How to paint flowers like you mean it!

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So, you believe you know how to paint flowers and you've gone out and bought a huge fresh bouquet from your favorite florist. You’re really pumped up and excited about these flowers to paint, your excitement builds at a steady pace.  You get home, you cut off their ends under water, place them in the vase and head out to the studio.

By now the excitement of painting these beauties have your heart racing with anticipation.  You set them down on your favorite side table, turn on your clip on spot light and adjust it just right.  You then view the start of your creation and drink in the gorgeousness that sits before you,…
 
but then suddenly, you freeze. 

Before I get into the rest of the story.....

Do you have a flower painting completed, and need a place to show it off? Have you a "How to paint flowers" suggestion?  How about a free critique, or an interesting story around any painting you cherish?  I now got a place just for you! 

Check out this page and how you too can contribute with "Your oil painting tips and paintings".


Now, back to the story!...

All these flowers, all these petals, all these stems and leaves, oh no! Do you really know how to paint flowers like this?  Did you get the tough ones to paint, or the easy flowers to paint.

You feel the first wave of fear and anxiety creeping in. 

Your breath becomes short and shallow. 

How could you have even thought of trying to tackle such a difficult painting? You worry that they’re already wilting from the heat of the lamp.  They appear to begin to droop and fade right before your eyes!......

Relax, it’s just a story..

Take a deep breath, in with the good….out with the bad…Now, read on and enjoy!

I will explain to you in an easily understood approach on how to eat this elephant.  One little bite at a time!

So lets get started, and don’t worry about the bouquet, just keep that water mister close by and every few minutes give ‘em a good spray.

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Get out that plastic composition template I told you about here Composition Template and get a rough estimate  of where your main blossoms are gonna be.  Select 1 or 3 to be your main focal point. 

Get out your digital camera and get to clicking.  Taking shots from above the table edge, straight on to the table edge, and below the table edge.  Then readjust your lighting from the ¾ position (3/4 of subject illuminated from the left) to a position almost at 90 degrees to the subject on the left. Again taking pictures from the top side, and lowering your camera until you’re below the table edge.

Now for a more in-depth view of flower painting arrangement, click here, then come back for the rest of this oil painting techniques lesson.

Finally, move your lighting to illuminate from above the flowers (straight overhead) and shoot several shots.  This will give you a total of at least 9 perfectly great paintings within your camera!

Now, go about transferring those images to your canvas.  (click here to get idea’s on how to transfer that photo to your canvas)

From here, you will follow the Flemish Technique to complete your painting.  Remember, you start with your pencil drawing, then the ink overlay.  The imprimatura, umber under-layers, the color layers, and finishing layer.  Having said all that, lets discuss some basics on how to paint flowers rules for you to think about before you really get started.

painting flowers
how to paint carnations

how to paint flowers

While viewing your beautiful bouquet in front of you, remember to:

  • Learn to see the underlying structure of your flowers.
  • Continue to arrange them into something pleasing to you and that conforms to your “golden rule” template.

Going back to these basic underlying structures, learning how to paint flowers can be kept simple. 

Most flowers will usually conform to these 4 basic shapes!

  • The disk shaped, like the Daisy.  Just remember a tea saucer that is round and the pedals will radiate from the center of the saucer.  When viewed on an angle, the saucer then becomes elliptical.  An exception to this rule would be the closed or early partially opened disk-shaped blossom.  It will tend to be coned shaped.


daisy painting, how to paint daisies
  • The cone-shaped flower.  Blossoms that grow on a long, single stem, (like Lilies, Lilacs, Hyacinths) are conical in shape.
  • Some flowers have many mini-blossoms that are cone shaped but their entire mass combined will form a sphere.
lily painting, how to paint lilies
  • Sphere-shaped, these are my favorites, why? Because the rose is part of this group, as are peonies, carnations and hydrangeas. 
  • When viewing these blossoms, most will have a multitude of pedals (each an individual treasure) but their collective groupings will form a beautiful sphere.  Lots of artists are afraid to attempt them, but stick with me for some tricks to make them a little more easy.


peonies painting, how to paint peonies
  • Your largest group will be the combination shape (combination of the 1st three shapes in one single flower). 

Lets look at the Daffodil.  The daffodil has elements of the disk shape at its base, and the inverted cone shape protruding out of the base like a trumpet. All in one bloom!

I've got more information here on how to paint a daffodil.

It goes into much more details about what to look for in this complex blossom. 

Just click the picture too, to get there. Then hit your browsers back button to finish this part of "how to paint flowers" lesson.

daffodil painting

So, from here on out, don’t just look at your flowers as a mass of pedals, veins, and color.  Break it down to its fundamental shapes, (disks, cones, spheres or a combination). 

Think of the blossom in its basic geometric form having a three dimensional depth and it will remove some of that fear to tackle these babies.

Learning how to paint flowers just isn't that difficult anymore!

Oh, I've got another shape, that of the tea cup to add to this group. 

Check out the explanation concerning how to paint a tulip. 

Speaking of three dimensional, let’s talk a little about form, Illusionist Form.  Visit here for how to make something look 3 dimensional on a canvas. 

It talks in more detail how to get a more detailed picture of what we are explaining.   Just remember, within each of these shapes there will be form. 

Each blossom will have its’ own individual highlight, main light, half shadow, shadow, reflection, cast shadow.  Each of these items are discussed in detail in my elementary art lessons page.

Let’s talk about the bouquet as a whole now.

  • Flowers in the back of the arrangement will have less intensity, more grey, less focus and sharpness. 
  • Flowers at the front of the arrangement will have more color, intensity and sharpness. 
  • Your focal blossoms will have the highest color intensity, sharpness and details. 

So don’t sweat trying to copy each and every pedals on those back blossoms, they need to recede into the back of the picture plain anyway. 

painting of flower bouquet

Some flowers just plain got a lot of fine details (carnations) so to get around some of that, select only about a 1 inch square of the blossom and get that right on, then allow for a slight blur to the rest.

The human brain will fill in the blanks and your viewer will still understand what you are depicting. 

Hopefully, with this lesson on how to paint flowers, you now have a few tools in your bag to tackle the task of a full bouquet of flowers for your next painting project.

Just remember, break it down to small steps.  Visualize the basic geometric shapes of the blossoms.  Stick to the rules of depicting form within each of those blossoms.  Use the Flemish technique, and you too will know how to paint flowers like you mean it!

Now, would you like to learn how to paint the worlds most popular flower?  The Rose!  I've got ya covered. 

Learn how to paint flowers with learning to paint this rose!

Below is a link to information on how to compose your flower arrangement for painting.  It takes several area's of composition and applies them to flower arrangement. 

Getting that bouquet of flowers in a vase, just right is a crucial first step in your floral painting endeavors.  Don't short change yourself, get the information you need to do it right the first time!

Power Flower arrangement!

Click here to head back to the top of our how to paint flowers page.



Here's a great little video that will introduce you to painting roses! I love the way this artist pulls these beauties together. Enjoy!

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