Weekly Painting Challenge: Cézanne

This weeks painting was in the style of Paul Cézanne. It was going to be similar to one of his famous bowls of fruit, but unfortunately my roommates and I did not have enough fruit in our small college kitchen for a fruit bowl painting! Instead I went with some onions, and I’m actually quite glad I did! They were very fun to paint, and his piece “Still Life with Onions” ended up being a very useful reference.

Main aspects of Cézanne’s style I attempted to incorporate:

  • Dramatic lighting
  • High color contrast
  • Visible brush strokes

Reference Images:

Cézanne’s “Still Life with Apples”


Cézanne’s “Still Life with Onions”


My own still-life set up:


And finally, here is the final product!


Overall, I think this is one of my favorite paintings that I have ever done. It was my first time working with oils, which were really fun to learn how to use, and it turns out I love painting onions.

I think that the parts that do look quite Cézanne-esque are the dark outlines on the vegetables and the dramatic lighting, particularly in the shadows. And the subject matter isn’t too bad, either! My favorite parts have to be the potato and the red onion.

I think I could’ve made my brushstrokes a lot more visible, particularly in the background. A lot of Cézanne’s backgrounds have very small brushstrokes with a lot of varying colors, and mine were definitely a lot larger and used colors of similar tones to the main color of the surface. I think that I definitely got a bit caught up in the details as well, especially because onions are such detailed vegetables! They were so fun to paint that sometimes I forgot that I was supposed to be focusing more on the differences in colors instead of the textures of the onions.

Excited to see where next week’s artist, Giotto di Bondone, takes me!


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