It seems like I’ve been struggling with painting sunflowers forever but with each attempt I understand them a little better. I’m very stubborn and will continue trying until the sunflowers and I are really good friends.
I lit the flowers above with very warm light which made the olive-green backdrop cloth look gold and kind of bleached out the color of the flowers. The pictures in this post are in the reverse order I made them, with the last first.
I did the sketch above after having such difficulty with the two below, trying to better understand the shapes of the flowers and their structure.
After working for hours on the vase in the painting above I looked at it in the mirror to check the symmetry and couldn’t stop laughing. It was completely off kilter, slanted to one side as if it had melted. It’s just amazing how our eyes and brain work together to correct things and fool us. I had to completely start the vase over to get it close to right. I experimented with using a dark background and tried to paint duller, darker colors for flowers not in the light but vibrant color kept sneaking back in. After days of repainting I called it done so I could move on.
The first problem with the one above was my drawing. Instead of taking the time to carefully draw these sunflowers I jumped into painting, combining a few specifics with some generic version of flowers. All the pointy, sharp shapes and droopy flowers are a good visual representation of my struggle, frustration, and ultimately, disappointment with this painting.
I completed these pieces at the end of last year and had to give up when I couldn’t find any more sunflowers. Soon sunflowers will be available and I can start painting them again.
I have a feeling it’s going to go better this time around. I am studying nature drawing with John Muir Laws at his Bay Area Nature Journal Club. This month’s session was all about drawing flowers and I learned all sorts of cool stuff. More about that another time.