Still life with flowers




I enjoyed this exercise because it followed so well with the study I had been doing on painting folding fabric.  Continuing this fascination with rhythm in natural things, it was an easy transition to studying flowers and the rhythmic movement of shape and line.  I looked for flowers where I could really explore this interest and of course, lilies provided everything I was looking for.  Totally loved the initial drawing steps even though I really dislike my sketch book with its brown paper (I am continually having to paste white pages in because of the poor quality of the brown paper – can’t think why I bought it! Another thing I have learnt!!! I could write a whole blog on quality of sketch books!)



I am finding I have a tendency to dive straight into the centre of flowers when I begin a composition and not include the vase, other items or the background because they don’t interest me.  So I deliberately tried not to do this and set up a composition including all these things.  I particularly wanted to include a ‘tossed cloth’ to balance the folding shapes of the lilies (also to have another go at painting folds!). The composition seemed to work for me and I found the contrast of strong vertical movement with the folding and interlocking flow of shapes and folds satisfying.

I experimented with three different approaches to the application of paint.  This is still the area where I am very hesitant because of the limitations of my understanding of paint – tried a representational approach mainly to try to sort out tonal values but had no hesitation in abandoning this because I just don’t want to paint like that.  I then experimented with mixed media – acrylics, pen and ink and pastel.  I became really excited with this and could have taken it further – just responded to the looseness and uncertainty!  Finally I tried a dry brush.

Decided to work with mixed media. I experimented with colour balance and harmony but found that the image itself began to take its own shape when I began to paint.  The composition is composed of red, red-orange, orange with a contrasting blue which is something of an experiment because I wanted to see the effect of using all warm colours next to each other on the colour wheel.  It does seem to have the effect of calm but I think it needs the contrasting complementary.  I have tried to take the dominant colours into the background.

I am really pleased with the flowers and feel to have managed depth and looseness which is what I was looking for.  The composition!!! Well, not sure about it.  The folding cloth is slightly better than in the previous image so I have learnt something here but still a long way to go.


About pbfarrar

I am an Australian living permanently in England. I have recently retired from the position of Principal of an independent school and have taken up the study of Fine Art with the OCA.
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