|To Be Where There's Life by Ryan Coleman, oil on canvas, 30 x 40, 2010.
The coolest thing I ever learned about painting flowers,
specifically how to paint a rose, was when a painting teacher told me that you
paint them by not painting them. Back then I gave her the stink eye because,
really, how do I paint a rose by not painting it? Ah, humility. How you love to
teach me lessons. I soooo get what my instructor was saying to me now-—and it is
one of the truest art lessons I've ever learned.
Painted flowers, plants, and other organic forms seem all
the more real when they are painted less literally—when you work to capture the
sensation of an object but not necessarily every petal,
leaf, and thorn. For example, a vase of flowers could be painted with an eye
toward capturing the strong thrusting lines of the stems or the light airiness
of a flower in full bloom. And that has nothing to do with the exact number of
petals you paint!
|Memorial by Ryan Coleman, oil on canvas, 48 x 48, 2011.
||Dark Fall by Ryan Coleman, oil on canvas, 48 x 48, 2007.
Sometimes the best way to achieve these kinds of effects is
with a combination of representation and abstraction. Recently, I saw artist Ryan
Coleman's work and his "floral paintings"—if you can call them such—do just
that. The works are not literal depictions of flowers or bouquets or groves of
trees, and yet when you look at them you somehow know what they are.
Many artists throughout the centuries have incorporated both
representation and abstraction in their work, from El Greco, Corot, and
Pissarro to Cezanne and Picasso. In the same way, Coleman strives to depict
subjects and narratives without becoming too literal, which he finds
restrictive. He strikes a balance between the two, so that he feels he can work
freely and expressively while the end results are paintings and drawings with hints
of representation that can be very reassuring and grounding to viewers.
|Season of Light by Ryan Coleman,
oil on canvas, 30 x 40, 2011.
||Dream of Vermeer by Ryan Coleman,
oil on canvas, 38 x 48, 2011.
One of the best ways to inject your painting with sensation
and liveliness that can come with combining abstraction and representation is
to work from a variety of inspirations or sources. Coleman usually has an
assortment of images around him when developing any given painting, from images
of nature and landscapes to those from art history, interior design magazines,
graffiti, cartoons, or whatever else catches his interest.
Your art would also be well served by looking at all the variety of
floral paintings out there, so you have a strong understanding of where this
subject matter can take you. Painting
Flowers is a perfect place to start. It covers how to achieve dynamic
action in a floral painting, ways to experiment when painting flowers, artist
profiles, and more. Enjoy!