The joy of flower power

Is it possible? Is spring finally here? With the long awaited sunshine come the gorgeous fragrant blooms of our local flora. Painting flowers has always been one of my favourite pastimes, particularly in the spring. Here are a few tips to get your next flower painting a success.

1 – Pick your flora. It can be from a bouquet or the yard or even from your imagination, chose something that inspires you. Create a simple composition to work from and sketch it on your canvas or paper. Don’t bother with drawing each petal, focus on general shapes.

2 – Paint in your background colour and texture. Starting a painting from the back to the front will give you a ground to respond to instead of a white canvas. Paint around the floral shapes that you have sketched in.

3 – Pop in the centre of your flowers first. This will give you something to work from. If you accidentally cover it with a petal later, it doesn’t matter –you can always paint it in again.

4 – Starting with the base colour of your petal, begin to create petal shapes. These will depend on the flower you’re painting, as well as the size of it. Simplify the complexity of the flower, painting in as many petals that describe the flower, not necessarily as many as there are. Don’t worry too much about realism, that’s what cameras are for.

5 – Once you’ve created the petal shape, you need to think about where the ‘light’ would hit the petals. There will always be a slightly darker side to a petal, as well as a lighter side where light hits the petal. To achieve these shades, simply mix a little bit of white into your base colour for the light side of the petal, and a tiny bit of black into the base colour for the darker side. Do this on one or two flowers at first so you can see how the colours work together. You can also use other colours to add different tones to your flowers to jazz them up a bit, remember all art is an interpretation of life so don’t sweat the small stuff.

6 – Once your flowers are complete, it’s time to paint in the stems. Use an olive green colour for the stem and leaves, then use tonal shades of yellow, brown and blue-violet to add depth. If you’re painting abstract flowers, use whichever colour you prefer for the stems. As a quick example, for modern, abstract flowers, red petals with black stems and leaves look brilliant together.

7 – If painting a vase or bowl, it’s time to add this into the painting. Glass vases with water are a bit tricky so spend some time looking at your subject matter. The background colours will shine through a vase of water, which will have slight green tones to it. The water will also fracture the stems of the flowers so don’t forget to break the line slightly at the water mark.

8 – Take a step back and observe your flowers as a whole painting. See if anything else needs to be added to the painting or background, and make sure that the picture has enough interest and colour. Remember the whole point of painting in the first place to enjoy the process of being creative!