My theme for this post is obviously flowers. I have tremendous appreciation for botanical illustrations and study them at every opportunity.
Flowers have fabulous colors and textures, and lend themselves very well to my technique. The most challenging floral textures are “geometric patterns.” Examples of that would be the center of a sunflower, or cactus spines that radiate in a complicated pattern. Because I’ve painted a lot of fruit, leaves are something I can almost do with my eyes closed.
On a separate post, I will share herbal illustrations that I did for a vitamin manufacturer called Pharmavite. Those illustrations were for vitamin supplements, and are currently on display at Costco.
One of my favorite paintings is entitled “Flower Medley.” I created this illustration as a portfolio piece. It really has all the elements of my style, which would be high contrast, intense color, and varied textures. I enjoyed rendering delicate moisture that was very photo-realistic, instead of formulaic droplets.
Hopefully, these close-ups give a sense of the dye colors, which I find so exciting. Within the petals on the daisy below, there are many colors besides yellow; there is pink, lavender, blue, and even green. This also displays my motto that dull colors allow for the brilliant colors to stand out. The dark brown center of this flower demonstrates that. A lot of transparent colors went into creating the dark areas on this painting.
Although I’ve already shared my Supersoil illustrations, I decided to add a few close-ups of my potting soil illustration. These close-ups display the variation of colors and reflections that I love, as well.
In 1992, I received an assignment for People Magazine to illustrate a floral display that included a graduation cap and tassel. It was to be used as part of an advertising supplement within the magazine. This was also one of the few, rare opportunities where I was able to sign my work!
I actually illustrated the graduation cap separately, which was helpful for me as far as having a floral painting, which could be used in other ways. This illustration was used later on for a poster, and was also purchased by Reader’s Digest.
I took a lot of photographs for reference on this illustration. Now I’m going to share something about this painting that has bothered me for years and years. I was so faithful to my reference, that I actually painted a “damaged” flower. I did not have to paint it with the missing petal, which obviously fell off somewhere in transport. Notice the pink, Astermeria below:
Years later, one of my agents sold both my floral medley painting and the one for People magazine as a poster. Having those posters gave me a lot of pleasure – I was able to frame them and enjoy them, and to share them as gifts. I received a very small, token amount of money for the usage.
I created a billboard for Del Monte of a flower-cart – this was specifically geared toward a Latino market. I was given photographs of carts to follow and was instructed to keep the illustration simple and not too realistic. It was still a colorful exercise.
I shared my Conroy’s Flowers billboard on Post #13; however, I am sharing some close-ups of the letters here. I am certain that none of the flower details were actually visible on this billboard! What was interesting to share about this project was that as it progressed, the flowers on the later letters improved considerably and were far more interesting for me.
I ended up doing several illustrations for Conroy’s flowers that were in black in white. I always found it interesting how using a watercolor tube called “neutral tint” created many kinds of gray, none of which translated in the production. I liked the composition of my first black and white illustration so much, that I replicated it later on in color. I illustrated two, small cards for a floral company and used a marker technique on those subsequent illustrations.
I received three more black and white illustrations for Conroy’s. One was a wreath, one incorporated a typewriter (for secretary’s day), and another was an Easter theme. I utilized my photo-reference to create a pasted up comp to follow. Needless to say, I knew the best floral shops in my area.
These other illustrations below are examples of what I have on my stock site, and are taken from other paintings. The first one, however, is a marker illustration I did for a possible project.
I have done two illustrations that were a medley of flowers that were printed on vinyl – the title for that was “color clings.” I still have some, which I’ve adhered to my sliding glass patio door. Unfortunately, they faded rather quickly!
My challenge on the medley was to create small groups of flowers that worked well with the total composition. I kept in mind that the flower groups needed to be balanced and the negative space pleasant. I also wanted a variety of shapes and colors, without any of the elements being distracting. Due to time pressure, these illustrations were painted with a watercolor marker technique, and were not as detailed and delicate as my other technique. They were also quite small, as each floral group was about two inches large.
I have mentioned and shared my working process throughout this blog. I regard all my illustration assignments as a “puzzle for me to solve.” My photo reference is my “roadmap” to follow. When I was an art instructor, I gave very clear directions to my students about this process. I encouraged students to render flowers simply because of their organic beauty and ease in creating a nice painting.
The first example above was by a private art student whom I taught in my home two years ago. She was only ten years old.
Below are examples of my college students’ artwork.
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