One of my goals for 2016 is to get more comfortable with painting acrylic or mixed media florals. Florals and I have a love/hate relationship. As a subject matter, florals seem like they should be pretty straightforward, but once I put hand to paint to paper, I discover something quite different. Also, seasoned artists make painting florals look easy. For example, the daily painting movement has a lot of flowers. Therefor, the thinking goes, I should be able to create a floral in an hour. Not surprising, no.
This is why I’m excited to study modern floral painters like Liz Innvar.
What strikes me immediately about Innvar’s florals is the abundance in them. A viewer who doesn’t connect would probably say that they are busy. And they are. But they are expertly busy. They have an energy that pulls your eye in and then demands that it stays.
Because there is so much going on in Innvar’s work, how does she keep it from feeling like too much? That’s where I think color and value both play an important role. Innvar seems to choose a dominant color (or two) for her pieces. She can go crazy with shapes (although she doesn’t) and line and because it’s all within a range of color, it creates interest not frenetic energy. Similarly to the limited range of color, her values stay in a relative middle range. For the most part, her flowers never go all the way light or all the way dark. But then when she does go in a direction, she goes light.
What not immediately apparent from Innvar’s photos is the layering that goes into a piece. I would have had no idea either expect she has a slideshow of sorts on her website.
Looking at Innvar’s florals, here’s what I want to try in my own work:
Choose dominant color (or two).
Mix a bunch of colors before I get started. I find color mixing during the painting process frustrating, and I don’t make great decisions when I’m mixing colors. Let’s take that stress out of the process and do the work before I actually start the piece.
Learn the value of those colors.
Many artists do color mixing sheets, I need to do value sheets. Paint my colors down onto a piece of paper and then scan the image. Bring it into Photoshop and desaturate it. I’m sure I’ll be surprised at what goes light and what goes dark.
Layers are tough. You fall in love with something that happens early and as a beginner, it’s not certain killing it will result in anything you love as much later on. (Just the sad memory of what was.) But there is a richness that comes to layers and you just can’t get it if you preserve everything from layer one. To lessen the pain, I’ll try creating layer goals from the start (when I’m choosing dominant colors). I won’t let myself even think about the subject matter in a real way until gotten five layers in. Maybe once I get confident, I can up that goal to 7, 10 or 12.
See more of Liz Innvar's work, including her non floral work, at her website.