How a dark background can show white flowers at their best

How a dark background can show white flowers at their best

The cast in order of appearance: Cactus Dahlia; Rosa Rugosa; Lenten Rose Helleborus orientalis; Moth Orchid Phalaenopsis; Water Lily Nymphaea alba; etc.

Organic forms have been popular art subjects not least those inspired during the Art Nouveau period. This selection of flowers will not be easy to replicate in drawings or paintings as the contrast between dark greens and bright whites does not leave many half tones to balance the picture. Probably your efforts will prove me wrong.

Black Arts of Painting White Flowers

  • It is all in the shadows hence the phrase ‘black arts’ or should that be grey?
  • A grey for shadows can be made with Prussian blue, Alizarin crimson and cadmium pale yellow but I use dilute versions of manufactured grey.
  • Take care with the colour, depth and tone of your grey for shadows.
  • Do not be tempted to surround flowers with leaves as an easy way out.
  • Focus generally falls on the area of greatest tonal contrast.
  • Shadows on a vase look better if composed in a way that it can be placed on the side nearest the edge of the canvas. It avoids halving the picture.
  • Try painting on coloured paper or paint a dark background.

More pictures to try your artistic endeavours.


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