Acrylic flower painting artist Susannah Bleasby with brush

A seed sown, a collection grown. The story behind 'In Bloom'

Every year about this time my landscapes paintings are waylaid in favour of florals. How can I resist the inspiration bursting into bloom around me? The simple answer is ... I can't! I'm endlessly fascinated by flowers: their complex nature, simple beauty, showy magnificence and divine but short existence. I love how perfectly joyful they are, and how they sprinkle our world with colour.

My 'In Bloom' collection started with the notion of doing 'a bunch of flower paintings'. That seed of an idea grew little by little as I gathered colour inspiration and photographs from my neighbourhood walks, paying attention to what I was continually drawn towards (last year it was white poppies, this year it seemed to be really messy Bearded Irises and Showstopper Lilies). I started to doodle and draw, refining my ideas as I went. I made lots of mistakes - initially hated pretty much everything - but I knew there was something 'there' which I needed to find, and then one morning I discovered 'my' flower for this series.

Sketchbook image of flowers

Colour studies and loose painted sketches followed. Once I had a paintbrush in hand, I started seeing things that felt OK so I kept at it, trying different compositions in different sizes, a wide range of colour palettes and playing with whimsical details. Slowly, over the course of weeks, a cohesive look and feel started to emerge and the collection as a whole came together. 

Flower sketches for acrylic flower paintings

I aimed to keep these paintings feeling fresh and alive, weird and wonderful. The abstract nature of my flower is important to me as I want my work to feel contemporary and uniquely 'me'. It's essential that my work looks like my work no matter the subject matter, and that my signature style remains identifiable: bold and simple brushstrokes and perfectly imperfect shapes. While filled with colour, there's always an underlying feeling of calm, peace and simple joy.

mixing paint for acrylic flower painting

Once the rush of painting is over, it's surprising how much work is left to finalize a collection: finishing edges, varnishing each piece and signing & dating them on the reverse side. Then the whole collection gets delivered to my photographer be professionally captured. Each photo image needs to be carefully colour corrected, edited and made print-ready. There was an in-studio photo shoot, setting up my web shop for both originals and prints and working out the sales details. Finally, shipping supplies were ordered and we're ready to go!

Along the way we decided these florals would make beautiful greeting cards. That was an exciting project because it's the first time I've offered of cards and I had to learn all the ins & outs of a new product along the way!

All in all, this has been an intensely creative, challenging and super-involved nine week process and I'm thrilled to share 'In Bloom' with you all!