Preparing to Plant a Painting


how to paint sunflowers

I want to take you on a journey through the process of how I conceived and then created this art.

Preparing to Plant a Painting

When I first started the process, all I knew was that I wanted to start with a layered neutral background. I used scrapbook papers, magazine pieces, and even sewing pattern tissue papers.  I love beginning an art journey without a preconceived notion. As a I mediated on the materials, ideas started to come to me. It took me many days to cover the canvas which was 2×5’…one of the longest I have ever done. 

Seeds of an idea

At this stage, I did not have a concept yet except in the back of my mind I thought I might do flowers. I chose the long shape of the canvas to go over a high headboard of a bed. I mentioned to my husband that I was going to to do flowers and he made a face. So I left the idea undecided before we left on our vacation to Amsterdam

Trip to Amsterdam

My choice to ultimately do sunflowers seems almost cliche after a trip to van Gogh’s Amsterdam, but how can one not be influenced by standing in front of his painting and learning about his reasons for painting sunflowers. Van Gogh like the awkward flowers just as he liked painting peasants. After all, sunflowers resemble overgrown dandelions. I liked the idea of anthropomorphizing these flowers.

Follow the Vision to the end

I thought about doing the Amsterdam row houses instead or even a Holland tulip scene but the sunflower painting was taking root in my head and once I get a completed vision of how I see a painting I know I must follow that vision to the end.
how to paint sunflowers
So, I went to the local garden store and purchased about a dozen sunflowers. I placed the sunflowers in plastic buckets behind the canvas and rigged the canvas in front. I wanted to create an indoor garden of sunflowers in my studio. Using charcoal and drawing freehand I drew portraits of each of the sunflower faces, choosing only the ones with the most personality.
how to paint sunflowers
As I worked, it seemed as if the sunflowers were peeking their heads over the canvas to check on my progress. I love having these sunflowers keeping me company as I painted.
sunflower art detail by Miriam Schulman
After painting the flowers, I really wanted them to pop against the background, so I white washed the background with a glaze of paint. I love the way the various patterns and textures peek through in a now you see it now you don’t sort of dance across the artwork.
sunflower art detail by Miriam Schulman
The sewing pattern tissue papers lent a nice wrinkled texture to the canvas and I managed to salvage two butterflies from among the patterned chaos.
sunflower painting by miriam schulman
^^correction:  painting is only 5 feet- not 6 feet….
{You can more details about this art including the price here}

Here is the completed painting which is hard to appreciate with whatever little screen you are using. If you are in New York, I am happy to bring this to your home so you can take a closer look or you may come visit me in my studio!

Why I do not keep my best paintings

There was a lot of discussion on my facebook page from my fans urging me not to sell the painting and to keep it. I am not sure why. I love selling my paintings because I have found the most direct way to happiness is to make others happy with my art. 

Why would I want to keep my best paintings? The only paintings over the years I will not sell are the portraits I have painted of my children.


Although I initially intended this art to go over a bed, I am fostering the painting in my living room over the mantel. I suppose the painting would work in either situation. 

Other blog posts you might like:

  →Collect this art HERE

Where would you display this art?


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I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.

I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.

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