Home & Garden

Art gone wild

Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

Art gone wild

Excerpted from Wild Flowers by David Stark and Avi Adler (Random House, 2003)

“You can't do that with flowers!” Oh, how often we've heard that mantra. It's not unusual for us to run into skeptics when we try to explain a new idea. We've found, though, that nothing turns a skeptic into a believer like seeing the idea come to life. And the ability to envision a design is the first step to making it real. Our background as painters has led to an ever-broadening palette of designs, such as flower paintings, that have met their share of nay-sayers. Those same skeptics, of course, are the first to cheer when they see it up on the wall. Yes, you can make a painting with flowers.

As with any painting, your canvas can be as big or small as you want it to be. Want to make a triptych of 3-by-6 foot panels? Be our guest. But maybe you want to start on a more manageable scale.

First thing to remember: These are paintings made with fresh flowers so they'll only last a couple of days. In order to extend their beauty, make them right before a special occasion, mist frequently, and hang in a cool place out of direct sunlight and away from heat.

Our friend Donna's grandmother always stored her fresh flowers in the refrigerator every night before bedtime because, she said, “I'm not there to see them while I'm sleeping. Why waste their limited time in the world?” It's the same for flower paintings. Store small paintings in the fridge at night or, better yet, until party time. Keep big paintings in an air-conditioned space until ready for hanging.

Of course the real question is, What do you paint? Know at the start that almost any display of flowers across a panel is bound to be pretty, so don't worry about making a mistake. Look at patterns, swirls, a favorite Mondrian, or a splatter and imitate it in your flower painting. Maybe you want something on the realistic side: That garden club benefit seems to be calling for a daisy portrait in carnations. Or perhaps you will choose simply to hang a series of paintings on the wall in a variety of different shapes and sizes, salon-style. Berets optional.

You need:


  • Garden shears to clip the flowers
  • 1-1/2 inch wide grosgrain ribbon in your favorite color
  • Scissors to cut the ribbon
  • Wire cutter
  • Bottle of Crowning Glory
  • Shallow bowl to soak flowers in
  • Handful of straight pins
  • Glue gun and glue stick
  • Box cutter to trim your foam
  • Sheet of household insulation foam (enough to cover your frame)
  • Lots of 4-inch pieces of 19-gauge straight wire
  • Wooden canvas stretcher in any size you want

To figure out how many flowers you need to make your painting. It is helpful to have a calculator.

The formula is: (length) x (width) of your painting divided by flower's diameter
For example, if your painting is 8 x 10 inches and your flower is two inches in diameter, the equation would be 8 x 10 divided by 2 = 40 flowers. So, you'll need approximately 40 flowers to do the job, but you should get a few extra just in case…

For directions and images click on See All Images below flower painting image.

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Art gone wild

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