When I looked out my window last fall and saw the giant sunflower my family and I had planted wilted over and covered in fresh frost, I knew I wanted to draw it. It was so warm and so cold, the details so fresh.
I'm always looking for ways to challenge myself as an artist, and I've known for years that my greatest weakness is my attention span. I struggle to take the time to really nail the picture. I find myself rushing at the end of a piece because I'm so excited and anxious to finish it. When I took this reference I knew I found one to teach me that lesson in patience.
Whether I start with the background or not depends on the subject. I generally prefer to start with the background. Then when I move to the subject. When I draw the subject against a white background, it's easy to get the color wrong as the stark white of the unfinished background make some see it differently.. When I draw the subject against a finished background, I can better see the colors and values. I also, in the case of this drawing, like to save the best for last. Now, I don't always stick to these guidelines. I'm an artist. I jump around in my chaotic fashion, but this drawing really benefitted from drawing the background first.
I'll be honest, by the time I was done with the background, I didn't know what to think. In the past when I've done blurred backgrounds, I started with the subject. This time was different, and I wasn't entirely sure how it would turn out. It worked out really well in the end because I "cut" around the white with the dark background colors. It made it really enjoyable when it came time to put in the details of the flower itself. I really enjoyed working the whites back into it and defining the edges of the flower, and I feel it really payed off.
10.5" x 13.75"
Faber-Castell Polychromos on Arches Hot Press Watercolor Paper, 640gsm.