Mythical Sunflowers- Watercolor progression

She was touched by the sun.

Her heart was happiest on the clearest of days. So she could admire the resplendent light without a single obstruction. Those days when the clear blue sky would be stretched before her. Allowing her eyes to trace behind the sun as it slowly crossed the sky. With the coming of each new dawn, each day rose with joy. The earth was illuminated and with it, so was her soul.

Clytie, the young nymph, had fallen in love with the god of the sun. There are a few variations in regards to how the original story is told. Some versions indicate that they were once lovers. Others imply she was just a doe-eyed girl with a crush. Regardless of how she came to love Apollo or if anything had transpired between them, all versions conclude the same way.

Apollo was diligent with his task of moving Helios, the sun, from the East to the West. Every day he could be observed charging across the sky in his magnificent sun chariot. Every day Clytie would sit. Her head slowly turning as her eyes followed him across the sky. As this went on, she had become delicate and thin from neglecting to eat and drink. The gods had taken notice of this change in her and her plight. Feeling sorrow and pity for her combined with the knowledge that she was an immortal being, they decided to show young Clytie mercy. They changed her physical form, manifesting her into a sunflower. For Clytie, this was a true gift. Allowing her to continue to watch Apollo traverse the sky forever.

Sad story for such a beautiful flower! To me, sunflowers have always been a boon of joy and positivity.

On that note, if you like Greek myths you should check out a show called,* Great Greek Myths* on Amazon Prime. While you won’t find the story of Clytie in this mix. You get some great stories that focus on some of the more prominent gods of Mount Olympus. It also has a visually appealing art style.

Let’s go ahead and get to the watercolors!

This painting is not that of a true sunflower which I am sure you noticed. I was inspired by the red and gold variants that exist even if they are not naturally found in the wild). A few sunflowers are smaller in overall size but have longer petals. So it’s like a fun little pretend hybrid. Sunflowers are such happy flowers. Almost every year I try my hand at growing them. With a 0% success rate of making it past the seedling stage. Sorry, little sunflower homies-I didn’t mean to be a bad plant parent

Starting with the stem, then progressing upwards through the leaves, and up to the part of the flower that will eventually hold some big ole petals! Using the same color I hit some key spots again to give it that darker shaded appearance and hopefully provide the illusion of some leafy veins.

It’s petal to the metal time! I wanted to capture the sun! So I started with this lovely yellow. Then once that was slightly dry I slap some red onto the page and crossed my fingers for a smooth gradient.

Historically, I have really bad luck with using red. It tends to body slam my paintings. So I was initially nervous. As a result, I made sure to take my time. Spreading the red pigment slowly across each petal. Then I doubled back to hit the background petals with a second dose of color.

Example of red explosion.

This water brush has a surprisingly fine tip, so you can get some lovely defining lines done. I used more red to add some fine lines to help distinguish each petal since I intentionally did not shade the yellow very much.

Chugging along painting the heart-shaped…thing?..fractal? Crystal? Yeah, that is how I feel about it too. It was supposed to be an unpolished crystal. I can’t say that I’m too happy with how this was turning out. I feel like I got *kinda * close to what I was going for…but didn’t quite hit the mark. The shape itself is a little off as well, something I should have caught in the initial sketch.

I wonder if I would have received a better result if I would have washed the whole heart with a light shade before I started detailing each facet. I did weigh this option at the time of painting but due to my lack of success with that route in similar pieces- I opted for the “tried and true”. Something I will have to keep in mind for next time. Maybe I can find a way for the heart to have a little bit more natural-looking shape as well. Like a polished gemstone instead.

As far as flowers go, I am really happy with how it turned out. I can’t say that I feel the same about the crystal. I can’t help but feel like the gemstone subtracts from the piece overall, but I just see that as a challenge for a later date. I have a few ideas on how to get more synergy between the two on the page. We shall see!

Doodler Tools:

-Pentel WaterBrush

-ShinHan Water Color

-Staedtler 2H Led

Painted with love for my Grandmother. She isn’t a forlorn lover. To her perfection is glorious summer days. ☀️

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