Come Winter, I Head to the Hothouse

The botanical gardens in Washington, DC, near the Capitol.
The botanical gardens in Washington, DC, near the Capitol.

When I’m visiting family in Virginia during winter, I always make a point to walk through the botanical gardens near the Capitol in Washington, DC. It is one of my favorite places, and the hothouse flower rooms are just what I need to warm myself through when it is so chilly outside, though this year that wasn’t much of a concern considering how balmy the weather was!

Over the holiday, I made it a point to go there with a mission: Get inspired by the flowers and plant life so that during the next few months when I’m stuck inside, I will have inspiring images to work from when I want to focus on painting flowers.

A hothouse poinsettia at the botanical gardens.
A hothouse poinsettia at the botanical gardens.

The gardens don’t have flower arrangements or cut flowers on display, so I was able to focus on how to paint flowers as they naturally occur and grow in the wild. It was really interesting to observe how differently plants grow and sprawl about. You don’t understand the flower in the same way when it has been neatly clipped and arranged in a vase.

I also wanted to avoid looking at flowers and flowers alone because a flower bud is only one part of a flower oil painting. All the greenery, leaves, and stems that come along with a blossom deserve attention too. I, therefore, spent a lot of time in the jungle room, where it was humid and sticky and all of the foliage is lush and verdantly green. It may not suit you if you want to paint colors, but I thought all of the different leaf formations and different shades of green with the light hitting them was really lovely.

The jungle plant life at the gardens. Look at all the shades of green!
The jungle plant life at the gardens. Look at all the shades of green!

I hope to take the images I found and work with them to create colorful and organic floral paintings in the next few months. But before I put brush to canvas I’m going to brush up on my painting flowers techniques with Julie Gilbert Pollard’s Discover Oil Painting – How to Paint Flowers. The lessons Julie leads us through really inspired me, and there are so many ways you can incorporate floral painting that I can’t imagine getting enough of this. I hope it is the same for you. Enjoy!

P.S. Where did you go over the holidays that might inspire your artwork in the future? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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