Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Miniature Flower Paintings

I've been incubating a post on this topic for a very long time. Recently the inspiration for it came as the result of receiving an email from a gal named Shelly which included images of six, different, little flower paintings that her mother gave to her. She wrote: "I have always loved these pieces, they have been hanging in my parent's house since they were purchased".

Varnishing a number of finished flower paintings, in the staff house at The Banff Park East Gate, March 1975

The memory of how I actually conceived the notion and then embarked on this collection is lost in time. It may have been the result of finding (in 1973) cute 4" x 5" frames at the Calgary Hudson's Bay Company store and then figuring out what to put in them. For the background, using a roller, I applied a blended a gradation of raw umber and white oil paint on small masonite panels. Once the background dried the flowers were painted on, also in oil.

I first sold these floral paintings at Norrell's Art Gallery, in Calgary, and at the Tamarack Gallery in Banff. Later, the Moriane Lake Lodge gift shop became a very viable outlet, but it was Rundle Photo Shop, Banff, that sold the majority of them. Chuck Hester, then manager of Rundle Photo, became a tremendous supporter of my art and a life long friend. Back then you could purchase one of these paintings, framed, for $15. I tracked down the company who supplied the frames to The Bay. Oxford Picture Frame Company, Toronto, was willing to wholesale these frames to me at $2 each. The shop's commission was 1/3 meaning that for each one sold I received $10. Actually, $8 when I factored in the cost of the frame. Sales were brisk as folks happily collected multiples.

Wild Rose - one of the first paintings in the series   SOLD

It took me about one hour to paint one on the dried background. I could paint several a day. My record was eight in a day. Speaking of records, I'm still annoyed with myself for throwing out the sheets on which I kept track of them all. So, I can't say just how many different wild flowers I included in the collection, but I'll guess at about a dozen.

Bluebells   SOLD

With the records gone, I'll also never know exactly how many wild roses or wood lilies I painted but I'm certain that these two flowers numbered first and second, respectively. While painting larger pieces of other imagery (mountains and wildlife) I kept up production of the flower paintings for five years. During that time I also bore and delivered our two daughters.

Columbine   SOLD

When I dreamed I was eating a wood lily I knew it was time to stop. Bill wondered if maybe I couldn't just make it to 750? The answer was resounding "No". I quit at 735. By this time the retail price had crept up to $30. each, but still it was time for the gig to be over. In my wildest dreams all 735 of them are reunited in a single room ... and solidly paper one wall!

Wood Lily - the only one I numbered and kept   NFS

When I said (at the beginning of 2010) that I had joined the "Daily Painting" movement ... I had really already been there. I was just coming full circle. One of the joys of all of this is being able to show you how my painting has evolved. This is what a small lily painting, I create today, looks like ...

Saffron Lily   2011 oil   5" x 7"   SOLD


  1. Alice, what a wonderful post! It is gratifying when our creations go out into the world, but it is good for us to keep some to see exactly that - how we have grown and developed. They are beautiful, all of them. May I confess that the Saffron Lily stole my heart?

  2. I always appreciate your commenting, Dea. I'm not so sure that those old, wild flower paintings are all beautiful! They look rather ameteurish to me now, but they are what they are, made by a younger me ... in my mid to late 20s!
    And of course confess away over the Saffron Lily!

  3. Holy smokes...I am staggered by your prodigious output! 735?!!!!! You are truly the rock star of mini/daily paintings! It's wonderful to see the change in your painting style from then to now. I'm with Dea - the Saffron Lily is mouth-wateringly heart-stealing! xo

    1. Many thanks Win. Sometimes I think I was a painting machine. It has always been a wonderfully rewarding gig, creating paintings that folks are eager to buy. I have a charmed life.