Elizabeth Reoch

Visual art lessons from a Canadian Artist, Teacher

Sunflower Painting

Sunflower Painting Tutorial

Sunflower paintings are a favorite of oil and acrylic artists. Many artists have wanted to have the experience of painting sunflowers with expression just like  Van Gogh`s painting. The challenge in this painting was to give expression to the sunflower while having it set in a sun filled and happy atmosphere. The painting was commissioned as a wedding present and a gift given in love. The hard and troubled lines found in the VanGogh sunflower were not appropriate for this painting. I added those touches of “Van Gogh” to the painting at the end of the process to bring out the shape and character of the sunflower. Keeping the traditional sunflower style of painting while creating the atmosphere of a couple in love and about to start a life together.


a painting of a sunflower done in acrylic paint



Sunflower Painting – Sketch and Under-Painting

Sunflower sketch


I was free with my pencil marks and I went over and over the flower until I was happy with the shape and with the expression in the lines of the flower petals. When painting I started with the contrasting shadows to help to form the flower with the acrylic paint.






The sunflower was coming to life using only two shades of yellow paint and an orange and brown to give the shadows. I wanted the focal flower to be slightly looking down and to the side in a shy but contented gesture while all the surrounding flowers in the background were looking up and celebrating.







I did a light wash of paint in the background for the under-painting. I wanted the subtle colors of the background flowers and leaves as well as the bright blue of the sky to appear shinning though the details. The final task was to add those details to the background that would contrast the yellow flower and have it pop forward from the background. In this final step I added the black lines to the sunflower to help bring out the shy but coy gesture of the flower.





a painting of a sunflower done in acrylic paint



Van Gogh Sunflower Painting Tutorial.

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