3 Tricks So People Remember My Painting

27 Sep 2011

Dried Ivy by Kristin Kunc, 8 x 12, oil on linen, 2008.
Notice how the composition of this sparse still life is deft--from
the angle of the bottle to the serpentine curve of the ivy sprig.
(Dried Ivy by Kristin Kunc, 8 x 12, oil on linen, 2008).
I'm not a knick-knack girl, but I do really have a connection to the objects around me. I project feelings and memories onto them, and like to have them in view. I can, I'm almost embarrassed to say, feel almost devastated if something that is precious to me is lost or damaged.

But that kind of emotional trigger or connection is definitely one I want to portray through the objects that I paint. And as the seasons change and I spend more time indoors, I want to keep a connection to nature by creating floral paintings or studies with as much impact as if I was painting a beloved object or token.

Flowers can signify so many things, good and sad. Just think of all the occasions when flowers play an integral role: a teenager's first dance corsage or boutonniere; a wedding or, sadly enough, a funeral; as a victory or celebration token; part of a romantic gesture, but also a sign of appreciation for natural beauty.

But painting flowers can easily devolve into tedium. That's why I pay attention to three things to make sure I'm learning how to paint flowers that are memorable and not just pretty.

I take composition very seriously. It is not just a matter of grabbing a vase and shoving the flowers in. I like to play with height, angles, and negative space.

Yellow, Red, and White by Michael Klein, 12 x 20, oil on linen, 2008.
Yellow, Red, and White by Michael Klein,
12 x 20, oil on linen, 2008.
Color is also key. Pushing color and keeping it from being "same old" is really crucial. Sometimes I'll even take extreme liberties and switch colors around, or if I am painting flowers like hydrangeas, I will really push the pinks and blue colors I see until they are almost electric.

Painting less of what I see is also a lesson I've learned. I always have a tendency to want to paint this bit over here, and that bit over there, and it ends up looking really patchy and uneven. So I've learned to restrain myself and reserve strokes. Trying to make a flower form in only a handful of strokes, including highlights and shadows.

But I still have a long way to go in terms of figuring out all the ins and outs of painting flowers, which is where our latest magazine, Guide to Painting Flowers, comes in. There is so much in the magazine that an artist, whether they are just starting out or are further along in their experience, will find intriguing—painting methods and techniques, and how to create the most moving painting possible. Enjoy!


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lagaleria wrote
on 28 Sep 2011 6:37 AM

Great article! I'm so excited to see my friend and colleague Patricia Tribastone featured today. I've known Pat for a while and remember years ago when she started winning awards. Despite her great awards she's always the same humble and personable artist. I'm a floral artist myself and believe in simplying what I see, as they say, less is more, thanks!

Peggy Martinez