Monday, August 26, 2013

My First Successful Sunflowers

Regular readers of this blog know that my favorite thing to paint are floral still life arrangements.  Painting flowers has always come very easily to me with one exception:  sunflowers.  I can't tell you how many times I have started a sunflower set up only to realize it was not working and wipe it down.  I could not understand why I seemed to have a mental block with this one particular flower.

One day I was talking with a group of painter friends and somehow we got to talking about Van Gogh's sunflowers.  One of the women remarked that while his sunflowers were very colorful, they were not luminous.  Ding, ding, ding - we have a winner!  As Oprah would say, I had a light bulb moment.  Every time I was painting sunflowers, I was trying to paint them in the same colorful style that Van Gogh did.  I was not trying to copy him of course, but I think all those years of studying them seeped into my consciousness.  My paintings lean more toward the Old Masters than the Post-Impressionists.  That bright color just does not come naturally to me.  

Last week I started a new still life, and it was amazing.  I finished in just a couple of days and had no problems at all.  This was a good lesson in staying true to your own style no matter what.  

This was my original set up.  It was nice, but something about it was bugging me.  I woke up at 7am yesterday and realized that the problem was that the right side was too empty compared to the left (don't you love it when problems seem to get solved in your sleep?).  I happened to have another bouquet at my house so I snipped off one of those and brought it to the studio.  

Here is the finished painting.  I'm so happy to have finally gotten this right.  I found a guy that has different sunflower varieties and I am going to try them next.  

Sunflowers, 16x20, oil

I'll post the new painting as soon as it is ready and as always, thanks for following along on my painting adventures.

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