Painting sunflowers loosely

Painting sunflowers loosely

Hello , it's Thursday and I have decided to show you how I paint loosely. It is a strange week here in the UK, politics is all over the news and it seems we shall have a new Prime Minister soon. 

I am having a quiet day as I had some treatment yesterday that leaves me feeling a bit tired for a day or 2, so I'm being very lazy, typing my blog and sipping my tea,

We have had some lovely days walking by the river Otter at the weekend, seeing the activity of the newly introduced beavers 

Each walk or outing gives me some new ideas. Lots of people ask me how I decide what to paint everyday , a walk helps me so much, it clears my head, and it often helps me settle on a subject, I also collect parts of paintings e.g. this view of vegetation that could be used in a foreground of a painting


I have many such a moment walking up my very own Devon Lane.


Each day has it's own challenges artistically, I look at things and wonder How would I paint that?


This blog explores the subject of sunflowers, and was written some time ago, it shows you how to loosen up...never easy, have fun and see what happens. Watercolour is made to be moved around, sploshed and splattered...exploit that !

 Some subjects come more easily than others, sunflowers , for me, are a tricky subject. I have thought about why and it is I think their colour, yellow has one tone, so it is tricky to create the darks. So I have struggled with making them sing , I wanted a very loose painting and a real celebration of summer, so here goes.....

Firstly I sketched out the sunflowers 



Then I sprayed the paper with lots of water and dropped in yellow, I am using a range of yellows from a zingy lemon yellow, to Indian yellow and the oranges and reds to add depth, but I start with a cadmium yellow liberally splashed around




I have taken a picture on an angle so you can see just how wet it is


Now the hard part, do nothing, let it be....

I popped the painting outside to dry so I wouldn't be able to look at it


and I made a cup of tea



Leaving things alone can be the hardest thing of all.

Now I stared to add definition to the flowers,



Think about the colour and shape of the petals. I need to leave sections where the light shines through, then add darker tones where the shadows are. Try to have a lightness of touch and think about the mark making.



Don't fret about blooms and different shapes created by the water underneath they add to your painting and the spontaneity of watercolour.Be as bold as you dare.



 Keep going with the petals, then I started on the middles, I wanted texture and tone there too, I started with yellow ochre then raw sienna and a touch of green too. I took out some colour too, and added dark tones with a shadow colour made from cadmium red and cobalt blue. Finally I added some salt for more texture in the middles.



Now onto the leaves, keeping them loose and interesting. , add dark shadows and vague leaf shapes, 



and a few more sprays of the water bottle so that the edges fade away, and so my sunflowers are done , now just to let them dry in the sun .

Hope the sun is shining on you wherever you are reading this and you have some fun painting the sunshine x

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What beautiful sunflowers and lovely demo of your wet on wet. Thanks for sharing

Victor Lucien

Thank you very much fore sharing this lovely sunflowers. I have to try to this loose painting method. I will follow you. Thanks.

Sonja Þorsteinsdottir

Thank you for all the wonderful detail and technique tips for this painting! Feel better soon. Hugs from Salado, Texas USA

Kathleen T Darnell

I had painted these sunflowers from another of your posts but I really learned so much from this blog post. I am going to try to spray my paper (I have never tried that before). I hope you get some rest and have a good day. thank you from Alabama USA.

Linda Merrell

Thanks for sharing. You are really talented. I read in an earlier blog that you failed your art ‘o’ level. That is so mystifying. So generous with your time. Greatly appreciated.

Michelle Howard

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