How Artists Use Flowers To Convey Meaning

How Artists Use Flowers To Convey Meaning

Flowers have inspired artists throughout history; from ancient Roman frescoes to Monet's water lilies, many of the world's most revered artists have decorated their works with colourful blooms. The botanical world has an endless variety of flowers – each with unique colour schemes, shapes and sizes that make them incredibly versatile subject matter for any artist. They are captivating symbols of life and beauty, and some flowers have additional symbolic meanings.

How Artists Use Flowers To Convey Meaning

Flowers have inspired artists throughout history; from ancient Roman frescoes to Monet's water lilies, many of the world's most revered artists have decorated their works with colourful blooms. The botanical world has an endless variety of flowers – each with unique colour schemes, shapes and sizes that make them incredibly versatile subject matter for any artist. They are captivating symbols of life and beauty, and some flowers have additional symbolic meanings.

For instance, a bouquet of white roses is often used to express fidelity and purity, whereas red roses represent passion. With this extra layer of meaning behind them, it is easy to see why flowers remain a popular topic for artists of all genres and disciplines. If you want for inspiration for your next piece, join us as we investigate the history behind five iconic flowers and discover why including flowers in your artwork can improve mental health. 
Rose, from Flowers and Plants: An Image Archive for Artists & Designers 

What Does The Rose Symbolise?

The rose has been a symbol of love for centuries. Traditionally, the darker, rich red shades were associated with mature, passionate love, and the pale white or blush flowers related to youthful purity, grace and modesty.

The exquisite colour range of roses has inspired artists throughout the ages. The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (above) is full of symbolism, and the artist has used light pink roses to indicate pleasure (watch a fascinating video analysis on The Swing).Renoir's Bouquet of Roses (below) showcases the beauty and joy a bouquet of red and pink roses brings.

What Is The History of the Daffodil?

As winter fades and spring blooms, one of the first signs of new life is the daffodil, also known as the Narcissus flower. This beautiful yellow flower represents new beginnings and has a colourful history in Graeco-Roman mythology.
John William Waterhouse - Echo and Narcissus 
In one myth, Narcissus, a handsome young man fell in love with his reflection in the water, and he pined away, died, and was transformed into a flower. In another myth, the goddess Persephone was gathering daffodils before Hades abducted her into the underworld. As one of the first flowers in spring, daffodils are a reminder that seasonal change brings fresh possibilities and beauty.

Snowdrops In Art: What Do They Mean?

Snowdrops symbolise hope, purity and rebirth because they are some of the year's first flowers. They originate from Turkey and Greece and have been part of the British garden since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Snowdrops are elegant, beautiful flowers that emerge during snow and inhospitable weather and symbolise overcoming adversity. 
 
Snowdrop, from Flowers and Plants: An Image Archive for Artists & Designers 

Blanzifiore (Snowdrops) by Dante Gabriel Charles Rossetti, is a stunning work of art that captures the beauty and grace of the human form. The painting depicts Jane Morris (wife of William Morris) in a moment of contemplation, her gaze soft and distant as she holds a posy of snowdrops close to her face. Her clothing is ethereal, and her hair is unbound and wild, cascading around her neck in gentle waves as if caught in a light breeze. Rossetti uses an intricate layering technique in this painting; his brushstrokes and pigment create an airy atmosphere within the image to capture the viewer's attention. By framing his subject within a blurred background, he further emphasises her presence within this dreamlike landscape. The result is a timeless masterpiece that radiates beauty and serenity and reflects on themes such as mortality and fragility while celebrating femininity and grace. 
 

How Did The Passion Flower Get Its Name?

The passion flower (Passiflora spp.) is a beautiful tropical vine widely known as a symbol of religious faith. Their intricate structure is interpreted to represent the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. In theology, this event is known as 'The Passion'; and served as the inspiration for the flower's name.

 
Passiflora, from Flowers and Plants: An Image Archive for Artists & Designers 

The passiflora generally produces white flowers with purple accents and features an astonishingly complex pattern of purple filaments and green sepals. These delicate blooms host numerous hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators in their natural habitat. Charles Allston's painting, Convent Thoughts, depicts a novice nun holding a passiflora in a garden full of flowers. 

What Do Lilies Symbolise? 

The lily flower has become a powerful symbol of innocence, purity and fertility in many cultures. People may have derived this meaning from a Greek myth about the goddess Hera, who became angry when Zeus, her husband, fathered a son with a mortal woman. Hera was tricked into breastfeeding the child as her own, and when she discovered the deception, she tossed the baby away, causing drops of her breast milk to spill onto the ground. According to the myth, these drops became the first lilies. Lilies are often seen as symbols of devotion and innocent beauty, and white lilies are a popular funeral flower because they symbolise sympathy, purity and modesty.

 

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1885-6) (below) is a painting by John Singer Sargent and one of the few he painted out of doors in England. The picture shows two young girls in a flowering garden full of lilies who are lighting Chinese lanterns on a twilit summer's evening. He only had a few moments to paint in the right light, so he composed his scene and posed his models in advance.  

 

What Are The Benefits of Drawing Flowers? 

Drawing and painting flowers can be an enjoyable, therapeutic experience and a great way to relax and take a break from the world around us. There are many ways to approach the task of painting or drawing flowers - utilising colour, texture, composition and light creatively. Painting flowers allows you to explore various techniques and mediums, from traditional paintbrushes to digital art tools.
Creating something beautiful out of nothing can be incredibly soothing for the body and mind. Even if you have no prior experience with painting or drawing, it's easy to start with this art form by simply choosing a single flower to focus your attention. Exploring complementary colours for your palette will allow you to develop your knowledge of colour theory and create beautiful works of art. Shading and highlighting techniques add dimensionality to your work and bring life-like qualities to the piece.
Making artwork is also great for reducing stress and improving mental health. Studies have found that engaging in creative activities such as drawing or painting can help calm the mind and reduce anxiety or depression. Spending time creating artwork helps release endorphins which can positively affect our moods. Moreover, focusing on details like shading or texture within your artwork helps increase concentration levels – allowing one to be fully immersed in their work without feeling overwhelmed by outside distractions. 
Overall, drawing or painting flowers offers numerous physical and emotional benefits, making it an excellent activity for anyone looking for mindful relaxation during their day-to-day life! Why not give flower art a try today? Vault Editions Flowers and Plants: An Image Archive , available via physical book or digitally, is a thoughtfully curated selection of over 400 plants and flowers designed to provide hours of creative inspiration.
 

Monsters and Beasts

Interested in learning more? Get Monsters & Beastsvia paperback and eBook. This title features hundreds of exquisitely crafted 17th and 18th-century etchings and engravings of monsters and beasts. This pictorial archive features serpents, animal mutations, sea monsters, dragons, griffins, chimeras, bizarre human mutations and abnormalities, extraordinary fanciful animals and much more.

Image Download Included: Each book comes with a download link providing instant access to high-resolution files of all images featured. These images can be used in art and graphic design projects, or printed and framed to make stunning decorative artworks. This book is ideal for graphic designers, illustrators, tattooists and fine artists.