Sunflower Study, oil pastel

I’ve been missing from blogging for the past month or so – my apologies to everyone.  We’re busy with personal projects and I’ve had a bit of an artist block and one really bad painting, so bad in fact that it shook my confidence to continue painting.  A break was needed from both painting and blogging giving myself a little space.

I’m slowly getting back into painting.  For now I’m concentrating my work on developing studies devoted to backgrounds and still life’s mainly flowers, but I know that other subjects will come into play.  Not all of the paintings were successful, but elements in each are definitely useful for developing larger paintings.

Sunflower Study, is an oil pastel (8.5 x 5.5) painted on a gesso-prepared board.  The background was done with acrylics with the flower, leaves and vase produced using oil pastels.  It was an interesting project, because the background kept revealing some neat patterns that I was able to develop the leaves and vase off of.

Looking forward to catching up with your blogs, thank you for taking the time to check in – always appreciated.  Click onto the image for a larger view.

Sunflower Study



About Mary

Oil Pastelist
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97 Responses to Sunflower Study, oil pastel

  1. pizzuti says:

    It’s funny how a bad painting can shake you isn’t it? I tried to paint Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous and she ended up looking like Beavis from Beavis and Butt-head, or Butt-head, I’m not sure, one of the anyway. i put away the paint for a month lol

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Pizzuti – how funny. Sometimes the pieces go to a totally unexpected good place and then there are those other times (called learning experiences). Great to hear from you and hope you are having a creative summer.

  2. Gorgeous Mary! The light and dark contrasts are spectacular! And the golden tones are just lovely. ~Rita

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Rita for your generous comments and noting the contrasts, they were key for this painting to work. Thanks again ~

  3. Wow that yellow so full of light coming out from the dark background is…special!
    Nice to see you back, I think being creative takes a lot of energy and sometimes a refreshing pause is necessary. But now you are here again , great.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you very much Robert – awesome you could see the lighting effect I was after. So happy that you mentioned it! Happy to be back and painting again, it was a good hiatus and I do feel energized once again.

  4. Leya says:

    Wonderful start for your return! The sunflower is a very remarkable flower, and your feeling and touch is so right.

  5. Welcome back, Mary. The sunflowers are beautiful! 🙂

  6. Great to see you back, Mary. The painting, at the first glance, reminded me of the famous “Sunflowers” by Van Gogh… 🙂

  7. Resa says:

    Exquisite! Mary!
    I think you’re too, hard on yourself! Your work is wonderful, and I enjoy coming here more than I can say in words.
    However, I totally understand. I’m designing the costumes for a TV series. I think I’m doing a… not good job, I’m stressed out, can’t sleep….then all of a sudden the Director says “you’re doing a great job”!
    Although, I have only posted every couple of weeks since I’ve been working in Ottawa. That’s what I have time to do. I make no apologies, and miss all my blog pals!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you my friend and for understanding. For you, the pressure is on for right here and now, good to know that the Director had the presence of mind to acknowledge the level of work you put out. Nice to hear and I bet took a little steam off of the situation. Thanks again and I’ll be visiting your blog soon. Have a lovely weekend.

  8. PS Because I am an avid gardener I love the sunflowers! 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Elizabeth – there is something very bright and special about happy Sunflowers. Your photographs illustrate the gorgeous results you achieve from your garden!

  9. Wow Mary I’m so shocked to hear that you could possibly consider that you are anything but a phenomenal artist! I am totally in awe of your talent! You should never, ever doubt that you are extremely talented. Every painting appeals to each person differently. Even within the paintings you do, although all are great some just touch my heart so much while others I like a lot! Never, ever doubt yourself!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Elizabeth for your positive and encouraging words, they are appreciated from the bottom of my heart. It’s been a bit of a spell, but I feel myself coming back out of the fog and hopefully my future work will show. Self doubt perhaps keeps the humility in check as I continue to strive for new levels in creativity – thanks again. Hope you have a beautiful weekend.

  10. Welcome Back Mary! And what a great painting to come back with! I love this little painting…. beautiful contrast in it, and the flowers are just terrific. I find some of my best work comes out of dry spells, and as you can see from all of these comments, we all have them! Looking forward to seeing more of your post -dry spell works! 🙂 ~Rita

    • Mary says:

      Hi Rita, thanks so much and really appreciate your generous feedback on the painting. Based on your experience, I can only hope that will be the case for me. Thanks my friend.

  11. We can’t all create our best painting every time. Only a few projects turn out to be our best. Still, we should keep striving, keeping pushing against blocks and believing in ourselves.

  12. I love your sunflower! You deserve a break. I know what you mean about having artist block. I have been concentrating so much on working on my sea turtle picture book that I haven’t done anything else lately! I have been doing lots of reading, but not really any drawing. I also haven’t posted on my blog in over a month. I guess we all need a break once in a while, Mary! 🙂

  13. So happy to see you back again, Mary. Love the gorgeous sunflowers. The background is really lovely too, and the way you did the glass of the vase is superb. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Hi Sylvia, thank you so much it is good to be back. Glad you enjoyed the painting, appreciate your kind thoughts on this piece.

  14. I of July says:

    Glad you took some time off Mary, one needs to… something I’m beginning to appreciate more. Nice to know we all go through those creative battles with selves… you’re connected to your art and it shows, lovely brush strokes 🙂 I particularly love the ‘browns’

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Heath, it’s is nice to know that I’m in good company as you and so many others have expressed that they have also gone through “creative battles.” Good to see you again, thank you my friend.

  15. Anonymous says:

    happy to see you again. I like very much the contrast in the sunflower. Superb!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much for noticing the contrast it was my goal in this painting – I wanted the high contrast of values. Glad to be back.

  16. ladyfi says:

    Those sunflowers are gorgeous!

  17. Nice to see you back, Mary, as bright as this beautiful sunflower. Breaks are good things and refreshing for the spirit. Will be looking forward to more of your florals as summer brings them fresh daily to our yards and homes. Take care, my friend. 💜

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Laura, for your beautiful thoughts and feedback. It’s taken a while, but I’m slowly working my way through the fog – it’s been interesting to say the least. Perhaps some of the struggle was because of changing mediums to acrylics and then to strictly drawing for many months – but it was well worth it for the learning and experience. Take care and I like the direction your painting has taken, especially the last piece.

  18. I’m pleased you are back

  19. Rebecca says:

    I really enjoy the way the flowers and vase spring out of the background. Lovely light there. Good to see you back, Mary! 🙂

  20. You got thrown off the horse, but now you are doing what they say one should do: got back on again. And from the real beauty of this sunflower painting I would say you are ready to ride toward even more interesting horizons…

    • Mary says:

      You are so nice Cynthia. Thank you so much and with your encouragement I’m going right after it. Glad you enjoyed the painting too, it was a nice change of pace and I like the direction this is heading in. Thank you my friend ~

  21. Wonderful Mary! Welcome back.

  22. exiledprospero says:

    Fantastic. Almost as though it’s alive.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Prospero, nice to see you again! Thank you so much for your “lively” thoughts on the painting, there does seem to be life breathing from the piece.

  23. debiriley says:

    Mary it is so great to see you back! I love sunflowers, and yours are wonderfully painted and designed with graceful curve and flow!
    By all these lovely comments, you can see we all have periods of ‘not good’. .. gosh, just thumb thru some of my posts – I post the good and the ugly. for this very reason. Its important people know, the artist’s life has days of UGH and… of ooh La La!!
    and – I’d bet, any water painting you’d do…. would always be Delightful!!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Debi, so nice to see you again. Thank you for your thoughtful and well-meaning comments – I appreciate your feedback on the painting, as seen through an artists eye. It was an interesting painting that took on many levels. It’s not too often that I get down in my painting – because the learning is so energizing, but I hit a rough patch and nothing I touched seemed to work – slowly I’m making my way back. Watercolors, huh? I’ve never tried them w/the exception of using them for underpaintings. Perhaps one day ~ I might surprise you.

  24. Good to see you back and bringing us sunflowers!

  25. Tom Donovan says:

    Hey Mary – can relate. Working through down phase myself and did first blog post in months yesterday. Sometimes we need to change our conditions to spark new growth. Good idea to focus on flowers until something else moves you. – Tom

    • Mary says:

      Hi Tom, nice to see you again. I’ve noticed that you weren’t posting, I guess this is something many of us artists go through from time-to-time. I’m slowly getting out of the painting rut with a heavy concentration on flowers – I really appreciate your kind thoughts. P.S. happy to see your work again!

  26. I adore these sunflowers! They’re so cheerful.

    They’re also amazing plants, aren’t they, with their thick hard stalk and their intricate pattern of seeds. From a distance, they look simple, but they sure ain’t up close!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Ruth, truly enjoyed reading your description of Sunflowers – they are always happy and sending sunshine our way. Perhaps Sunflowers get a bad rap because most people don’t get to see them up close – those patterns of seeds are amazing, aren’t they?

  27. patisaac says:

    Nice comeback Mary,

    • Mary says:

      Wow Pat, if this wasn’t the best surprise! Thanks so much for visiting and commenting – it means the world to me. I hope you are well and continuing to paint amazing works of art.

  28. I seriously doubt the case of ‘bad painting; as I know you and your work, but I understand the need for a break. Beautiful come-back, Mary! I bet your brushes missed you a lot! 😉

    • Mary says:

      Oh my Marina, if you could only see that one (a landscape) and my second flower, yikes. The landscape has been placed against a wall in the studio, so I don’t have to see it for quite a while (lol), and the 2nd floral – was completely scraped down and then, well we’ll see if I can salvage any part of it. The 3rd floral is okay, but good elements to work on for a larger painting. I’ve really been tested lately, but glad that I painting again. It’s so good to be back, happy to see you my friend – your comments always make me smile and are appreciated. I’m looking forward to seeing your latest and hope you are doing well – I’ve missed you.

  29. Lovely work Mary. Those sunflowers just bring a smile to my face 🙂

  30. I think it hits us all at some point. Well done for getting back on the horse

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much! I’ve not experienced this before, it was different alright. Thanks for your encouragement and comments!! Looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to.

  31. I hope that you feel refreshed and ready for new projects. Flowers is a wonderful segue into getting back into the rhythm. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Margaret – yes I’m feeling much better and getting my head right back into the game. Flowers have been very soothing to paint.

  32. Lovely, I want to paint again, 2 projects looking at me every day, but life keeps getting in the way…

  33. Wow! This is beautiful, Mary! It’s great to see you and your lovely work again.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Jill – glad you enjoyed the painting. Great to see you again and wondering how the book is doing. Hope you are well.

  34. Simla Barki says:

    Please don’t stop painting–you’re work is so lovely, I always look forward to your posts!

  35. Susan Feniak says:

    Oh Mary you are so hard on yourself. But perhaps a break from blogging and painting was just what you needed. These sun flowers are fabulous. I look forward to more. XX

    • Mary says:

      I know Susan, I really am – but it’s always been part of my makeup. The break was needed and hoping to continue with these small studies. Thank you for your kind feedback, it was a good painting session. Looking forward to seeing your latest painting!

      • Susan Feniak says:

        I have been busy Mary. Playing with different things. Generally having fun with art and trying not to be too hard myself either!! Take care.

        • Mary says:

          Thanks Sue, it’s really easy to be critical of our own work. You have a great way to ease up on the seriousness of it all and just enjoy your art, and it shows. That’s a recipe for a good mindset moving forward, thanks my friend.

  36. It’s lovely to see you back here with such a beautiful painting. We all need time out every now and then…and I think we are all better for it. This piece clearly shows that you are back on track again….janet:)

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much my friend, your words of encouragement means a lot. This painting spoke to me right from the beginning and I could feel it helping me get out of this fog of sorts. Hoping that the muse continues, although if you saw the 2nd floral painting you’d say, what? But it least I’m back in the game. Hope you are well and looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to.

  37. We all need a break every now and again to recharge our batteries. That’s a wonderful painting, so you’ve come back with a bang ! 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Mike, a pleasure to meet you -your photography is wonderful. I do appreciate your encouragement, the break was much needed and I do feel more energized. Thanks for your compliment on this painting – most appreciated.

  38. cmartzloff says:

    Glad you are back. I think taking space is part of the creative process. Love the sunflowers!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Catherine for your thoughtful comments and insight. I did feel a sort of creative spurt when I finally got back to painting, small steps as they are at least for now. Hope you are well and I look forward to seeing your beautiful work!

  39. Alok Singhal says:

    We all learn from our experiences – good or bad. Glad you came back 🙂

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