I love painting flowers. You can see plenty of them in our art online shop. I always think of flowers as having happy smiley faces.
Here’s a step by step tutorial on how I created a large oil painting of some lush rich red gerberas in a white vase.
This painting was a commission I completed a while ago for a client. The brief was “Lots of red, gerberas, soft background, and some hidden affirmations”. They really loved the end result. I get asked to do portrait painting, pet portraits, nature and more and have a lot of fun with them all but creating Australian art that includes flowers is a real treat.
Follow along with this tutorial and you’ll be able to create your own vase of your own favourite flowers.
First, I prepared a large linen canvas by stretching it over some heavy duty kiln dried timber bars. I choose the best preprimed linen on the roll, and really nice strong sustainable growth forest timber bars that are kiln dried so they never warp over time. If you are on a budget, start with a good quality pre-stretched adn pre-primed canvas.
I drew up some fine lines on the painting to get the positions of the objects on the canvas, just thin outlines using a turpsy mix of pale Phthalo Blue or Prussian Blue colour using a skinny round or flat brush. Mix just a tiny amount of paint with a small puddle of turps. It will dribble but that’s easy to clean up with a rag. You can use a turpsy rag as an eraser to rub out any lines you don’t want.
Then I always paint a tonal under-painting to make the final painting have real punch. We talk about tone a lot in our Learn to Paint classes in oil.
At this stage the flower heads are simple circles.
Then I refine the details a bit more and get the soft shadow on the vase and fabric. I also start to get the shadows on each of the flowers’ faces, and finally add in the details of the petals. You can imagine each flower as a cup, or make your palm into a cup shape and hold it up to the light to see where the shadows fall. You can see how I’ve painted this with the flower that’s right in the centre.
Across the whole bunch, there is a shadow that falls on the right of the whole bunch as well. To get this right you can imagine the bunch of flowers as a large round ball, and imagine how the shadow falls on the right side of it.
I have decided that the light is coming in from the left hand side of the composition.
I’m happy with the shapes and the tones of the painting so far. they are the first two most important steps to get right. Now I can start to add the colour (surprisingly this is the least important stage). In the Learn to Paint classes we experiment with how tone is the more important than colour. Once you get the tone right, it doesn’t matter what colour you use.
Here I’ve added the red of the flowers and some brushstrokes of warm colour in the draped fabric to balance the warm and cool over the whole painting. The client asked for some special affirmation words t be added in subtly to the work as well, so I’ve started putting them in:
Finally I get the overall shimmery soft colours across the vase and fabric, paint in the background, and soften the hard edge on the background fabric behind the vase to put it a little out of focus:
The client was so happy with the final result that she sent me a photo of it hanging in it’s final spot on their wall in Brisbane:
Have fun with creating your own painting! Call us for more information if you’d like to join the fun painting classes in the art school in our little Brisbane gallery. You’ll find our art classes in Brisbane West. We’d love to have you join us!