Oil Pastel Sunflowers

I decided to take a break from painting and work with some oil pastels today. I used to work in pastels quite frequently but haven’t been using them much lately. These days I have been focusing on painting more often. Sometimes it is fun to go back to your roots. 

I enjoy how well oil pastels blend. You can either work softly or go a little more heavy handed and thickly pile it on. When you go thicker it gives the work a 3D effect. It literally pops out of the paper. 

Working with pastels is a great way to learn many of the techniques needed for painting. The blending and layering methods are similar but more convenient for practice because you don’t have to wait for anything to dry. 

Yellow flowers are my favorite. I love how bright and happy they are. Sunflowers remind me of warm, late summer days. I think it’s amazing how sunflowers turn their faces to the sun and follow it across the sky. Like they just can’t get enough of the sun and want to soak in every last ray. Simply fascinating.

I’ve always loved Van Gogh’s sunflower series. When I was a kid, someone gave me a book of Van Gogh’s work and the sunflower still life series always stuck with me. That book inspired my painting journey. I used to try and recreate them with my little kid paint set. I still have a few of those early paintings. Luckily my grandmother saved them and years later I found them tucked away in one of her books.  Over the years those paintings have inspired many more sunflower paintings. 

During my semester abroad in Holland I was lucky enough to see them in person at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I went to visit them a few times that summer. I remember standing and just staring at them in the gallery for a long time. I loved looking at them up close to see the texture of the oil paint on the canvas. The cracks in the paint. The ridges and furrows. You can know a painting for so long and when you see it in person you almost can’t believe it. Art museums are amazing like that.

Today I did a little still life that was inspired by a bouquet I made last summer. I chose to zoom in a little and omit the vase and the background in the original photo and really focus on just the sunflowers. I took some shots up close so you can see the texture of the oil pastels. 

Liz

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