I want to pass on a few oil painting tips concerning the flower painting arrangement or flower composition for your paintings. I talk a little about overall composition elsewhere on the site but wanted to concentrate of flowers here. Photos used here are courtesy of the WetCanvas forum’s free reference photo section.
How to Paint Flowers - Table of Contents
In the early days, painters would have some real issues in painting the flower. They didn’t have modern refrigeration, cameras, or other ways to preserve the flower and the image.
Today, we have lots of things in our favor. And as a result, painting flowers in perfect arrangements can get very complicated. So much so, you wonder where to even start. So here are some pointers.
You don’t have to paint every thing you see, exactly as you see it! It helps in getting the painting as close as you can to what you see, but the power behind the painting isn’t necessarily the tiny speck of pollen dust on the stamen. Most arrangements get simplified and rearranged on the canvas in the end, so don’t stress.
One way to approach your flower arrangement is to go with the masses. Create a few dominant masses and then some subordinate masses. Similar blossoms should be grouped together.
Over lapping mass shapes will also unify and add interest. Keeping a few petals on the table never hurt, and try to keep items within the work pointing towards your center of interest. Pick only one major focal point, where you want your viewers eye to travel as they enter your world on the canvas.
Things in the background will be slightly out of focus, and become sharper as they approach the front of the picture plane.
Make sure also, that your strongest contrasts, purest colors and brightest highlights will be within your center of interest. Most historical still life floral's have a dark background. This helps in pulling the viewer into the painting and concentration again falls on the point of interest. But some of those old Dutch Paintings placed everything in focus, and that's nice, but it isn't how your eyes see things. Things in the peripheral are blurred. Softening the edge of background flowers creates an amazing realistic experience for your viewer.
Let's look at a few examples:
Pictures of too much going on.
Each item within the picture would make for a great painting, but combining them has given the viewer too much and the eye can’t stay in a single area of concentration.
Pictures of top heavy arrangement. You have to worry that a slight wind won’t topple these down at any minute.
Do you see the difference in this and the others? The drapes, and large vase pull the already large sunflower blossoms together into an integral piece. The size of the vase in height is as large as the blossoms, giving even more balance.
A slight difference made in the overall arrangement giving a more square format.
In this piece, the sweeping motion created by the tulip on the left takes what would have been a bottom heavy arrangement, and balanced things out. The background shadow is also an important aspect in this arrangement
Here are a few more examples:
The landscape format:
Then the same arrangement with the portrait format:
And here’s one with very few flowers at all, yet the piece works with the drape, blue vase and sea shells!
Another technique to boost the power of your statement within the flower painting is to move in lower and closer. Drop the angle of your painting to show the table top at eye level.
Pictures of the just right arrangement from the low angle point of view.
Here's a technique I use a lot! Not sure why other than, I'm a tall fellow, at 6 feet, and it's easy for me to do this. While checking out your flower painting arrangement, more over the top with the birds eye view and see if it gives you a nice composition. Here's one that would have been considered top heavy, then, a re-position!
Finally, something that I've employed with great success! Moving in close to the flowers. Here's a few examples:
I hope you've enjoyed this talk about the flower painting arrangement. If you've got a great flower painting planned, or even started, why not share it here at Your Oil Painting Tips, or if you've got a great photo to share, why not help others! Put it here in Your Reference Photo's.
Thanks for reading
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