for a painting can be difficult. However, looking at great paintings by others can be a huge source of inspiration that leads to helping one think of what to paint for one’s own creations. In this article, you won’t just find fall painting ideas but also help on how to mix fall colors for painting!

Fall painting ideas – Pumpkin and Squash still life

Still life painting is perfect for this time of year. When the cool autumn air sets in and painting outside is not always practical. And for finding easy fall painting ideas inside of the house – food items, are always great objects to look towards when setting up your fall still life. As they have and continue to have, a big role in the still life genre.

What could be more quintessentially fall than adding pumpkins and squash to your still life? Below is an early 18th century example of just such a still life, with pumpkins by Stefan Michal-Voros Izbighy.

fall still life painting of three pumpkins and surrounding fall items
Autumn foods: Štefan Michal-Vörös Izbighy, Still Life with Pumpkins and Cucumbers, 1734. Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava, Slovakia

The focal point of this fall still life is of course the three pumpkins that are front and center. However, it is placed in an outdoor setting with some plant life and birds and is replete with fall colors – orange, brown and muted greens.

The artist mixed some rich muted orange colors for the pumpkins. In all likelihood the painter mixed blue with orange to mute the orange. Blue is the complementary color of orange and complementary colors can be used to mute colors! However, the artist would have also mixed blue with orange to darken the color as well and use it for the shadow area.

However, the artist also mixed some dark warm oranges. To get these colors he mixed red with his dark muted orange color. You can mix a wide range of different oranges with the colors red yellow, blue and white.

Contemporary autumn painting of a winter squash

fall painting of a winter squash
Susan Jane Walp, Winter Squash with Flagellation Scene

Here is a contemporary example of a fall themed still life painting by Susan Jane Walp. Front and center we find a lovely squash – an object that is so familiar to us during the fall season. The painting is filled with fall colors – muted yellows, dark muted greens and beige. However the artist adds some unexpected color with the patterning that is beneath the squash still life.

Fall colors are generally more muted and earth toned. So it is good to add a small amount of saturated and bright colors when painting fall colors. As long as your fall colors are the main ‘theme’ of your painting, small added punches of color, will do a lot to bring more interest and excitement into your work.

Fall still life with autumnal colors

painting of a winter squash with autumnal colors
Susan Jane Walp, Winter Squash with Leaves

Here is another painting by contemporary artist Susan Jane Walp. This painting is far more autumnal with its strong fall color palette than the previous painting. There are many different shades of orange throughout the piece. The brightest orange colors can be seen on the squash itself – it is the brightness of the orange there that helps to lead our eyes towards this center squash first.

Despite not having some bright splashes of different colors, the fall colors in the painting work beautifully together. In lieu of bright colors the artist placed a sheet of white beneath the squash – this helps to add a break in the orange and muted green colors in the painting. In addition, the artist also has a little bit of cool black and blue beneath the white sheet. This also helps to add more interest amidst the fall colors. However, the colors are not too different, so there is no clashing with the fall color theme.

Apple themed fall painting ideas

painting of women picking apples by pissaro
Camille Pissarro, Apple Picking

Like pumpkins and squash, apples also make for great fall painting ideas. Above is a painting by Camille Pissarro of some apple picking happening – a tradition many of us partake in come fall. Taking inspiration from seasonal events and activities, is also a great way to develop painting ideas!

Painting fall leaves and apples on the branch

You can also get more specific and create paintings of apples on the branch, as seen in the painting above by contemporary artist Sigal Tsabari. If you have access to an apple tree, you have the great fortune of getting to paint apples in their own environment. Along with painting fall leaves, branches and general foliage surrounding the apples!

Apple still life painting ideas

Camille Pissarro Fall painting ideas.
Camille Pissarro, Still Life with Apples

If you do not have access to an apple tree you can take apples indoors and create a still life set up to paint from just like the painting above in Camille Pissarro’s ‘Still Life with Apples’. The painting incorporates other elements such as a jug, bowl, knife and glass of wine. In addition, there is patterning in the background that helps to add some interest.

For your own fall apple still life you could keep it simple and just paint apples on their own or add other elements into the mix like the Pissarro painting above.

Fall still life with apples and pears

Paul Cezanne, Fall Still Life painting of apples on a table
Paul Cezanne, Still Life with Apples and Pears

Here is yet another different type of apple painting by Paul Cezanne. This piece is an example of how you can focus on just painting apples (and also pears in this case) without adding too many other elements to the still life.

The painting has a lot of fall colors – red, brown, yellow and muted greens. However, the blue colored wall behind the still life, acts as a nice contrast with the warm fall colors. You could pare your fall still life painting down even more by painting a single apple on its own.

Fall landscape painting ideas

Harvest Moon, George Inness, Fall landscape painting
Harvest Moon, George Inness

If you can brave painting in cooler weather you will get to capture some fabulous fall landscape painting opportunities! The painting above by George Inness ‘Harvest Moon’ shows the season just as it is becoming fall. The leaves on the trees are starting to turn yellow and orange, but there is still a decent amount of green in the field and on some parts of the trees.

Mixing shades of green for fall landscapes

When painting fall landscapes, you get to do a lot of subtle color mixing with the color green. Green color can be made warmer by mixing red and/or orange with green. Doing this, doesn’t just help to make the color temperature of the green warmer but also mutes the green color. Most of the shades of green color in a fall landscape painting, tend to be muted and warmer in color temperature.

Painting fall trees

Autumn Oaks, George Inness fall landscape painting idea
George Inness, Autumn Oaks

Painting fall trees can make for some wonderful fall painting ideas. Since the leaves are changing color during the fall season they provide endless color inspiration and allow you to get a lot of fall colors into your painting!

The George Inness painting above titled ‘Autumn Oaks’, has three main different colored trees – yellow, red and muted green. This is a great example of painting a variety of different fall tree colors in a single painting.

Autumn Sunset painting idea

John Constable, Autumn Sunset painting
John Constable, Autumn Sunset

Sunsets are always beautiful no matter what. However, autumn is a special time of year to capture a sunset in a painting. The colors of the surrounding landscape are muted and warmer. A sunset adds an extra level of warm colors to the existing colors in a landscape. This helps to create some very subtle color contrasts in your landscape. It also gives you a good opportunity to develop your color sensitivity.

The painting above by John Constable, is a beautiful example of a fall landscape painting at sunset, captured quickly and in the moment. You can see the quickness of the brush strokes and how he captured what he saw with great brevity. As we all know, sunsets happen quickly, so it is important to work fast when painting them!

A cold, fall day landscape painting

cold fall day landscape painting, John constable
John Constable, An Autumnal Landscape at East Bergholt

Here is another painting by John Constable, though this piece is different from the sunset painting above, in that the colors are much cooler in temperature. We can sense the coolness of the autumn air and feel that the season is inching closer to winter.

When creating an autumn landscape painting, you can capture the environment and the coolness of the air by working with color temperature. And when painting fall colors, mixing warm and cool colors will make a big difference – especially in landscape painting.

How to paint with fall colors

how to mix a fall colors palette
Painting fall colors

The fall color palette is full of golden yellows, brilliant reds and oranges. As well, fall brings forth a range of muted and earth tone colors and to mix them you have to understand how these colors work together.

Mixing warm shades of green

warm green color mixing

Warm greens are very common during fall. To mix a warm green you simply mix red with green. This doesn’t just create a warm color though but it also mutes the color. Red is the complementary color of green and complementary colors always help to mute a color. Learn all about mixing different green colors in the green color mixing guide.

Mixing muted shades of yellow

how to mix a muted yellow

To create a muted yellow you simply mix purple with yellow since purple is the complementary color of yellow. Muted yellows are very common in the fall! You can also create different variations of yellow by making it warmer and mixing some red with the yellow.

Mixing muted shades of orange color

How to mix a muted orange

Orange is a big color in the fall color palette and it is important to know how to mix a muted orange to capture those fall colors. Mix blue with orange to get a muted orange – this will lessen the brightness of the orange and will also make it a little bit darker in the process.

You can warm up the orange by mixing some red with it. You will find reddish oranges all the time during the fall season.

Useful mixture of burnt siena color

How to mix burnt siena

Burnt siena is a very useful fall color as you will find it all the time during the fall season. There are a few different ways to mix up some burnt siena. A good method is to mix blue, yellow and orange together. However, you need to make sure that your colors are heavier on the yellow and red. If you mix too much orange into your color you can always add more yellow and red after the fact.

Yellow ochre paint color

Yellow ochre, fall color palette

Yellow ochre is also a useful color to use when putting your fall painting ideas onto canvas. You can buy yellow ochre in a tube, or mix up your own by creating a muted yellow. If you remember from earlier – you can mix purple and orange together to create a darker, muted yellow color – essentially creating a yellow ochre!

However, when mixing yellow and purple together you can often get a bit of a green color too. If this happens to you, just mix some red into the color, since red will mute the green color.

Putting fall painting ideas into practice

Head outside with your paints and look for an inspiring composition to create a fall landscape painting. Or grab an assortment of pumpkins and squash and start developing your own fall still life painting ideas!

Love to hear what you decide to paint, or any additional fall painting ideas you may be inspired by, in the comments section below.

Elisabeth Larson Koehler creator of art studio life

Hi! I am Elisabeth

Art Studio Life exists for you to be able to stay inspired, learn, and improve your skills.

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    2 thoughts on “Fall Painting Ideas and How to Paint with Fall Colors”

    1. Love your guidance in color mixing to enhance fall colors. As a beginner I find colors, the right tone of colors, to be a challenge. To not just use a “sap green” but a more quiet color is a key to learning to paint.

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