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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Technique Tuesday - Let's Paint Sunflowers

Let's Paint Sunflowers

We had a gigantic sunflower pop up in one of our gardens
this summer, we hadn't planted.

It's got gorgeous, deep green leaves and one super huge sunflower head and a stalk as big as a childs arm.

My husband cut it and brought it in for me to use as a model.

I've been painting daisies and echinaceas for over a week,
so the change to a sunflower was very welcome.

 Here's the sunflower.

I chose a 14 " x 11" stretched canvas for my painting.
I wanted the sunflower to fill up the canvas.

I toned the canvas with various shades of burnt sienna.
I wanted a warm painting and the purpose of toning the canvas is the color can show through and you can either warm up or cool down a painting from the inside out, depending on what color you use to tone the canvas.

You can see on this canvas it is lighter at the top than at the bottom.  I'm planning on putting a large sunflower in the top section of the canvas.
At this point, you don't have to have all the details of the painting planned out, but it is helpful to know approximately where the main focus of the painting will be. 

 Next I did lots of criss crossed strokes, simulating leaves in many shades of green, using Hookers Green, Ultramarine Blue, Tourquoise Deep, Cad Yellow Medium, and Cad Orange medium.

It is very abstract at this point, but again, it is darker near the bottom and lighter at the top.
The toned canvas comes through and gives not only warmth, but also depth to the painting.

I painted some very large leaves in the background first, but of course most of them are covered up by the flower, but they do still peek out from beneath.

The important thing to remember when painting anything is to give it some depth, you need different values.
Otherwise your painting will look very flat.
There are basically two rings of petals around the sunflower and the top one is not only lighter, but they are also shorter.
The petals at the top are hanging down so you are seeing the back side of the petals.  That's why their color is so much different than the ones you see directly facing you.

Once finished with the flower, I went back and added some highlight to a few pieces of leaves to bring them forward.

Depth Rule of Thumb
Things in the distance are cooler and lighter.
Things closer to the viewer are warmer and brighter.

This rule is true even if the distance is just a few inches.
You need the value shift to create distance.
Or the flower would look very flat and the perspective would be off.

Thanks for stopping by.

Happy painting.

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About Me

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Ghent, Kentucky, United States
I'm a nature artist and I love to paint old barns, rivers and lakes, trees and fence rows and flowers. I work almost daily. You can purchase paintings by contacting me at and there is also a tab across the top of my blog for available paintings and one for small paintings with buy now buttons. You can also purchase through my Etsy shop using the name of Fine Nature Art. . Thank you so much for stopping by.