Painting Vibrant Flowers in Oils
Fiona Craig is an Australian artist who now resides part-time in the United States and will return to teach this workshop in April.
This course will cover techniques that are useful for rendering flowers in the medium of oil paints on canvas or board. It aims at the achievement of vibrant artworks that convey a sense of light, shadow and sculptural form. I intend to cover as many important aspects of oil painting as possible, beginning with demonstrating and describing several different methods of starting a painting. There will be a brief outline of important technical aspects of oil painting such as mediums, materials and the preparation of surfaces to make sure everyone starts out on the right footing. Colour mixing and application, at least in my own art-making, is one of the most enjoyable processes of painting, explore colours that help achieve a balance between neutrals and vibrant hues that ‘pop’, with attention to particular colours that are excellent for flower paintings. This knowledge should go a long way towards avoiding that undesirable, dull, ‘muddy’ overall look. Colour, however, should not over-rule tonal values so we will look at ways to achieve a range of dramatic and subtle contrasts from dark to light. Creating a three-dimensional illusion of sunlight and shadow on the subject can be challenging so we will focus on how to build this effect with our colours and tones while avoiding the over-blending of brushstrokes. A rich-looking oil painting is often built up in layers. Therefore, underpainting and layering paint to build colour and textural interest will be a major aspect of this workshop. (Due to the limited time of the workshop, I will mainly focus on wet-in-wet painting styles, but will demonstrate and provide instruction in colour-glazing). Students will learn how to achieve contemporary or traditional looks with distinctive composition and brushstroke styles while being encouraged to explore and develop their own subjects and styles. Again, due to time constraints and in order to achieve the maximum benefit, students will work on a smaller scale than I usually work. Several blank white-primed canvases or boards up to 24″ square (61cm) would be ideal. The techniques learned in the workshop can afterwards be applied to larger canvases, if desired, using the paintings from the workshop as preliminary works. Methods for enlarging images for bigger paintings will be discussed. Everyone has a different pace of work, but it is possible that several pieces could be completed or near-completed during the workshop. I will provide reference photos, but students can bring along their own photos (i.e., not other people’s photos from magazines or the internet). I will give instruction on how to take reference photos and get the best out of them. The flowers in your photos should be simple, such as lilies, proteas or tulips, not too complex unless you wish to paint a close-up section. The same applies to fresh flowers you may wish to bring along. Don’t forget to enjoy the process of art-making as well as the finished product! Open to all comers 18 years and over. Suitable for beginners and more advanced painters. Some skill in drawing is desirable but not essential for this course. Email: email@example.com
Fiona Craig paints flora, still life and landscapes in oils, watercolours, pastels and mixed media. Her style is representational with influences that include Impressionism and Modern art. Fiona’s floral paintings are often large canvases characterised by bold colour and composition. Her artworks convey a photo-realistic, three-dimensional impression, without being scientifically detailed botanical studies. Rather, they are created with expressive brushstrokes, lashings of colour layers and some artistic license that makes them more than mere copies of her reference photos. Growing up in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, Fiona was greatly influenced by the natural forest environment. Moreover, her parents, an architect and a fibre artist, actively encouraged her art making. Her mother, Alison Craig, taught non-academic art for children for around eighteen years at their home. Fiona also attended other art workshops and art schools. Much later on, she completed a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in History and Literature, achieving Class 1 Honours in History. Fiona has enjoyed teaching art to children and adults for many years. She has had numerous solo exhibitions and participated in group shows. She has won several awards and was most recently a finalist in the Fleurieu art award. Starting out as a portrait artist, Fiona has completed many commissions for private, corporate and institutional collections. Living between Chicago and Sydney, Fiona is currently working on her next Australian solo exhibition (September 2017), while also taking advantage of the abundant Spring and Summer flowers that the Chicago Botanic Garden produces. Of particular interest to her are spectacular and historically treasured types of flowers such as the tulip, the peony, the orchid and the waratah.