1. Raina J. Lee

is a Los Angeles-based ceramics artist and writer, whose highly experimentally glazed works draw from the long history of ceramics. For more about Raina, see

2. Cross-cultural inspirations

Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” (1889) and his series of sunflower paintings in general have inspired many still life homages, but I had become particularly fascinated by Van Gogh’s own fascination with East Asian art and how much the style of Japanese wood block art influenced Van Gogh’s work. (see:


3. Behind the scenes

An early planning sketch of Bunflowers. The backgrounds were also handpainted to mimic Van Gogh’s original.

4. Tanaka Farms

The flowers for Bunflowers were sourced from Tanaka Farms’ U-pick Hana Field in Costa Mesa. The bees in the piece were inspired by the honeybees in the flower fields that we saw when gathering sunflowers. For more information on Tanaka Farms, see

5. Behind the scenes

One early draft of the sunflowers piece was based on a lesser known Van Gogh original. This particular Van Gogh sunflowers piece had been purchased by a Japanese collector and was subsequently destroyed during WWII after a U.S. bombing of Osaka. It is somewhat rare for me to do such literal references to previous works, so in the end, this draft was scrapped in favor of a looser interpretation.

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