Post Season “Sunshine”

All images©Bivenne Staiger

Photographed only after two to three layers were first applied to this painting, the washes are nevertheless straight-forward: A thin layer of yellow is quickly painted across most sketched shapes. When dry, saturated yellow in a creamy consistency establishes specific petals and the local color of the flower’s interior, and finally, warm and cool shadows begin to establish form.

All images©Bivenne Staiger

Shadows are more fully developed with saturated color, and vary in temperature for visual interest.

All images©Bivenne Staiger

Because green is made of yellow and blue, the local color of the sunflower’s foliage is now loosely and strategically added over parts of the yellow wash, which was painted across all shape edges earlier.

While the green dries, the flower’s interior is painted with a round brush in a dirty yellow, and while still wet in some places, very dark paint is dropped in to suggest the dark base of that mass. Paper is dry where dark parts have more definition.

All images©Bivenne Staiger

With Aureolin + Cerulean, leaves are painted as negative space shapes to their paler veins. The leaf at bottom is pale at its left to suggest light there. First that lit space is dampened with clean water and then paint is added, dry-on-wet, from the vein’s edge and allowed to bleed leftward.

Sunflower Sunshine, Watercolor, 12×16″ ©Bivenne Staiger 2020

Before painting the large space at bottom left and all the way up the left side to the top left, several brushes are loaded with extra paint in a creamy consistency, each of a separate color: blue, green, and ultra-dark green. Most of the bottom corner is quickly covered with green, the color visible under the shortest flower petal at center left. Then the “black” – or, rather, dark green – is tapped into the wet paint and allowed to bleed a bit. Its dry-on-wet application contains the spread of paint on the wet paper. At lower left, blue is added similarly to the wet green space. As the space is covered with paint, very quick decisions are made to add and, more critically, vary background color, value, and shapes, suggesting less important object shapes and a sense of depth, and to keep edges soft. Finally, darkest, smaller shapes placed around the painting unify the piece.

This was done as a Zoom demonstration for my watercolor painting class at Yale Peabody Museum ( I will be offering more classes and workshops via Zoom next semester, and beginning in January, 2021.

4 thoughts on “Post Season “Sunshine”

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