Monday, 4 February 2013

Sunflower Experiment

Sometimes it does one good to try something a bit new. I borrowed a book from Peter and was reading an article about a guy who paints quite photo real pictures without any drawing. The example given was a harbour painting, staggeringly well painted to say that not a single line had been drawn in pencil.

There is no way I would attempt such an exercise, but I did think that it should be possible to paint a simple floral subject without any drawing, keeping it very loose, and using the colours to say it all.

Lots of water meant stretching a piece of Fabriano to a board, but I must say at this stage, that removing it was a problem. When the painting was complete, I used a craft knife to cut around the edge of the paper, but found that the gum from the brown paper tape had seeped under the paper and firmly stuck it down to the board. I had to re-cut the paper  further in, and in doing so lost some of the edges of the painting!

Anyway, choosing a bold sunflower as the subject, I did my initial wash on the paper, with no real idea as to where to put the colours, except a vague idea that it would be very close up with only part of the flower showing, and the brown centre in the bottom LH corner.

As you can see from the photo, the stretching process did not prevent the paper from buckling, and pools of paint wash collected in the dips. I should have stayed in the studio whilst it was drying to gently mop up these dark patches. Had I been doing a more delicate painting, it would have had to be re-done, but as this was to be bold and strong, I thought it wouldn't matter.I must use heavier paper for these very wet paintings!

I started with the dark seed head centre and flooded in lots of the colours I thought would give it an interesting 'seed' texture, but there is no othe product this time, just the paint!

I then used a brush laden with paint to brush free hand the general shapes of the petals. Using a variety of paints including gouache, acrylic and indian ink, I completed the painting.

The darker colours in the top right of the initial wash has given the painting a much less fresh feel to it than I would have liked, but I really like the bottom LH corner. I think that bit works well.

Not a perfect painting, but I share it with you as I think there are valuable lessons to be learnt from this type of experimental work.



  1. Not my kind of subject perhaps as I'm not keen on one huge flower dominating a painting - just me perhaps - even so that area covering the centre of the flower shows a superb effect, blues and brown mixing, granulation etc. Instead of mopping up the blobs and runs why not let them do their own thing. You might be surprised at the results (grin) ( Pity we don't have emoticons available.


    1. Thank goodness we do not all like the same thing Peter.....but we can, as you say, appreciate bits of all sorts. I did leave the paint as it dried and painted around it, but it was easy to do this time as there was plenty to cover it.
      I am a great advocate of letting the washes dictate, in part, what comes next! That is the exciting bit.

  2. What a great experiment! I really do like this, thanks for explaining the process. Wonder, if you will try this technique again?

  3. Thanks Ann, yes it is fun to experiment, and I might well have some more goes, when I want to do something a bit different again. If I do, no doubt I will post it on the blog.

  4. Love the composition and I think the application of paint has worked well with lots of interesting textural and colour effects. I also disagree about the top right area which I think gives an element of counterbalance to the wonderful bottom left, almost a fading out effect that I like. For me this is a very successful piece.

  5. Thanks Mick.I am glad you like it.It certainly is a bit different, but I think I might have another go sometime with a different flower, maybe keeping to the 'Daisy' types as they are easier to do without drawing.