Floral Still Life

Thirty five years ago, when I started painting still life, my biggest influences were painters such as David Hockney and Eric Fischl who are not even known so much for still life. I liked their style and contemporary approach.

Robert Lemay with Roses painting

Delving into the subject, trying to learn more about it, one inevitably goes back to the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age of the 17th century, and earlier, to the Spanish and Italian painters of circa 1600. I became steeped in the work of Caravaggio, for example.

Lemay roses

This is yet my first love – the chiaroscuro and rich colour of the Baroque. I combine my love of the work of this period with modern techniques: the use of photography, the modernist grid, and a contemporary sensibility.

rose painting on easel

The beauty of realism is that it can encompass all of these past iterations and come together in a contemporary moment. So, my bouquets are not the formal arrangements of the past, which are full of symbolic meanings, though they do reference that traditional moment.

painting and palette Lemay

My main interest is in celebrating colour and the dynamic form of flowers interacting with light.

Robert Lemay painting

What I most enjoy about painting flowers is that nature offers up so many colours that even when I sit down to paint from a photograph, I’m not fully expecting what I see upon closer inspection.

When I finish a painting, I scrape my palette completely bare which is why it’s nice to capture it in a photograph from time to time.

Lemay palette