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How To Paint Tulip Portraits: Dive Deeper as an Artist

05/18/2024 00:20:27 +0000
Senior year art class.

The assignment: create a clay sculpture of a face and head.

We watched the video of the professional potter. Her soft voice gave helpful guidance as she whipped out a sculpture of an eight-year-old boy's head and face.

But she wasn't happy with the nose. Not a problem for her! A swish here and a squeeze there, and in about three minutes flat, the nose was made right. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
I was inspired. What an opportunity! I felt like sculpture might be my calling. It looked easier to create a portrait in 3D instead of trying to create the illusion of multi-dimensions on a piece of paper or canvas.

Plus, I had the perfect "sitter," my baby sister.
Beth is sixteen years younger than me. She was the joy of my high school years, a most welcome surprise after years of being tortured and teased by my mischevious brothers. Beth took in the world with her big, blue, saucer shaped eyes. I'd put her in the backpack carrier when I did chores. She contentedly perched there for hours, leaning her chubby chin on my shoulder and wailing when put down.

If that lady could create a sculpture of an eight-year-old boy in thirty minutes, certainly, I could create a sculpture of my baby sister's head in two weeks.

One warm April afternoon, my mom brought in Beth during a two hour art class. Beth sat on her lap happily, amused by all the attention she was getting.
Have You Experienced This Frustration with Painting?
I went to work on the clay.

At the end of the session, the head and neck were shaped along with a few curls on top of the sculpture's head.

After that, I brought in pictures of Beth and continued to work.

And work.

And rework.

But what had started as fun and novel turned into frustration.

Nothing I did "worked" to create a head out of clay.

Let me summarize it this way. My dad saw it and I overhead him say to Mum, "Our tax dollars went to that???"

What a disaster.

I threw the head into the garbage and had a good cry in my pillow, humiliated, dreams of pottery perfection dashed.
Portraits- whether created in two or three dimensions- are hard.

But, for all their challenges they contain, there is worth in creating portraits.

Portraits demand observation, study, paying attention, slowing down, and often, learning new skills.

The problem with portraits of people is that we:
A) often want to create portraits, replications, of people we know and love.

When they don't turn out (and especially our subjects, often family and friends, know we are painting a portrait of them) it can lead to awkwardness and maybe embarrassment.

B) When the portrait of our family or friends turns out less than stellar it can be very self-defeating.
Just like my pottery piece, it gets thrown away and we never try it again.
(I've certainly never picked up sculpture again)).
Flowers are much more gracious subjects. No flower will ever get mad at us if they don't come out quite right on the canvas, watercolor, or sketchbook page.

Plus, flowers are generally, easier subjects to create portraits of. There are less nuances and difficult curves to emulate.

But just because they are somewhat easier to paint, doesn't mean the effort and results are any less satisfying!
Creating portraits of flowers may be even more fulfilling than portraits of people.
Jump into the Joy & Fun of Painting (flower) Portraits!
First, painting portraits builds in us an eye to see, notice, and appreciate more. Painting portraits strengthens our sense of observation and discernment. The more we notice, the more we see. We get stronger and stronger.

Second, we develop an eye for detail, the details that are actually there, not only what we think is there.

This is important because so many times, our brains move fast, faster than we realize. We fill in the gaps of what we think a sunflower or tulip or hyacinth looks like.

But on more careful observation, we begin to see nuances and details. The distinct characteristics of each flower family began to shine. Then, as we look at each flower individually, we see that each of them is different too! Just like a snowflake, each flower is a little different than the others.

Once we see more clearly, we are empowered to sketch and paint with greater detail. Our paintings began to come to life. Instead of one green to create the extended stalk of a tulip, we see yellow and yellow-green and a deep green in the stalks. Our paintings began to gain that extra dimension. The colors began to sing. The flower starts to pop off the page.

Finally, painting portraits of flowers may grow us artists faster than perhaps any other practice. Portraiture is demanding, but the rewards are well worth it.

This year, I'm starting a project called "In Full Bloom: A Year of Painting Flower Portraits."
I'll be painting and releasing online workshops featuring floral portraits. You can buy the entire course (they aren't all ready, they will release one at a time.) or purchase them a la carte, just the flower that you want to see.

But before there is anything to purchase, I love sharing a "taster" course, a bit of a glimpse of what the course will be. If you haven't "met" me yet in a course or online workshop, this is an opportunity for you to get to know my style of painting, teaching, and talking.
You can paint these lovely tulips today! This first course is a gift to you. Hear more about it in the video below and sign up here to start creating your own beautiful tulip portraits today!
Author: Melissa AuClair
Discover easy and fun techniques for creating gorgeous floral and seasonal art.

If you love to paint and create art focusing on flowers and seasonal themes, take a course and we'll paint together.

Not a lot of time? Not a problem. Discover the fun of creating lovely, small works of art in the "margin" time of your life.

Paint with me on YouTube, find more in-depth courses on the website, and shop all the art, stationery & stickers in the online store.

California, United States
The Creative Season © 2021

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