Katie Liddiard

Composing A Floral Still Life

Katie Liddiard
Duration:   18  mins

If you feel unsure about composing a floral still life to paint, have no fear! Artist Katie Liddiard will help you confidently make a beautiful arrangement. First, Katie says, consider how the flowers will move, how they’ll naturally bend and gravitate. Flowers tend to open in predictable ways, be it radially, like roses, or all together like tulips. Understanding how the flowers will move in the hours or days it takes to complete your painting helps you compose. Have plenty of flowers, and don’t forget to consider whether the painting surface will have a portrait or landscape orientation.

Next, Katie says, build interesting rhythms. Perhaps there’s a color you’ll want as a focal point; group the flowers with that color for impact, offsetting other colors against it in a rhythmic but dynamic pattern, pulling the eye up and through the arrangement. Let the flowers “be themselves” as Katie does, rather than controlling them, for a natural and interesting scene. Add flowers, then edit if an area feels heavy or awkward as you create balance and movement. It’s okay to coax blooms forward and gently open the petals, or cut stems to different heights.

It’s time to add greens. Think of leaves as accessories, as Katie does, and don’t let them become distractions. Buy flowers and greens at the same time so they look right together. With each addition, step back and look at the whole. Take your time, thinking about your final painting and what your color harmonies will be. And squint! It helps to compress your value range so you see your arrangement differently. When you have that wonderful feeling of “that’s it!” and your setup feels balanced, rhythmic, and pleasing, you’re ready to paint.