How the Sunflowers are done…art instruction and kind of an art supply review.

In this painting of sunflowers, I used “Arches” 140 lb. cold pressed paper and “Winsor & Newton” and “Grumbacher” watercolor paints.  In my opinion, Arches is the best and most professional art paper to use for most art projects.  It is durable and takes well to scrubbing and excessive water and brush lifting back of color.  If you’re a watercolor artist, you will probably understand what I am saying about the need of a good durable painting paper….actually, to get really specific, Arches is made of 100% cotton rag.  I’ve used many other papers, but I have to say that Arches is my favorite…and I’m really into using the watercolor blocks.  Arches also comes in 300 lb., which is nice and thick….I have a friend who uses nothing but that….and also comes in the usual hot pressed, rough, and what I prefer, cold pressed….and it’s available in sheets or blocks.  If you watch your art supplies sources, you can usually find Arches on sale frequently.  In all, I believe, it’s really worth using.  Now this,…just for the newbies to watercolor…I used to wonder this too, before I got really into watercolor painting, so don’t feel dumb….watercolor blocks are basically several sheets of “paper” kind of glued together on all sides, like a note pad might be on the top, forming a thick block of paper…you can only get to the top sheet to paint on, until you gently cut around the sides to remove that top paper.  So when you are painting, you are painting on a thick hard surface.  Ok…now on to the paints….

I’ve been using “Winsor & Newton” and “Grumbacher” watercolors for a while, and I’ve used others before, so I’ve got to say that I really like using these two professional brands.  They work beautifully….I love the product and the result that they produce.  Like the Arches, these too can be found on sale frequently if you watch your art supply sources. 

Now about using “quality” supplies….as an artist, I’ve found, that it’s worth a couple of extra dollars (and usually it is only a couple of extra dollars if you watch for sales) to buy and use the professional quality art supplies.  When you create something, you want it to turn out great and last forever, especially if you are selling your artistic creations….you want your customers to be very happy with their purchase.  I know that is important to me as an artist.  If you are just starting out and don’t want to make that investment yet, it’s understandable to use the less expensive products, but as soon as you get more serious about your art, it’s worth the investment in the long run….start out with one good paper (or canvas, or strand of gemstones, if you’re a jewelry artist, or any supply for whatever facet of art you’re in) and maybe the three basic primary colors of  paint (red, yellow, blue….you can mix your colors)….I know, I’ve been there!

Now, to the “Sunflowers”……I like to make my backgrounds by wetting the paper (this is why you need strong, durable paper/rag) in small sections and adding watered-down pastel paints to different areas and letting the color spread, but also guiding the color with my brush to control where I want it.  I keep doing small areas until I’ve covered the whole area….but, gently blending in one small area into another.  I use different colors where I want ultimately creating a diffused background…kind of what you get when you photograph flowers and you see the blur of the rest of the garden in the background.  After you get it the way you want, now it’s time to let it dry….and I mean, leave it alone for a while to really dry….this makes a big difference in your next step of adding your subject.

I want to interject something here, right now…..when you do watercolors, if you are at a point where you either cannot get something the way you want or you feel something is missing or not right or you’ve worked at it for a while and it’s frustrating you…..STOP and LET IT BE….walk away from it for a few hours…a day….when you go back to it, you may be very surprised at how it looks after it dried.  It’s amazing.  I can’t tell you how many times it’s surprised me.  You also may have a different perspective then and can complete your piece. 

Now it’s time for the actual subject, the sunflowers.  I collected several photo references of sunflowers (you can use your own photos, or ideas from magazines etc…) and slowly added in the outlines of my subjects (you can do this in whatever way works for you…like a light pencil drawing to guide you or you can lightly paint a faint outline of each by using a watered-down pale color that will blend into your final subject)…I find a real watered-down sepia works for many outlines.  After all of this preparation, it’s “paint away” time….of course in this painting I used MANY shades of yellows and browns….I find, I like using many shades usually, especially here in the petals of the flowers to create a luminous look.

I decided in this painting to make my sunflowers different in the centers and their position….when you paint, let your artistic flair loose….this is art, express yourself.  Everyone has a different style and way of doing things.  It’s important to enjoy yourself and be expressive…paint what you see, not what someone else tells you to see. 

If you or anyone you know may be interested in purchasing my painting, please click on the link below or contact me if you would be interested in prints or cards are anything else this starving artist is selling….thanks 😀


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