Anyway, on getting them home, I put them in a vase, and packed them around with bubble wrap and masking tape in an attempt to get them to stay in some sort of useful arrangement.
Even at this stage I did wonder if it was an exercise too far. I have painted Agapanthus lots of times, so felt ok with them, but I had no idea how to paint the Sunflowers without it becoming a stiff and somewhat false rendition.
Determined to try, having paid for the flowers, I did a quite detailed drawing (for me) of the arrangement, altering the position of the Agapanthus slightly.
From 'Painting Watercolour Florals That Glow
By Jan Kunz ( ISBN 0-289-80110-9)
I hope Jan does not mind me reproducing this painting to share it with you. In the book she described , in another chapter how to separate the petals. It is a bit too controlled and tight for me, but it did give me some ideas about trying to get the right effect, so thank you Jan.
With no more excuses not to get started, I began by painting a pale yellow wash in the centre of the page over the pencil lines of the Sunflowers, and then added the Agapanthus flowers on the left of the picture.
I gradually built up washes over the sunflower, making each wash slightly darker or stronger as I tried to identify some of the individual petals to give the dense effect I was after. I also added stems of Sunflowers at this stage, but they had to be washed out later as I had got them completely wrong.
Too late to alter this, I finished the painting, creating Sunflower petals by dropping colour into the flowers,both whilst the under layers were still wet, and sometimes only semi wet. I included white acylic gouache to reclaim the highlights, and then I finished the background, altering the stems to make them match the flower positions. I could only do this because I was able to add quite dark washes into the background.
In the photo on screen the stems seem a bit bright, but in the painting they seem ok, but I will live with it in the studio for a while and see if they need a bit of toning down.