Plein Air Sunflower Study
This week I’ve been getting outside for some plein air studies of the sunflowers growing in my backyard. I love sunflowers! Yesterday it was hot, cloudy and muggy, and in between some surprising spats of light rain, I managed a quick study of the sunflowers. This was my first time with my new gouache palette setup. I’ve switched to a large open palette so I have a large open area to mix my colors, and I can already tell it’s going to make such a huge difference in my painting. I’ve always worked with a palette with separate little circles and squares, and it limited my capacity to mix a large amount of pigment and blend with neighboring mixes. I got this idea from watching a course from the Tucson Art Academy by Andy Evansen, a master watercolor artist. It seems so obvious now, but I never thought of it because I just used the traditional palettes they sell for watercolor mediums. Now I have my paints laid out around the perimeter like in a traditional oil painting palette. It’s a whole new world!
After laying down my preliminary sketch in pencil, I lightly erased the pencil lines and then began painting, starting with the lightest values of the sunflower petals. I ended with the darkest values in the center of the sunflower. I did not have an exact process I was following. I mostly focused on capturing the correct colors and laying them down quickly and loosely. Because the gouache dries much lighter it’s difficult to get the exact values, and if I had time I would have gone back into the leaves to deepen them, but it started raining again so I decided that was good enough for today!
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