Want to hear something crazy? I don’t think I ever painted sunflowers before I tried them for the first time on the Flowers & Friends talk show from BloomTV! I guess no one told me how much fun they are to paint or I would have been all over it a whole lot sooner. That’s okay, though, because after I got a taste of how great they are to paint I immediately taught my group, The Creative Connection, how to do it themselves. Our group’s focus word for the month is “practice,” which is something I’ve been trying to do daily by trying a new medium (watercolor!) in my hand-painted, leather-bound art journals! This week I decided that the focus of my practice should be sunflowers, because they’re fun and we’re heading into fall, which is definitely peak sunflower season! I’d like to invite you to participate in this practice with me and enjoy this easy sunflower painting that you can do in just 30 minutes.
Easy Sunflower Painting Tips
The reason that it’s so easy to create a sunflower painting is because of the freedom we feel when painting them! To me, sunflowers have always seemed like happy flowers because of the way they stand tall and point their broad, smiling faces toward the sun.
Normally, I use my favorite DIY Paint colors and some acrylics to paint on canvas… but since the theme for this month is practice, I figured I should practice a medium I’ve been wanting to master for a long time, so I brought out my watercolors! I recently acquired these gorgeous palettes on a trip to Texas with my family, and I have been working with them daily. Watercolor is finicky, but it’s also a great medium for practice because it dries so quickly, allowing for an entire painting to be finished in the time it would take me to lay down a background!
That said, these easy sunflower painting tips will help you no matter which medium you prefer.
Sunflower Painting Supply List
- Paint. I used: cadmium yellow, umber, white, green, and some accent colors in blue and magenta (which makes purple, a complementary color to the sunny yellow of a sunflower). I used watercolor for the tutorial but typically use DIY Paint. This tutorial will work with whatever you’ve got on hand!
- A canvas or an art journal
- Paint brushes
Sunflower Painting Step-by-Step
The first step to painting a sunflower (or any other flower!) is to understand the general shape and structure of the plant itself. Sunflowers have long, sturdy stalks and wide leaves that come to a point. The head of the sunflower is large and round, composed of “disc flowers” at the center with outer “ray flowers,” which are the petals we are used to seeing. Sunflower petals are long, tapering down to a point, and spiral out from the center of the blossom. Interestingly, sunflowers have two phases: first the center portion of the flower is covered with the small, dark disc flowers that will eventually wither and fall out, leaving us with the familiar dark center filled with seeds that the plant is known for!
PHEW! Okay now that the gardening chat is over, let’s get to the fun part: PAINTING!
The trick to painting sunflowers? Embrace imperfection! What we DON’T want is a perfectly round center where all of the petals are the exact same shape and length. Nature is never perfectly symmetrical, so it’s important to really loosen up our painting when it comes to capturing the effortless beauty of a sunflower. It will make your painting look more natural… and also allow you to stress less about trying to be perfect.
Another thing to note about sunflowers is that the petals are all varying shades of cadmium yellow! This is important, because using more than one shade will give your painting the depth and beauty of a real flower. Grab your supplies and let’s get started on a super easy sunflower painting!
First, make sure that you plan ahead by leaving space at the top ½-⅔ of your canvas or paper because sunflower blossoms are BIG! We want to make sure they have space to shine. Then, grab your green and paint some thick, solid stalks! Sunflowers are heavy, so they need good support to hold their beautiful heads up.
I like to add the leaves in at this stage (because painting leaves is fun!) but they can always be added at the end when you’re ready to fill space. Next, start with creating a large roundish shape to serve as the center of all the flowers. This will give you a good anchor point for your petals. You can use a dark or medium cadmium yellow here if you’re going for an early sunflower, or you can use a dark brown or black if you want more autumnal vibes. It’s up to you!
Now it’s time to have fun adding the petals! The nicest thing about painting sunflowers is that they have LOTS of petals, so mistakes can easily be painted over. Aaaand… Now you have a sunflower! Congratulations!!!
You’re not done yet! Try adding some additional leaves or grass in darker and contrasting colors (purple works well here!!) to add even more depth and life to your painting.
Watch the video!
What do you think? Was it as easy as I said it would be?!