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How to Paint a Sunflower Easy DIY for Beginners with One Brush

Sunflowers are one of those flowers that are so pretty and easy to paint! This how to paint a sunflower easy DIY for beginners is for all skill levels, and all you need is one brush to do the entire painting in this acrylic painting tutorial! This method doesn’t work as well for a watercolor painting just acrylic paint …that tutorial will be coming soon!

how to paint a sunflower tutorial DIY

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Supplies needed to paint this acrylic on canvas sunflower painting are: A pre-primed artist canvas, a round synthetic brush larger than a size 7 or a filbert brush ( you cans also use flat brush on it’s side),

The colors to paint a sunflower for this easy simple sunflower are basically different shades of yellow. You can use craft paint or a heavier body acrylic paint. The craft paint colors used are Burnt Umber, Aloe, Antique Gold, Bright Yellow, Banana Cream, Light Buttermilk, and Snow White. You can find supplies here.

To use artist’s colors to paint this acrylic sunflower painting, use Cadmium Orange Medium, Yellow Ochre, Medium Yellow, Primary Yellow, Burnt Umber, (Sap Green if you want to paint a stem and leaves) and  Titanium White.

While I centered my sunflower painting and made it a larger scale on the canvas, you could also size it slightly smaller and paint it off of the edge of the canvas or in a corner to add a leaves and stem.

Draw a circle to paint a sunflower

I started my sunflower by painting a white background with snow white (titanium white) on my pre-primed canvas. While you can use a color as your background and base coat that first, I preferred to paint my background in after for this sunflower painting.

To create the center of your sunflower, use a pencil to draw a circle. You can free-hand this or, use something as a guide such as a can or plastic container lid. The size of your circle depends on your canvas size or how large you would like your final flower to be. My  canvas is  8 x8 inches and my circle is about 4 inches across. This is going to look crazy in the beginning and by making very easy single strokes will come together in the end to be a beautiful sunflower painting!

Use your brush and the Burnt Umber paint to follow your pencil line and paint the rough outer edge of the circle.

Use a round brush to create dark flower petals

Load the round brush with dark brown (burnt umber) paint, and press the brush to the canvas, placing more pressure in the middle and lifting up closer to the center of the circle. It’s OK if they overlap and don’t look super neat or tidy. This is going to create our layers of petals. Use the tip of that round brush to push down slightly at the bottom part of the petals to create the petal variation. Make sure to rinse brush between colors.

If you’re enjoying this painting technique, try this easy hydrangea flower painting tutorial

Layer burnt orange paint to create more sunflower petals

Continue around the circle, covering the edge of that circle, spacing them kind of evenly… but it’s OK if they aren’t uniform, they aren’t in nature either. Once the entire circle has been done, move onto Burnt Orange (Cadmium orange medium)paint and repeat the same pattern with the top and bottom parts of the petals.

Paint the next flower layer with Antique Gold

In this paint a sunflower easy DIY, let the first two layers of paint dry  slightly and then paint a layer of petals in Antique Gold (Medium Yellow), using the same pressing technique in the direction of the petal to create the rest of the petals of the sunflower head. It’s ok if the paint is not a solid coat with each petal and it’s uneven yellow paint. It will all work out in the end.

Keep your stroke direction while painting consistent for best results. It helps the strokes blend into each other as you layer color especially as you paint the back petals.

Paint the next layer of sunflower petals a with bright yellow

Add the next layer and work around the entire middle circle, and with each layer going progressively lighter in paint colors from a golden yellow to a lighter yellow hue working though Bright Yellow, Banana Cream, and Light Buttermilk. leave some little white spaces between as you work. Layering these colors this way will give a nice color dimension. As you go you will start to cover the darker part of the paint and the front petals will become bright yellow petals.

If you want to create additional colors, mix equal amounts of each yellow hue with white paint , or the cadmium medium orange and continue to layer your colors darkest color to light with your sunflower petals.

Add bright yellow to create a suflower petals

After working around the rest of the circle, paint a few white lines as the final top layer of petals in Snow White (Pure Titanium White) to make a few petals pop,  and let the canvas dry. This layering of color will give the effect of the sunflower petals laying on top of each other.

Add a layer of Buttermilk in acrylic paint

If you noticed on my sunflower petals, some of the paint was still wet and it mixed a bit. I really like the way it looks because it gives a depth to the sunflower painting and creates soft white lines in the petals.

Let the canvas dry. Once the petals are completely fry, use the brush and burnt umber to paint the center of the sunflower at the bottom of the petals. Using a stippling or pouncing motion with a little burnt umber on the tip of the brush helps this to look a little more realistic.

Use Burnt Umber to paint the sunflower center

Once the center of the sunflower is painted in, with the very tip of the brush, pick up some white paint and stipple it to create little bright white dots on  top of the Burnt Umber with the still wet white paint in the center.

Stipple white paint in the center of the sunflower

It works better if the Burnt Umber is still a little wet and mixes a little with the white paint. The stippling will give the dots a soft texture as the paint mixes. You can also add little dots of orange paint too to add more depth and contrast, or even a little black (even though it’s not on the supply list.).

Paint on the exterior of the canvas in Aloe

After the center is completed, use Aloe acrylic paint  to paint around the outside of the sunflower painting. You can have fun here and paint the outer part whatever color you want. Paint the background Ultramarine Blue as a bright, deep blue sky against a cheerful yellow sunflower.

Easy painted sunflower DIY on canvas

This would also be the time you could add some green leaves. Just like the petals, paint your dark values first like burnt umber as under painting, and then your sap green over the top. Let the sunflower painting dry completely, and then display!

Easy painted sunflower DIY on canvas

It’s so pretty, that doing a cluster of these in a painting in different sizes would be gorgeous!  I hope you enjoy this acrylic painting sunflower tutorial, and if you make one, please share it with me on social media! I would love to see it! If you love painting  and art tutorials, please check out this how to paint a pumpkin canvas, how to paint clouds,  and a still life paper cut orange bowl.

Sunflower painted pillow by Jennifer Rizzo

You can also find the pillow and art print here if you would like to just buy a version of this painting.