Lily van Bienen
As long as I can myself remember, I have always had a romance with flowers. First, fascinated by flower embroidery pieces that my father brought from China (I was just born then) to 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 having graduated cum laude from the Moscow Linguistic University in 1977, I had a good carrier representing European companies on the broadcast markets of the (ex) USSR, I speak 5 languages fluently and a few a little bit. My husband is Dutch. I decided to stop working when my husband took his retirement. I started oil painting as a hobby which 2 years later, after a meeting with Frank Janca, a graduate of New York Students’ League and assistant to David Leffel, 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, followed the virtual art academy teachings.
In 2014 I won Silver award of Artmajeur.
The most talented painters for me are Jan van Huysum, Jan Davidsz de Heem and Rachel Ruysch- all medieval painters of flower compositions. I am striving to learn the knowledge of painting they possessed. I am fascinated by tulips which existed in the Middle Ages and which were painted by these great masters. These medieval tulips were infected with a virus and had spectacular colors. One can see similar tulips in Dutch Botanical Gardens, and English tulip Society even grows real virus tulips.
Flowers are my joy, my consolation, my peace of mind, my happiness, my way of saying “ I love you, the world”. In late winter till late spring I visit tulip fields and I always have tulips in my house. They are living creatures to me, I talk to them and watch how they grow and become real beauties. I want to capture a moment of their lives, with or without an insect or animal attracted to them, before this moment disappears. I am attracted by this fragility of the moment of their lives and want to register it in my paintings.
Since I paint, I paint flowers. I choose tulips which are different – their posture, movement of their curves, folds on the leaves inspire me. For my painting, first I study the flower until I have an emphatic understanding of the mood it creates, its composure, streamlined movements, the lights and how I want it three-dimensional on flat linnen. I choose the pallette, prepare the canvas with extra layers of gesso and imprimatura, do the sketch, prepare the colors ( I use flower perfume in my oils) and Flemish medium. I like Old Holland and Mussini paints for their pigment richness.
I always paint the background abstract. I think that brings the flower forward and gives a romantic touch creating the mood. I paint in shapes and planes, paying attention to edges, leaving some details out to make the painting speak. My joy is to paint flowers in big format- they speak to you, they sing for you, they caress and embrace you, they create the happy ambiance in the room. Our nowadays stressful life needs therapy, I am happy when I paint, and want everybody who sees my flowers to be happy too. The cold high -tech rooms filled with glass, concrete and sterile whites liven up when a big format colorful flower is hung on a wall. More color spots in this room are excessive, and it works therapeutic for the people working or living in that space.
I am offering your attention my tulips-my joy, my happiness.
Lily van Bienen