Freya Powell Floral Painter, Sydney, Australia


How has your background in fashion and flowers influenced your art?

Before I started painting, my main interest was always fashion and textiles, from a young age. Studying fashion design and textiles, a lot of my work drew inspiration from natural forms, and sometimes the structure of flowers for instance. There are many comparisons to be made between the form, structure and three-dimensionality of flowers and fashion. Actually, I came to start painting because I wanted to learn how to paint so I could develop some printed textile designs that had painted motifs. Once I started, I realised that it was something I wanted to take further, and work in a much larger scale.

‘Amaryllis’ 75 x 100cm, Oil on Canvas

Tell us about a recent beauty in nature that has left you with that WOW!

At the end of, October I went to the Rhododendron Gardens in Blackheath, NSW. I missed it last year because the flowering season is so short, and I’m so glad I got to see it. The scale of the plants and the flowers themselves was quite something up close, taking a step back the whole place was alive with colour. I’m currently working on a Rhododendron piece which I’ll be showing at The Other Art Fair in March. 

What lead you to flowers?

I’ve pretty much always had an interest in them, probably because I grew up in the countryside in England and my parents had a very classic cottage garden which was always spectacular in the summer. Probably as well because the weather and the winter is so bad and long in England, that when summer does arrive, everyone is so happy, and the garden and flowers bursting out suddenly just adds to that.

Discuss, composition and your painting.

I paint from images that I take of flowers, and I take quite a lot of them, then spend some time deciding which one to choose. I suppose the composition planning starts in my hand when I’m holding the flowers or arranging them. I try to find balance and interest, boldness or subtlety, in how they are composed. I usually leave white space around the flowers, at the moment I like the simplicity that comes with that, and it puts a focus onto the flower that is different to when the painting covers the canvas.


‘Sanguine’  60 x 90 cm, Oil on Canvas

Take two pieces that are very different and explain the benefits of both.

I’ve done a couple of abstracted pieces where two types of flowers are merged together and combine shapes and petals. You can see that there’s flowers in the piece the focus is more on shapes and colour and transparency, and they are usually darker in colour.

‘Oscillation’ 70 x 70 cm, Oil on Canvas

In this piece ‘Oscillation’ there are peonies and gardenias, it was the first painting I did in this style. I’ve done a couple of commissions in this style, but as it’s so different to my usual work I don’t do it very often. ‘The Beauty Spot’ is in my usual style, is just of peonies. They were so showy and bold I just wanted to paint them in the middle of the canvas, kind of like ‘here I am’.

‘The Beauty Spot’ 70 x 100 cm, Oil on Canvas

Do you find certain colours reflect the current interior fashions?

I don’t really follow interior colour trends in my work, mainly because I generally just focus on what flowers are in season that I can get my hands on, and getting something that I’m just drawn to. I do end up painting a lot of pink, which has been very on trend recently, but that’s really to do with there being a lot of nice pink flowers! I can go to the flower markets intending not to get anything pink, then come back with lots of pink. As well, I think if you’re considering buying an original painting, most people would go with something they love and will have timeless appeal to them.


‘Effie’ 100 x 75 cm, Oil on Canvas

Are people looking for a ‘particular bloom’ for you to paint?

When I do commissions usually the client will come to me with a particular flower that they love, or at least the kind of flowers they like, and we go from there. Often, they have seen an existing painting of mine and want something similar. Peonies and parrot tulips are often popular.

Enlargement is a major part of your work expand on this aspect.

Yes I like to paint fairly large scale canvases that magnify the subject. Personally I find this kind of scale more enjoyable to work on, and it creates a painting that demands attention and takes you up close and personal to the flower. Lots of people have said that my paintings feel alive, which I don’t think happens if I work on a smaller scale.


Narcissi and Flirtations

You also have limited editions.  What is your print limit? 

My prints are in editions of 100 and are fine art giclée prints.

Do you sign all your prints?

Yes they are all hand signed.

Do you haunt florist and gardens?

I always enjoy a quick dive into a florist to check out what’s in, but I normally get my flowers from the Sydney flower markets where there is a huge amount of choice. It does involve getting up very early though. I do like going to gardens, I’m going back to the UK next June and it’ll be prime flower, time so I’ll definitely be visiting some gardens then.

Discuss one painting that has been bought and why it stands out.

‘Fleur’ is a painting of David Austin roses that stands out to me because at the time it was the most technically challenging painting that I’d done.

‘Fleur’ 120 x 90cm, Oil on Canvas

There are so many intricate petals and I photographed the flowers in quite bright sunlight so there are so many different colours in it. I had wanted to paint these tight David Austins for some time so I was quite pleased when I finally did.

Have you worked with only leaves?

I haven’t painted only leaves, but I am thinking about incorporating more greenery/less feminine elements into my work soon.

‘Reina’ 60 x 90cm, Oil on Canvas 

Personally, how important is it that your art needs to bring beauty with it?

I think it’s, pretty important when you’re painting flowers. They are synonymous with beauty and in painting them and in creating a permanent portrait of them there needs to be beauty with that. Our surroundings are so important to us and by having a floral painting in your home you can bring a piece of nature and beauty inside. 

Contact details:

Freya Powell

Instagram: @freyapowellstudio


Freya Powell, Sydney, Australia

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, December 2018