|'Mountain Sunshine' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
I love painting sunflowers! I have just finished a photo shoot of the sunflower bouquet Michael gave me for our anniversary. I can't wait to paint them! But I didn't always have success with yellow flowers. They looked washed out and bring. I couldn't seem to get them to glow! I one through sunflower kicks and once painted nothing but sunflowers for a month! I have some tips to share to help with getting vibrant yellow flowers!
1. Working with Yellow. I find that yellow is a difficult color to work with in pastels. It seems as though only the softest, most intensely pigmented sticks will make the thick juicy marks that I crave. I struggle to get my yellows vibrant and not muddy.
TIP: I always try to give yellow a boost....if I know my petals will be yellow I will underpaint or block in the flowers with some yellow.
2. Building Up Petal Color. Sunflower petals are not just bright yellow. Observe them carefully and you will see oranges, reds, ochres and many variations of these warm colors. I always like to decide what is the darkest color I see in the petals and lay in this color first. Often I start with a burnt orange and gradually add layers of color getting progressively to the brighter and more intense yellows.
TIP: When you get to the final layers of yellow I like to mix a warm and a cool yellow. Also avoid using pale yellow (yellow with a lot of white) This will give you washed out flowers.
3. Petal Shapes. If you have ever painted a flower and it looks like a child did it you are not alone! This is probably the biggest challenge we have in painting flowers. Try as we might, our flowers seem to morph into the childhood symbols we have for a flower (you know, the daisy with a yellow center surrounded by perfect even white petals) I'll address this in a future post!
TIP: To avoid this you need to turn off your auto pilot and look carefully at your flower reference. The petals are rarely perfect.....vary the shapes and sizes and positioning and you will have a more interesting and natural flower.