Sunflowers are among my most popular creations. In fact, Holding on to summer (below) has danced away to a new forever home this very week.
Its title is apt. Sunflower paintings are a great gift at this time of year, when the approach of winter starts darkening the afternoon hours before you think the light should fade. They bring such a burst of vibrant, golden colour to our walls.
This is one of the reasons I picked a trio of sunflower creations to display at PlantsDOTcom this November. If you're in or near Otley, pop in and enjoy the art wall while all Dot's glorious green houseplants tempt you to take them home. She's got some great new plant gifts in stock too. Definitely worth a look.
Exuberance: The diptych on display at Dot's green emporium is one of quite a few creations in which I've had fun with square formats. I do love squares. There's something magical about them. But the harmonious dimensions can be really tricky composition-wise.
Find out more about why square formats are tricky and how I like to combine squares in Collect Art's magazine interview with yours truly. You can also catch a glimpse of some more of my sunflower squares in their online exhibition celebrating square formats. There's a great range of artists and styles taking part, so it's worth a look.
This year is the first year that I've managed to grow my own sunflowers. Usually the birds and beasties get the better of my seeds (or seedlings kindly donated by a sympathetic gardening mate one year). I didn't get a chance to paint them while they were in bloom. But I did snap some photos and am looking forward to using these as inspiration in my studio during the winter months.
If you'd told younger me that I'd end up painting sunflowers every year, I'd have laughed. In terms of the Post-Impressionists, I was always a bigger fan of Cezanne rather than Van Gogh. So, I never aspired to paint sunflowers. In fact, I think we did a Van Gogh sunflower painting exercise in primary school and, ironically now, it didn't inspire me much at all.
But grown up me discovered that sunflowers are really difficult to paint well. Since I like a challenge, they've become an annual favourite painting exercise for me. Plus, they're wonderfully tactile and a great opportunity to indulge my love of textured painting.
One of my newest sunflower square creations from this year is featured in the Collect online exhibition and is almost dry enough to varnish. I'm hoping it'll be ready to take along to a festive market in December but if not, I'll add it to the website in the New Year. Here's a preview for you to enjoy in the meantime: