Art theory Flower Art Oil Painting Painting Still Life

Two Sunflower Survivors with Process Chart

Persistence, patience, perseverance, determination, curiosity, confidence, wonder…these are all qualities which are needed to become a better painter, to learn to see, understand, and interpret what you see. I was inspired by artist Chris Beaven’s Session Detail charts that he embeds at the end of each of post and created a chart for myself to help me focus…

Two Survivors, oil painting of sunflowers and white vase on linen panel, 7x5 in
Two Survivors, oil painting on linen panel, 7×5 in

Persistence, patience, perseverance, determination, curiosity, courage, confidence, wonder…these are all qualities needed to become a better painter. Another essential is learning to really see and understand the subject. I titled this painting (available hereTwo Survivors because only these two survived from the big bouquet during the week I struggled with two previous sunflower “studies” (aka failed paintings). Sometimes it takes a while before the “blinders” fall away so that I can see the shapes, colors, and values instead of the named bits (e.g. petal, leaf, or nose) that interfere with seeing as a painter.

I was inspired by artist Chris Beaven (whose sunflower painting I purchased and love) by his Session Detail charts that he embeds at the end of each post (sample). I modified his chart to create one for myself to focus my goals and intentions for each session and the painting as a whole. Completing  the chart at the end of each painting session with image, results and plans/goals for the next session is making a big difference in my process and helps me avoid random, unfocused messing about with paint.

Below is the chart I used for this painting. If you’d like to see all three session charts for this painting with my notes about goals, composition mistakes and corrections, and corresponding images, click here to open 3-page PDF file.

Session 1 Detail Chart (Click image to enlarge or click PDF link above to see all 3 sessions)

I loved the original painting of the vase in Session 1 above, with wonderful warm highlights and cool shadows created by the new LED lightbulb I’m experimenting with. My intuition told me to leave the vase alone but instead I started adding the pattern from the actual vase. After a few strokes I realized I didn’t like it and tried to wipe the pattern off the still wet paint. Then I tried to return to the original shapes of color, temperature and value.

I revised the chart layout after this painting. In my next post (another sunflower still life) I’ll include the completed chart for that painting’s 6 sessions and a blank template for anyone who wants to experiment using or modifying it for their own artwork sessions.

7 replies on “Two Sunflower Survivors with Process Chart”

Great post Jana! Thanks for the link to my site. After looking at your painting then mine I realized how dark mine is. Your colors in this painting are super bright and vivid. I may have to try and achieve this in one of my next paintings.

I love the session details and the setup pic you took. This is the first time I have seen another artist do this and I must say I really love the insight that it brings when you see the painting next to the subject.

Keep up the great work!


Hey Chris, sorry for tardy reply and thank you for the kind words. I noticed that you don’t put your blog in the url on comments, it goes to instead. Is that intentional? Anyway, what’s funny is that the contrast of the darkness in your paintings with the vibrant subject matter is one of the things that attracted me to them. I do like bright colors too but really appreciate the Rembrandt style dark background/lighting you use.

I keep trying to figure out how you light your subject and whether you use a shadow box or how you prevent the light in the room or on your easel from getting onto your subject matter. Maybe when you have time (ha ha!) I’d love to see you write about what kind of light you use, and include photos that show your set up and how you block the extraneous light to get such beautifully dark backgrounds and shadows and just the right amount of light on your subjects.

I agree that doing the session plan and results have been really helpful and eye opening. I keep catching myself doing “unauthorized painting” — painting areas I meant to leave alone or painting much longer than my planned time goal. You continue to inspire me on so many levels! Jana

On Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 8:01 AM, Jana Bouc, Artist wrote:



Thanks Jana, I just noticed that my auto sign-in on WordPress is messing up my blog link. I’ll take some pics soon of my next setup with notes. Or checkout this post, The lights you see in the photo are the only two lights I have on in the room. Both are simple shop lamps with basic tungsten 40 watt bulbs. I use black foam core to shield the light from spilling where I don’t want it to go.


Thanks so much for the link to the photo and info about your lighting setup. Sometimes I overthink things I guess. Seeing your setup was really helpful. Jana

On Sun, Oct 26, 2014 at 8:29 AM, Jana Bouc, Artist wrote:



Love the light of this painting

I’ve never seen session details/goals laid out like this. Very interesting. I’m working on the 15 minutes plan atm (aka try an concentrate & draw for a minimum of 15 mins)


Thanks Sue. Sorry to be so behind on replying to comments. I’ve been enjoying seeing your inktober sketches and glad you post them on FB (which I try unsuccessfully to stay off of, but your art and dog posts are highlights that make it worth visiting). Jana

On Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 12:07 PM, Jana Bouc, Artist wrote:



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