Back to school sunflowers

It was a bit of a shock to get back to school today, both for me and for the students. It’s one of the nicest days of the summer and I think we were all in a bit of a daze to be back in the classroom. The start of the school year also marks the end of being able to work on large paintings, at least until the weekend. I took my sketchbook out to paint some sunflowers and ended up painting them two ways.


The first sketch was in my regular sketchbook. I quickly realized two things. 1: Sunflowers are hard to paint because the dark centres create a hole in the composition. 2. I have been spoiled by working on good watercolour paper for the last month or so and now it’s very difficult to go back to working in a book.SunflowersBThat led me to redo the sunflowers. 1. I wanted to solve the problem of the dark centres. 2. I needed to work on some good paper.

I moved to another room (so as not to have the flowers in front of me) and started again. From my sketch I did a simpler sketch and this time instead of the having the centre of the flower as the darkest shape, I added an even darker area behind the flowers. I think that solved the problem of the hole. I also tried to keep the yellow of the flowers as a more unified and simpler shape. These are sunflowers, after all, and their essence seems to have gotten lost in the first sketch.


11 Comments on “Back to school sunflowers”

  1. pat says:

    I never saw a sunflower painting I didn’t like. I like the first one for the lovely detail and twist of the petals and leaves; I like the second for the freshness of the abstraction. Sometimes purples and blues make those big, dark centers less of a black hole. Thank you for posting your daily inspirations…they are always a welcome line in the inbox.


  2. Valerie says:

    I love your palette and have adopted it. Just cut quality paper and spiral bind it into a book of your own making. You school probably has a spiral binding machine. If not, a Staples type store will doe it for you. I work on my paper sheets individually and insert them into the binding once my paintings are complete. Valeie


  3. Monique says:

    I love the first:)


  4. tmikeporter says:

    Now I want to return to Provence in the summer to see their storied fields of sunflowers! I like the loose drawing of the top painting but the colors in the second. The brown centers are much more appealing than the darker. Did you use sepia for the darker? Burnt umber for the lighter, second centers? Azo yellow for the flower petals in the second? I must try that yellow.


  5. Jim says:

    Not at all. The first sketch is definitely better. It looks like sunflowers. I think you handled the problem of the “dark centres” beautifully there. What the second sketch is, I can’t really tell. Sunflowers? Maybe, but you’ll have to convince me.


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