As we near the shortest day of the year, I thought I’d cheer everyone up with some flowers. My father loved to paint them, and he never passed up the opportunity to paint lots of them in a complex architectural setting. The combination was tremendously challenging, and he enjoyed that, hard work though it was. A complicated scene like the one below would require 4-6 weeks of work in the studio to complete, and that’s after making the trip to Mexico, scouring the market for compositional elements, and planning the picture. All worth it, though, when the end result brightens a dark December morning.
Here are some tips my father offered in his book, A Gallery of Paintings, for those of you who are also interested in painting masses of flowers:
“Use strong undiluted color very sparingly. An effect of richness can be produced only with grayed-down color discreetly highlighted with small areas of pure color from the tube. Too much strong color looks garish, not rich.
Separate color areas with buffers of gray. This, too, will ensure richness. The gray or black lead between colors in stained glass windows serves this purpose – that’s why stained glass windows look so elegant. In paintings, the buffer may be greenish gray, reddish gray, bluish gray – not necessarily just gray.
When painting masses of flowers and foliage, plan the hard and soft edges carefully to create effects of delicacy and crispness. Use many big blurs. Do not paint each individual flower. Pick a few to render accurately in order to define the character of various species, such as roses or lilies, and merely suggest the rest. Thus will you escape being tedious.
Paint on gray days. Colors are much more intense when there is no direct sunlight – there are no harsh contrasts of light and shade. With flower markets the important thing is color, not lights and darks.
Make good use of hard, taut, geometric man-made objects such as pavements, awnings, umbrellas, poles to offer contrast and to emphasize the random delicacy of the flowers.”
If you want it to brighten your day every day with this painting, you can purchase an archival print of it. It is on sale at the moment. So you could also brighten someone else’s holiday by giving them one. Use the Promo Code: HOLIDAY2017 to get 25% off.