It's Time to Find Your Unique Approach

18 Aug 2013

Arums II by Tamara de Lempicka, 1931
Arums II by Tamara de Lempicka, 1931.
I've grown to appreciate floral paintings. Of course, flowers are nice to look at, and I recognize the technical skill needed to paint them, but I wasn't always certain of the appeal of the subject matter. The question of how an artist approaches a bouquet of roses or a pot of fuchsias in a unique and fresh way often stymied me.

The Absence of Red (Self-Portrait) by Patrick Gordon, 2007, oil, 60 x 48 (diptych).
The Absence of Red (Self-Portrait)
by Patrick Gordon, 2007, oil,
60 x 48 (diptych).
Vase of Chrysanthemums by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1890.
Vase of Chrysanthemums
by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1890.
But floral arrangements have been depicted in art for centuries, and painting flowers appeals to artists of all levels and media. The real mark of artistry within the genre is whether or not an artist has developed a fresh approach to the subject matter. Does the painter or draftsman send a message with those petals, stamens, and stems? Although there are thousands of depictions of flowers out there, the ones that keep the subject matter interesting approach it in a variety of ways and imbue it with different meanings each time.  

Oftentimes, a painting of a flower represents much larger themes than nature. It can be a meditation on mortality, spirituality, notions of artistic precedence, sexuality, gender, and even issues of environmentalism. Despite the identical subject matter, the possible interpretations are endless.

Tamara de Lempicka's vase of lilies-distorted but linear, with an approach to light that is edged and planar like the facets of a jewel-could never be confused with Renoir's brushy and ebulliently colored bouquet. Nor could Tom Wesselmann's work or Marc Chagall's. Each artist approached the subject matter with his or her own artistic purpose, and didn't let anything overrule it, from the precedent set by a well-established genre to the second-guessing that can often accompany choosing a compositional setup.

Striving to clarify your own personal vision is a constant battle, but it's a worthwhile venture—one with which our latest Acrylic Premium Kit can provide guidance as well, with resources from expert instructor Mark Mehaffey like Paint Dramatic Acrylic Flowers and Basic Acrylic Painting Tips & Techniques. The process and interests of master painters, step-by-step painting studies, and recommendations about materials and methods—you'll find them all in the various resources included in our Acrylic Premium Kit. It's all here ready for you to discover and explore. Enjoy!

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