Advice on Floral Artwork

Learning how to paint flowers is a great way of practicing various oil painting techniques from impasto and wet into wet to glazing techniques. But a few tips on painting flowers may help the artist avoid disappointments.


Paint Flowers with Success


There is an abundant choice of flowers that can be painted, with various textures and colours to offer, from petunias and sunflowers to clematis. No wonder there are hundreds of books on painting flowers. But the idea of painting such subject matter may not measure up to the results. A few pointers may need addressing to ensure satisfactory results.


Tips on Painting Flowers

  • If painting flowers from a photo, it is essential that the image presented is of good quality, for example, that the definition is high and that reasonable detail can be seen. Taking the photo in natural daylight is also best
  • Feel free to use pigments neat from the tube to express the bold colours of flower without the flower heads looking garish
  • Painting the flower heads last will ensure that the surrounding colours will not contaminate the bright colours within.
  • Avoid using black in a flower painting, particularly when darkening a colour. It is better to darken the colour with its complimentary colour.
  • Avoid over working the brushwork in a painting, or it will lose its life
  • Allow some pure colour streaks to remain in the painting to keep it fresh
  • Purchase good quality sable brushes for detail. Sizes 1 or 3 are ideal




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Painting Flowers from Life


Setting up a still life setting with flowers requires careful thought. This may entail adjusting the objects in relation to the light, the surrounding objects and the colours. The following suggestions may help:
  • Placing contrasting colours such as red and blue next to one another will provide focal points to a floral painting
  • Be aware of the shifting light. It is advisable to paint the crucial parts of the still life prior to the background before the light changes.
  • Juxtaposing unlikely objects beside flowers, such as a rusty engine or a pile of books will add interest to the still life setting.
  • Look out for unusual angles unthought of such as from directly above. Shifting the objects slightly will have huge implications upon the composition.

Where to Find Inspiration for Floral Artwork


In order to explore flower painting further, the artist may look at the techniques and approaches used by floral artists Antoine Berjon and Geogia O’Keefe. This may urge the artist to experiment and push out the boundaries.


Producing a Fine Art Painting of Flowers


Flowers provide the artist rare opportunity for using pure colours combined with bizarre shapes, but producing a great painting of flowers is dependent upon several factors. The resource material from which the flower painting is derived must be of good quality. The artist must also take care not to over mix the colours and to avoid using black. Allowing some brushmarks and streaks of colour to remain will add vibrancy in any flower painting. Many oil painting techniques are ideal for flowers, from impasto to glazing. Experimentation is the key.
Read more about mixing bright colours on my other site.

This site comprise of pictures and excerpts taken from my 2 art instruction books. Oil Paintings from Your Garden can be purchased direct from the author, or through Amazon.


My other book, Oil Paintings from the Landscape can be purchased direct from Amazon.


© Rachel Shirley 2010