Paint Bright Sunflowers in Acrylic | Clair Bremner | Skillshare

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Paint Bright Sunflowers in Acrylic

teacher avatar Clair Bremner, Professional Artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (49m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Colour Palette

    • 3. Composition

    • 4. Blocking in

    • 5. Sunflowers

    • 6. Finishing touches

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About This Class

In this class I will take you through the process of painting a bright, fresh and impressionist style floral still-life featuring sunflowers and daisies. We will use a limited palette of just three primary colours plus white. I will teach you how I interpret a reference photo to create a unique looking artwork, mix colours from a limited palette, layer to create depth and use simple brushstrokes to create interest and simplicity.

If you would like to view more classes I have several floral sessions available, you can find then by clicking on my profile.

If you create an artwork based on this lesson please share it in the discussion section because I love to see the results.

The paint colours I am using are Matisse Brand Phthalo Blue, Yellow Mid, Primary Red and Titanium white. However you can substitute these colours for any other that you may have. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Clair Bremner

Professional Artist


Hello, I'm Clair.

I am full time artist based in Melbourne, Australia. I specialize in abstract expressionist landscape paintings. I have been teaching in person workshops to art students for a few years and I am excited to be able to bring some of these techniques and lessons into the online world. 

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1. Introduction: Hello, my name is Claire and I am a full-time artist from Australia. In this class, I'll be taking you through the process of creating this bright and happy Still Life with some flowers and daisies in acrylic. I will be showing you the full process from sketching through to the finishing touches, will be working with just three primary acrylic color plus white. And focusing on loose impressionist style brush work. I would recommend watching through the full tutorial before attempting to piped so that you have a good understanding of how it will all come together, Begin. And if this is the first class of mine that you have saying, make sure you click on My Profile to be the other classes that I have available. To complete this project, you will need the following materials. Firstly, you'll need a surface to paint on. I'm using a stretched canvas that's about 60 centimeters by six centimeters. However, you can use any size you like. You can also paint on watercolor, paper, canvas, board, timber, anything that you would normally paint, acrylic paint. You will also need a few different size soft flat acrylic brushes, but at least one inch for the biggest one and then a few smaller ones. You also need water. And I couldn't paint in the following colors. I'm using the brand and Matisse, however, you can use any brand you like. But the colors I'm using is fellow blue, primary red, yellow meat, and titanium white. You can substitute these colors. However, you need to have at least a cool blue, a warm red, and a warm yellow. This lesson is recommended for artists of all levels of experience. So for now, sit back, relax, watch things for assess, and I look forward to seeing your results when you give it a go yourself. 2. Colour Palette: For this project, we are working with a limited palette of primary colors, red, blue, and yellow. The paint colors that I have about the band mutase, which is an Australian brand. Whoever you can substitute these colors with different brands, or even slightly different colors if you need to. The main thing you need to keep in mind is that we want to have a cool blue and a warm red and warm yellow. So phthalo blue is a cool blue. Primary red is the red that I'm using. This is a pink turned warm red. You could also use cadmium red or naphthalene crimson. Yellow meat is the medulla is the yellow that I'm using. This is a warm yellow, so a substitute for that could be cadmium yellow. I would recommend doing some color mixing and swatching with your paint before you begin. Just to get an idea of what sort of colors the paints that you have will create because they may not be exactly the same as the colors that I have. And by doing some quick sketches beforehand, you can have a bit of a play around and experiment and see what color ranges you can get. And it also makes it easier once you start painting if you already have good of an idea of the colors that you can make and that you have to work with before you begin. Hi. 3. Composition: The inspiration for this artwork came from this image that I came across doing a Google search for, sunflowers and vases. I left the blue vase in this image and also loved the web. That blue contrasted with the bright yellow sunflowers. I don't like to copy reference images exactly. So before I begin, I will spend a few minutes sketching at different composition ideas based on this reference image that I start with. These thumbnail sketches are a great way to explore ideas and add changes to the composition without having to much detail. I knew I wanted to simplify the bouquet and to make it less round in shape and a little bit more natural and organic looking. But I also wanted to keep the blue bars as a feature. So I just played around with a few different compositions. However, I ended up settling on something that's quite close to the original. Once you've decided on a composition, it's time to sketch directly onto the canvas. My canvas has been paired with a kilobytes because I prefer to paint on a neutral value rather than the stock white canvas. Sorrow, I've already given the canvas a cart of this nice deep pink color, which was a combination, the red, yellow, and watch that we're going to be using. I like to sketch very loosely using a brush and some watery paint. So in this case I'm using just a small flat brush and some water dam phthalo blue. This helps to keep the sketch from becoming too rigid and detailed. I find the proposed sketch things out we've pixels or charcoal and gets a little bit too fussy. And I try Ambari that too much about getting the detail or as paint, I can keep it really loose. Now, that chemical in this scene, I realized after a little while that I had actually not made the vase or the brocade large enough to feel the spice of the canvas nicely. So ended up just washing it off and starting again. While the acrylic paint is still damp, you can just rinse it off with water and paint over it. Sorry, don't be afraid of making mistakes. It's okay to make adjustments and changes. It's actually really helpful to stand back and look at the composition as a whole while it's in the sketching stage. So that you can make additions and alterations before you go too far. While sketching that just keep the shapes loose and gestural or you're doing it. This point is mocking out the positions of the main elements. We don't need to worry about sketching in all the individual flowers and leaves because that's all going to be painting. You really just need to get the background lines. The vase and the main sunflowers implies and everything will come together later once we start painting, I ended up adding an edge to the table as well to add a bit more of an interesting line to the composition. Because I found that the type will just straight across the back. Was it be boring? And yeah, once you're happy with your sketch, just let it dry completely and then we can read onto them. Okay. 4. Blocking in: Now we get to the fun bit. We're going to start blocking in some background colors to fill in the areas of value and start filling in some cover on the painting. Sorry, the first stage is to mix up a midterm grade. So this is a combination of the yellow and the blue. More blue than yellow. This is how we're getting it to be big DACA. And we're just going to block in loosely some foliage colors in behind the sunflowers. On top of this foliage, there's going to be some daisies and other flowers later on, but we need to paint these leaf shapes and these leaf colors in behind first. So you just want to keep your brush strokes really loose. And think more about the foliage as shapes rather than leaves you can save that are not really painting stereotypical leaf shapes. I'm just blocking mean patches of dark green color. You can vary up the color as well. You can say that I've edited a little bit more yellow into the mixed layer. So there are some lighter areas of the foliage as well. But generally you just want to fill out with leaves are going to obey. You can stand back from your artwork every now and then and have a bit of a look at the overall composition and why you think you need to add a bit more balance. Sometimes the briefcase sitting advisors can be a little bit lopsided. So you can use some of these leaf shapes and these greenery to kind of balance out the areas of your composition as well. But remember, this is just one of the first layers that will be a lot more on top of these lecture on as we progress through the stages. So don't worry too much about trying to get a finished look at this stage. We're just blocking in that some of the green areas. The next area to get blocked in is the center of the sunflowers. So I've just mixed up a really dark color, which is probably a combination of the red and the blue, as well as what are the grain is on my palette. Just to get those real nice deep dark centers, we will be learning those up, light up, but I want to get those docs in now. And I also want to make sure that I have a little bit of darkness in the green that I've added in to just to increase the depth. The next area that's going to get blocked in on this painting is the vase. So I'm mixing up a lot blue color. This is the phthalo blue with some watching it. And you'll notice that while I was painting the foliage, I did add a bit of grain into the vase area to indicate stems and leaves that would be sitting in the vase. Sorry, I'm going to use this light blue color to kind of define their stems a little bit and to paint around the outside fall shape. Again, this is just the blocked in part. We will be adding more detail and more interesting. Area. But I want to get that sort of vivid blue color coming through. Sorry, that's what I am looking in now. While I have that lot of blue on my brush and mix up a bit of a lot of grain just by mixing that blue in with the grain that I already have to add in a few highlights. So you can say this is the process of building up that foliage layout. Just by adding some touches of different grains in different values, you're going to add different layers of depth. So you've got a bit of a darker color underneath. And now I'm putting in some Lassa, more bluey green colors on top just to vary it up political beak. And that should really help to books in our composition and to emphasize the broker. I've mixed up a really light color. And now I know that on screen this looks like pure white. But it's not, it's actually why with a little bit of blue in it. So it's not a total pure white, but I do want it to have a really strong contrast and a really strong value change from the docs that we have in the painting already. So I wanted to really do ask bright color. So this is just a really light color. I'm a blocking in the background area. So you can see that I am just loosely going around the edge of the Baroque and the edge of the leaves. And using the white to kind of highlight as if those light coming through. So if you can think of it as backlighting, I want some of that background to come through. So we're just going to work our way around very loosely adding in this white background, old way around. Also, I know that the top of the painting is cut off a little bit. Yeah. I'm sorry that that it's a bit of a challenge to get the camera angle close enough to see everything but at the same time and not where I'm going to get in the way. Sorry, this is the best compromise, but you can understand that all I've done around the top is the same. That is what I've done on the edges of this lift some leaf shapes and filled in the top of the background area. I'm now going to mix up a lot of pink with a similar value as the background to block in the tablecloth and the table area. Pinky up because I felt that would be really nice. The color up against the yellow and the blue. So it's just a combination of the red and some white. Now while I have that on my brush, I am going to be adding some highlights in through the vas as well. Again, I'm not going to do too much detail in the vase just gets because we will be going in to that area, light up. But it's a good idea to sort of get some of that color in them to the vase area. And as I get down around to the bottom of the vase, I want to create the illusion of a bit of a shadow. So to do that, I'm just going to add in a little bit of the blue that I used with the vase to create a purple shadow. Now you need to make sure that all of these gray that is dried completely. Sorry, I pause the video and gave it a bit of a blast with my hair dryer. But you need to make sure it's dry because we're going to start painting in some of the other elements of flowers on top. Which means that if the green paint was wet underneath, it would just mix up with the wet paint. You put it on top and it would just make MOD. So sit outside for a few minutes, All blast it with a hairdryer to make sure it's dry. And then we can start thinking about adding in some of the other elements within these brachii. Sorry. What I've done to start with is I've mixed up a really bright yellow color because we're going to start blocking in the sunflower petals. So this is just the cadmium yellow with a little bit of white in it because, sorry, not the cadmium yellow. The Media Gallery. Cadmium because you can substitute beam for a similar color. But you want it to be a little bit more opaque because it can be a bit transparent. So if you add a touch of white, it's going to be a little bit more opaque. And so you get a bit more coverage. But you're just going to really loosely blocking in the shapes of the petals. Try and think if the miss shapes, not petals, sorry, you'll notice that I'm not really shaping them to be too perfect. I'm just blocking in the yellow column because we're going to go in with a little bit more detail later on. We just need to get the base of the flower. So you want your paint to be nice and thick. You don't want it to be transparent and watery. It needs to cover are about that background. Sorry, make sure it's not watery and just pop it down really loosely. I find that sunflower petals really. So that can be quite floppy. They don't need to be so precise. So I know the temptation is sometimes to paint them really perfect and pointing, but I find that they have a little bit more character to them. If you make them a little bit Jaggard and sort of floppy in shape rather than perfect pointed sunflower petals. I think that makes sense. 5. Sunflowers: Now once these initial block in layers are completely dry, we can start to work on building up a bit more interest and building up some other details within the painting. So the first thing that we're gonna do is we're going to work from the flowers. They're the furthest away to the foreground. You want to paint the ones that are further away and Carter tucked in behind everything else first. Because then you can paint foliage and leaves and the top of them and it will push them back in the painting. So there's a little sunflower at the back of this bouquet that I want to paint first. So I'm mixing up a nice light, bright yellow just by using the yellow and a little bit of white and adding in an extra layer of petals. Now, I don't want to paint over the petals that I've already put there exactly because sunflowers kind of have a few different layers of petals in them. So I'm just going to add in a few lighter pixels on top. And once I've done that, I can then come in with a lighter green and some water foliage and put that in front of the sunflower a little bit. This is going to push that back into the bar k and make it appear as though he's sitting in behind stuff. And the color that I've mixed up here for this foliage, it's a bit more of a turquoise Ebola. We greeny color. So it's a combination of the yellow and blue over. It's got a little bit more blue and white in it, just to change it up a little bit. Every time you paint in a different green foliage color, you want it to be a different value and a different tone to the color that you've already put down. Otherwise, once it's dry, it's not going to look any different. So in order to get that build up of layers, you need to alter the value and alter the color that you putting down each time. It can sometimes be difficult to tell as well because acrylic paint dries darker. So sometimes you think you'll mix up a lighter color, but once it's dry, it's not really that different. So be bold with your color mixes and it's better to sort of go a bit lighter than what you expect it to be, because you can darken it up again, rather than coming in with a color that doesn't have enough of a value change because you're not really going to see that change. So now we're just going to start filling out the foliage. As you can see, I'm adding in there some lighter, fresher greens because I sorted by ID and a bit of a cool blue-green before, I'm now going for a woman yellow green. Again, to add in a bit more interest and a bit moral value change. And I'm still not really painting the leaves. I'm painting some dabs and shapes of leaves that I'm not really worrying too much about the monkey for size and letting the brush do the work for me. Now before I go in and do the details on the sunflowers that have more in the foreground. I want to add a little bit more color and interests by adding in some different colored flowers. Because I don't want it to be just the stuff that was in the original inspiration picture. There's some pink flowers and some wild flowers. So I'm going to add in some areas of light pink, just some dots and dashes and blobs of color because you really don't need to go into too much detail with these kind of background filler flowers at brine is really, really good at interpreting shapes and turning them into themes. Sorry, because this already has the feeling of a break high A-flat was any kind of color that you put in on top of that green foliage is going to be interpreted by your brain and by the viewer as being flowers. Sorry, I've mixed up these really pretty pink color using the red and the white. You can add in a little bit of the yellow as well to woman up of B. And I'm just adding in dabs of color. In order to create a bit of dimension and a bit of interest, you can launch an up that color and add in another layer of lushness that will give it a bit of depth and appear as dark. These little flowers have different shaped petals and you can add them anyway. Sorry, you can say, I'm just randomly putting them around. I like to sort of put them around here and there. And even just little dots of this color is going to appear as though the buds and amongst the flowers. Sorry, just be free with it and use your own intuition and put them way at. You feel like I need to be now that those pink flowers and that we can come in and put a bit more detail into the other sunflowers. Sorry. We're going to do exactly the same thing as what we did with the back sunflower. I'm going to mix up a, brought a vision of the yellow. Sorry. This is just the yellow with a bit more watching it. And I'm going to go are the petals that we already have. But like I mentioned earlier, you don't have to paint it exactly the same shape because. It's okay to leave a little bit that initial background color on the flowers because that's going to just create a different layout and a different depth to the petals. Sorry, again, making sure that you paint is nice and thick and keeping it really sort of loose and fluid. I'm just painting in these shapes. You can vary up the yellow as well by adding in a little bit more white. So you can see that I've added in a bit more water into the mixture, and this adds a bit of a highlight to some of the areas of each pedal on one side. Okay. Hello. As if the camera in a little bit closer, just to show you that a bit more detail of how I'm producing these petals, because it's sometimes, it'll have to discard. So you can see I've got like a lot of FECA color and you can see what I mean when I said that it needs to be really opaque. So this color is not transparent at all. It needs to be really thick and opaque so that the layers of the foliage underneath don't show through. And I'm giving the petals of the pivot point at the end. And I'm letting the brush dreamers to the work for me. Hello. The key thing to remember here, I guess the main thing is that you try not to make this look too realistic. The misuse and the more sort of brush strokes that you can use, the bitter because we're painting impressionism, we're not painting realism. And so the keto impressionism is to get that feeling of lushness and mark-making and brushstrokes in order to get the form of whatever it is you're painting. Sorry. Don't worry too much about getting correct locks and shades. You can say that I'm sort of ageing and highlights here and there and just changing the value of the yellow and adding touches of lata. That's going to create a bit of a 3D look. But just have fun with it. Try not to worry too much about the petals being perfect. It's an interpretation of a sunflower. It's not a real sunflower. Continue to play around with the sunflowers and add some finishing touches as you see fit. You can add just little touches of highlights. You can also go back into the centers of the sunflowers and we've sort of purplish bluish color. You can add a bit of a highlight into the centers. Again, don't go into too much detail with the centers of the sunflowers. I know that in real life they have lots of little seeds and things in there. I'm not really interested in demonstrating how to paint little saids. I tend to just keep it really loose and free. Sorry, I'll just add a few marks of different purples and a bit of a highlight in the center just to finish it off. And then I'll leave it. 6. Finishing touches: We've now reached a stage where we're going to be adding some finishing details and bringing the whole painting together. And we're gonna do that by adding in some of these pretty little daisies that help to break up the sunflowers. To start Python is I've got a small flat brush mixed up some white paint. And I'm just using the flat brush to create flat shapes around in a circle as the daisy petals would seat. Sorry, this is a really super easy technique and you can make these big or small. However you like. You can also do kind of half daisies and just little dots of what as buds. And you can pop these wir vielleicht, um, I sort of clustered them together, but it's up to you. You can put as many or as few as you like. And it's really good to sort of break up the pink and the yellow and add little bit more interest. Sorry. If you want to fill the diocese out and give them more petals, and you can just come in with some more white and create another layer of petals and bulky out the fields of the disease a little bit. And Sam is the sunflowers just play around with it until you are happy. Okay. To finish off the daisies, we're just going to mix up a bit of an orange color by mixing the red and the yellow together. We're just going to add a little orange santa to each of the flowers. You might also feel as though you need to brighten up some of the grains just to help balance apps, the colors in the painting. So I've mixed up a really fresh lime green by using the grain, sorry, the blue and the yellow. But this time I've added a lot more yellow into the mixed up. So I've got this really fresh fibrin grain and just adding a few dots and dashes of that around the painting a little bit. Now I want to start bringing a bit more light and reflections into the values area of flowers. Sorry, by doing that, I'm going to mix up a light color because I want it to appear as though the loss is coming through the vase. So this is a glass vase and it would have reflections and why bouncing around inside it. Sorry, I've mixed up a nice light blue color. And I'm going to use that to add some highlights here in there. You want to use this light color to cut in around some of the stems in the gloss because where the stems are, that's going to remain quiet doc. And either sot of the stems, it's going to be lot with lots coming through. So kinda keep that in mind when you're doing this. And also you can make up a lot of color as well to bring even stronger highlights scene. And I like to keep these shapes kind of vague and abstract. Because if you get too fussy with it, so slips a bit more into realism. So you just kinda wanna get the feeling that lot is reflecting in amongst this vessel. Now that we've added Latin, the loss, I want to brighten up the tablecloth and also create a bit of a shadow. So to do that with mixed up, I brought a pink because remember the type cloth we made a pink color. So I've just mixed up a much cleaner, brought a version of that color and I'm going to catch back in again. And paint are the way the tablecloth these, except where the shadow would fall from this bar k. I'm going to leave that to this darker pink color. So it's a little bit of negative painting that I have done in some of my other painting videos. So if you guys my profile and have a look at some of the other floral painting. Listens, you will say a bit more information about these, but essentially, I just want to leave the shadow area as the background color. And so I'm just going to add in this deck old cone of light with the lighter color, a pink. And you'll see that this creates a really strong sense of light being shown and directed from behind the vase. And it helps us sort of sent to the vase and sort of white at Dan as well because it needs to have a bit of a shadow. So that's what I'm doing here. Yes. Okay. Now that I've lightened up the tablecloth, I also want to lighten up the background behind the galaxy. Sorry, I've mixed up again a lot of vision of the car, but I've already, his soldiers added mobile options that mixture. And now I'm going to keep going around that follows and add some highlights. This background color. Hello. Some things to say. Hi guys. So now we're really starting to get into the final touches to adjust your painting depending on what job. You had some paintings. Lot edited them, some manmade, some more dark to them. In my particular case, because of AGI, so much light, I am now going to come in and add some doc touches, a really dark blue. So this is a combination of the blue and the red together. And I'm going to add a few shutters in and around underneath the bars and also add some, some dark spots where I feel like it needs a little bit more depth. Because once you add in a whole heap of loudness, sometimes you need to come back in again and balanced that we'd some doc to create nice contrast. So I'm just going to add in a few dark areas and a few final touches. And then I think we can probably call this painting finished. So here is my finished painting. I really enjoyed liking this. I think it looks well, it's fresh. It's bright. It's a very happy painting, is it? And I hope you guys enjoyed watching it. If you have any comments or questions, make sure you leave a response down below and I'll do my best to get back to you. Well, sorry, Give you do create a painting from this tutorial. I love seeing them and I know that others that do the project and locked to see what other people's interpretations are as well. Sorry, you can't actually add images of your outlooks in the discussion area of this project page. Sorry. Yeah, I'd love to see them and I really hope that you enjoyed this tutorial. I do have a few other floral tutorials similar to these available. Sorry, if you go to my profile, you'll be able to save them. There's a few different types of flowers that you can height. I also have some other things such as landscapes that you can follow as well. Say, it was a lovely teaching you today and I hope you enjoyed it. Or how did that happen?