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 –

Gentle Touch by Bill Inman 30×40

Roses have fascinated me since high school and there are plenty here in Indiana like these from my own garden –

A Dance to Remember by Bill Inman 10×8

Butterscotch Beauty by Bill Inman 8×6

Sun Kissed by Bill Inman 12×16

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.

A Sunny Disposition 10×8

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.

Midas Touch by Bill Inman 10×8

Orange Crush by Bill Inman

Rise to the Occasion by Bill Inman 16×20

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.

China Girl by Bill Inman 8×10

Scented Serenade by Bill Inman 9×12

Stepping Through Magnolia Petals by Bill Inman

Here are a few more painted both in the studio and plein air…

Eve’s Eden by Bill Inman 12×16

Exquisite Entanglement by Bill Inman 9×12

Sunrise by Bill Inman 9×12

Wintersill Drive by Bill Inman 12×16

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 by Bill Inman 8×6

Stardust stood as a bright sentinel on the edge of their garden (I painted a couple of versions).

Rising Star by Bill Inman 10×8

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.

At the End of the Drive by Bill Inman 12×16

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…

Granny’s Legacy by Bill Inman 12×16

…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.

Native Dwellers by Bill Inman 12×16

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.

The original reference photo


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!