Sunflower Painting Tutorial

Autumn has arrived now and soon we will leave all the beautiful and bright summer blooms behind. Gold rusty leaves take their place.  I love the shades of autumn and its pretty crisp discarded leaves but I will miss the bold colours of the summer until next year.

One of my favorite summer flowers is the sunflower. There is something about its giant seed head, simple shape and vibrant yellow hue that is just so happy. To me the sunflower flower is the smiley face of summer.

Now that Autumn is here and the winter is slowly approaching why not keep hold of a little bit of that summer happiness, (handmade of course), in your home or work space? This mini sunflower painting tutorial is simple and ideal for beginners. Give it a try.


  • A selection of acrylic paints - brown, white, yellow, blue, red and black. You could also use ready mixed green or orange if you wish.

  • Paint brushes

  • Water

  • Small canvas

  • A pencil

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Step One -  Using your pencil carefully sketch half a sunflower flower onto one side of your canvas. If you are not confident about your drawing skills reduce the flower to simple shapes to help you achieve this. A sunflower flower at its simplest consists of a circular head in the centre surrounded by slightly pointed oblong petals. I have marked out the basic shapes on a print out of my reference image to use as a guide.

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Once you have sketched out your design you are ready to begin painting.

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Step Two -Squeeze out some yellow paint. Using a small brush paint the petals of your sunflower yellow. Don't forget to paint the edges of the canvas. This isn't essential but I think it makes the whole canvas neater and better presented.


Step Three -  Paint the background with a light green colour using a medium sized brush. You can use a shop bought green paint here or you could mix your own using yellow, blue and white.


Step Four -  Paint the flower head a deep brown with your small brush.  You now have the base colours finished and ready to work back into.

At this point it is best to leave your painting to dry for a while before continuing.  


Step Five - Outline each petal with your brown paint and a fine paintbrush. Apply the paint thicker in some areas and leave others only lightly outlined. Dry your brush and then apply small amounts of brown paint to the base of the inner petals to give each petal some depth. Keep your brush dry and drag the paint along to create a rough texture as you do this.


Step Six - To add the texture to the seed head, mix together an orange paint using red and yellow. Do not completely blend the paint together to make an even colour - instead leave some of the yellow and the red unmixed. Dip a small dry brush into the paint making sure your brush is heavily loaded. Now press the brush straight down firmly onto your canvas and lift away again. You should see the paint lifting up leaving a thick texture as your brush leaves the canvas. Repeat this technique over the whole flower head.


Step Seven - Now for the background. Using a darker shade of green gradually dry brush over your base coat. I used quite a small brush here to leave plenty of marks on the canvas. You can then go over sections with a wet brush to blend areas together. Use your wet brush quite sporadically leaving plenty of dry brushed texture behind

Step Eight - To finish add some white highlights along your petals. Dab some white into your seed head and dry brush a little here and there into the background. Taking a small amount of black paint and a very thin brush marginally outline a select few petals for contrast.


Your mini sunflower painting is now finished and ready to hang.


How did you get on? Tweet me your finished sunflower paintings @jmpartmama.

This tutorial is the first in a series of easy floral painting projects I wish to share with you over the up and coming months. Subscribe to my blog and receive creative tutorials and inspiration straight to your inbox.

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