Flower medleys bring color, texture and excitement to your plein air painting. When arranging your composition, strive for rhythm and not a hodgepodge of shapes and sizes. Grouping specific types of flowers helps to make your composition more cohesive. Always keep in mind that it is your option and indeed your responsibility as an artist to do anything that will improve your painting. In this case, I moved a few flowers and included some that were a few feet away and yet, if you were standing where I was when I painted this, you would hardly notice that I had changed anything.
One of the things I usually do when I am painting in a flower garden is to add a few more of the same flowers than I see to eliminate some of the green. This is my choice but I can tell you I have visited Monet's Gardens in Giverny several times and he did the same thing in his paintings. I think as humans we all do that. Have you ever heard anyone say I was just at Botanic Gardens and all those greens were so beautiful? In this painting, I loved adding the rich red vertical flowers with the horizontal band of pink violet flowers topped off with the larger yellow beauties. The little blue flowers at the bottom added a pleasant change in size and the warm yellow greens showed them off nicely. As your eye moves through the painting, you do see green leaves, some defined and some suggested.
When painting on location like this, I do a preliminary drawing with not as much detail as I see. This allows me to make adjustments as I go rather than just copying. After all, I am trying to get an impression of the gardens on a small sheet of flat paper. Flower gardens are the perfect place to practice plein air painting because you can zoom in on one small area and then emphasize whatever interests you the most. Another artist could have painted this same spot and come up with a very different painting according to what attracted their eye. If you have been following my Sunday emails, you know how much I love plein air painting and, much to my delight, Denver Botanic Gardens, where this painting was painted, is now open to the public. You do have to make an appointment because of the pandemic but that is a small price to pay for such a glorious experience. HAPPY PAINTING! Dennis Pendleton