Today’s drawing might have started out as a vase of sunflowers, but by the time I was finished, they’d turned into fun flowers. Of course, I had a bit of help along the way. Not only did our rescue cat Flower Child get her paws into the paint, but little Katmandu — the name we’ve given to another cat roaming the neighborhood who thinks he should belong to us — delighted in playing with the pencil while I was trying to draw. I finally gave in and let him have it.
This was all during my morning drawing time with Flower Child on our porch. She doesn’t care much for Katmandu, so there was a bit of hissing and hair-raising, but thankfully no cat fights. At one point a few of my art supplies got knocked off the porch, but all in all, no harm done.
Now, for the art. First, I want to say that sunflowers are a lot harder to draw than they look! At least, for me they were. Remember how much I enjoyed sitting outside and making a quick “scribbled drawing” of an errant sunflower coming up in a bucket of dirt? Yes, that was a fun flower to draw, even though it had not yet opened. It is open now, and it’s gorgeous.
Later I plan to draw this — and probably paint it — again, this time paying very close attention to the details. Much closer attention than I did when I made this sketch:
Without a doubt, even with the feline help I got, I enjoyed painting these flowers. After looking at the single sunflower we have growing, I wanted more. So instead of the single bloom, I sketched a bouquet. Good practice, you know, for placing one flower in front of another. Good practice, too, for sketching flowers at different angles. And instead of a solid color vase, I went with glass. Why? Well, I had fun doing that still life a couple months ago where I actually painted a glass bowl in oil. I just wanted to try it in watercolor to see if I could come even close to the right illusion of glass.
This drawing/painting experience was very similar to my marigolds. The initial sketch (which I forgot to photograph) was done as carefully as I could. I gave thought to the placement of the flowers. I tried to create a pleasing arrangement. And I discovered right away that sunflowers might look simple, but they’re not. I began to think that my little bouquet probably looked more like daisies or black-eyed susan flowers. But, I just kept going, deciding to call these fun flowers instead of sunflowers.
Then I got out the gansai, and as I did with the marigolds, I relaxed a little, loosened up, and let myself have even more fun playing with colors. I especially like the delicate leaves I added by using a bit of a sea sponge. Trying to create that illusion of a glass vase — with water and stems — was an interesting challenge, especially with Flower Child stepping on my paints and adding her own artistic touch to my sketchbook. Oh, yes, by the way, this was done in my sketchbook, so it’s regular drawing paper and not watercolor paper.
Now, even though my first attempt at drawing and painting sunflowers was not a rousing success, I’m excited and eager to try again. I do love sunflowers! I want to look a little closer at those petals now. I want to see those dark centers. I want to learn the shapes of the leaves. And then I want to draw more sunflowers. I want to paint them with gansai, bring out my acrylic inks and try painting sunflowers with those, and I want to take a canvas panel and do a sunflower oil painting. I can easily understand why so many artists have painted so many sunflowers. They really are fun flowers.