Sunflower Lesson 1

This sunflower painting has become a fun project that I bring in on a regular basis for my beginning students. It has all the essential element s of how to build a watercolor painting, including washes, glazing and brush work.

If you would like to paint along with this lesson, you can order the photo reference and drawing online at, just click on the icon for the online class.

I begin by transferring my drawing to my watercolor paper. I like to use Arches. It is a wonderful, durable paper that holds the color well. I then, tape the drawing to a foam core board with two-inch masking tape. This holds it in place as I paint the wet washes, and will pull it back to a flat state as it dries. Be sure to cover at least 1/2 inch of the paper with your tape. If the tape doesn’t have a good grip, the paper will pull out when it gets wet.

The next step is to float a big, juicy wash of French Ultramarine Blue around the outside edge. Be sure not to outline or get ahead of the wash. If you want a smooth wash, paint wet, create a bead of paint flowing toward the direction of the next stroke. To keep the bead in the right place, tip your paper slightly.


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