How to Create Original Art – Painting Flowers in Milk Bottles
A while back, I received a Family Circle magazine and fell in love with the flowers in milk bottles on the cover. So I ripped it off and stored it away… I knew I would use it as inspiration in my painting eventually. (And I did! View the full painting tutorial below.)
A lot of people ask me, “Where do you come up with your painting ideas to create original art?” and “How do you keep finding inspiration?”
It’s hard because we don’t always want to copy what’s already out there. We want to make our own original art.
Don’t get me wrong…I love to see everyone’s work when they follow my tutorials! I love seeing the growth in skills and confidence! And mimicking someone’s work is a great place to begin learning how to paint. But, as your skills grow, you may want to create your own original compositions.
There are a few basic steps I take to create original art.
- Find inspiration and pick a theme
- Collect 10-20 or more images or objects
- Mold my favorite elements into an original sketch
- Then, choose your medium and get creative!
I find inspiration everywhere! My backyard, wall calendars, the home decor aisle…literally anywhere and everywhere. Pick a theme as you are collecting. Most of the time, I notice a trend as I am collecting and lean into it.
One of my favorite tools is Pinterest. I start a new board and save all the things I love and speak to my soul. You don’t want to base your art off of just one image. Collect many pictures and items around you that you can work together.
I have so many secret Pinterest boards! 🤪
Then, think of all the things you like about what you save and things you might want to change. Finally, imagine your layout and grab your mixed media pad and start sketching! You can paint your sketch or use it as a guide to paint on canvas.
Check out my blog where I sketch and paint Paris in Spring! I take you step-by-step in how I take a few things I love and turn them into a complete composition.
I first used the previously mentioned Family Circle magazine cover as inspiration to create my Abstract Flowers painting tutorial for my private painting membership. You can see the similarities in the blooms and colors, but it isn’t near the same image. Instead, it’s my original composition.
How to paint Flowers in Milk Bottles
I love the cover so much that I thought it would still be fun to paint my own version in my mixed media pad as practice. So, in this painting lesson, I will show you how to take something like a calendar image and make it your own.
Before you even get started, tell yourself, “This isn’t supposed to look like a photograph. It’s a painting.” I personally love a loose, almost abstract painting style. I am not aiming for this to be identical to the cover photo or photorealistic.
This painting of flowers in milk bottles is simple and fun.
Paint A Simple Background
To begin, use a flat brush and paint the top two-thirds of the background—just a quick cover. If you want more texture, use a mix of complementary colors with the abstract background technique I share in my flat brush painting techniques blog.
With the little bit of spearmint background paint color remaining on my brush, I dip into white and quickly paint the tabletop on the bottom third.
Paint Milk Bottles
The magazine cover I am using as inspiration has a large assortment of milk bottles and jars with a few stems of various flowers. In my painting, I want a small vignette.
When the background is dry, mix a little bit of white and Caribbean blue paint on a small round paintbrush and “sketch” milk bottles. This is very similar to drawing and painting a mason jar that I show you HERE.
You know I like my lines a little messy for the sketch-like look. So move around quickly and try not to worry about having perfect lines. This is a simple base outline. After the flower stems are painted, you can go back over and fine-tune things.
Paint Flowers into the Milk Bottles
To paint the flowers into the milk bottles, start with the stems. Poppies have long, more substantial stems and others not as much. Make sure to create variety by painting the stems at different heights. Cross a few and have some more curved than others too.
After adding flower stems, repaint those lines where the stems overlapped the bottle.
I want you to see how loose and free you can be with painting. Even if you aren’t using really technical brush strokes, you will see it still turns out to be a fabulous painting.
I have chosen to paint quick and easy poppies, tulips, and ranunculus.
The poppies aren’t facing forward, so I start with a curved smile line and then “smoosh” around for that basic shape of the petals. Poppies don’t have visibly separate petals from a distance. So get your basic desired shape down and add a yellow center if it has one in view.
We are going to start all the flowers with a base like this. At this point, the flowers won’t look like much. We are planning where your flowers will go. The details are in the layers.
Similar to the poppies, “smoosh” a base for the ranunculus’. If they are facing forward, create an irregular circular shape, and if not, keep in mind that this is a relatively flat blossom and will have less width.
Tulips start with a basic U shape. Then, at the top, swoop in from the two sides to meet in the center with a peak, then fill in.
Now that you have the basic layout of the flowers create depth with layers of shadows and highlights.
The poppies are a mixture of red and orange. Yellow makes a great highlight blended in while you can deepen the red for those shadows.
For the yellow ranunculus, I used orange and white for the textured layers—nothing technical, just a few brush strokes here and there for the effect.
In the tulip, I use one of my favorite hot pinks, DecoArt Dragon Fruit, and then add in true red with just a few white highlights bringing shape to the petals.
I like to add fun little accent marks to my paintings. They could be white, black, colorful pops, or gold!
In this painting, I strategically place purple, red, and white lines to reflect the cast of shadows and highlights from the light source.
Throw a few fallen petals on the table for interest.
I love this quick floral painting! The combination of colors and blooms has inspired a thought… I really want to paint a bouquet of tulips! What do you think?
Watch the Flowers in Milk Bottles Video Tutorial and Learn How to Create Original Art.
My goal is to share how not to let fear and stress from preventing you from creating. It’s ok to mess up and make mistakes. Just turn to the next page or paint over it!
Painting these flowers in milk bottles was just for fun! A quick lesson to give yourself ten minutes to practice a new technique. I would love for you to find an inspiration piece, make your own version, have fun, and post a side by in my public Facebook Group.