View Full Version : Sunflower Still Life (background help needed)

Strawberry Wine
09-29-2003, 05:23 PM
After noon Everyone: I worked on this yesterday and today. Reference photo by Tessp. ThanK's Tess.

!/4 sheet. Bockingford 200 CP, Mostly Van Gogh paints.

Reference image:http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/29-Sep-2003/13320-sunflowers-by-tessp-ref.jpg

Here is what I have done so far . There is more room on the sides and bottom than shows in the scan. About 2 inches to the left of the fruit and vase and about 1 1/2 inches on the bottom.

I am stumped on a type of background and what everything is sitting on so I have not placed in any shadows as yet. Light source coming from the right. What would you do?

Suggestions and critique on what I have done so far; appreciated .


Thanks for looking,


09-29-2003, 05:27 PM
How about a real wild purple background? This is what I mean http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=71644

It just an Idea, waiting to see what others say!


09-29-2003, 05:46 PM
Gail...great work on the flowers!:clap:

You know this is one of the most painted pics on WC!

I can only tell you what I did:


But I think the possibilities are endless...how about playing with it in PHOTOSHOP???

09-29-2003, 05:48 PM
great picture...i would go for indigo or dark blue background. I think i wouldn't have the fruit in it. The sunflowers are great as is

09-29-2003, 05:52 PM
Yellow sunflowers with purple background - poetry! :D

Sunflowers are fantastic! :clap:


09-29-2003, 05:58 PM
I like purple....

Great flowers!

Strawberry Wine
09-29-2003, 06:11 PM
Thanks All for Looking

Harry: I like the idea of purple, not sure if I am ready to go that wild Yet:)

Pam: I like your background, and love the purple shadows on the petals. Is it too late for me to add some purple or will I just make mud! Tess's photo is wonderful , no wonder, it is popular.

Ruth: ^^^^ /thinking about purple.

Momsy, Sort of liked the fruit but you may be right.

Anyone else's thoughts on this??? I could scrub them out.

Mary: They were fun to paint.

Waiting to hear concensus on fruit and colour for table, before I continue.

Thanks all


09-29-2003, 06:33 PM
not sure , Gail

what yellows did you use?

09-29-2003, 06:38 PM
This is going to be really great, how about blue with the salt thingy!

Strawberry Wine
09-29-2003, 06:39 PM

Gamboge and a lemon yellow and a bit of yellow ochre.


P.S. what do you think about the fruit. ???
I had the idea of introducing some of the yellow lower down and also wanted emphasize the size of the sunflower blossoms.

Strawberry Wine
09-29-2003, 06:41 PM
Hi Jan : We must have cross posted, I was originally thinking UMB and the salt thing is a good suggestion.


09-29-2003, 06:57 PM
Why the fruit? Just asking...the bananas are going to go black...
I know...banana bread;-D
No fruit..doesn't add to the subject matter.
Take care,

09-29-2003, 06:58 PM
Gail, I think your fruits are well rendered and I like them. A bluish-purple background with a judicious use of salt could look really good with this.

I'll be back to see what you decide!! :)


BTW--the sunflowers are terrific!!!!!

09-29-2003, 07:36 PM
Hi Gail... I'm thinking that the fruit needs to go... sorry... the sunflowers are so beautiful that you really don't want them sharing attention with the fruit... IMHO... And like Ruth, I'd love a purple background... Good luck... cyber hand holding with you on this one!

09-29-2003, 07:52 PM
Originally posted by Strawberry Wine

Gamboge and a lemon yellow and a bit of yellow ochre.


P.S. what do you think about the fruit. ???
I had the idea of introducing some of the yellow lower down and also wanted emphasize the size of the sunflower blossoms.

i agre ...I think the fruit adds nothing....

I would be careful with purple shadows on those yellows...try it first on scrap

Agree with PURPLE BG....would be great!!!!

Strawberry Wine
09-29-2003, 08:16 PM
Brian: Bananas, cause they are yellow. Guess they are going in the compost, I am not too fond of banana bread, matter of fact, I hate bananas, What was I thinking, ????

Fruit to be scrubbed out tomorrow. Hmm, I really did like the way the apple was turning out SIGH!!!!

Char: Thanks for the cyber hand, I am going to need it putting in the background.

Pam: Will try purple on scrap piece.

Lyn: I will paint the fruit again in a bowl, all by itself. sigh, It was good practice though.

Thanks guys, now a nice wooden table or a counter top for the vase to sit on. or something muted, and not distinct.


lyn lynch
09-30-2003, 12:41 AM
Could use the table as it appears in Tess photo; she does an excellent job of scene setting. I never tire of seeing this reference portrayed, it is that spectacular, and I'm not even a fan of sunflowers. In fact, I've saved the reference to my HD, not that I will be painting it, but I do have a frame all picked out.

Glad you decided to 'X' the fruit--unnecessary, and even distracting.

Yes, to purple, even letting it run and merge w/a dark bluish-purple. I have Ultramarine Violet and Ultramarine Blue on my palette and that's what I would use. The UMV is NOT deep like Cobalt Violet, or Perm Violet, but it's complimentary to UMB.

Yes, also to adding some color splats to the petals of the sunnies--it will add more life. If Pam doesn't mind, and you were inclined, you could see how she did it. I wouldn't mind seeing some hits of orange it the petals as well, as orange is compliment to UMB.

Good job on this, though, Gail, just needs a bit of tweaking.

09-30-2003, 01:38 AM
Hi Gail, Nice job on your sunflowers! Love the ref. photo. I agree about the dark purple or blue or bluish purple bg. Neutral table top. Waiting to see the finish! Bringing in Pizza and beer.:D

Strawberry Wine
09-30-2003, 04:21 PM
Thanks Joanne and Fookie for looking ancd commenting.

Fookie: I have let UMB and purple run together and have added salt. Scrubbed the fruit. I took quite a bit to get it close to paper colour. This will take hours to dry as I have done it very wet into wet.

Joanne: Yumm. Love pizza and a beer would go down quite well as it seems I have developed a horrible sore throat and cold.

Stay well back from the easel everyone.


09-30-2003, 05:52 PM
"hours to dry" Got a hair dryer?

09-30-2003, 07:37 PM
Too bad I am too late, just saw the perfect idea for a background for us who always agonize over it - next time!!!
Flowers look great!!!

09-30-2003, 08:24 PM
*tapping foot impatiently* Is it dry yet?????

09-30-2003, 09:11 PM
Hi Gail, had to pop in and tell you I like the flowers and things sound like they are progressing. I know you worked hard on the fruit but................I think you did the right thing in getting rid of them. I look forward to seeing the results of all your hard work.

Strawberry Wine
10-02-2003, 08:11 PM
Thanks Jim for looking. Actually the fruit was good practice and I can apply that to a Still Life one day soon.

Here I have added the background. Not too happy with what I did, should not try to paint when I am sick with head and chest cold LOL

Anyhow, I have not added any shadows as yet, think this one should really go to the re cylcle bin, but thought I should show it so I can learn what went wrong and how to make the next one more effective.


comments, suggestions and critiques please


Cathie Jones
10-02-2003, 08:16 PM
I don't have a clue how to fix it, but I see a floor, not a table. The flowers are great!

10-02-2003, 09:58 PM
I wouldn't recycle it quite yet! What don't you like? If it's the bg -you could add some more darker purples and maybe some reds. But I don't think it looks bad the way it is. I really like your flowers and vase and who cares about the table - its not the center of interest and it doesn't look bad anyway. Don't be so hard on yourself.:D

10-02-2003, 10:10 PM
GAIL,,,YOUR MAILBOX IS FULL!!!!!:confused: :eek: :eek:

I like this..but I think you are in a value muddle......look at it in grayscale

10-02-2003, 10:12 PM
Too soon for trash can. Yes better without the fruit - "Yes we have no bananas". How about a wash over the petals to make them merge some. Right now each petal is distinct, almost outlined. Just an idea which may not be the way you want to go. I took a wokrshop with Janet Walsh a few years ago and her website would give you an idea of what I mean. The painting has too much going for it not to give it some more work.

10-02-2003, 11:50 PM
Not the time to "give up"
Work on the dark bg...The flowers will start to look better than you think...don't worry about the table just yet...I can see a real good painting here.
take care,

10-03-2003, 01:03 AM
OK...sometimes I just have to say it


10-03-2003, 04:41 AM

This isn't ready for you to throw the towel in quite yet, you just have a little more work to do.

l. Listen to Pam, you still need to add darker colors in your background so the flowers can pop.

2. The flowers are looking very good but they are competing with the shade of purple you used for the bg. Perhaps you could tone it down a little by making it a deeper purple.

3. When you add the shadows it will make a big difference because they are part of what makes that photo so striking.

So make yourself a cup of warm, soothing tea with honey (for your cold), and get out your brushes again when you feel a little better.

10-03-2003, 09:04 AM
Gail, I agree with the others that this still has lots of potential!

You've got some good advice to think about... then you can go back to it when you're ready. :)


Strawberry Wine
10-03-2003, 09:25 AM
Thanks Everyone:

Pam I am not sure why my inbox is full, it only has about 4 messages in it. Will check that out. Also will grey scale it Will empty mail box out now.

Sylvia, Brian. : ^^^^ Darker I will go.

Amelia: I will check out her site, Thanks

Uschi, Have book marked that technique. I love that background.

Cathie and Jo Anne, thanks for the encouragement.

Feeeling better today, so I may tackle this a bit more.


10-05-2003, 07:54 AM
From your initial painting to all the advice you have received, Gail, I can predict this will be absolutely wonderful. Am looking forward to your finish.

10-05-2003, 10:35 AM
Originally posted by fun2cook
From your initial painting to all the advice you have received, Gail, I can predict this will be absolutely wonderful. Am looking forward to your finish.

Don't you dare trash this! Deep purple.... deep purple... deeeeep purple... :D

Cathie Jones
10-05-2003, 10:38 AM
Gail - I have the same bg problem with a wimpy rose-kind-of flower I did yesterday, and I want to thank you for this thread. It's helped me, too! And I like your sunflowers, so I'm waiting impatiently for the next pic!:clap:

10-05-2003, 12:13 PM

I'd send this as a PM but your mailbox is full. LOL!

You not only have to delete all your messages as you receive them, but you also have to go into the MessagesTracking and Sent Messages files and delete them too. Go back a year and see how many messages are still in those folders, you'll be amazed. ;)

Strawberry Wine
10-05-2003, 02:17 PM
Thanks to all for looking and commenting. As always, your advice is extremely appreciated.

I cropped this a bit, Just couldn't get the table to look right (Cathie said "she saw a floor" Too right. Hope this background gives you some ideas for your rose.

Char and Mary Ann, thanks for your support.

Sylvia: Thanks for the advice, MY sent box and message tracking had every mesage still there from a year ago. No one should have any trouble now.

I put a bit of a wash over the petals but think I am going to have to lift some colour again. Anything else?

Thanks Uschi, I used the plastic wrap for the background. It was fun.




10-05-2003, 05:09 PM
Your welcome, Gail, just passing along what I learned from the same experience a little while ago.:rolleyes:

I like both the crop and the background interest you added. Very nice finish.

10-05-2003, 05:19 PM
Hey Gail, love that background!!!!! I wish I remembered these kind of things when I am stuck LOL

Looking good, I do think though that the greenery could use a few darks.

Strawberry Wine
10-05-2003, 05:33 PM
Thanks Sylvia : Also got your PM, thanks for the instructions, I will use it the next time.

Uschi : I think more greens too.



10-05-2003, 06:23 PM
Aren't you glad you didn't trash this???? It looks lovely. Agree w others about darks in greens. Great finish!:D

Strawberry Wine
10-05-2003, 09:09 PM
Thank you Joanne: Will definitely add some more dark greens to it.

Thanks to all for your encouragement and suggestions.


10-05-2003, 09:22 PM
Hi Gail

I would love to get stuck into this painting with my pen and ink, great composition, and great photo, I'm going to have a go at this, but on canvas and in acrylic, Ive been looking for a good sunflower pic.

How about ink then?


Strawberry Wine
10-05-2003, 09:43 PM
Hi Henry:

Actually, somewhere about half way through this, I was thinking about ink. Didn't have a clue on how to go about it though.

Ref photo in the RIL by tessp.

Thanks for your comments.


10-05-2003, 09:58 PM
The background really looks good - I've got to remember the plastic wrap thing. I agree about the darker greens. Also in looking at the glass - it hardly changes the color of the stems but completly changes the background - could get some of the background color in the glass along with some of the lighter you have already - maybe/maybe not - just a thought.

Strawberry Wine
10-05-2003, 10:16 PM
Amelia: Thank you for commenting on the glass. It is a bit bluer in real life, but I agree it needs to be worked on.

I was getting so frustrated with this painting that I posted without looking at the finer details with a more critical eye. I think I will just let it rest for a week or so and put in the final touches when I am not so sick of looking at it.



10-05-2003, 11:38 PM
:clap: :clap: YES:clap: :clap:

don't you feel better???????????????

10-06-2003, 08:04 PM
Turned out great, Gail!:clap:

11-01-2003, 12:12 AM
Your flowers are very expressive. If you darken the background it will bring your flowers and your glass forward, then you can give it a more rounded shape and ground your fruit. Are the fruit actually needed? Just wondering. I love to use Paynes Gray, though the obvious choice here would be a purple or blue- but then perhaps you do not wish to do the obvious. Lovely beginning.