While driving around Muncie our first year we were overwhelmed by the blossoming trees and flowers – it seemed the whole town was glowing with colored lights. Magnolia trees, dahlias, daffodils, peonies, lilies – blossoming high and low, no matter where we looked flowers flowed freely.
The daunting question was how to lengthen my days so I could paint them all!
Coming from parched Colorado, where growing anything required elaborate watering systems and a green thumb, it was liberating to find that we could almost casually toss seeds in the air and watch them bloom before they landed (okay, maybe it’s not as easy as that, but compared to the arid West it sure felt like it).
Over the last ten years my easel has seen the creation of all that I have mentioned and many more. Let’s take a walk through my painted garden together.
Foxglove was fun to paint in Gentle Touch –
Roses have fascinated me since high school and there are plenty here in Indiana like these from my own garden –
My wife is not a daffodil fan because she thinks they look like a Disney creation – their design is precisely what I find so fun to paint like those in A Sunny Disposition.
The first time I saw dahlias was on the way to church – it looked like someone had perfected hovering fireworks that never extinguish. The next day I drove back to the home, knocked on the door and asked if I could photograph their flowers and study them occasionally – obviously, you can see the results of that happy encounter.
The blossoms of magnolia, cherry, plum and apple trees bloom spectacularly in Spring and then paint the streets, having prepared the way for the leaves and fruit.
Here are a few more painted both in the studio and plein air…
Can you imagine planting a seed and waiting a couple years to see if it worked? That’s peonies. Is it worth the wait? Every minute of it. Thank you, Muncie, for introducing me to one of my new favorite flowers – which just happens to be Indiana’s state flower – just in case you were wondering.
The peony below was grown by a dear friend who passed away recently. We loved to stop by and visit with Herb and Mildred once in a while and they would inevitably fill our van with apples and peaches from their orchard, as well as plump veggies from their garden.
Stardust stood as a bright sentinel on the edge of their garden (I painted a couple of versions).
A few blocks from our home there’s a sloping driveway that’s outlined by a beautiful array of peonies in different shades – I certainly had fun with those when I created At the End of the Drive.
Stardust wasn’t the only peony painted twice – akin to Monet and his straw bales, I decided to reverse Granny’s Legacy painted almost a decade ago…
…to see what some changes like darker crimson colors might add – and abracadabra Native Dwellers appeared. Native Dwellers was created for the January Paint Together so I thought using an image in a different way would be a great way to demonstrate how we can use our reference images as jumping off points – we should never become slaves to our photos.
You can see, looking at the reference photos below, that in Granny’s Legacy I eliminated the larger trees and the buildings and threw in some tall bits of grass. Both paintings from the same basic image yet both very different from the original reference image as well.
That above photo is the same reference photo as the first, but reversed. Some flowers are re-positioned and with a few extra peonies added in from other photos.
Next week we’ll share a fast motion video with you and the ten major steps I used to create the painting Native Dwellers.
Until then though, what are your favorite flowers to immortalize on the canvas? I shared a selection of my favorites through my years as an artist, and I would love to see yours!
Absolutely gorgeous, Bill!
Thank you Earl – I certainly have fun with all the beauty around us!
wonderful – too old now to start any course but can admire your wonderful work – thankyou
You are NEVER too old! 🙂 I say pick up a brush and do it just for the joy of it.
As long as you can breathe and hold a brush in your hand it is not too late to learn. The Almighty has gifted you with this time do not waste it.
Bill, your paintings are so beautiful. There is so much beauty to be found right around us and to be able to capture it so masterfully must be so satisfying. Thank you so much for sharing and for helping us learn to paint.
Wow very good!!!
As usual your paintings capture Gods handy work in a unique and inspiring manner. Thanks for sharing your gift
Here in Devon, England a beautiful Spring morning has dawned. My garden is full of blooms,blossom and birdsong, just waiting for swallows to return and to hear the cuckoo. Grandchildren love to play here and through the woods to Woodbury common, the sea is only three miles away. My aunt would say “all this and heaven too”. Many thanks for your painting guidance brings great pleasure and encouragement. Friends and I have just put together a calendar for 2018 of our paintings to sell in aid of Hospicare who will be selling them at their “Open Garden”events throughout the year.
Good wishes and happy days
Wow ! Beautiful and inspirational, Thank you !
These are breathtakingly beautiful, Bill. I am enjoying the course very much, and I love your work!
Thank you for posting this…so many different flowers! Makes one excited and keen to try more flowers with your images as inspiration.
Thank you Bill for the wonderful pictures of your art!!! They are truly beautiful, Our creator is the artist above all artist’s!!! I’m trying to learn but I seem to make more messes than anything else!!!
My Mom’s very favorite (and mine) (taken from W. Wadsworth Longfellow “Daffodils”
“I wandered lonely at a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills a host, of golden daffodils; beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Continuous as the stars that shine and twinkle on the milky-way, they stretched in never-ending line along the margin of the bay: ten thousand saw I at a glance; tossing their heads in sprightly dance. The waves beside them danced; but they outdid the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay in such a jocund company: I gazed and gazed but little thought what wealth the show to me had brought; for oft, when on my couch I lie in vacant or in pensive mood, they flash upon that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude; and then my heart with pleasure fills…and dancing in the daffodils.”
Never too old to be thrilled by the beauty of nature, I am 94, still painting even if not approaching the talent Bill is blessed with.
These photos really drove home to me the subject matter ratio to the canvas size. The smaller the canvas, the more need for cropping the view of the subject. The larger the canvas, the more detail of the view that can be included. I have been trying to include lots of detail on small canvases with much frustration and fussiness of brush strokes. I would love to be looser in my brush strokes and now realize what was causing my frustration. Thank you!!!
Amazing work and since I’ve been studying Richard Schmidt’s work from the Alla Prima books, I’ve noticed your style is very similar. My work is still in the early stages of finding myself through brush miles but I am intrigued by people like yourself who have accomplished such riveting brushwork which then produces their own style. I have learned all the technical parts of oil painting, composition etc. but have had a time establishing brushwork I am happy with and a palette of colors. There are dozens of palettes. I’ve tried many of them but it seems that I find another one I like better and I never seem to focus on staying with one or two. Any advice? For example: go to Nancy Medina (google it) and her palette seems to sell but the colors seem a bit garish but I’ve found more than one online person teaching these bizarre color palettes and their work sells faster than the traditional colors of the masters. Frustrating. I want to be able to sell my work as well as be satisfied with becoming an accomplished artist. Thanks, sorry for the long post!
Sorry for the delayed response. I have been on the road a lot the past two months which put me way behind.
Regarding palettes, I have not found any two professional artists who use exactly the same colors or # of hues. Some love a limited palette like Zorn, some use 20 or more colors. There isn’t a right and wrong – it comes down to what you like to use and if the paints you choose allow you to mix the values and colors you want.
I like a warm and cool of the primary colors, two crimsons, cad orange, the transparent earth tones and one or two greens. I could get away without using the green pigments, but they are mighty convenient. Some artists insist we stay away from earth tones for one reason or another, others say never to use Pthalo green because it’s too strong and we should mix our greens – if we worry too much about others’ opinions we won’t get much painting done.
The one helpful bit of advice is to stick with pigments that have a lightfastness rating of 1. There are a lot of fugitive pigments that are beautiful – stay away from them – you can find something just as beautiful or close to it in a pigment that won’t fade or crack a few years down the road – and watch out, many professionals still use fugitive pigments.
My suggestion – forget what sells – paint what you really love, what you’re drawn to. Keep the colors on your palette that you like, put the rest in a drawer, then try out a new color occasionally to see if you like it. The more you paint the more you will get a feel for what you need and what works for you. Nancy Medina is a wonderful artist and she found a style and colors that work well for her – do the same by following your interests.
I’m not a fan of trying to paint like another artist except to learn the basics. There are a lot of artists today that paint like Scott Christensen – they aren’t as skilled as he is and they end up becoming a Christensen look a like, rather than their own artist. We are naturally going to mimic bits and pieces of those we admire – that’s part of the evolution of art – we just don’t want to get so enthralled with someone else’s work that we fail to allow our own instincts to take a slightly or largely new path along the way.
There are some extremely skilled and accomplished painters in the world today, but no perfect ones. Let’s glean what we can from them and then take it farther. We can’t ever let fear of failure stop us from pushing the boundaries of our potential. We each have a unique voice – a way of seeing the world that’s a bit different from everyone else. The trick is to let that voice be our guide – not what others say is the ‘right’ or ‘best’ way to do something.
Truly great art, events or experiences come from someone saying ‘I wonder what would happen if…’ and then giving it a try!
Find what brings you joy and you will succeed.
Happy painting Jeri,
Thanks Bill, for sharing your beautiful garden. Your work is so inspiring and makes me keep trying so that one day I might be able to produce such a garden! I appreciate you giving so much time to your students and being a working, busy artist at the same time. That cannot be easy! Thanks for helping us and I look forward to videos from your trip.
Dear, i like your wonderful work ,painting is my hobby i am not a professional but i love beauty and nature
i thank you for encourage me to start again my life with color .thank you very much.