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Embracing the golden warmth and bounty of spring’s return with a sunflower state of mind

As we come out of our winter shells, we reach for the sun’s warmth now more than ever. So, too, does the sunflower. It rises with the sun, tilting toward its bright yellow light. As it moves across the sky, the sunflower’s bloom moves with it.

The sunflower’s golden hues have inspired artists for centuries. The flowers themselves have been favored subjects for several painters, most famously van Gogh, but rich yellows appear in all manner of images and objects.

The sunflower reaches toward the sun for life; we reach toward the sunflower’s colors for inspiration. Reawaken your creative spirit this spring with yellow’s myriad beautiful tones.

Gauguin’s Golden Haze

Consider Landscape From Arles by Paul Gauguin. Taking center stage is a patch of yellow and green shrubbery. To the left, a warm yellow field cascades off the canvas. A quaint yellow cottage sits near the horizon. Every inch of the canvas extols the virtue of the sunflower hue.

Landscape From Arles by Paul Gauguin 1888; oil on canvas

Landscape From Arles by Paul Gauguin, 1888

A Sunny Snack

Is it too meta to eat sunflower seeds off a plate decorated with sunflowers? Never, artists. It’s just a sterling example of art to table.

Earthenware charger, British, 1876, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Earthenware charger, British, 1876, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Seeing the Sights

Visiting the metropolitan city of Hyderabad, India means streets upon streets lined with bangle makers and extravagant palaces like the Chowmahalla Palace with a throne room that houses no less than 19 crystal chandeliers. Don’t forget to stop off to pick up that yellowest of spices — turmeric — at the Laad Bazaar.

Hyderabad, India: Prasanth Dasari / Unsplash

Hyderabad, India: Prasanth Dasari / Unsplash

All Day, Yellow

Artist Danielle Donaldson would have no problem filling her days (and pages) with all that sunflower yellow has to give. Cuteness in the form of sketches of ears of corn to beehives to lemon drop martinis — cheers! — are featured in the pages of her charming book, The” art of creative watercolor>.

Danielle Donaldson

Danielle Donaldson

Yellow All the Time

From an Apple Watch with a Burkley padded watch strap and a runway-ready dress and sarong, to a gorgeous Oriental rug from Wayfair.com” yellow has a home everywhere.>

Sarong: Chirag Wakaskar / Wireimage via Getty

Sarong: Chirag Wakaskar / Wireimage via Getty

The Heart of the Fields

I can forgive Rose for throwing the Heart of the Ocean off the boat at the end of Titanic, but I can’t make any promises if she’d done the same to these topaz beauties.

Topaz, Jewels, isolated on White

Getty Images

The Greatest and Most Powerful

In Chinese culture, yellow corresponds with the earth itself and is believed to be the color that stands for the center of everything. It is also the most beautiful and prestigious color, explaining why the Jiaqing Emperor, who ruled China from 1796-1820, is pictured adorned in a heavily embroidered robe of rich yellow.

Imperial Portrait of Emperor Jiaqing

Imperial Portrait of Emperor Jiaqing

Café Terrace at Night

Loving Vincent is the first film created from paintings alone and is an homage to the life and work of Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh, well-known for his striking use of yellows, showcased the color in numerous portraits of sunflowers as well as cityscapes. “How lovely yellow is, it stands for the sun,” he once wrote.

“The colour that mattered most to us was yellow. We needed a brand that had a good range of yellows, and for the yellow to be very saturated. Van Gogh was the obvious choice because it had the greatest range of colours, and additionally it was the best price value,” attests Hugh Welchman, co-director of the Oscar-nominated film.

Van Gogh Oil Paints from Royal Talens were used exclusively in the making of Loving Vincent.

A still from the Oscar-nominated Loving Vincent, the world’s first painted film.

The brand for the working artist searching for quality and exceptional value, Van Gogh from Royal Talens offers a happy medium between professional grade and student grade oils.

The oil colours are made using pure pigments and are milled into a quality oil binder which ensures the buttery colours give a wonderful result with oil techniques. All colours have a uniform thickness, degree of sheen, and dry times which makes the line a pleasure to use in terms of working qualities and mixability. Because of the high content of pigment and the fine grind, the colours are strong and brilliant.

A Facade So Bright

Lisbon, Portugal is home to city streets so vibrant that they could make a painter swoon with color overload. Teal, pink, red and green buildings lend to the rainbow sensation of this urban hot spot. And, certainly, bright and shiny yellow is found there too!

Lili Popper / Unsplash

Lisbon, Portugal – Lili Popper / Unsplash

The Motherload

In southeastern France, yellow is the village of Roussillon’s claim to fame. The area’s ochre quarries paint the landscape in hues of yellow to orange to red.

Yellow ochre quarry in Roussillon, France

Yellow ochre quarry in Roussillon, France – Wikimedia Commons

Article contributions by Michael Woodson. 

Show us your sunflower yellow-inspired art for a chance to win a bright bundle of art swag! Follow and tag us on Instagram @artistmagazine using #artistmagazine_ColorStory. Learn more here.

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