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Behind the Brush: My Flower Paintings Collection

Flowers have been around for about 120 million years. They’ve had quite some time to evolve into what we see today. We have evolved in a world of flowers, so the enjoyment of their shapes, smells, and colors has been bred into us. Like most people, I have always been attracted by flowers.

When I was very young, I saw Van Gogh’s paintings of irises, sunflowers, and cherry blossoms on a national tour of his work back in the early '60s. We went to the Cleveland Art Museum, and I was transfixed. Later, Monet’s water lilies stunned me. When I started painting, I wanted to try my hand at it.

My first flower painting was of some lilies in my yard. It was challenging because light did some pretty complicated things with them.

First, there is the sunlight shining directly on the petals. Then, there is the light that passes through the petals. Then there are the reflections of light from the petals to other petals, stems, and leaves. All the while, the shapes of the flowers are quite interesting to render because of twists and curls throwing shadows as well as light on the surrounding plant.

Photographs capture flowers reasonably well, but there is something about interpreting how flowers affects one in a painting, which is quite gratifying. Underpainting is quite important because it really sets up the brightness and vibrance of the flowers, but the most important thing for me in a flower painting is sharing the delight and beauty of these gifts of nature.

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