How to Paint Sunflowers

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Every painter will undoubtedly capture a sunflower on paper or canvas differently. Van Gogh's influential sunflowers are different from Rivera's, but there are some things a painter can do to ensure that it will indeed be distinguished as a sunflower. Here are eight steps to follow when painting sunflowers, whether it is with watercolors, acrylics or oils.

Things You'll Need

  • Choice of paints Pencil with eraser Paper or canvas Paintbrushes
  • Sketch out the stalk, leaves and centers of your sunflowers first. Their leaves are broad and their stalks are heavy to hold up the weight of all the seeds they produce. Study sunflowers in real life or from photographs before and while sketching to help you along.

  • Draw the petals. Sunflower petals are large and ovate. Their tips are pointy and they are arranged in multiple layers.

  • Erase your darker sketch marks so that they only show slightly. If you are painting over in acrylic or oils, you can leave them darker if you like, but erase well if using watercolors. Acrylics are used in this example.

  • Prepare your paint colors and begin with the stalks. Use at least two tones of green and some golden highlights.

  • Paint the larger petals first. The bristles in your brush will naturally create long lines that look like the grooves in the petals.

  • Paint the smaller inside petals that overlap the larger ones. Add a little orange in the mix of your yellow for these.

  • Mix a deep, dark brown with a hint of orange in it for the large center whorl, which is one of the signature features of a sunflower. Dab as many tiny dots as you can with this color to create the look of hundreds of seeds.

  • Add any finishing touches such as extra leaves and let dry.

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  • Photo Credit Naomi Judd
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