How to Paint Sunflowers in Acrylic

Written by erika marie
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How to Paint Sunflowers in Acrylic
Make sunflower art on canvas. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Painting sunflowers in acrylic will inspire feelings of brightness and warmth, and the result will be a cheerful piece of artwork to hang in your home. Paint a small canvas to frame or an oversized canvas that will create a focal point in your home. Painting sunflowers is not challenging when you focus on painting one section of the flower at a time. Acrylic paints are a forgiving medium for both beginner and novice painters, and they dry quickly so you can continuously work on your piece.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Sunflower reference
  • Primed artist canvas
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paint set
  • Paint palette
  • Paintbrushes

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  1. 1

    Locate a sunflower reference. Place a cut sunflower in water, study a sunflower outdoors or use a photo. Add a direct light source to the setting for contrast if needed.

  2. 2

    Plan the composition of your painting. You can paint one large flower or several in a bunch. Study the size of the flowers in relation to each other to aid the layout of the flowers on the canvas.

  3. 3

    Create a quick, light sketch of the outline of the sunflowers onto a primed artist canvas using a pencil. Sketch the under petals of the flower that peek between the front petals. Then sketch the heart-shaped leaves of the plant. Sketch a circle in the middle of the petals to define the round centre of the flower.

  4. 4

    Paint the background. For a bright blue-sky effect, paint a medium blue colour to fill the entire background, painting around the outline of the flowers you sketched. Then dry brush blue in one shade darker along the outer edges of the canvas by dipping the brush in the paint and then brushing off excess on a paper towel. Blend the dark with the medium blue by feathering the dry brush where the colours meet.

  5. 5

    Paint the middle hues of the flower petals with a mid-tone yellow paint, filling in the entire petal with colour. Paint in thin layers. Wipe off excess paint from the brush, and feather along the edges where you stop painting. Allow the paint to dry for at least one hour.

  6. 6

    Paint the dark hues of the flower petals. Your dark hues will be in the areas shaded from the light. Study the plant and squint your eyes to see the dark areas. Dry brush the dark yellow colour, and feather the brush lightly where the dark meets the medium hues to blend the colours. Allow the paint to dry for at least one hour.

  7. 7

    Paint the highlights of the flower petals. The highlights are the brightest areas where the light is reflecting. Paint highlights with small strokes of a bright yellow colour, feathering the brush to blend the paint with the other yellow hues.

  8. 8

    Paint the round centre of the flower with a medium brown paint. Paint around the outer edge of the circle by dabbing small dots of paint to create texture that will blend the centre with the petals. Allow the paint to dry for at least one hour. Dab small dots of dark brown to paint the seeds in the centre of the sunflower. Dab light brown and medium yellow to create highlights.

  9. 9

    Paint the leaves and the stem of the flower, using three shades of green to represent the middle, dark and light hues of the leaves.

Tips and warnings

  • When you are finished working for the day, place cling film over the paint palette to keep the paints from drying. This method will keep the paints wet for about 24 hours.
  • Lightly spray the area you are painting with water from a water bottle to keep the paints from drying too quickly while you are working.

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