Painting "Real" Flowers

Updated: Mar 13

Detail image of 18x24 painting on wood panel

Am I a gardener? I am not. Do I at least know the names of flowers I find pretty? I do not. None of that stops me from enjoying flowers, even cheap bouquets from the grocery store, and none of that stops me from painting them. I should say none of that stops me from conjuring up some imaginary flowers in bunches or in vases as if they existed in nature.

16x20 floral painting on wood panel

Recently, I have taken on the project of painting flowers as I define them, capturing the essence of flowers more so than the actual blossoms you’d select for a bouquet. What you might call a gardenia, I might call a white ball, for example, as I remember the White Shoulder perfume my mother preferred when I was a child; and what you might recognize as an armful of daisies, I might see as a splash of yellow and white here and there now and then.

Still, they are flowers—they bring joy and colors and occasion to otherwise dull or gray or uneventful circumstances.

8x10 floral painting on archival paper, unframed

When considering the composition of floral paintings, and while adding details to the surface of paintings done on wood panels, I will often inscribe a line or two from a favorite poem, something like this:

I will be the gladdest thing under the sun! I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one —Edna St. Vincent Millay

Nature—the Gentlest Mother—impatient of no child. — Emily Dickinson

For the faded flowers gay...they are yours, and be the measure of their worth for you to treasure. — Robert Frost

16x20 floral painting on archival paper, unframed

When I was in the midst of this project, with paintings on the easels in front of me, paintings drying behind me, and finished paintings hanging on my studio walls, I found myself surrounded by a garden of my own making, and it was magnificent.

What emerges from the mind and the studio does not have to replicate the existing world to be real.

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