Van Gogh Sunflowers, a short demonstration.

Van Gogh sunflowers, a world favorite, and also a favorite of my little girl.  So of coarse, I had to try to do them at some point.  Well, the time came to try, and here are the results.

Also, each image can be expanded, there is a little box in the upper right hand corner available after you click the image to expand it even larger.  Great on mobile phone to really see the brush work and colors.

van gogh sunflowers

Van Gogh Sunflowers

Of coarse, this had to have my twist on the subject, so, as you can see, I combined a few Van Gogh Style passages to the work.  Lets see a progress photo of the beginnings.  A quick sketch of the composition, then we dive right in with color.  Very thick paint is applied and then left with very little (if any) subsequent blending.  It's not easy.  It's not slapping paint.  Each paint application has to be thought out and delivered with confidence.  Taking my time, my results were pleasing.

how to paint like van gogh

Here you see the background similar to Van Goghs "Starry Night".  It's something I've enjoyed about his work in the seemingly flowing smoke twirls that is worked into the paintings, especially his landscapes.  Below is a closeup. 

The hard part is photographing the work in such a way as to show the impasto effects of the paint.  It's quite thickly applied.  I found placing a light at the edge of the work that cast light at a strong angle helped in showing the brush strokes.

how to paint like van gogh

Van Gogh Sunflowers, closeups of how it is done.

One of the things I found was I couldn't use my usual watercolor rounds (brushes) and had to use a stiffer flat or filbert to apply a thick paint.  Very little medium is used too, in order for the paint to maintain its ridges and not flow out on the canvas. 

I did add a cobalt dryer to help speed up drying times to a few days rather than weeks.  This allowed me to come back in for touch ups and glazes into the ridges of the paint to accentuate them. 

Applying the paint glazes, then a gentle wipe to remove paint from the very top surface but not inside the grooves.  Click on any photo to get a larger size.

van gogh sunflowers
van gogh sunflowers
van gogh sunflowers

I'm hoping the details within the closeups will give you a better clue into how the painting is constructed.  My biggest issue was in just laying in the paint, and not blending, but allowing the viewers eyes to handle that. Once the paint had dried a bit, I did go back into the petals of the sunflowers to add a bit of umber to show some of the ridges better.  What I'm most surprised about with the piece is how it glows.  Under good lighting, the heavy high quality pigments really do light up the space.  I think using the blue background also helped in these regards.

I hope you found this small demo instructional and entertaining.  With best wishes,


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