How to Paint Sunflowers Like a Van Gogh

What You Will Need For This Tutorial

Watercolor Paints

We recommend Arteza Watercolor Set, which includes 48 vibrant colors and a metal palette. It’s perfect for beginners and professionals alike. Also, it’s non-toxic and great for mixing colors. You can also use acrylic paints, but we find watercolor gives the most realistic sunflower look.

Acrylic Paints

We recommend Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paint Tube Set because it includes 48 colors and has a high pigment load for maximum color saturation. It also dries quickly, which is important for layering and blending colors. If you don’t have acrylic paints, you can also use watercolor for layering.


We recommend a set of Kolinsky Sable Watercolor Brushes, which includes round, flat, and filbert brush shapes for various techniques. It’s important to have a range of brush sizes for precise detailing and larger strokes.


We will use PHOENIX Stretched Watercolor Canvas for this tutorial. The texture is perfect for watercolor and acrylic paints, and it’s available in various sizes to fit your needs.

Watercolor Paper

We also recommend a pad of Arches Watercolor Paper Block, 300 lb because it’s high quality, durable, and has a texture that helps the paint glide on smoothly. Also, it’s acid-free and won’t yellow over time.

How to Paint Sunflowers

The best way to paint sunflowers is to start by sketching out the basic outline of the flower with a pencil on paper. Then, use a thin brush to fill in the petals with a light yellow color. Once the petals are dry, use a darker yellow color to paint the tips of the petals. Finally, use a brush with black ink to add detail to the center of the flower.

Getting Started

There are a few things you should keep in mind when starting to paint sunflowers. First, it’s important to select the right type of canvas or paper to use. You’ll want something that has a bit of texture to it, which will help give your painting some visual interest.

Secondly, you’ll need to choose the right colors. A good rule of thumb is to use warm colors for the petals and yellow for the center of the sunflower.

Finally, make sure you take your time and practice often; it may take a few tries before you get the flowers exactly how you want them!

How to Paint a Sunflower on a Canvas

1. Choose your Colors

To begin, choose your base color for the sunflower petals. Van Gogh often used a bright yellow, but feel free to use whatever color you prefer. Next, select a darker shade of yellow or orange for the center of the flower and brown or green for the stem and leaves.

2. Paint a Circle

Then, using the base color for your petals, paint a large circle in the center of your canvas. This will serve as the base for your sunflower.

If you want to add texture, consider using a dry brush technique or lightly dabbing the paint onto the canvas.

3. Fill the Circle with Brown

Next, using the brown color, paint small circles inside the larger circle to create a center for your sunflower. If desired, add a few small green lines to create the look of leaves peeking out from behind the petals. It’s okay if they’re not perfect – Van Gogh’s sunflowers were often wonky and asymmetrical.

4. Add Petals

To paint the sunflower petals, use a combination of short, choppy brush strokes and longer, sweeping strokes. Apply yellow paint first, then add orange and red for a more realistic look.

If you want to add depth, use the darker shade of yellow or orange to paint shadowed areas on some of the petals.

5. Add Leaves and Stems

Using darker shades of green, paint the sunflower leaves and stems, curving them around the flower to create a natural look. Remember to vary the sizes and shapes of your leaves for added realism. If desired, add a few small brush strokes of brown to create depth and shadow.

6. Color the Background and Leaves

Finally, use a light green or blue color to paint the background and add accents to the leaves. Also, consider adding a few small daubs of brown or green to enhance the appearance of shadows. If you want to add even more depth, use a darker shade for the shadowed areas.

7. Color the Petals Yellow

To add a pop of color, use yellow paint to highlight the sunflower petals. Apply it with quick, choppy brush strokes for a more natural look.

8. Add Shadows and Highlights

To complete the painting, use darker shades to add shadows and lighter shades to add highlights. This will give the sunflower a more three-dimensional appearance.

Also, consider adding a few small dabs of brown or green for added depth.

9. Add Finishing Touches

To finish off your sunflower painting, consider adding some final details such as small yellow dots in the center or additional leaves and stems. Sign your name and admire your Van Gogh-inspired masterpiece!

How to Paint Watercolor Sunflowers

1. Choose Colors

To achieve Van Gogh’s famous sunflower color scheme, use yellow ocher, cadmium yellow, and hansa yellow for the petals. For the center of the flower, mix a bit of burnt umber with your yellow ocher to create a more earthy tone.

2. Sketch in Pencil

Using light strokes, sketch the outline of your sunflower on your watercolor paper. Be sure to include the stem and leaves as well. If you need a reference, try finding a photo online or using real sunflowers as inspiration.

3. Paint the Circle

Start by painting the center of the sunflower using your burnt umber and yellow ocher mixture. Add in small dabs of cadmium yellow for highlights.

4. Paint the Petals

Using a small brush, paint in the petals using your yellow ocher, cadmium yellow, and hansa yellow. Don’t worry about making them perfect – Van Gogh’s sunflowers were often slightly misshapen and imperfect.

5. Add Shadows and Highlights

Using a darker shade of yellow or brown, add shadows to the petals and center. Use white paint or a wet brush to add highlights as well.

6. Paint the Stem and Leaves

Using a mix of sap green and burnt umber, paint the stem and leaves of the sunflower. Add in darker shades for shadows and lighter shades for highlights.

7. Touch up and Add Finishing Details

Evaluate your painting and touch up any areas that may need more color or definition. Add in small details like seeds in the center or additional leaves, if desired. Also, be sure to sign your painting before displaying it proudly.

Tips & Tricks

  • When mixing colors, start with a small amount and gradually add more until you achieve the desired shade.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – watercolor paint is easily fixable as long as the paper hasn’t dried.
  • Experiment with different color combinations and brush stroke techniques to make each sunflower unique.
  • Use a reference photo or real sunflowers as inspiration, but don’t be afraid to add your own creative touch.
  • If you’re feeling stuck or unsure, try finding a tutorial or taking a watercolor class for more guidance.
  • When displaying your finished sunflower painting, choose a frame or mat that complements the colors in your piece.
  • Take breaks throughout the painting process to give your mind and hand rest. This will allow you to approach the painting with fresh eyes and catch any mistakes or areas that may need more work.
  • Use quality materials such as high-grade watercolor paper and paint for best results.
  • Use masking fluid to preserve white areas of your painting.
  • Also, remember to have fun and enjoy the process! Painting sunflowers should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

People Also Ask

What colors do I need to paint a sunflower?

Sunflowers come in a range of colors, but yellow and orange are the most popular. Some people might prefer to use light shades for the petals, while others may want to go with darker colors. In any case, it's important to pick colors that will stand out against the background. For the stem and leaves, green is a natural choice, but brown or black can also be used to create a more contrasted look. Experiment with different color combinations to see what looks best on your sunflower painting.

How do you draw an easy sunflower step by step?

There are a few ways to draw a sunflower. One way is to use the grid method. Draw a square, and then divide it into 16 even squares. Next, draw another square inside the first one and divide it into 16 even squares as well. You will then have a grid with small squares inside of it. Starting from the center of the square, outline your sunflower petals using curved lines. Once you have finished drawing the petals, fill in the center of the flower with a circular shape. Finally, color in your sunflower however you like!

How do you paint a sunflower with one stroke?

To start, you'll need to sketch out a basic outline of the sunflower on your canvas. Next, use a thin brush to paint the petals yellow. Once the petals are dry, use a darker shade of yellow to paint around the edges of each petal. Finally, use a black brush to add some highlights in the center of each petal. And that's it! You've now painted a beautiful sunflower with just one stroke.

How do you paint sunflower petals acrylic?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to paint sunflower petals acrylic may vary depending on the individual artist's style and preferences. However, some tips on how to paint sunflower petals acrylic include using thin layers of paint to create a gradual effect, starting with the lightest colors and adding darker colors towards the center of the petal, and using a brush with flexible bristles for greater control.

How to paint a sunflower field?

To paint a sunflower field, you'll need to start with the sky. Add a few fluffy white clouds for some contrast and then work in some yellow and orange tones to create the sun. Once the sky is done, move on to the sunflowers. Start by painting the stems in a light green color, then add in the yellow petals. Be sure to add lots of detail and vary the sizes of the flowers for realism. Finally, paint in the brown stems and leaves for the finishing touches.

How to paint sunflowers in a vase?

There are a few things to consider when painting sunflowers in a vase. The first is the perspective of the painting. It's important to think about how large the vase is in comparison to the sunflowers and to place them accordingly within the frame. Secondly, it's important to capture the light and color of the sunflowers accurately. This can be done by using bright colors and lots of white space in the painting. Finally, it's important to add detail to both the flowers and the vase for realism.

How to paint sunflowers for beginners?

There are a few things to keep in mind when painting sunflowers. The first is to capture the bright, golden color of the sunflower petals. You can do this by using yellow or gold paint and adding white to it to lighten the color. Another important thing to remember is to paint the petals with short, quick strokes. This will help create a sense of movement and will make your painting more life-like. Finally, don't forget the shadows! Painting shadows underneath and around the sunflowers will give your painting more depth and realism.

Congratulations and Keep It Up!

You’ve just finished reading our guide on how to paint sunflowers like Van Gogh, and we hope you’re feeling inspired! Painting is a great way to relax and express yourself, and with a little practice, you can create beautiful works of art like Vincent van Gogh. We encourage you to keep up the good work and be sure to share your paintings with us on social media or in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

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