1. The large leaves are held horizontal; their surfaces reflecting the cool blue of the sky. This first thin glaze of blue will be apparent even in the final step.
The dark blue lines are masking fluid used to preserve white paper. When the masking is removed in Step 6, you will see how the white edges are a key element in depicting backlighting.
2. Contrasting areas of light and dark green create ripples and undulations on the leaf surfaces.
Drama Queens - sunflower watercolor demonstration
5. The background is very simple; infinite sky and distant hills. The blossom in the lower right corner draws too much attention to this area. To tone it down, I used a wet brush to lift away some of the golden yellow, then followed with a glaze of green.
The blue masking is removed in the next step, revealing the key element to the dramatic impact of the painting.
6. Colors are now more vivid in the background, but it is the bold effect of light shining along the edges of petals, leaves and stems that really gives this painting some punch.
4. Plants in the aster family produce daisy-like flowers. The showy, colorful ray petals are fancy lures positioned to attract pollinators to the tiny "true" flowers in the center disc.
Sunflowers have hundreds of tiny flowers in their over-sized centers. In this step, just a suggestion of the crowded flowers is enough to convey the idea.
After adding a bit more color to the ray petals and completing the green sepals behind the front-facing flower, this could be a completed painting with no defined background. Botanical studies are painted in this way.
3. The undulations become more pronounced with additional glazes of dark green in the shadowed areas.
The flower heads no longer have blank faces!
Nothing says "sunflower" like long, yellow petals radiating outward, reminiscent of a child's drawing of the sun's rays.
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