Artist Lily Van Bienen finds joy in painting large, colorful and expressive floral portraits. See more of her amazing work by visiting her website.
For as long as I can remember, I have always had a romance with flowers. I was first fascinated by flower embroidery pieces that my father brought from China. I then fell in love with flower embroidered clothes, either ready-made or decorated by my mother or myself, to silk flowers which I collected from all over the world, and, finally, to fresh flowers, especially tulips living their own lives and having their own life stories.
Born in Russia and graduating cum laude from the Moscow Linguistic University in 1977, I had a good career representing European companies in the television industry of the former USSR. I speak five languages fluently and a few others a little bit. I decided to stop working in the broadcast industry when my husband, who is Dutch, decided to take his retirement.
I began oil painting as a hobby. Two years later, after a meeting with Frank Janca, a graduate of New York Students’ League and assistant to David Leffel, it turned into a real passion for me. I studied books and videos by David Leffel and his students, books about Maroger and styles of different Renaissance painters, took classes from Janca and followed the virtual art academy teachings. In 2014, I won the Artmajeur Silver Award.
I believe some of the most talented painters are Jan van Huysum, Jan Davidsz de Heem and Rachel Ruysch; all medieval artists who painted flower compositions. I am striving to gain the knowledge of painting they possessed.
Flowers are my joy, my consolation, my peace of mind, my happiness, my way of saying “I love you, world.”
Because I can paint, I paint flowers. I choose tulips which to me are different than many flowers. Their posture, the line of their curves and the folds on their leaves inspire me.
For my paintings, I first study the flower until I have a complete understanding of the mood it creates, its composition, its streamlined movements, the lighting and how I want to make it appear three-dimensional on flat linen. I choose the palette, prepare the canvas with extra layers of gesso and imprimatur, do the sketch, and prepare the paints and the Flemish medium. I like Old Holland and Mussini paints for their pigment richness.
I always paint an abstract background. I think that brings the flower forward and gives a romantic touch to the mood.
I paint in shapes and planes, paying attention to edges, leaving some details out to make the painting speak to the viewer.
My joy is to paint flowers in a large format—they speak to you, they sing for you, they caress and embrace you, they create a happy ambiance. Nowadays our stressful lives need therapy; I am happy when I paint, and want everybody who sees my flowers to be happy too. Cold high tech rooms filled with glass, concrete and sterile white liven up when a large format colorful flower is hung on the wall. Just one flower is enough. It provides a therapeutic atmosphere for the people working or living in that space.
I am currently working on a series of tulips from the Keukenhof Dutch gardens.
My coming exposition will be this August in Galerie “Effet Mer” in Collioure; a nice little town in South of France where Matisse and van Gogh did some of their paintings.
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