Cultivate Your Floral Art Skills
It’s April, and you know what they say about this month: “April showers bring May flowers.” And flowers are perfect art subjects. They are beautiful, plentiful and able to “pose” for hours without a break. The forms, colors and textures of flowers delight and challenge. And, whatever your preferred genre and medium, you can learn a lot from painting and drawing floral art.
Ready to add fresh blooms into your art-making mix this month? Below are a few floral art prompts and tips from top botanical artists.
Anatomy of Flowers
Artist Eric Wert recommends studying botanical anatomy. “No need to get a degree in botany,” he says. “But understanding the structure, function and ecology of a plant will help you reason out problems in your painting in the same way that understanding human anatomy would help a figurative painter.”
Create several quick sketches of the same flower from different points of view — from above, below, the sides, front or back.
Try zooming in for a close-up sketch. Lay the flower on its side, or suspend it upside down.
Many Shades of White
Paint a white flower. Notice how many actual, reflected and shadowed hues go into the “whiteness” of the flower.
For Louise B. Hafesh, hard edges in a painting can go a long way to catch the viewer’s eye. “A few well-placed, harder edges on the star of the show (outer petals, for example) help viewers [hone] in on the focal point and lure them into your painting,” explains Hafesh.
Want to emphasize the three-dimensional form over the two-dimensional shape of your flowers? “Alter the direction of a single light source onto an arrangement of flowers to create variations in the shadowing and highlighting,” advises John Sollinger.
The Great Outdoors
Give plein air a try when it comes to your floral subjects. Set up an easel in your garden or a nearby park.
Pick up some blossoms at a local florist or from your own garden and try your hand at arranging them. Then, paint or draw your arrangement.
Refrigerate your floral arrangement between sessions to help retain the freshness. Replace buds as necessary, or work the wilted flowers into your composition.
Go black and white. Think of flowers in terms of their values instead of colors. Or, try altering the colors of your flowers.
Paint a red bud in blue or a purple blossom in orange. Either way, remember to think in terms of values rather than the actual hues you see.
Treat your floral art as portraiture by painting or drawing studies of single blooms. In doing this, you can think of your flower subject as a unique individual with personality and gesture. Want to give it a try? Click here to see how Katie G. Whipple paints a single rose, petal by petal.
“Every flower has specific characteristic’s that make it ‘that flower’ and special,” states Jane Jones, who recommends buying some flowers and drawing their structure in as much detail as possible.
“Take a couple of them apart to see how all of the parts go together,” she continues. “Grow your own and see how they form and mature.”
Floral Art Displays
Once you have created your floral composition, put it on virtual display by sharing your work with us on Instagram! Tag us @artistsnetwork using #ArtistsNetwork_Prompts to show us your fresh floral paintings and drawings.
These floral art prompts and tips, with contributions by Holly Davis, first appeared in Artists Magazine. Subscribe here.