How to Paint a Sunflower

How To Paint A Sunflower

When it comes to striking flowers as a subject for painting, it’s hard to top sunflowers. Sunflowers are cheerful flowers that can brighten someone else’s gloomy mood into a brighter perspective. Today we are going to learn how to paint a sunflower. A bright, beautiful and cheerful yellow sunflower! This acrylic painting tutorial is for the beginner and I will direct you through each step.

How To Paint A Sunflower

How to Paint a Sunflower
beautiful sunflower painting

Painting some sunflowers can be hard especially for beginners. As for me, I think choosing sunflower as the subject in painting is all about layering colors and using some different strokes or techniques.

The center of the sunflower, for example, was done using the technique called stippling. This technique shows that the petals were done with double-loading two different colors on the brush. I used two different shades of yellow as well as brown and white.

The design in painting a sunflower is very versatile.  But this can easily be done on a larger scale. If you want to paint on a larger canvas, then there are a lot of online tutorials that can offer a wide range of ideas that you can apply in your own painting.

  • Chose an ultramarine blue shade for the background or base since yellow colors shine brighter with blue or sky background
  • White backgrounds are also nice!
  • Painting the sides of the canvass  will offer a beautiful 3D effect of the petals extending around the canvas
  • First draw about six inch circle on the lower-left area of your canvas or wherever you want the main focus of the sunflower on the canvass should set. Or that depends if you want a larger or a smaller one.
  • For larger canvass, you need to adjust the size of your circle. I used a pencil to trace it.
  • Using your brush, paint the entire circle with a solid coat of burnt umber. This will be your under color and you don’t need to worry about stroke direction here, again this is only an under layer color.
  • An 8 inch round brush can be used to draw the petals all out with cadmium yellow hue.
  • For the petals, you can use a number 8 round brush and the color cadmium yellow hue.
  • I started each petal at the base where the circle is and overlapped it slightly over the circle.
  • Then I drew each petal out.
  • The tip of all the petals went almost all the way to the edge of the canvas.
  • The petals themselves are wider in the middle and come to a point.
  • Because that burnt umber (brown) is not dry yet, you may end up dragging it with the yellow.
  • Each petal is slightly different, none of them are exactly uniform.
  • Also, I didn’t really worry about overlapping at this point. I just painted them as if they were all side by side.
  • Remember that the petals on the left will go off the canvas so we don’t see the tips.
  • You’ll need to just estimate how they would look.
  • Paint the bottom parts of the petals with cadmium yellow hue double-loaded with a tiny bit of burnt umber. Double loading means to load your brush with more than one color.
  • Using the number 8 round brush, I double loaded it with a tiny bit of burnt umber and more cadmium yellow hue.
  • Then I painted the bottom part of each of the petals. 
  • When you reload the brush, make sure you add more cadmium yellow hue and not so much burnt umber.
  • This area should look like a dark, unmixed yellow and not brown.
  • Paint just the bottom of all the petals.
  • Paint the rest of the petals with cadmium yellow hue double-loaded with primary yellow.
  • Use a filbert brush. A filbert brush is a paintbrush that is used in art works which has a thick ferrule and hairs that are, on average, medium to long hairs in the shape of an oval. These brushes are particularly effective in blending work.
  • Double load the filbert in both cadmium yellow hue and primary yellow
  • Paint the petals in with your own strokes going in the direction of the petals.
  • Those two yellows will blend to create an uneven yellow on the petals.
  • Try to get that darker part to blend with the yellows as well so it has a nice smooth transition from dark to light.
  • Paint the back petals with burnt umber mixed with cadmium yellow hue.
  • The back petals are done by mixing burnt umber and cadmium yellow hue in a palette.
  • Use about 2 parts burnt umber and 4 parts cadmium yellow hue.
  • Use the number 8 round brush to draw out all the back petals and then fill them in.
  • This should look like a golden yellow
  • Not too dark but darker than the front petals.
  • Paint the little white spaces around the circle in between all the petals where the back petals are attached.
  • Paint the back petals in between all the front petals and all around the sunflower.
  • Double load the filbert brush with primary yellow and white to paint a top layer on all the front petals.
  • Load the filbert brush with both primary yellow and titanium white in equal amounts.
  • Paint a layer on just the front petals.
  • When you do the strokes, allow that white to blend with the yellow creating soft texture on the petal.
  • Use the tip of the brush on its side to paint a lot of thin strokes to get soft white lines blended with yellow.
  • Let the paint mix on the canvas and do its thing. Let the strokes blend and contour with the shape of each of the petals.
  • Use a number 8 round brush to stipple black in the center of the circle.
  • Use the tip of that round brush to dot a circle of dense black dots in the center.
  • Form a circle with those dots.
  • The circle was about 3 inch diameter.
  • Load the not rinsed brush with titanium white.
  • Rinse brush and then add burnt umber and black.
  • Continue to stipple the outer part of that gray ring you created.
  • Work your way to the outer edge of the circle but don’t fill it in solid.
How to Paint a Sunflower
sunflower painting
  • As you work your way to the edge of that circle, add cadmium orange medium to your not rinsed brush.
  • Paint little dots of orange.
  • Load the brush with a little orange, a little black and a little burnt umber.
  • Some of the dots overlapped the bottom of the petals.
  • If you think about it, the entire middle circle has dimension and is not completely flat. 
  • Rinse brush completely and add pure titanium white.
  • Stipple on some white dots sparingly in the very center and around the rest of the circle.
  • Add just pure white to your round brush.
  • Make little bright white dots in the center, the ring and sparingly on the outer parts of the circle.
  • This will provide some high-light and a nice color dimension into your painting.How to Paint a Sunflower


Now we are done with the sunflower! It’s totally up to you now on what background should you want to paint. But white does look lovely, but I decided to paint the background ultramarine blue. Most background is filled with spirals, it is totally up to your creative mind now on how to present yours with your imaginative ideas.



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One response to “How To Paint A Sunflower”

  1. Kathi Fristoe Avatar

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